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Growing up, if we went out as a family and my mom happened to pay for that particular outing, she’d slide her debit card or the cash to my father and he would pay. I understood the implication of all this. Men are expected to pay for…everything. A woman doing so calls his ability to take care of his woman and thereby his family into question. But as you know, picking up a check doesn’t tell the full story about someone’s financial situation. Men are not defined by the amount of money they make. And given that we live in an era where women work, it’s okay if they contribute every once in a while. Most importantly, people need to mind their own damn business.

My parents were born in the fifties. And while I found this whole ritual unnecessary, when I started dating, I began to understand why they performed it for so long. Years ago, I wrote about the time my then-boyfriend and I went down to the bodega next to my apartment building to get some snacks. We grabbed what we wanted and when we both got to the register, I presented my card.

I can’t remember his exact verbiage. But the man taking my card asked my now-husband why he wasn’t paying for the snacks. My husband doesn’t take much too seriously, even the most offensive statements. So he smiled and said something to the effect of “She’s got it.” Feeling the need to defend my man and myself, I said, “He pays for plenty.” Instead of taking a hint and letting it go, the man said, “I never let my wife pay for anything.” My husband said, “Is that right?” By this time the cashier had rung up everything. We took the bags and dipped.

I overanalyze everything so I was offended and irritated. Number one, the cashier should have kept his mouth shut. Two, he doesn’t know us. And three, a person can’t exactly trick off on bodega snacks. They weren’t going to break me.

After fuming for another few minutes, I was able to let it go. That man was older and from a different culture, where women live different lives, with different expectations.

But in 2020, there are still people, young people, possibly American people, who believe that if a man can’t pay for something, his woman should slide him the form of payment in order to avoid embarrassment.

It sparked an interesting…discussion on Twitter, with most people arguing that these types of gymnastics for the approval of strangers are a reflection of the effects of toxic masculinity. And there were a few folks who understood where she was coming from. See what they had to say on the following pages.

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