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Splitting the bill on a date: Yes or No?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

There has been this ongoing trend circulating around social media where women talked about how bills should be paid by the one inviting them out on a date or by men in general, and it has always befuddled me as to why that should have been the case. Just where did this mentality of men paying for a woman or the one doing the inviting paying for the other party came from?  

Is it chivalry or benevolent sexism?

Back in the days, benevolent sexism or “chivalry” was a popular way of implying that a woman should be paid for and taken care of because of their societal status and financial absentees in society. It was a period where women who were working in public were frowned upon and marginalized at best. Their wages were low and a woman’s financial status was mainly dependent on the support of her father, brother, uncle or husband. It was certain that men were expected to pay for a woman’s livelihood because of the patriarchal sphere dominated by men. 

Thus, it was not until the mid 1900s where women began to have their own rights to vote as a citizen of the country or the rights to physically protect their own body legally, and in the early 21st century where they were encouraged to work in a public space while being acknowledged professionally.

So no it was not chivalry that determined whether a man should be paying for a woman during a date but benevolent sexism that fed on the belief that women should be “protected” by men because of their subservient statuses, and to put it in a nice way, shouldn’t be able to pay for themself.  

Normalize splitting the bill

It is one thing to be treating someone that you care about as a sign of affection or gratitude but it is a different matter to be having a set of expectations that men should pay for the bills on a date, based on gender roles. The tradition that existed when women didn’t have basic rights to their own bodies and public affairs shouldn’t continue to be practiced in this day and age.

There needs to be an understanding that splitting the bill is not something insignificant or petty. It is an initiation to show your reliability as a person to the other party and a means to convey the progress women have taken in society.

If I asked someone out, should I pay for their bill?

Well you shouldn’t have to. If you were to ask someone out to celebrate a special occasion for them or to show your gratitude towards them then that’s a sound reason to pay for them. But if you are asking someone out on a date and the other person has decided to spend their day with you, you shouldn’t feel obligated to pay for their time. 

If you do not pay to hang out with your friends, you do not have to pay to hang out with your date either. There shouldn’t be a double standard in a relationship where both parties were given the choice to decide on spending their own time with the other person, especially so in the 21st century where the living cost increases every year. Why bother placing that financial stress on someone that you care about or are at least interested in to go on a date with, when you could afford to share that responsibility with them? And if you could not afford to pay for an expensive date, there are always other affordable means to date if you put in the effort to look for one.

andrea leong

Nanyang Tech '22

Constantly tired, could lie in bed all day and still be tired. If someone is to write a story about her, she would like to be identified as a pebble size rock. And her friends would be the protagonist of the story, carrying her around in their pockets while they travel around the world. – Inspired by Suga & V's conversation