I am an unabashed feminist. I have been my whole life. It’s probably genetic, and it’s definitely not something I’ve ever felt ashamed of. I tend to gravitate towards people who feel similarly in my dating life (because otherwise someone would probably end up murdered), but there have been times when my outspoken feminism has made things… funny.
The Money Clip
I first started seeing Peter in college. We worked together at the student-run company on campus. He was from Texas, and I was from New Mexico, so we had a certain understanding. We were also pretty good friends before our first date, and had a lot of friends in common.
So when he asked me out to dinner and a movie for our first date, my friend Lindsay gushed: “Oh, just wait, he’ll bring out the money clip.”
Peter was wealthy, you see, and had a reputation for positively spoiling his dates. Of course this didn’t make him more interesting to me; I liked him because we had a shared interest in Star Trek and spoke a similar language, since we were from the same part of the country. And he was cute. And funny. And genuinely kind.
So I poo-pooed Lindsay when she said this, saying that this wouldn’t matter to me.
But I can’t lie: as a working college student, the idea of someone buying me dinner was a nice one. Being spoiled sounded nice, too. Gifts are one of my love languages, and while I’m not a materialistic person, I do enjoy a thoughtful physical gift. Images of roses and jewelry danced in my head, even though I told myself that was stupid, and definitely not what mattered.
The night of our date, we headed to the movie theater. In line, Peter turned to me and, with all earnestness and a genuine desire to make me happy, said:
“I know you’re a feminist. So I wanted to let you know, I’m totally okay with you paying for your own movie ticket.”
I nodded my head. Of course I would pay for my own movie ticket.
For the record, I make a point of never agreeing to go on a date that I can’t fully pay for on my own, including my date’s portion. I always offer to split the bill, and I often pay for the whole thing myself. But I know that some people, men especially, feel like it’s “not a date” if they let their partner pay, so I don’t mind fudging on that.
Of course, this wasn’t something I could tell Peter, who was really trying to show that he understood where I was coming from. So I shelled out my $10 and we enjoyed an evening of “Ocean’s 11”.
Verdict: We didn’t work out in the end, but remained friends. We still follow each other on social media. He’s happily married with two adorable kids, and I couldn’t be happier for him.
The Junior Associate
I met William on OKCupid and we decided to meet in person at a dive bar in New York. I was 26 or so at the time and he was a few years older than me, probably in his 30s, and a relatively successful lawyer (and, I would realize years later, also a pretty rowdy alcoholic). We met at the dive bar and ordered bourbon and ginger ales.
He was a lot of fun and good looking, with a big beard and broad shoulders. He was from the south, too (hence the bourbon) and had a sarcastic sense of humor. We talked about music and politics and got on swimmingly.
What I remember most from the date was that I had driven my car and parked it in front of the dive bar, and some douche bag kept sitting on it to smoke a cigarette. Every time he did, I’d press the PANIC button on my keys and scare the poowatty out of him as the alarm went off. Fun times.
Anyway, William and I had a few drinks and then decided to grab some food at a nearby diner. We ordered burgers and fries, and I remember him taking some of my fries without asking after he had finished his. I don’t mind this, because I’m a sharer and I wasn’t going to finish them anyway. I think at the time I thought it was charmingly intimate. Now, I think it was kind of entitled. And probably a red flag that he didn’t even acknowledge that they were, in fact, my fries. I think I paid for my meal and my drinks, too, come to think of it.
At one point we were discussing pay for some reason and I mentioned the gender wage gap. At the time, the statistic was that women made 75% of every dollar a man made at the same job.
“That’s not true,” William said.
“Uh, yes it is,” I said, a little befuddled.
I thought it was pretty common knowledge. In fact, it was a joke among many dates I’d been on – they’d say, “Oh, I’ll get this meal, you can save yourself the quarter.” Or something similarly jokey.
“There’s no way that the woman partner at my firm is paid less than the men,” he argued.
“I don’t think you can know that for sure,” I countered.
“That’s just your opinion,” he came back at me.
At the time, I didn’t have the wherewithal to tell him that he was confusing anecdotal evidence for statistics. (Another moment in #math.) And that the whole discussion of the gender pay gap is far more nuanced than what an individual attorney makes at a firm.
After a little back and forth, he got really quiet and asked if I could drive him home because it was raining.
I dropped him off at his gated apartment building. And that was it.
I told a friend about it the next day and she got mad on my behalf.
“It’s not your opinion,” she said, “it’s a statistic. What an idiot.”
Verdict: I never heard from William again. I hope he asks before he takes another woman’s fries, God help him.