I know that I focus primarily upon issues that affect women, but I have a husband and a brother, both, I absolutely adore. Both are permanent cheerleaders for me, willing me do to my best, always there as support, kind words when I need them, they aren’t afraid to give me a wake up call when I need it either. So, occasionally, when I rant about the behaviour of some men in the world, I’m always conscious that I know some very good men as well.
Today’s post is looking at things from a different perspective.
Quite rightly, there is an expectation of women to be educated, leading successful careers and becoming secure financially. I’m a huge advocate of this – it’s what I want for myself and my daughters. We need to remember that this way of thinking is still relatively new. It wasn’t an expectation for my mother’s generation – but the tide began to change for the women of my era. It was as though our mothers had had enough, and they wanted more for their daughters. So many of my female school friends are doing so well in their careers – leading such different lives to their own mothers – it’s incredible.
Now – these mothers are so proud of their daughters – well done! You’ve done so well in your careers, make sure you marry someone who is more successful than you…because…you know….your husband has to be the main breadwinner…that’s the way it’s always been…your husband has to look after his family….
So then, we have the concept of women who have no one to marry because they are OVER-ACHIEVERS! Well – surely you can’t marry someone who is not earning as much as you, if you are a woman? There’s no choice is there? You have to push away perfectly decent, loving, hard-working, caring men – because you are financially better off than them – that’s what society expects. A woman cannot be more successful than her husband!
I know this outdated concept exists in the Asian community but I wonder if this way of thinking is wider than culture – whether it is an attitude that is ingrained in the psyche of all races? Does it threaten some men if their partners are more successful? Do men feel emasculated? Or are men perfectly fine with it, but their family and friends are not?
The reason why I’m asking the question is because I know that neither my husband or my brother would care about their partners earning more or less than them. That wouldn’t make or break their relationships.
Yesterday, my husband and I went out to a swanky place to eat. We were celebrating our wedding anniversary (eight years, in case you were wondering). We reminded each other about one of our very first dinner dates that we ever went on. We had been sat next to an older couple who came in later than us, and in between our conversations that were just flowing incessantly, we noticed that the couple next to us did not utter a word to each other. The realisation seemed to dawn on us at the same time, and like two naughty school children, we’d cast sidelong glances at the other couple that were not conversing with each other and whisper – why aren’t they talking? It wasn’t the comfortable ‘we don’t need to talk to each other’ silence – it was the ‘kill me, kill me now’ type of silence. At the end of their meal, they asked for the bill – and left. Not even looking at each other. Just left. At the end of our date, we made a solemn promise to each other that we would always talk to one another. That we’d never become the couple who had nothing to say to each other.
We’ve kept that promise. We discuss anything and everything! So last night we talked about films and books and holidays and music and aspirations…the end of the night arrived and we asked for the bill. Then what happened was what happens every time any couple asks for the bill. They handed the bill secretly and surreptitiously to my husband. This never fails to annoy and amuse me at the same time. I am not of a delicate constitution. I can handle knowing how much the meal cost thank you very much! Guess what? Going to this swanky place was my idea – I am more than happy and more than capable of paying for the meal, or at the very least, splitting the cost. No man has to pay for me because I can pay my own way. You do not have to insult me by handing the bill to the man at the table. Eight years we’ve been married. We’ve shared all sorts of experiences and seen each other at our strongest and our most vulnerable. A bill for our meal does not need to be handed to him. We’ll share it.
Wrong! Without me being aware, I was creating a scene. Perhaps women did not pay or even offer to pay at ‘swanksville united’ where we were eating, so all eyes appeared to be on us as I said I’ll get half. I began insisting. I remember sensing about 20 pairs of eyes burning into my back. My husband paid for the meal, and it seemed that peace had been restored to the world. The whole room breathed a collective sigh of relief. I had had such a great time that I didn’t mention it to anyone – but it made me feel sad, that I was the little lady being paid for and taken care of by my husband – and that was the role that I was expected to fulfil.
Even before I met my husband and would go on coffee or dinner dates with others, I never expected a man to pay for me. I wanted everything to be on an equal footing. You haven’t bought me dinner, you haven’t bought me. Don’t have any expectations from me. I can look after myself. On my very first actual date with my husband, I had changed my bags, was in a rush and had forgotten to take my cards and money with me. I was mortified! He had to even pay for my car park! I was so embarrassed and uncomfortable when the bill arrived, I physically wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole! I felt as though he would feel that I deliberately had left my money at home and had expected him to pay for absolutely everything! Every cell in my body was screaming – but that’s not what I’m like! You must believe me! I even called my mum when he went to use the restroom, and told her about leaving my cards at home. She was more than willing to drive to the restaurant and bring me my cards – but the embarrassment of my mum turning up on a date was also too much for me to handle – so I declined her kind offer. I confessed all to him when he came back to the table. He just made fun of me, told me to get over myself, he had invited me to dinner, there was no problem with me paying, and if I was so bothered about it, I could pay for him next time. The rest, as they say, is history.
I just feel sad that in 2017, men are expected to pay for women. That’s all. I know that I could have written that in a single sentence, but that would have been a rubbish post.
I have some solutions though! How about the bill is put in the middle next time? How about we don’t do the charade of ‘the cost of the dinner is an annoyingly massive secret that the woman must never be privy to’, rubbish? Why don’t we assume, I bet this woman is doing just as well as the man sitting opposite her, I bet she can handle this bill too?
I know that some women like the man getting the bill at the end of the meal, and I’m not having a go about that – I just mean that society shouldn’t assume that a woman can’t!
Also, a man is more than his bank balance and how much money he is worth.
I have no more to add.