Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect opportunity to consider whether a move towards gender equality could be changingthe way we date. Do long-established dating traditions prevent gender equality? Are they romantic or just sexist?

Going Dutch

“You are all up for equality until you want someone to pay for the meal.”

This may have been said as ‘banter’, a common excuse for sexist culture, but you only need to search the internet for both ‘feminism’ and ‘paying for the first date’, to see that feminism is often stereotyped into who pays for the first date.

The tradition of men paying for their date is still entrenched within many European countries; in some cultures it is considered impolite to split the bill. When it comes to deciding how to divide the bill, we wonder whether opinions are affected by the gender pay gap within each country, or whether it is solely a social construct. For instance the difference in hourly pay between men and women is 16% for Europe, ranging from 2% in Slovenia to 27% in Estonia. Current data on how Europeans feel about splitting the bill is harder to come by.

Is paying for the meal really such a strong statement of liberation from inequality? And if we allow our date to pay for our meal this Valentine’s Day, is that really discouraging equality between the sexes?