Who Pays for a Date in This ‘Sexually Liberated’ Era?
陈晖 译  

Who Pays for a Date in This ‘Sexually Liberated’ Era?


By Megan Carpentier



To many (if not most) women, the idea that our lives should be constrained or singularly defined by a man’s choices is an anathema[1], even when we recognize that institutional norms and some individual acts of discrimination ultimately limit us from the full range of participation in society. But when it comes to dating, even among millennials[2], far too many women continue to play more passive, traditional roles in their own personal lives, far beyond what Zeitgeist[3] might otherwise indicate.


[1] anathema 可憎的事物;可恶的想法。


[2] millennials 是millennial generation的缩写,用来描述出生于1980到2000年的一代年轻人。


[3] Zeitgeist 时代精神。

In no area of dating is this more self-evident than when it comes to money, the discussion of which – even in this much more sexually liberated area – remains quite taboo. A recent study by Rosanna Hertz (Wellesley College), David Frederick (Chapman University) and Janet Lever (California State University, Los Angeles) of more than 17,000 unmarried heterosexual[4] women and men showed that, for all that[5] some people like to claim that chivalry is dead or feminism[6] is no longer needed, old fashioned norms about who pays for dates (men) and who respondents[7] thought should pay for dates (men) are alive and well[8].


[4] heterosexual 异性恋的。


[5] for all that 尽管如此。


[6] feminism 女权主义。


[7] respondent 调查对象


[8] alive and well 安然无恙。

In the study, 84% of male respondents and 58% of female ones self-reported that men still cover most of the dating expenses well beyond the first date (where the numbers are reportedly even higher), though 75% of men and 83% of women report commonly sharing some dating expenses by the six month mark. Around 57% of women in the study report that they pull out their wallets early in dating to split a bill[9], but 39% of those women wanted to be told to put their wallets away, and 44% of all the women in the study were “bothered” that men expected them to pay at all.


[9] split the bill 平摊费用。

Interestingly, 64% of male respondents say they believe that women should contribute financially to a relationship, and 44% would end a relationship with a woman who never offered to pay, but 76% of men felt guilty when the women did pay.


Frederick, who spoke to Catherine Pearson at the Huffington Post[10], said “As social roles start to change, people often embrace the changes that make their lives easier, but resist the changes that make their lives more difficult.” They found that, though millennials espouse[11] more egalitarian[12] ideals about dating, their patterns of behavior around who pays and whose supposed responsibility it is to pay remain stubbornly in line with their older peers’ actions.


[10] 美国一家新闻博客网站。


[11] espouse 支持,拥护,赞成(信仰、政策等)。


[12] egalitarian 主张平等的;平等主义的。


Even as Americans are socialized to talk a bit more about sex than we used to – birth control, health status and consent, for starters[13] – we still have an aversion[14] to talking about money, from how much we make to how much to tip. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that women and men of all ages often fall back on[15] the two established rules of dating that survived the sexual revolution[16]: men ask women out, and thus they pay.


[13] for starters〈非正式〉(强调一系列理由、意见等的第一条或表示首先发生的事)首先,作为开头。


[14] aversion 厌恶;憎恶。


[15] fall back on(其他方法行不通时)转而做,转而使用,转而依靠。


[16] the sexual revolution 性解放运动,性革命。

In the case of millennials, for whom “dating” is often something that happens a bit later in a less formal courtship[17] period, the question of who pays is even more fraught[18] by the conundrum[19] of who has the money to pay at all. Studies show only 31% of millennials think they earn enough money to have the lives they want.


[17] courtship(男向女)求爱,追求。


[18] fraught 焦虑;担忧。


[19] conundrum 谜语;难解的问题。

And despite much ballyhooed[20] talk about the “real” cause of the wage gap, the fact of the matter remains that, no matter how you caveat[21] it, women make less than their peers in the same professions and much less than their male peers if you take into account their differing choices of professions (which some writers have noted are often driven by the experience of sexism in universities and professional settings).


[20] ballyhoo 大肆宣传。


[21] caveat(为防止误解而)说明;知会备忘。

So when it comes time to pull out one’s wallet at the end of the date for people under 30, the sad truth is that there might not be much money in either, but it’s statistically probable that there is less in the woman’s. Is it any wonder that, from a strictly financial perspective, some women prefer to be taken out to dinner rather than to join someone for it? Or that the men for whom earning money is a struggle prefer (but feel guilty about) a woman who participates in the traditional financial transactions (dinner, drinks, movies, etc) that still underpin[22] the modern dating environment?


[22] underpin 加强,巩固;构成(......的基础等)。

In 2013, history professor Stephanie Coontz wrote about the seemingly anti-egalitarian choices women and their families seem to increasingly make as the economic conditions of modern life impinge on[23] their personal ideals.


[23] impinge on 冲击;撞击。

“This behavior is especially likely if holding on to the original values would exacerbate[24] tensions in the relationships they depend on,” she concluded. Most people, especially men and women in their 20s, want to find life partners, long-term relationships or even somewhat short-term ones. But between the economics of their lives, the ones of dating and the pressure everyone feels to make dating “work” for them or dating partners “t” in their lives, it’s not hard to see why many women and men might sacrifice their egalitarian values when a server sets a check down at the dinner table.


[24] exacerbate 恶化,加重;激怒。

Traditions like who pays, sexist though they are, give heterosexual men and women the last existing bit of the dating script to follow in an emotionally and economically fraught interaction. It always seems easier to go along with the norm than risk rejection by the other person by forgoing one’s lines[25] in the script.


[25] forgo one’s lines 忘记台词。