A Woman’s Work Is Never Done So You’d Better Pay for Dinner

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

I am entering dangerous waters. You see, I am a man. And other than the whole testicle thing (Bad design, God!) I’m fairly happy being a man. You see, as much as I may not be some kind of testosterone fueled idiot, I am, in my way, quite dominant in relationships. Or more to the point, in the only way that I really care about—intellectually—I tend to dominate relationships. And that has generally been true of my romantic adventures, even if some of the women aren’t aware of it.[1] But having said that, as much as I am okay with the modern state of sexual politics, I think that women get the worse of it.

This is mostly manifested in the way that the home is run. Even when the man was the primary breadwinner, this situation sucked for women. As the saying goes, “A woman’s work is never done.” And it isn’t! But now the standard situation is that the woman goes off to work for eight or so hours and then comes home and works. As far as I can tell, the only real social improvement in this regard is that it has become far more acceptable for women to be lazy. But a dirty (or even messy) house is still looked down upon. And the whole situation eventually leads to which person is most accepting of a dirty bathtub. Most men won’t even notice until there is a quart inch of black mold covering the thing.

So it is not at all surprising that despite years of feminist gains, men still pay most of the dating bills. Randye Hoder reported on a recent study that found that in general, men feel that they should pay for dates and women are just fine with that. Still, it is all a game. Most men prefer to date women who at least try to pay for some things. In fact, 44% said they would stop seeing a woman who never did so. (Yeah, right!) Similarly, a solid majority of woman do offer to pay, although 39% say they secretly hope that the offer will not be accepted. And fully 76% of men who want women to offer to pay feel guilty if they accept the money.

I have a really cynical take on this. In my experience, many women will insist upon paying for some stuff. And (whether intentionally or not) they use this to justify the claim that they pay for half the stuff the couple does. Let’s see now. We go out of town and I pay for the car, the hotel, the food, and she pays for one round of drinks. Yeah, that’s about equal! Look: in fact, we are equal. Back at home, I will not vacuum until the dust is so think I hydroplane through the kitchen. Without her, every plant in the house will die and the front lawn will catch on fire after even weeds won’t grow on it. When I am alone, things will go so bad in the refrigerator that the neighbors will complain about the smell. So if a woman provides the support I need to live something like a civilized life, we are at least even and most likely, I’m far ahead of the game.

But part of the deal with being a man is pretending that we really are being Lancelot with a beer in the living room watching Charley Varrick. That’s why I’ve always loved buying flowers and dresses and other assorted presents for my lady friends. Because it makes me feel great! And yes, I know I’m a jerk about it. But if you ladies all want to turn lesbian, I totally understand. However, if you want to have relationships with the weaker sex, that’s the deal. In the past, we brought home dead rabbits even though you had spent the whole day collecting the fruit that was 90% of our diet. Just like you did then, you pretend that you would be lost without us.

And then you go back to work because not only is a woman’s work never done, but they’re showing Pulp Fiction uncut on TCM tonight and I really don’t want to miss that.

Update (22 August 2013 2:39 pm)

Matt Yglesias made an excellent point:

At any rate, aside from the obvious linkage to the gender pay gap I’d say we should also see this as linked to the gap in expectations of spending on appearance-related items. Conventional American gender norms saddle women with a structurally higher cost of living in terms of makeup and nail polish and expensive haircuts and accessories and a more varied set of apparel and footwear. The convention that men pay for dates is the flipside of that other convention.

[1] For the record, I am greedy and selfish when it comes to knowledge. Thus in any new relationship, I tend to be a taker. Those people may come away thinking I don’t know a thing, but it’s only because they came away not learning a thing. I’m not proud of this, but as Popeye said, “I yam what I yam.” Oh, one other thing: saying that I’m intellectually dominant is not the same as saying that I’m smarter. Most women I’ve been with have been smarter than I. But in our culture, women are such intellectual underachievers. Or they are just very aware that all the men would kill themselves if the women allowed them to know that their only real social function was as sperm donors.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done So You’d Better Pay for Dinner

  1. What Matt said. I am enraged on a daily basis at the time and financial cost that goes along with being female in this culture–the makeup, the hair products, the expensive hair cuts, the tailored clothes, shaving, brow waxing, etc–all of the things I need to do simply to present at work as "professional" and appropriately feminine. And if you think that I can just ignore those conventions, you’re wrong. The social and career cost of ignoring them would be untenable, believe me. I resent it like hell, but I also realize how valuable it is in this sick culture we live in, so I go along with it. I’m not willing to shoot myself in the foot over that one.
    Another thing that annoys me–not quite related but parallel–is the expectation from men that women should have "natural" beauty. We shouldn’t have to spend money to look good–we should have long, thick, flowing, shiny hair on our heads, but no hair anywhere else on our bodies–however, we shouldn’t be shallow enough to waste time shaving or money waxing. We should have the hips and plank-like tummy of a ten-year-old boy, but lush, huge, curvy natural breasts. We should have glowing, clear skin but not be so vain as use make up or moisturizer. We should be thin, but also a zesty eater who can put away a burger and beers every night with the boys without consequences. There is this pervasive fantasy that beauty should be "effortless", and the reality is, it’s not. It costs time and money, period.
    So, when I think about these things, sometimes I just think, "For Christ Sake, can’t one thing just be a thing men do just because? Can’t they just pay for a date? Why does this have to be an issue?" I have dated men who have outright told me they won’t pay for dates and that I can either cook for both of us, or I can pay for my own dinner. Let’s face it, money has symbolic meaning in this culture and it doesn’t make a lady feel very special to be told right out of the gate that you aren’t going to shell anything out for her. I’m not saying that’s a correct or feminist stance, I’m just saying it’s a reality. For me anyway. I’m vain enough to enjoy feeling like my company is at least worth the price of mean at Olive Garden.
    All of that having been said, when I was dating I was always very sensitive to the burden it was for men to pay for dates, and I always offered to pay. Most of the time, they wouldn’t hear of it, but I felt like it was unfair not to at least offer. I usually tried to get agreement in advance that I would pay once we got to the third or fourth outing, just so that it was clear that I wasn’t out to take advantage. I don’t know; this whole thing is so complicated and rife. I probably have more to say but I need to think it through a little more.

  2. @Kristen – I think it is amusing that one or more guys said you should either go out dutch or [i]you[/i] should cook. So it is either even or it is all you. That’s a winner there! (BTW: men also get tons of credit for cooking.)

    I have always been amazed at how much time women spend getting ready for work. The only thing that I know I will do in the morning is get a cup of tea. On a good morning, I will get a clean pair of socks. Of course, I’m even bad by male standards. But you are right: that’s expected in the work world. But then it is also used against women. If women are too beautiful or not beautiful enough, they aren’t taken seriously. The problem is that I don’t even think there is some perfect level that says "beautiful and competent!" But that’s a general sexist thing.

    Interestingly, I just read [i]White Like Me[/i]. One thing really stood out to me about being a white male: no matter how fucked up I am, I never have to worry that anyone is thinking, "Typical white male!" That is incredibly freeing, not having to act as a representative for your race or gender. And that’s what is the worst thing about being a member of a "minority" group: people don’t relate to you without a whole bunch of garbage piled on you. They don’t see [i]you[/i].

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