AS Confucius says: he who pays usually gets laid. Should men pay for dinner dates? That’s the question I was asked on television last week and, like all good feminists, I answered like this: “Absolutely not.
“If we fail to dismantle this cornerstone of heteronormative convention then we are complicit in perpetuating the patriarchy and with it the ideology that still finds women earning 17 per cent less than their male counterparts”.
Then, remembering I wasn’t on the ABC, I added: “Why should having a willy mean you have to open your wallet? No, the dudes should definitely NOT have to pay for dinner.”
And that was my firmly held view for the 12 minutes it took to drive to the office via the shopping mall where I promptly dropped my inner Germaine Greer in the aisle of Priceline because, after spending $12.95 on eye make-up remover, $6.95 on tampons, $24.45 on a new pair of tweezers, and $14.95 on cheap fake tan that will actually cost $114.95 to replace the ruined sheets, I realised there’s a reason men have traditionally stumped up in restaurants – they’re the only ones who have any dosh.
It takes a full-time salary to be a woman. We’re being fleeced magnificently for the inconvenience of having boobs, menstrual cycles, babies and a penchant for scented candles. Here then are seven reasons why it costs more to be a woman and why men should pick up the bill for the pinot and pizza.
1. It cost us $385 just to make it to the table: that’s the eyebrow shape, main-pedi, waxing, hair – $80 every four weeks for the pixie crop, $130 in extensions for the full Jen Hawkins – not to mention the new dress we bought because it was 60 per cent off but only available in a size 10, so we’ve had to shell out for lymphatic drainage, a personal trainer and gut-sucking Spanx. But we’re here and it’s not going to cost you $28 for the fig and gorgonzola special as all we can eat is the radicchio salad ($9) or we’ll split our seams.
2. Trusting the date goes well and we become “a couple” we will assume all responsibility for any gift you’ve ever had to buy. Your mother’s birthday? I sent flowers this morning. Your niece’s christening? I ordered an engraved silver bracelet and checked with your sister the spelling of “Jamimah”. A year into the relationship we’ll have enabled such advanced learned uselessness that you won’t even have to buy birthday presents for us but simply reimburse from the comfort of the couch. (A couch, incidentally, which we bought to the relationship since your idea of comfort was some brown vinyl monstrosity you inherited from your great uncle when he died.)
3. Tradesmen rort us. Whether they’re changing a washer or grimacing under the car bonnet, tradesmen have mates’ rates, actual rates and single career woman who-just-needs-it-done-and-doesn’t-know-if-it-should-be-a-tenner-or-a-ton rates. The latter operates on a sliding scale according to address, make of car and perceived level of dimness. You buying dinner is, in fact, you compensating for Gaz who shouted an extra round in the pub because he scammed three hours’ labour for flicking a switch in my fuse box.
4. Fashion demands nothing of you but that you replace your undies when they get holey (a nicety that still escapes many). Meanwhile we’re forced on to the catwalk of critique every time we step out and yes, yes, I know we only have ourselves to blame but I’m sure it was one of yours that invented hats and high heels so that we could suffer humiliation and pain and – oh joy – pay a month’s salary for the privilege.
5. Whereas the Y chromosome comes embedded with the “I’m awesome just as I am” chip, the X was saddled with the “maybe if I …” version. And self-improvement costs. Whether it’s goddessing ourselves into Nigella Lawson or losing five kilos on the “Michelle Bridges” or “rewarding” ourselves with a $70 Diptyque candle or accumulating a shelf load of crap by Eckhart Tolle and M. Scott Peck, we can’t be emotionally evolved and pay.
6. If Billy Crystal hadn’t paid for Meg Ryan in the diner in When Harry Met Sally no man would ever appreciate the skill of a fake orgasm.
7. Biology costs us big time. Having a baby is equivalent to opening your wallet and asking everyone to help themselves because whether you’re a barrister or a shelf stacker, creating a new generation pushes women over a financial abyss, halting our career rise and complicating our earning capacity. It also makes us hormonal so just pay for the freakin’ dinner, will you? Fine, don’t believe me? Then take it from that doyen of dating,Confucius: “He who pays usually gets laid.”