Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is Maureen Dowd right? Am I sending the wrong message?

lunch time tale
Originally uploaded by niznoz.
In Maureen Dowd's new book, "Are Men Necessary?", she laments over what she perceives is a return to 1950s gender roles and courtship rituals. Fine, whatever...

The part of the book that made me worry is when Dowd suggests that if a woman offers to pay for herself at a restaurant or bar, that she's basically signaling her male companion that she's not interested. This concerns me because I almost always offer to pay for myself. Actually, it's usually when I'm decidedly not interested at the end of an evening that I don't offer to pay. If I didn't do the inviting, why should I pay for a less than interesting time?

Now, I really like Dowd but I'm not just going to accept her casual observations as fact. Let's face it, Ms. Dowd is fond of the exaggeration... Because I'm getting bored waiting for a new job to start and I'm generally a little neurotic about dating anyway, I thought I'd go in search of additional anecdotal evidence to either support or refute Dowd's hypothesis.

First stop, my twenty-five year old cousin Ali. She totally agreed with Dowd. Ali's never paid when out with a member of the opposite sex, regardless of whether he is a romantic interest or is just a friend. Among Ali's social circle, only one of her female friends insists on paying and evidently, that's tied into some sort of pathological need to not feel indebted to anyone.

Next stop, Barnes & Noble and some "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus" self-help dating books (no, I didn't make a special trip; I was headed there already). I only made it through the indices of three books before my teeth started to itch. Books like "The Rules" were so patently demoralizing to both women and men that I couldn't force myself to skim through any more. Coincidentally, each of the books I picked up basically claimed the same thing... men are hardwired to act as providers due to mankind's hunter-gatherer past. To pay for yourself is to basically disparage their manhood and question their ability to provide!

Holy shit! I've been unwittingly disparaging men's manhoods for decades... So, does this mean that I'm going to stop offering to pay? Nope. I earn a decent salary. What, am I supposed to just spend it on lingerie, hair care products and sewing notions?

On the other hand, I never make an issue out of paying. I'll offer once and if my male companion says that he has it covered, I'm fine with just saying thank you. If that proves too much for the ego of anyone who is out with me, they should pay the check and then run, not walk, to the nearest exit. Because, seriously, it's just bound to get worse from there...


Anonymous Kevin said...

What's with the recent verbosity?

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Lou said...

Not that I've dated much, but the offer, whether made by an interested or disinterested person (judged by the conversation), usually increased my interest.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I'm available for any open cabana boy jobs!

9:26 PM  
Anonymous JT said...

Don't panic, Michelle.
What you are reading in these books is a crock.
For example:
If, at some point within the first moonth or so in a relationship, a woman doesn't offer to pick up the dinner check or get a round of drinks afterwards (or something lie that), I start to feel taken advantage of.
There are a lot of women out there who will date any guy who isn't a total dirtbag, just so they can get a free meal / movie / concert / drunk / etc.
If a gal offers to grab the bill once in a while, that lets me know she sees us as equals, and wants to make a contriibution to the relationship.
It is a must!

2:02 PM  

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