In her article ‘why most men should pay on first dates’ – an article powered by feminism and drenched in the usual left wing cliché about how the ills of our ‘socially constructed’ society are due to power and oppression – Rucchetto became disillusioned with the idea of splitting the bill.
In fact, according to her, the turning point came five years ago when her friends and teachers introduced her to ideas that enabled her to question that approach. Ideas based on other feminist writers such as Bell Hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins) – a radical left wing feminist writer known for her work on race, capitalism, oppression and power – inspired Rucchetto to change her mind since:
‘People benefit differently based on the current structure of society, so depending on who we’re spending time with, it shouldn’t be expected for both parties to pay equal amounts’.
Though this statement might come across as socially just and virtuous, it is really a facade that masks her feminist agenda. For who, might you ask, are the general beneficiaries of this ‘structure of society’? Well it is the devil himself: man of course.
To make her case, Ruchetto resurrects the ‘gender’ pay gap argument and uses it to suggest that since men generally earn more than women, they should pay most, if not all, of the bill.
Personally I always thought dates were about discovering whether there is any chemistry or spark between the two parties dating. I thought that they provided an opportunity in finding out whether you are actually attracted to that person, and whether you get along with their personality. But fundamentally I assumed that dates – particularly first dates – provided an opportunity to asses whether you want to see that person again.
Ruchetto on the other hand states that dates provide:
‘a small opportunity to recognise that people in society have different access to resources’.
But why focus on such a small area when there are more important factors to consider when dating? Surely getting to know your date is a greater good than noting their social-economic status. I mean if you are already thinking about who’s going to pay the bill, the date can’t be going all that well can it?!
Of course the reason why Ruchetto focuses on this area is because for the large majority of feminist thinkers like her, everything must be interpreted in terms of power and oppression.
Indeed, it’s quite natural to form a mental picture about how wealthy you think your date is presenting themselves. But Ruchetto is essentially viewing the innocent role of dating and applying a postmodern feminist political slant on it, in order to highlight the ‘power’ imbalances between men and women, and then using social justice theory to correct for it.
I mean take her personal experience into account:
‘When I went on a first date with a man who spent most of the time boasting about his sports car and travels, it confused me when he wanted to split the bill. Curiously, it is often these privileged men that have declared to my friends and I: “I’m a feminist, so we’ll split it”’.
So Ruchetto expected the man to pay for the date just because he appeared wealthy. But is that really indicative of his membership to a beneficiary class of society? And does that really make him one of societies privileged few and therefore following on from this, has an obligation to pay for his date? Did it not cross Ruchetto’s mind that perhaps he was exaggerating or even outright lying? Since first dates provide a short window of time to impress the other person then this could well have been the case. And even though he wanted to split the bill this was not good enough for Ruchetto since she ‘clearly’ sensed that his version of feminism wasn’t compatible with his privilege!
Does anyone else sense how ludicrous this statement is?!
Yet on the other hand I could well understand why he would want to split the bill if it happened to be an expensive date. But if it was just a coffee and a slice of cake then chances are he probably wasn’t as rich as Ruchetto believed. Remember there is a difference between appearances and reality.
It is well known that men tend to advertise their material possessions to women, but that doesn’t mean that women should feel entitled to being paid and hence provided for – even though that is the expected norm in dates.
By adopting the only method feminists use to interpret the world around them (namely power and oppression); Ruchetto sees dating as a way of assessing how much power your date has in terms of material wealth relative to their date.
But dates are not an opportunity to asses how well your date is faring in society, they are simply an opportunity to asses whether you like them or not. And if you are forming part of that decision on your dates’ proclivity to earning power, material possessions, or wealth, then you are more than likely setting the foundations of a relationship on unbalanced grounds.
On the other hand we don’t need to go on a date to see how people are faring in society, as it should be abundantly clear that there are differences in all walks of life across cultures and even historical time frames. So what if people have more resources than others? That no way entails that they have an obligation to pay for their date. There are other factors to take into consideration. Why should someone pay for someone else they don’t like or don’t enjoy their company?
In saying all this however, it is shown that heterosexual dating scripts remain fairly traditional, with the man not only expected to ask a woman out but also to pay for the date (Emmers-Sommer et al. (2010)). It is important to state that in this study both men and women expected the bill to be paid by the man. But firstly the reason isn’t because of the gender pay gap and secondly as we all should know by now, the pay gap has almost nothing to do with gender. It’s much more likely, however, to be due to evolutionary reasons – perhaps even biological.
So when Ruchetto writes, in what sounds like a fist pounding statement of truth:
‘Whether or not men believe women’s labour is underpaid, it is. Further, whether or not men agree with women being underpaid, they directly benefit from it’.
She is wrong. Women are not underpaid in the sense that they are purposefully paid less for the same job just because they are a woman. In fact they are not underpaid at all. They are paid in accordance to what job they perform, whether they are full or part-time, and, finally, in accordance with equal pay laws. In other words they are paid equitably. This statement is only controversial to those who have a left wing political agenda. But facts – though may hurt one’s feelings – don’t lie.
Further I do not quite understand what Ruchetto means when she says ‘they(men) directly benefit from it(women being underpaid). Surely, being underpaid affects everyone in the medium to long term. Perhaps she means that it benefits men in the sense that it allows them to retain a monopoly on all the ‘top’ jobs so to speak. But if this is the case why do companies opt to pay men more when they could just as well hire women to do the same job for less money. Either Ruchetto’s thinking is confused at this point, or I do not understand exactly what she means by how men benefit from women being ‘under paid’, in which case clarification is needed.
On thinking a little more deeply about Ruchetto’s argument, I wonder if she thought about how much time, work effort and dedication rich ‘privileged’ people put into their career. They almost certainly don’t sit around smoking big fat cigars and playing golf all day, and are much more likely to make a big impact on other people’s lives by providing work, jobs and products which benefits society as a whole. So perhaps we should be buying them a coffee and patting them on the back for a job well done? This might seem like an extreme example but you get the point. If we are to follow this idea of equity then surely the coffee is on us?
As I continued to read her article, I couldn’t help but sense the typical liberal tick-box approach to it. She talks about dating, but feels impelled to tell us that she has dated both ‘men and women’ and even implies that she has dated a ‘gender-diverse’ person even though it adds no value to the core of her message and if anything appears to be an attempt at virtue signalling. She further makes a very generalised statement without qualification regarding the subject of women’s physical appearance being the subject of ridicule across all sectors of employment:
‘Women’s physical appearances are held to impossibly high standards and a routine subject of ridicule everywhere from the entertainment industry to The White House’
But once again, her comment adds no value to the core of her message other than trying to remind us how oppressed women are in the workplace. Ruchetto believes that expectations surrounding women’s appearances and behaviors have both material and personal costs, and that these should also be factored in for consideration. Behavioural expectations such as: calmness, attentiveness, understandability and flexibility are mentioned as though society has enforced these expectations upon women – which I do not believe. Naturally however her ‘argument’ is one side since she does’t mention any type of behaviour or apparant social norm that men are expected to act out. Expectations such as paying the bill perhaps?
Since it is well documented and researched that women prefer people over things – as opposed to men who prefer things over people – then isn’t it possible to interpret these so called ‘expectations’ not as socially constructed but biologically determined instead? I think this is a valid argument.
But of course the point Ruchetto is trying to make in all this is that women have it hard. They don’t get paid as well as men. Society is constantly stigmatizing and body shaming them. And that they feel they have to act in accordance to a dictatorial society that tells them how to behave and feel. All this keeps her oppression narrative alive, and as a consequence believes this should come at a cost.
Now Ruchetto does of course waver around centre ground by adding that if she earned more than the guy she would gladly pick up the check, and that she admits also that the payer of the bill cannot be reduced to just men vs. women, but should take other factors into consideration – which I whole heartily agree. But this I feel is an attempt to soften the blow so to speak. Remember the title of the article is ‘why most men should pay on first dates’ and that her reasoning is based on a narrow minded misunderstood view of how the world operates; i.e in terms of power, oppression, privilege and victimization.
Apart from a sprinkling of positive points regarding the importance of consideration and respect between each other, Ruchetto’s argument is conclusively this:
Most men should pay on the first date because on average they earn more than women. Most men should pay on the first date because society is socially constructed to benefit men whilst oppressing women by holding them to impossibly high beauty standards and social expectations.
But these arguments fall flat on its face at a moments reflection.
Personally I always found that women tend to put pressure on themselves to look beautiful or indeed attractive, though I admit this desire to attract may have some outside factors. But this is not to say that young men are dissimilar! But here’s the point: no one is forcing us to abide by socially constructed expectations. If we allow ourselves to get sucked in to this way of thinking, then the consequence is damage to our own and others psyches which could well produce unwanted feelings of anxiety, resentment and anger which is not good in any society.
You can read the full article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-46164568