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Do dating conventions need updating in light of improved gender equality?

  1. Feb 20, 2012 #1
    I read an interesting article about "manly things" that women miss men doing. After reading the comments, it got me to thinking.

    A lot of the conventions of dating were established at a time when there was greater inequality between the sexes. Despite the fact that enormous strides have been made in terms of gender equality, many social conventions still exist that seemed based on notions of inequality.

    For example, it is generally customary for a man to pay for things on dates. At one time, it was expected that a man was going to be better off financially and in a sense was demonstrating his fitness as a provider. Is this still a good convention? What about holding the door open for women? Guys making the first move? I don't have an opinion yet, but I thought it was an interesting topic.
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  3. Feb 20, 2012 #2
    I totally understand your point and I agree that we are better off without dating conventions. From my perspective, if the two people are truly close to each other, then they should be able to be themselves instead of playing some ''roles''. Also the fact that they have different roles poses a barrier as they no longer feel like they are ''on the same boat''.

    Quite independantly from what I just said I also have an additional reason why I don't like gender roles. I suffer from Asperger Syndrome, so I don't know how to approach people and initiate conversation. So it would have been a lot more easier if women were the ones to approach me.
  4. Feb 20, 2012 #3
    Dating conventions are so US. :biggrin:
  5. Feb 20, 2012 #4

    I like Serena

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    I think dating conventions are rooted a bit deeper.

    Just consider for instance that the internet is full of pictures of pretty women, but there are hardly any of men.
    As I see it, women have beauty to attract men who respond to that.
    As such a man is still supposed to take the initiative and the woman makes the actual choice.
  6. Feb 20, 2012 #5
    True, but I for one love being hit on by women.
  7. Feb 20, 2012 #6

    Did you know that a century ago women were the 'feeble' gender, and man the 'strong' gender resisting the temptations of women who -with their low lusts- tried to tempt men into relationships.

    Time flipped the view of who's on top, and it'll flip again.
  8. Feb 20, 2012 #7


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    Me too.
  9. Feb 20, 2012 #8


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    I was just reading a book about the roaring 20s, and it said that's when the modern concept of dating started, and it apparently (according to the book anyway) was a contrivance of the women who were newly independent and moving to cities (i.e., no parents chaperoning and arranging meetings between young suitors) to have the men who were paid more pay for "dates" and the cost of the date was carefully determined for what "favors" would be exchanged.

    I've argued for a while that gender equality means equality in all ways, including paying for dates. The pay gap has mostly closed and single women are able to support themselves about the same as single men, so why should men have the burden of paying? The objective of dating today is to spend time with someone to find out if they are suitable fr a longer relationship or marriage, not to offset the cost of meals to make up for gender inequity in pay rates.

    I have a few more books to read on the roaring 20s, so I'm curious to see if similar views about the origins of some modern day things like dating are shared by other authors on the period.
  10. Feb 20, 2012 #9


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    I've bored everybody to tears with this one. One winter evening, I braved a blizzard in my college-town to just get out and have a drink or two, and ended up in a little bar in the cellar of a local motel. I had gotten myself seated when a tall baby-faced lifeguard noticed me looking at her and came over to me. She asked if she could sit with me if she bought me a drink. What a nice pick-up!!

    We ended up spending a couple of years together. She was several years my senior, but we clicked. Her house-mates objected because they had a private pact that they wouldn't have overnight male guests, but she was the one whose name was on the lease, and she wanted me. I won over a couple of the other ladies when I baked bread for them, and got up early to make them breakfasts on weekends.
  11. Feb 21, 2012 #10
    Yes, this is where it gets complex. Culture is ultimately an emergent property of biology, although it can manifest in diverse ways. I think I do see, amongst men, some genuine confusion and frustration about what positive masculinity means in this day and age. I think there are conflicting cultural messages men receive (i.e., a real man is sensitive, sensitivity is for wimps.)
  12. Feb 22, 2012 #11
    I think conventions such as men holding doors open for women ("ladies first"), the man paying for dates, the man asking the woman out, etc. are outdated and no longer need to be followed. The problem, however, is that many men and women think that if these old fashioned conventions are not followed, it implies rudeness or a lack of caring. For example, if a man holds the door for me, a female, I will think "well, he is trying to be polite... he was probably raised to think this is good behavior" not "what a jerk... he thinks I am too weak to open doors for myself". A woman might expect her date to pay for her dinner, not because she doesn't earn money and expects her future husband to provide for all her needs, but because she sees such behavior as an example of civility.
  13. Feb 22, 2012 #12
    If the issue is simple politeness as opposed to sexual attraction, then the politeness is important even when you interact with, say, collegues who happened to have the same gender. So maybe we can simply take whatever ''politeness conventions'' we have in same gender interaction and then just apply them to the interactions with opposite gender without any gender-based modifications.
  14. Feb 22, 2012 #13


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    As far as common civility goes, if I see somebody approaching a place that I am entering, I will hold the door open for them. It doesn't matter if the person approaching is a man or woman, young or old. Gender-based rules are not a good indicator of gentility, IMO. That is a fiction that some men (and women) are willing to prolong.
  15. Feb 22, 2012 #14
    It really is... Where I live, the guy isn't expected to pay for everything in most cases, and it's not really safe to assume that the guy should be the one who proposes, who asks the other person out &c.

    Hmh... I thought the civil thing was to hold the door for pretty much whoever happens to be going through. I guess I wouldn't survive very long if I ever were to leave this place :D
  16. Feb 22, 2012 #15
    It's the same in the Netherlands, but I think that under the pressure of popular movies it's somewhat shifting towards the US tradition. Mostly for older people, though, because they sometimes lack other means of finding possible partners.

    (Not that there's anything wrong with a dating system, though. Just different.)
  17. Feb 22, 2012 #16
    One of the nice things about the US. I live in a city where yearly long-walking marshes are held. In the cold war era, that meant an enormous influx of international military who participated. At that time, also a lot of US personnel.

    Nice thing about the US was when they dated women that if the women would stand up at a table in a bar all the military would stand up too. Really nice convention.
  18. Feb 22, 2012 #17


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    That's my view. If I get to a door first, and someone is behind me, I at least hold the door long enough for them to get it. If they have their hands full with something else, I hold it for them to pass ahead of me, regardless of their sex. Often, when entering buildings, there are double doors, so I will hold the first, and the other person holds the second.

    It's all a moot point when I visit my boyfriend in NYC...most of the time we encounter revolving doors, so there's no door to hold open anyway. Whichever of us is walking faster gets through it first.

    I do still run into men who were raised old-fashioned and hold open doors for women or let the women go ahead of them when getting on or off an elevator, or such. I've decided that in the bigger scheme of things, it's not worth the argument when they're trying to be polite in the way they were taught to be polite. While there are some aspects of sexism that are harmful to one or the other sex, be it workplace discrimination against women, or financial discrimination against men expected to pay for every date, some things like holding open doors are relatively neutral and not worth fighting, especially if it lets me get where I'm going faster. :wink:
  19. Feb 24, 2012 #18
    yeah the door thing... its nice when you are with a guy you like, but when guys insist on rushing ahead to open the door for you on a daily basis... it gets a bit annoying cos I'm also capable of opening a door!
  20. Feb 24, 2012 #19
    I've found that while typical social convention on how women are treated seems to have changed rather significantly the conventions on how to treat men have not changed so much.

    Its funny. I have seen a number of conversations where people bring up unfair treatment of men based on sexist social conventions and they suggest creating some sort of group or movement for the purpose of highlighting this problem. Feminists then interject, complain that many such organizations already exist and tend to be excuses for anti-feminist ranting, and say that Feminism (despite what one may think based on the name) already deals with this, that it is all about gender equality, that it does indeed highlight the sort of harm that traditional gender roles for cause for males as well. When they are asked "Well what is it that they are doing about this then? I have never seen these things brought up before." they tend to respond "Not our problem, maybe you should do something about that."
  21. Feb 24, 2012 #20


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    I take a different view. If a man holds a door open for me, it's not because he thinks I'm incapable. There is no intrinsic meaning to his actions, other than a nod of respect for me.

    Where I work, some guys will not swear in front of me. I interpret that the same way - it's a way to show respect. In no way does it affect how capable they think I am in my job.
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