Debate Magazine

Let Me Buy You Dinner

Posted on the 25 January 2012 by Juliez


“Let me buy you dinner,” he said with a smile. He looked at me with confidence. He was close to me in age, and handsome. His actions were presumably innocent. On the surface, there was no reason for me to refuse. He thought he was simply asking me on a date, but it implied a deeper meaning.

He didn’t phrase his proposal as a question, but I still had a choice. I could say yes and smile endearingly; I could take the sandwich he wanted to buy me and thank him for his generosity. But I knew that if I wanted to live with myself, the answer would be no. I could not carry on as a hypocrite. I could not relinquish my self-respect for a sandwich.

“Why?” I asked him. He was uneasy now. There was a possibility that I was going to turn down his advance. “Well,” he ventured, “I was hoping we could eat together. And you know…you’re a girl. If I’m in your company, I have to pay for you.”

He seemed so clueless. There was no reason he couldn’t just ask me to sit with him. I didn’t want to be rude, but I needed to make my point. I wanted him to see that I was as capable of caring for myself as he was. “Thank you for the offer, but I’ll pay for myself.” I turned to the cashier, “Can I get that to go please?”

The cashier’s scowl conveyed her annoyance. She didn’t see me as a person standing up for my right to equality and self-determination. She saw a stuck up, unappreciative girl. She silently handed me the sandwich and my change. I took both and made for the exit.

I am expected to adhere to a set of unwritten rules that men are not subject to. From an early age I was taught that the meaning in my life would come from the man I marry. The law says that I am allowed to work, but if I dedicate all of my energy to bettering myself instead of caring for others, I am considered unfeeling and selfish. If a man makes the same decision he is applauded. Double standards are rampant in this society. People cling to twisted traditions. I am going to take a different road. I want to use my talents to change the world. I won’t be lulled into just settling down with someone exceptional – I am going to be exceptional. And I won’t let a few admonishing glances get in my way.

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