Kgomotso Matsunyane

Cheque please!

2008-03-20 08:41

Kgomotso Matsunyane

If you were to ask most South African women to tell you truthfully, who they expect to pay when out on a date, the overwhelming answer would be that we still expect or prefer for the man to foot the bill.

If you ask men the same question, you'll get a lot of varied answers. It doesn't even depend on how much the dude makes - paying for dates seems like a matter of habit, socialisation or attitude.

Some men, like my friend Midnight would never let a woman pay, as a matter of principle. Truth is some brothers have to go halves on the bill because they simply don't make "enough" money for two. Other brothers are just out to milk sisters for all we're worth, and will never pay, period. Not even for a packet of Simba chips. Sies!

Straw Poll Results

My MBF (male best friend) Q always pays for the date, but he insists that the woman must at least offer to go half ways. He points out that it can get sticky when a decision has to be made about how to spend the money, when it's only one of you that is earning.

Zuluboy on the other hand is so unperturbed by these dynamics that while he says that he pays at least 60% of the time with his wife, his male hood is not inherently tied with who pays the bills, which is concurred by Alpha. Alpha also adds: "50/50 is fine if it's not used as some feminist grand-standing".

My girlfriend Mo' says she's done with men who are "projects" - those who may not be as successful as you, and who you support when the going gets tough. She figures all it does is make the man feel emasculated. I'm inclined to agree with her on this one.

What Women Want

In this day and age where women are fighting for equal rights and opportunities, and where increasingly many women find themselves earning more than their partners, why is there still an expectation that men should foot the bill?

If you grew up in my generation you will appreciate that a lot of township fathers were absolutely rubbish when it came to supporting their families financially, so our mothers have been breadwinners for the longest time.

One would expect that this phenomena would have ended that "who pays the bill" conversation a long time ago, but no. Maybe it's precisely because our dads were so inadequate that we're much more vigilant about being used by men for our money, and where our ideal is to be on the receiving end of this big-heartedness.

The problem with money is this, when you give or share it generously with your beloved, when doo-doo hits the fan (as it inevitably does), and the prized lover becomes relegated to being the gold digging enemy, the amount of resentment built is frighteningly heightened.

There seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of resources spent, to the level of anger and resentment that accumulates afterwards. It's a terrible feeling to think you were used solely as an ATM. But then maybe we should stop treating relationships like we do a provident fund - what you put in is definitely not always what you get out.

Money Talks

Money tends to make people think that they own each other. If a dude buys you a Mercedes CLK 2-door coupe with a seven-gear Tronic automatic gearbox, I'm willing to bet he would pretty much get anything he wanted from you, wouldn't he? And vice versa, if the sister sets you up in a lovely townhouse, we all know who is wearing the pants in that relationship.

As for me, call me an old-school feminist, but I'm more on that 50/50 side of things. It's nice to be treated once in a while, but I've got my own so I don't see a reason not to pay my fair share. Maybe the control freak in me just doesn't want to feel like I "owe" anybody anything, which inevitably happens when you're too often on the receiving end.

Send your comments to Kgomotso.

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