“What, you’re not going to invite me in?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“But, but—I bought you dinner!”
So goes the end of a date in the movie “Red,” which I largely enjoyed and which features several ‘strong female characters,’ as we like to call them. The thing that got me thinking was the expectation that dinner=sex. And that accepting a paid meal from your date is a go-ahead for gettin’ it on that night. In my experience with the dating world, I have never encountered a similar event. BUT, certain conversations I’ve had lately have made me aware that this expectation exists.
Traditionally speaking, males pay on dates—especially early on in the relationship. And this means that the females on the date are already obliged to gush a few thank yous and maybe even show physical appreciation with hand-holding or kissing. Most girls that I know would not do that if the night was unenjoyable or if that had zero interest in their date, but that does not mean that the obligation to show appreciation is non-existent.
I’ve gone through sexual assault counseling training with The Aurora Center, and the example of this after dinner exchange taking place was discussed both in scenario form and in real life experience form. The volunteers who go to classes and give sexual violence presentations say it comes up in discussions quite frequently after the PowerPoint they show. The expectation of sex for a thirty dollar meal carries huge implications and pressure for the woman on the date; and it also asserts the dominance of the male over her in a heteronormative situation. I do know that for as many men who exact this sort of power, there are twice as many who do not—it is just unfortunate that the ones who do garner all the attention.
Going on a date should be a fun and exciting experience. Agreeing to go on a date with someone typically signifies a certain level of interest, and it seems like respect should be present, always. Girls should not end up having sex or engaging in any kind of physical contact that they otherwise wouldn’t just because they had dinner bought for them. And unfortunately, saying no is not always as easy in real life as it is in scenarios or on paper. The repercussions of such a date leave lasting, unfair feelings for the woman, and undoubtedly regrets and questions of what she could have done differently–leading to victim blame.
Most girls can buy their own dinners and don’t mind; I’ll start whipping my check card out if that is what it takes to level the playing field. A burger and fries, while tasty, do not guarantee sex and should not even warrant an assumption that it will be offered, or okay in that situation.