I was reading a thread on that wonderful land of "WTF IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE" (known in some circles as Fetlife) when I came across a thread about a woman who was going on dates with men with the intention of having dinner and nothing more:
McGonagall started eating out five nights a week using a rotation of different guys she met through the dating site. McGonagall kept things simple—no more than five dates with the same guy.
The investment banker types were thrilled to woo her with extraordinary restaurants like the underground taqueria La Esquina and a Japanese restaurant, Megu, in Tribeca. One guy even took her to a champagne bar and purchased a $200 bottle.
McGonagall went from easily spending $500 a month on dinners alone to having someone else dole out an average of $60-plus per night. She also stopped eating lunch and opted for a light breakfast to save even more.
-From Business Insider
First off, "the site" is Match.com, which in my experience is basically a place for men to harass women for sexual favours anyway. So, not really sympathetic. Secondly, if these guys are trying to show off with extremely fancy dinners to a person they just met, that they hadn't spoken to EVER offline, then... well, why would you do that without an ulterior motive of your own?
That said, there is the fact that this behaviour tends to follow the trend of "sex is something women have/withhold and men want/pay for", which is problematic in terms of sexual power dynamics. It *could* kind of be empowering for women, but it's disempowering for men (they do not have the sex, you see) and only within the constraints that then leads to men feeling that if they want to change the dynamic of sexual power they should just *take* it. I think we can all agree that's not great.
And it's not particularly ethical, because you are suggesting that there's a real relationship possibility, and that's not nice. Especially when you can do social escorting and basically provide the same service with the terms upfront. I did social escorting and it was £50 for an hour, plus whatever drinks and food we got. It was often a first step to booking an escort. It worked out quite well, in fact, and I often got a nice meal plus £50-100!
But then I struggle a lot with these things. I mean, with sex work, you're often pretending you care about what the person says, that you're not particularly opinionated or political, you laugh at their jokes, you flirt with them even if you're not interested. At least I hear that's what people do- I tend to be a less potty-mouthed version of me, but if you say something sexist I'm gonna tell you.
HOWEVER. A lot of dudes were saying how this woman was basically a prostitute and a thief. And I'm gonna tell you right now- no, no, uh uh, no. That's a fair (I would say lower than average) market value price for exactly what she was doing- a social booking. She was making about $50-60 a dinner, which I would say is pretty low. If you consider the market, it would take 3-4 such dates to = sleeping with someone for an hour (again, at the lower end of these rates) in terms of money spent. These guys were actually getting a damn good deal, as far as I can figure it. Was she being dishonest? Yeah, probably. I've been on plenty of dates where they guy was buying me dinner so he could fuck me, though, not cause he wanted a relationship, so cry me a river. ;)
Also it bears pointing out that in a capitalist society we're all encouraged to try to get as much out of someone while providing as little as possible, and she was likely making a much lower salary than men at equivalent positions, so there we go.
The response in the "Ask a Man" forum of course was "all women are obviously money grabbing whores and not to be trusted!" My response is that frankly so many men with money I've met treat me and other women like that anyway that I might as well get a damn good meal out of it. If you're worried, then spend $10 on the meal- you can get a nice meal for $10-15 and you won't feel nearly as resentful. If they're doing it for the food they'll still be happy!
A bunch of guys on the forum said "this is why I don't take women out to dinner/take them to free places", which, ok, fine, fair enough. In my experience, guys who do stuff like that are often suspicious, misogynistic assholes trying to get into bed with me in exchange for a walk in the park. Maybe this is part of why I just got fed up for the most part with dating guys unless I made more money than them (I've played the sugar momma before, when I was making a bunch of income with sex work, and I liked it)- they turned into insufferable asshats.
Except then there were a couple of guys who took it a step further:
"In the place where I grew up, we had street justice. If a guy did a one night stand on your sister, he got his ass beat down. I say if this girl played me like that, a few of my female friends would beat her ass for it."
"That woman should be brought to the street and made as ugly on the outside as she is on the inside!"
Yay, slutshaming, whorephobia and threats of violence! Stay classy, Fetlife. Not that I expected any better from you, really.
Talking about all this made me feel suddenly guilty, though. My girlfriend tends to take me to pretty amazing dinners (yesterday we went to Plum, mouthgasm!) and she always pays when we go out. At first I tried to pay, and she wouldn't let me, so I stopped offering (though I look forward to cooking for her soon, as it's a way I can give back something!). I asked her if that was ok, because obviously I don't want her to feel used, and her response was simply "I have more disposable income- if a wealthy client dies and leaves you a fortune, you can treat me".
When I first met my boyfriend, almost two years ago, he was unemployed, and I paid for things a lot more often because I made the money. He also tended to do stuff around the house as a way of helping me have the energy to do sex work regularly. Now he's got a job and I'm unemployed, and when we last saw each other he paid for more things (not everything, but more things). We've adjusted it as circumstances change. I don't see anything wrong with that.
And I realized that I tend to work that way- the person who makes more money pays proportionally more. I think that makes sense. Ultimately, I feel like that's what this woman was doing with these bankers- I bet they made a hell of a lot more than she did, so why shouldn't they pay?
How do you negotiate who pays for dinner?