A Young Patriarch’s Guide to Going Dutch
I’ve misled you. Consider this a story. A not-made-up story, not-told in the form of a story, but yet, a story; one that is being told every day at that shoddy buka close to your home or in the fanciest of Chinese restaurants in the uptown areas around you; has been told since the beginning of male-female interactions of any kind, and will continue to be told after you’re done reading my version, in various forms, across various languages. Some varieties of it is the spice of today’s gossip—in The View, or amongst girlfriends hanging out at a park bench—and the more sombre other varieties have sparked revolutions, ignited hearts to march and has taught quite the number of millennials how to use the word woke.
How have I misled you exactly? Well, this is not a story about young people alone, neither is it about young patriarchs alone, nor is it even about going Dutch alone. It is a story about why we act the way we do, and how to act better so that the way we do does not undo another.
Feminism, gender equality, women’s rights, girl child education, Hashtag HeForShe, women’s financial liberation. These are words we hear more frequently today. They didn’t just appear out of nowhere like some sadly uninformed folk might think. They’ve been around for quite some time (Slut Walk of April 2011, Ladies Home Journal’s Sit-In of March 1970, Million Mom March of 2000, March for Women’s Lives of April 2004, Take Back the Night of 1975 and Bra Burning of 1968), but today though, they are the words that have shaped our culture and sprung forth so many little and diverse offspring that they’ve become an inevitability in common speech. Don’t wonder too much why it is all about women; I can’t say exactly why, but the human society since creation—through religion, culture, and one-way traditions—has been unfair to the woman and femininity in general. So, you go figure.
A significant consequence of today’s feminism is the sudden realization of the implications of the word ‘patriarchy’. To refer to a person as a patriarch, especially in educated and exposed circles today, is akin to vilification by virtue of nomenclature, just the same way an American would look at someone from North Korea just for the fact that he or she is from North Korea, or how a dedicated Arewa youth would cast eyes on anyone who bore the half of a yellow sun in today’s Nigeria.
This is especially sad—no matter how much it cannot be helped—because (perhaps we can blame it on etymological fallacies) originally, a patriarch is defined as a man who is the head of a family. Full stop, no time-inflicted bias defecting its meaning. Traditionally, especially in Judeo-Christian lore, a patriarch refers to a biblical ancestor or a Hebrew leader like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Adam, Noah, etc. A more extended definition can be any respected and experienced senior man within a group or family. A young patriarch would therefore be any young man who is respected and/or experienced within a group or a family. All loose definitions of the word family following, one can safely assume that a young patriarch is any young man who lives independently, fends for himself, and has a say in any setting where he is liable and allowed to offer opinions. That just about covers more than two-thirds of young men in their late twenties upwards in a typical urban Nigerian society.
A patriarchy, if we connote from the definition of a patriarch, would therefore mean a societal system involving these respected men who have a say in their various groups, if not entirely, but majorly, by a great degree. A more direct definition would be a social system in which men are regarded as the authority within the family and society, and in which power and possessions are passed on from father to son. This is the holding definition today, and is exactly what anyone should mean/refer to whenever they talk about the patriarchy. It is a system as old as age itself, but it has been challenged—like earlier mentioned—for as long as it has been old as well, previously by minor or nearly-obscure cultures whose agitations (or contrariety to patriarchalism) could not make significant dents in global views, and more recently by members and practitioners (especially among the female folk) of popular and wide-spreading cultures, religions, and traditions that are heavily, predominantly and oppressively patriarchal.
Given these understandings, it is easy, quite deceitfully in some instances, for one to term a ‘young patriarch’ as a young man who is in opposition to these aforementioned more recent agitations either directly through words and actions (or even counter-activism) or indirectly through personal biases, dogma, or learned beliefs that challenge the male ego. While, in reality, this may be true of the term in most instances, but for the sake of this article, at least for now, it would be safer to retain the earlier given definition of a young patriarch as ‘any young man who lives independently, fends for himself, and has a say in any setting where he is liable and allowed to offer opinions’.
In the ensuing discourse, however, concerning their approach to ‘going Dutch’, one is allowed to passively—keyword, passively—hold the influenced or subjective definition of a young patriarch in mind, as it is indeed these lot, given over to shatterproof patriarchalism, that the discourse mostly concern.
Let’s get a little less formal, shall we? You would ask, why all the interest in dissecting these definitions and what has it got to do with going Dutch? What is going Dutch? And, how does it help me? I’ll answer all questions with this one question: have you ever been on a date (romantic or otherwise) and it gets to the point where payment is to be made, and everything gets super awkward? By good hope, this article hopes to offer pointers to many aspects of this social conundrum, from the man’s point of view, and the woman’s, and perhaps, in its best capabilities, offer advices.
“Going Dutch” is a term that indicates that each person participating in a group activity pays for themselves, rather than any person paying for anyone else, particularly in a restaurant bill. It is also called Dutch date, Dutch treat (the oldest form) and “doing Dutch”. Sometimes it is used to refer to the alternative practice of splitting the bill between the participating parties. This latter meaning could be said to have emanated from the need to call every other thing that was not one party paying for the entire meal a particular thing; if not, going, or doing Dutch means “pay for yourself”. We’re however interested in the entire practice of bill payment. What influences it for the male, all types and beliefs of male, and for the female? Is it circumstantial, tied to demographics, or sexual and/or emotional affinities? Seeing how much our title is deceptive yet?
The truth is that it is all those things and more. A little looking into proves that the decision to pay the bill and avoid some form of embarrassing drama with the waiter can be tied to demographics (varying world cultures, traditions, mores), to emotional triggers (resentment, pride due to social influence and affluence, ego coaxing, senses of entitlement), to something I’ve chosen to call sexual dependability (the prince-model who saves the ailing princess who’s lost her glass slipper, and the princess-model who decides that a prince is waiting around to find a glass slipper she’d laxly left lying around); but one more trigger comes into play, and that is logic. Financial logic, and from all indications, it is the best option, all the time, especially now that fixations to global cultures (all world cultures) that have remained time-cemented practices emanating from emotional responses to some tragic or comedic event of a people’s history are being torn down, one brick after another, and common sense is repeatedly being preached, fast becoming mainstay in the 21st century world and beyond. It is the only trigger that has nothing to do with emotion.
So, we’ve broken down the decision to pay the bill into two broad options of triggers—emotional, and logical. To break this further down, emotional triggers can be split to fourteen different classes, five of which are specific to women, while one and a sub-division of another class being specific to men. There are two logical triggers, but they can be treated as one thing still. Notice how it maintains its novelty, being undented and untainted, which is a testimony to its purity and to why it must be imbibed?
Our subdivisions of emotional triggers (let’s call them the emotional classes):
- Traditional Romanticism
- Personal Principles
- Financial Chivalry
- Social Correctness
- Cultural Correctness
- Encouraging Feminism
- Disparaging Feminism
- Rigid, Constrictive Social Constructs
- Passive Anti-Feminism
- Business Mindedness (ROI Expectations)
- Social Rebellion (from old-fashioned norms)
- The Need to Offer ‘Opening Statements’ on Expected Relationship
- Joining New-Age Revolutions
- Defying the Patriarchy
- Modern Romanticism
- The Preparation Excuse
- The Whatever-I-Can-Contribute Mentality
- The Need to ‘Prove Feminism’
Financial Chivalry and Business Mindedness are specific to men, while the last five items (from Defying the Patriarchy to The Need to Prove Feminism) are specific to women.
The logically-driven triggers are common sense, and financial limitations.
Break ‘em down, shall we?
Before we do though, I think it’s worth noting that there are five ways a bill at a restaurant can be paid, as it concerns one of the involved parties. The party (he or she) could either pay for everything, could pay for nothing, could pay half the bill, or an agreed-upon portion (called “Refené” in Greek, In Italian: “Pagare alla romana” [to pay like they do in Rome], In France: “faire moitié-moitié” [each one pays half of the bill]), could pay his/her own bills—the actual Dutch Going—(called, In Spanish, “Pagar a la Catalane” [to pay the way Catalans do], In Italian: “Pagare alla romana” [to pay like they do in Rome], In Urdu (Pakistan): “Apna apna” [each his own]), or take turns to pay, either within that same night, or between nights if an encore is to be expected.
Typically seen in France and China, this is the Shakespeare-enhanced fairy-tale-fostered belief that for the romance to be proper, the man must step up and pay for everything. It is not a belief held by men alone. It is culture driven (remember me defining culture as time-cemented practices emanating from emotional responses to some tragic or comedic event of a people’s history?), so the women hold the same beliefs. In fact, most women refuse to pay because it isn’t traditional for them to do so, even when they are more than capable to.
Honestly, there could (should) be a plethora of examples under this. Because we humans, we can make some funny kinds of decisions, I swear. From findings however, there are four things a person can decide within himself or herself to carry as a personal guiding principle that would ultimately determine how infrequent with the purse or thrifty he or she would get in front of a waiter.
Very closely related to traditional romanticism in its practice, this is that oft-ugly instance where the man all on his own decides (even when he is financially incapable to) to cover the bill. It is not being backed by culture, just a need to protect an over bloated ego. It is specific to men alone. Guys, let’s not fool ourselves, it’s not being a gentleman to pay thousands on a meal of prawn and pepper chicken with your babe, and take a tricycle back to a bedsitter with a busted up ceiling fan at the end of the day.
In Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, China and Spain, it is simply believed and considered rude to have a bill split. One party must have to pay all, doesn’t matter the gender. In the Middle East especially, it is extremely rude and one can instantly lose favours if such occurs, so, only when one is able to foot an entirely bill (even for get-togethers), are they organized.
A close cousin to social correctness. The same principles apply, but instead, this time, splitting is an affront to collective culture, and is considered taboo. This is seen in places like Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, thus hosting is only done when one is certain he/she can foot the bill.
This is where the tricky, almost always two-faced, decision every today’s woman’s man has to make: the decision to back feminist preaching or not to. Men who back wholeheartedly end up going the extra mile of encouraging feminism, intentionally and unintentionally, through words and action, and oftentimes, action spills into financing the date. It’s not that tricky for a woman; this is not to say there aren’t women today, that despite all that has been preached about women independence, and equity between women and men, still feel is all hullabaloo and nonsense talk. What is common here however is that both men and women who act out of the personal principle of encouraging feminism end up either splitting the bill or doing Dutch.
The opposite of encourage is discourage. However, the most subtle counter-encouragement concept is disparagement. It is acting as if you’re in support of a thing, only to rub its failures in the faces of people who actually believe in it. When it comes to feminism, men (mostly) and (disbelieving) women are both culprits. They’d both split the bill or go Dutch, but only in way of saying, “you say you’re a modern man/woman, and believe in equality, then we must pay portions (or pay for our individual selves)…to uphold your beliefs”. Be wary of these sort.
Rigid, Constrictive, Social Constructs
It’s exactly as the name goes. Keying into what society demands, especially when it’s against your wishes, does a great deal in influencing the way you pay a bill during a date. There are many social constructs that can limit one’s common sense in situations like this, but we’ll look at the major three as it pertains dating etiquette.
No matter what, the elder pays in North Korea, while in China, the reverse is seen. The younger one pays all, which is a sign of honour and profound respect in less-romantic outings. One can already see how, by common sense, this construct fails in a place like Nigeria, or practically any third world country, where the spread of wealth pays no respect to age.
In Indonesia, the rule changes and becomes about the person with the higher social status. He or she pays all. That kind of makes sense since nine times out of ten, they are the ones more financially capable of footing the bill. But what of when they are not? There is always that eventuality.
Influence works the same way as affluence, but instead is more tied to one’s ability to move crowds and gather followings. The person with the best penchant for resounding rhetoric. The perfect Adolf Hitler persona. This still does not exclude the eventuality we’ve just spoken of.
This is not quite the same as claiming to be a feminist and speaking ill of it. This is full-out antipathy, only done behind the curtain and off the stage, not for any particular reason, except the one where an unabashed declaration of stand against the feminist right would put such a person on the spot, in the spotlight forever, and under the unflinching scrutiny of the public eye. That’s way too much attention for people to handle, so they downplay their antagonism and use subtle and hurtful means to showcase. A study by FridayFriday.com shows 5% of men fall in this category, believing the woman should pay all since she is now equal; that men have been paying since inception of history, so he pays nothing.
This is another emotional trigger specific to men alone. It is simply the want of ROI (Return on Investment). For those of us not too familiar with the business term, it means, literally as, profit from an investment as a percentage of the amount invested. Applying, you can easily see that the business minded male company has done a risk analysis on the situation, noting that the female he is going out with is still relatively unknown, so, if he speculates the market while still on the date and notices it is not profitable (in cash, or in kind), he pulls out by performing the grand gesture of paying for his own meal alone. He cannot ‘go and come and kill himself’ for someone he knows little or nothing about. Why do I picture American Wall Street goons while writing this? And, as much as this bloke might seem to act out of logic, he isn’t. It is entirely emotional. Greed, pride and resentment in a ginormous green broth here. 91% of men polled by fridayfriday.com fall into this category.
In places like Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, people are more accepting of modern ways of dating, and paying for a date. In fact, nearly every young person in these countries consider the practice of ‘man pays all’ old-fashioned and obsolete. So, they’d rather split the bill or take turns in paying. Sounds good? It is good. Again, that bothersome eventuality pops up. What if, indeed, only the man can pay all? That question, for that instance, fails this model.
Somehow, all the triggers described earlier qualifies as stinginess. What distinguishes them from what pure stinginess is the impurity; the ‘other’ reason driving them. Here, however, there is no ‘other’ reason. A stingy person—not a cheapskate, nor a frugal spender—a stingy person, would solicit to pay a portion, even when, after evaluating the situation, he or she can foot the bill comfortably and bring some relief to his/her partner. Note that persons driven towards stinginess never not pay anything at all. They do, but they pay far below their actual means. Which is grossly unfair. The Mosul, Damascus, and Aleppo people are usually considered by their countrymen to act this way.
The Need to Offer ‘Opening Statements’ on Expected Relationship
This is just a fancy way of saying the man wants to let the lady know that he values her and would treat her as an equal as long as they’re together, so, despite his ability (or inability) to foot the bill, he goes ahead and offers a split on the first date as a symbolic effort to this. Very mature way to begin a relationship, especially if you’re dating a girl who is equally mature enough to not take your intentions the wrong way and call you stingy or something else. Quick question though: what if on that first date, the lady, indeed, cannot pay as much? And again, as romantic and sweet the act is as a promise, what if along the line, it all falls apart? Would it have meant you lied? Or wished beyond your abilities? Too many what-ifs. The exact characteristic of a true emotional decision.
A little detour: emotional decisions are novel, they are pristine. They should be imbibed once in a while. It is the spice of life. It will be an abhorrence to preach against it. However, one finds that once it comes to money matters, the head—that right-brain thinking—is the best tool to use.
Joining New-Age Revolutions
Heavily influenced by practices in Rome and Catalonia, in urban India, Pakistan, and Turkey—nations not famous for their loose traditionalism—the younger generation seem to have embraced changes, changes one is sure was not easily obtained and is not so openly practiced. The wave spreads from cities like New Dehli, Istanbul, Islamabad, Ankara, Kolkata, to places like Surat, Quetta, Konya, and with time, one can bet that it would catch up with all parts of these nations, because a single part has caught the flame. Nigeria, and indeed, African nations are not foreign to influential spreads such as this, and the trend is the same; from Lagos and Abuja, to Calabar, Port Harcourt, Benin City, Kano, then Warri, Owerri, Lafia. Even places in North Korea has been reported to have young people doing the Dutch (I just made it sound like an 80s swing dance right now) and splitting the bill. The revolutionist still faces the same snag the social rebel faces though—what if, indeed, only the man can pay all?
Defying the Patriarchy
This is a women-specific trigger. It is actually the inspiration of this long—we can call it a treatise by now, can’t we?—article. This outright, stubborn defiance of all things male-dominated or male-preferred is the reason a woman would send the man’s wallet back into his trouser pocket, pick up her purse, count some bills (or take out a black platinum card) and hand to the waiting waiter. The big Q is, would she always be able to keep up the act?
The same effect as the anti-patriarchal actions, but different stimulus. The modern romantic woman believes she has to pay for everything when she asks the man out, and vice versa. Modern romanticism model comes closest to the common sense model in that they preach the same message, but the romantic leaves out the crucial factor of ‘considering the purse at all times’. Say, you’ve checked your purse and can foot the restaurant bill, and after eating, the night takes you to a theme park or a karaoke bar, and at that point, you’ve run dry. The modern romantic hits a bump here; one that the couple operating with the common sense model can easily evade.
The Preparation Excuse
I was truly alarmed when I encountered this. This is the female-specific version of stinginess with certain semantic twists. What is it exactly?
The woman: “You only had to get a tie, shoes, a good suit, and a nice perfume.
“Me, I paid for my makeup, hair products, haircuts and colouring, bought fresh tampons, spray tans, clothes, shoes, purse, and women still get paid generally 75 cents to every man’s dollar”
And so, she does not pay…or pays a mite and leaves the rest to the man.
The Whatever-I-Can-Contribute Mentality
Yet another manifestation of female stinginess and business-mindedness. Much like the man would want a return on investment, the woman would zero her mind to do the acclaimed ‘small things’ during the date. She’d decide to take on the bill for the cab fare, the extra bottle of water to go home with, the sunshades bought at the street corner on the way to the movies…the small things. No matter how buoyant she may have been at the time, which would have made the experience a lot more fun.
The Need to ‘Prove Feminism’
It’s become quite the hackneyed retort from a good number of today’s women: “if all must be equal, all must share”, and some do it when situation does not even call for it, or right at meeting the man for the first time (say it’s a blind date or a tinder set-up). The feminism gospel has been so drummed into them (at least a variation of it) that they now see themselves as the messiahs of the feminist cause. The result of this is psyching, or forcing the man to split the bill or go Dutch. What if he’d wanted to cover all expenses? Or talk about it at least?
Resisting this urge to prove feminism should be the first step any of today’s active adherents of the cause should take whenever they are with a man, whether on a date or otherwise. This is not saying ignore your feminist rights (if there’s any such) or rights as a human being, but for the love of God, rub it not on the man’s face. Else, be rest assured, date number two will not happen.
Now we’ve covered the emotional triggers, here’s what taking action from a logical viewpoint offers you.
Regarding Financial Limitations
A subset of the common sense model. It is simply knowing how much you have, and upfront, stating how much you can spend for the date. And this applies to the man and to the woman.
I’ve called it common sense all this while. What I should have been calling it is ‘the ultimate bravery’. This is because the common sense model relies on one simple, but tough-as-hell action to be successful—admission. The ability to walk up to any class of guy or girl and say, “this is how much I can spend for tonight.” This is independent of who asked out or not, which modern romanticism preaches. There is a certain endearment it entrusts upon your date, your ability to tell this truth, if you’re going out with someone with a good human heart, that, despite the financial limits of the night, would ensure you both have a blast, a very memorable outing.
A few local responses from persons queried on this matter worth quoting:
My rule about life, whoever is disposed to pick the bill should do so. If you invite me on a date, you pick the bill. If I invite you, I pick the bill. People misunderstand feminism. God created different animals but no one animal is more important than the other. They all function within their capacity. I have taken care of a guy for 8 months for friendship sake and all I got was gratitude. Right now we hardly communicate. And that wasn’t my first or last. And I don’t respect them less because I took care of them. Mostly in this part of the world were women have been made to believe they are less, women are still trying to have financial freedom which is not easy because most of the help they might need to get their head up is still in the hands of men who would not offer help till they have objectified her. So right now it’s as though a large number of women can’t pick bills. I have a standing rule for my girls, don’t ever go out on a date without money and make sure you eat within your means.
Feminism is not a call for inhumanity or disrespect. It’s a call not to be objectified because I’m a woman. A call not to be called less because I have vagina. A call not to be expected to take nonsense because I’m a woman. So as to who picks the bill, let the one capable of footing the bill take the bill.
I don’t know how many men will love to be used as foot mat by someone who helped you out. That’s exactly how men make women feel.
Usually I pick up the bill when I go out if I feel it’s just a friendly outing because of who I am generally as a person, if it’s something I can’t handle alone, I ask that we split.
If you ask me out on a date, then the bill is on you except you ask that we split, on my part all I do is eat/drink in moderation.
But then I always ask myself, if you knew you wouldn’t be able to handle the bill alone, why ask me to come to somewhere like that, why not just go to somewhere with not very expensive choices? Because YOU asked me out, had the place in mind and didn’t consider the cost.
Like Albus Dumbledore during one of the new year banquets at the great hall in Hogwarts, I’ll end this long thing with a few apparently nonsensical phrases:
Spontaneity, Mr. Montague, spontaneity. The heart speaks volumes, let arms express, let legs move, and may the mouth speak. Speak sweet nothings to Miss Juliet of Capulet, O Romeo. She beckons, “wherefore art thou?” See that you perish not, but if perish must, then do, in time. But more importantly, see to it, that in that time, in modern times, you take care to be brashly honest, and brave at the dinner, and at the date. Be honest, Mr. Montague.