Why Partners Should Pay for Things Equally in Sexual Encounters

When you are heterosexual there is a weird dynamic when it comes to paying for things. Even if we are all feminists perfectly capable of paying for the dinner bill ourselves there is still a stigma. This stigma extends beyond the bill on the date, and it extends outside of romantic relationships. As much as we might want to deny it, our culture makes paying for things very uncomfortable in gendernormative settings.

In sex who pays for condoms? Who pays for birth control? Who pays for lube? In my experience there is usually already an expectation for who is paying for everything. Men are expected to buy condoms, women are expected to be on birth control. If anything goes wrong the woman pays for it in more way than one (e.i. Abortion, plan B, actually taking care of a child, etc.). All of these expectations cling to heteronormative structures that have historically oppressed women. So much of our romantic structures are based on patriarchal dynamics that further demonstrate the inequality women face. Paying for everything should be equal, regardless of whether or not you are in a relationship.

The other week I was having sex with a friend of mine (let’s call him James). As he was pulling out the condom broke; accidents happen, we both agreed that this was something that needed to be taken care of. The responsibility fell upon me the next day to go buy Plan B. In the long run, though expensive, Plan B is cheaper than an abortion or worse a child, so my issues with getting it were minimal. But James had a weird disdain for responsibility in this situation, even telling me that he wouldn’t pay for an abortion if it came to that (which it didn’t). It was aggravating that he negated all possible responsibility in this situation. The condom breaking was no one’s fault, so why should responsibility for clean up go entirely to one person?

The issue of expense does become more problematic outside the bounds of a relationship (i.e. casual sex) but it is not impossible to navigate. If you are a woman don’t expect the man to buy the condoms, protection is your issue too. If you are a man don’t expect a woman to be on birth control, it’s not the preferable contraceptive for all women. If you want to indulge in slathering food products all over each other split the cost. If you are in a relationship go 50/50 on condoms or the price of birth control.

Each individual has responsibility for their own sexual health, and assumptions otherwise are damaging to how we look at heteronormative gender roles. Not everything in this essay applies to everyone: some people have less access to resources; some people are not in heterosexual relationships; some people have other methods of finding equality in a relationship. However, none of that should discredit the need for more equality in the field of sexual health. People need to have more open conversations with their partners about needs sexually and financially. Conforming to assumptions of who pays for sex strengthens to systemic inequalities that assume women should not control their reproductive health. Pay for everything equally because in our systems of oppression it means more than a few bucks.