I am shocked to the degree that dating rituals still assume that the man pays for everything and the woman... doesn't. I don't mind this arrangement for the first two or three dates (and if personal financial considerations make it possible, for the course of the relationship, possibly.) I see good reasons for women to be seeking assurance of mens' financial security, given that in order to have children, women have to more or less put on hold jobs and careers, which they may or may not get back later. In fact, I'm often delighted to be able to treat a date to a night out. But, when it's no longer a treat--and instead becomes an obligation--the hair on my neck stands up. As long as I'm treating, there's no implicit EXCHANGE between a couple. It's a treat. A gift. A lovely evening out. When it becomes an obligation for me to pay, though, what do we assume then is required of the woman for whom I'm paying? Hunh? Yeah, that's what I'm saying. We're a hair's breath from prostitution.
Or not even that far. I've had a couple of experiences with dates who seemed to be 'withholding' sex to (I suspect) convince themselves that they're NOT bartering sex in exchange for a fancy dinner (or, actually, a whole damn series of fancy dinners). When a forty-something woman says she's testing the authenticity of my interest in her 'as a person' by not going to bed with me too soon, I smell a rat. If she can't tell the authenticity of my interest without dating for weeks--as I pay for every drink, dinner, movie ticket, and ice cream cone along the way--then she's got Asperger's Syndrome, for God's sake, or stuck in never-ending adolescene, and way past child-bearing years, to boot.
Why do some women--or at least, the professional women I've been dating who are often more financially secure than myself--feel entitled to me paying for every meal? Every vacation? I thought my generation had resolved this in an earlier stage of feminist activism and awareness-raising. In my twenties, men were discouraged from continuing the seemingly atavistic dating rituals of our parents and grandparents, as they were deemed patronizing (though there has always been leeway to recognize that men were still making a third-to-double the salaries of women for doing the same jobs.) From the guy's perspective, men are being asked to do two things, which my generation considered contradictory: patronize our dates by assuming the financial burden of courtship, while not patronizing them in attitude, respecting their fully adult autonomy. Can both, in fact, be done at the same time, without sacrificing the sense of equal partnership? Without a sense of quid pro quo building up, unspoken but insistent (the quid pro quo may not be money-for-sex, but something else, e.g., money-for-appearance-of-male-control?) I think some of this blog's readers will say yes--and if they do, I hope they tell me why, in comments on this post--but I don't think so, at least not at the dating stage. If, later, the quid pro quo is money-for-child rearing, I get it, though I see that as deeply problematic, too.
If I had more money--as I once did; and as I would if I were not pursuing the acting thing--I'd feel less sore about all this. I might squirm less at being asked to be Sugar Daddy. But, do women really want a daddy, rather than a boyfriend?