So…Who Pays on the First Date?

My English teacher talked about this a while ago. Well perhaps not exclusively on the topic of who pays on the first date, but he did give us some great refreshing ideas on where to take our date on a date. There are also many expectations we are supposed to meet as the date-suggestor. For example we have to wow them, especially since it’s the first date. Our itinerary has to be spectacular, creative, and most of all fun. Our date has to be excited, interested, and have enough of a good time to agree voluntarily for a second outing. What big expectations to fill, right?

As for the “who pays on the first date thing”… well, this was summed out in a comical video by WongFu Productions. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They make quality films that always manages to either touch your mind, pull at your heartstrings, or impart something new to you. Here’s an amusing perspective on the “first date scenario”. [This is the watch short film part of the blog post!]

Of course, there are many debates over this topic. Who should pay? Many say the man should pay. Others say the woman should. Others say to split the bill. For the men, the argument is that they are the gentlemen, and should treat the lady and take care of his date. For the women, it’s to argue that the “olden times” are over, and women should be independent and strong. As for going dutch…well, it’s only fair to contribute your share, right? It’s self explanatory. But as for the strongly held convictions on who should pay? They come from gender stereotypes.

In the older ages of history, men had more prominent roles as the “breadwinner” of the family, the one who always brought home the paycheck, the one who always brought home the bacon. As time passed and this idea of men “providing for the female” was reinforced, so was the idea of gender stereotypes. With this, the rise of the suffragettes and feminists.

Recently, I wrote a paper and a presentation along with my other group members on the topic of feminism in Frankenstein, which was set in the Victorian era. At that time period, women were still seen as weak and frail, and the other typical “female traits” portrayed and established in society at the time. However, Mary Shelley was an intelligent female writer. Though she was never an active voice of feminism, she was still a very influential figure behind it’s power. As her novel Frankenstein is well known throughout the world, and is one of the most reference piece of literature, it can be sure that her ideas have spread throughout the influence of Frankenstein.

Instead of blatantly pointing out the flaws the misogynistic men had at the time period, Shelley instead portrays the males in the typical female roles, ie. childbirth and abortion, as well as the raising and nurturing of the creature. She shows the utter failure the men have in the women’s roles in order to emphasize just how important the females are to society. Her satire, the novel of course has many more examples of this satire, is able to transcend those typical gender roles placed in society.

How does Frankenstein apply to real life though? It’s always interesting to look back and compare the differences between the two time periods, but it’s to put into perspective. Who should really pay? Perhaps one’s answer will be a certain way now, but it certainly would be a different answer a century prior. What kind of answer would you expect in the future, say 20 years from now? 100? History shows these rapt changes in the people’s ideas and perceptions of situations and objects, so different, yet similar.

Women, if you’d like to pay, feel free. These small actions could revolutionize the future. Men, perhaps you would like to prove gallantry still existent. Each decision and idea you put forth enforces something. Whether you’re creating new societal expectations like Shelley did, or you’re reinforcing the ones in the now. Gender expectations will still stand and someone will be expected to pay for that date.

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