Women Can Pay, Too

Can’t they?

As I’ve mentioned before**, I like watching the ABC tv show What Would You Do. For those who don’t know, it’s a “hidden camera” series that tackles people’s reactions to difficult subjects…everything from interracial dating to polygamy to shoplifting. I highly recommend watching an episode or two, especially as they are freely viewable on YouTube.

Anyway, I was watching some recent episodes that I missed before and stumbled upon this one:


In it a young man and woman are out on a first date, and everything is going swimmingly. That is, until the check comes and the man’s card gets declined. With no cash and a bad credit card, what’s a guy to do?

But wait…it takes two to tango, and two people definitely ate the lunch and desert from this meal. Yet time after time the scenario runs it’s course without a single onlooker taking a moment to remind the gal that she has a wallet of her own. Instead, different men and couples voluntarily pay for this broke Romeo and his cheap Juliet. (Except for one segment, where no one offers to help, the woman leaves, and the man is left to wash dishes to pay off the meal.) Throughout the episode, female onlookers are heard to say that “this is his last date” and they “felt sorry for the girl”.


Perhaps it’s just the fact I willingly pay-in-full for 99% of the “dates” my FwB and I go on (in 7+ years, he’s paid for 4 dinners and 1 movie), but I find it hard to believe that a woman wouldn’t have any money with her when going out, especially on a date. And if we watch carefully, she does make a move to get her wallet out the first time the check comes but is waved off by her overly-chivalrous paramour. Why do none of the other patrons tell her to pick up the tab? Why do they “feel sorry for” a girl who skipped out on a bill? What kind of society do we live in that random strangers open their wallets to pay for a $40 meal…but one-half of the couple who consumed it is treated like an innocent bystander?

If you haven’t yet, go watch the video. It’s definitely something worth discussing below.

**See my post Deserving of Protection for another time I used What Would You Do to illuminate an injustice. https://tarnishedsophia.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/deserving-of-protection/

24 thoughts on “Women Can Pay, Too

  1. Really ? I would have to visit that video. But I would rather let the girl pay than some random strangers helping them(is it really help if the girl was still capable of paying and they do it only out of some misplaced ).

  2. Yeah, the video is definitely worth watching.

    You make a good point: if the woman can pay, are the other people actually helping…or just enabling?

  3. Saw the video. It is really weird. Some woman really told him that it will be his last date to his face and some one also told that girl to just get going and dump him.. wow….really ?

  4. I didn’t see the video but I can kinda understand the reactions from the other women. I usually subscribe to the notion of “you ask, you buy.” If I ask someone out to dinner, it’s generally understood that it’s my treat. So for me to take someone out to dinner and then reveal that I’m empty-handed when the bill comes (accidentally or otherwise) – you have to admit that it would make me look pretty bad. Poor planning at best, a bait-and-switch at worst: “Hey, I was going to treat you to a meal but – surprise! Turns out I don’t have any money!” It just makes a really bad impression, hence some of the comments that were apparently being made.
    On the other hand, I see no reason why women can’t pay or split the bill. And I personally have no problem with that. 😉 In fact, I came across one guy who said he used to pay for everything until “a cougar broke me of that habit.” Now he insists on splitting everything, and it’s not until things graduate to a relationship that he starts paying in full. Interesting concept. Don’t know if I would go that far myself, but it’s certainly food for thought. But in the instance of this video, she certainly could have offered to help.

  5. Damn, I never had this card problem. Will make sure I always have cash with me in the restaurant!
    But speaking on topic, all these female bystanders were pretty sexist there. Although it’s also possible they were so negative, because someone who’s card is declined could be some shady scammer. Maybe I’m just paranoid and nobody else thinks that way, but when some stranger comes up to me in the street and asks for help that requires me to go in some alley or to give them my phone, I assume it could be a robbery. A beggar asking for money for “legitimate” reasons is just a person who wants money and might be lying. I might still give them money anyway, but other people might not.

  6. @UV

    If I’m asking someone like a friend, coworker, or family member out to eat…yeah, I fully anticipate paying the entire bill. Common courtesy, that.

    But for dates? I’ve always been of the opinion that it should at least be split unless one person makes a lot more than the other, or if one of the people is unemployed. Hence why I pay for my lover’s share…

    I really like how “going dutch” levels the dating field, too. In both high school and college, I’d heard far too many guys say that they felt like they spent money for nothing since the girl got a meal but they didn’t receive sex in return. If the woman pays half and the man pays half, nobody is owed anything (whether right or wrong).

  7. @Emma

    Which is even more reason the woman…who partook of the food…should have paid. The fact that nobody made a big deal of the fact she left the building thereby forcing the guy to foot the entire bill is what really got me.

    I’ve bought food for beggars before, usually just a Subway sandwich and a drink but I did buy $30 worth of groceries for a homeless veteran once. The way I figure, if someone gets a free lunch from me…eh, I’m out $6, max. But if they are honestly a homeless man…hey, I helped someone who needed it. That’s why I always buy them a meal instead of handing over money.

  8. I think it means that there will never be TRUE gender equality between the
    sexes, just as the world in the last century never attained true “Communism.”
    The party leaders always lived a prividledged life compared with the rank and
    Men will always believe themselves obligated to protect women, in the same
    way that sexual characteristics can never be repressed in children. Boys
    play with trucks, and girls play with dolls. No amount of discouragement can
    stop it.
    This also ties in with why two female murders are exceuted for every one
    hundred male murderers.

  9. So the sort of sociology I do looks at how society gets in our heads — such that no one feels like they have any choice outside of social scripts. That seems to be in play here.
    We still live in a culture in which men are expected to pay, and so it never occurs to anyone else that she should pay. I doubt that it’s merely because she’s cheap that she doesn’t feel she has the option. No one else thinks she has an option, either. These are all people bound down by gender roles.
    In other examples, I grew up in a very conservative religion where women fought — and continue to fight — against their own interests. So women fight against women having the priesthood, my piano teacher fought against battered women’s shelters, these women won’t use birth control when they desperately want and need it, and I have one friend who complains that, “It’s too bad that my husband is a man and I’m a woman because I would rather work than be at home and my husband would rather be at home than work.”
    Whether it’s any of these conservative religious women or the woman whose date didn’t have money to pay for a meal — or all of the other people in that restaurant with no idea what to do — society is in their heads so much that they don’t see they have a choice in the matter.
    Hmmm, I may have to write about this on my blog, linking back to yours.

  10. @BroadBlogs

    In that case, I feel very blessed indeed that my grandmothers were from a culture and time period where women worked alongside men. On one hand, it was “bad” that they were lower class and thus had to work long hours…but on the other hand, it was good because they raised me with the knowledge that women and men can do anything if we work together.

    The lessons I learned at my grandparents knees don’t mesh well with what I see nowadays. Everybody has a choice, if only they would open their eyes to it…Men and women don’t have to be “complementary” to get the job done, they just both have to be willing to hunker down and get it done!

  11. I actually witnessed a “real” situation like this, and we almost intervened too. And no, I wouldn’t tell the girl sitting next to the guy to pay for it. Why? Because it wasn’t my business to do so…either help, or don’t, but it’s pretty obvious if the girl is sitting there being humiliated she, too, likely doesn’t have the cash on her.

    We elected not to intervene because we were at a very expensive restaurant and the tab would have been closer to 200 dollars than 40…and, the “kid” was on the phone with his mom trying to get a new credit card number. It was certainly painful to watch though.

    FWIW, I see women pay on dates quite often. Just last night I was sitting next to a couple and the woman paid. I used to pay before I met my husband (he was actually the only guy I ever let pay for a date).

  12. Just to add, it would be interesting to see a similar video with the woman who couldn’t pay for the date. I’d bet a great deal of money no one would turn to the guy and say, “Hey buddy, why don’t you pay?”
    Same reason. It’s up to the companion to do that. It’s assumed if the bill for the tab isn’t paid the companion doesn’t have it. In fact, it would be a same for two guys at a table, or two women for that matter (except people might feel less inclined to come to anyone’s aid in that situation).

  13. Hi Liz,
    love the gravatar…(bit jealous too 😉 )
    Still not being oppressed by the patriarchy?

  14. BTW found some worrying videos on Youtube about nerf guns – don;t let your kids (or hubby) find it. HTH

  15. I never had a woman pay my bill without clearing it with her well in advance of the expense.

  16. I’m probably too old and weird to join this conversation but as one who has paid some of the time for sure (but not all of the time) I would like to advance another viewpoint. As Karen Straughan suggests, the subconscious “value” of female sexuality vs. male sexuality has not had enough time to adjust to the modern availability of birth control and therefore still has “perceived” superior value at least when one is talking about young people of reproductive age. However, aging changes everything.
    I find nothing intrinsically wrong with using “flattery” and that includes paying for purposes of seduction whether the motive is sex or “a relationship” and some women get more turned on when so flattered than others. However, those persons who are expecting to be wined and dined and impressed by the supplicating party may be less than impressed when the supplication turns out to be hollow. While by no means do I mean to suggest that it is always the man who is “supplicating”, there’s a certain pro forma etiquette to make it seem as if this is so during courtship, even if it could just as easily backfire. However, both parties are taking a risk when they go on a date together, even if for one the only risk may be “time”, delimited reproductive value, and a new pair of nylons.

  17. @caprizchka
    I watched my mother teach my sisters how to defend their SMV even to the point of destroying their men like she did (and one did so). I watched my daughters get trained in how to use sex as a Pavlovian reward system rather than as a means of bonding with a partner. I have seen and heard enough testimony from others to believe that this “training” is fairly common in American families, So if any adjustment in dating etiquette is to be expected, it must happen in those of the distaff side of the equation.

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