Every so often, Kenyan men lament on how our women are a selfish lot, especially with their money. Be it in marriage or in dating, most women invariably demonstrate a certain level of hesitation wherever time calls for them to reach to their purses and help settle the bill together. It is one accusation that women have done little to prove men wrong. As the cliché goes, a woman’s money is hers and a man’s money is theirs.
In the recent past, there has been a clamour from male quarters that women should step in to split the bill, even if occasionally. It is hard to come by a woman ready to go the Dutch way. The men demanding women to help in settling the bill of course are informed by such facts as women now earning as much as men, driving good cars, paying their rent and can take care of their salon charges. Add to this their discouraging independence of buying their own drinks in a night clubs and preferring female company out, what they call girls.
Women in urban centres are also accused of their exquisite tastes, especially if the bill is someone else’s business. This now is a stale argument. Women can actually buy themselves anything considered expensive by the often prejudiced male lot. But what has remained astonishingly consistent is our women’s limited grasp of equality. Wherever it serves them right, they rightfully raise their voices. But whenever some sensibility is called upon in other equally important aspects of life, they turn curiously silent or ignorant.
But a good number of women are now offering to split the bill or settle it altogether. Of course more men still take the lion share of the costs of any given date, it is positive that there women who at least can even merely suggest to settle to take care of the bill. The days when they leaned back and watched as the man flinch settling the bill could well be over by the end of this decade.
Although, it is a welcome aspect of dating, I suppose men are ill-prepared for the price they are going to pay if we readily accept the arrangement. As the old proverb goes, whoever who pays the piper calls for the tune. In the past, men took care of everything and for their trouble had their carnal expectations fulfilled without much fuss. Whoever who takes care of the bill has the silent unquestionable advantage of taking the other partner home.
And I’m reasonably worried that, immediately women pick up the deal, they will soon demand that they call the tune too. And here it stops being funny. I have observed that women who consistently offer to settle the bill have an air of independence about them that can be irritating. It reduces an honest game of dating game into a power contest.
Whenever a woman offers to chip in, it means that a man loses all the advantage he had over her. We must admit that part of being man is paying the bills. We must also acknowledge the times have changed and be ready to move with the tide.
There is something disempowering once a woman you are out to impress offers to deflate your chances of shining on her. This is especially to those men who have nothing to bring but their cash and flashy things. It empowers the woman and calls for the man to be much more creative in his bid. That route of dishing out cash no longer works as more and more men are learning. The younger generation of women wants more than your car, your wit, or money. Especially, if you are dating from among your peers.
Splitting the bill has the terrible effect of watering down the man’s efforts to appease the woman. It is emasculating in a way that a man has no upper hand. Not many brothers are gifted verbally and that is why we need many compensatory items; the car, the good house, nice bodies that we must work hard towards obtaining in order to get and keep a woman.
So when a woman offers to let the man lean back as she examines the bill, she is on the verge of either turning down any sexual request or demanding it on her terms.
So just as men clamour for the days when the women will eventually grasp this one important aspect of equality, they must be ready to cede some of the powers they used to have as women too, call for their favourite tunes, which might not be necessarily danceable with men. It could be payback time, since many of them have had to give in to the demands of men even when they were not up to it. Simply because he paid the bill.