Serious Question: Should You Give Your Man Money, So It Looks Like He’s Paying The Bill?
As much as the “strong-Black-woman-who-don’t-need-no-man” trope has been shoved down our throats, I don’t need to see her again. But I also know that she exists partially because there are a select few women who willingly and intentionally project this image for the world to see; even if, at the end of the day, they’re more nuanced and complex than this.
Almost a year ago, I was having dinner with one such woman, talking about relationships and how we all wanted to be in one, when the check came. This triggered her memory and she jumped into a story that still seemed to have her fuming.
“What do y’all think about this? The other day I was in a cab with a coworker and her boyfriend. And once we’d arrived at our destination, she pulled out some bills, handed them to her man and he paid the fare.”
My friend thought the action was weird. “I was like, does she owe him money? Had they had a conversation beforehand? Why didn’t she just hand the money to the driver?”
When her man went to the restroom, my coworker swooped in with her question.
“Why did you hand him the money instead of just giving it directly to the driver?”
The coworker said, “I just don’t want to emasculate him in any way. I want him to feel like a man.”
My friend’s face held a scowl as she concluded her story.
“This is the problem with men. Everything threatens their masculinity. If this is what it takes for a man to feel like a man, then I guess I’ll die single. Does it really matter whose money it is as long as somebody in the car can pay for the fare?”
I listened to the conversation quietly, raising my eyebrows.
I understood her and agreed. Masculinity is easily threatened and I certainly couldn’t see myself doing this for a man. If I happen to pick up the check or bill this time, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to be in any type of relationship where I’m always picking up the tab. And if a store clerk, taxi driver, customer service personnel or any other outsider believes this to be so, that’s on them. They don’t really know me and it’s really none of their business. So I don’t see the need to front.
But on the other hand, I’d witnessed women in my own family, including my own mother, do this when they found themselves in similar situations. The only difference is that these women are married. So perhaps they didn’t want people harshly judging their spouses or hypothesizing about the state of their marriage based on one transaction.
What I do know is that men are judged when a woman is seen paying for something, while she’s in their company.
Just a couple of months ago, my boyfriend and I were at the bodega buying snacks. And since he’s always spending money on me, the absolute least I could do that evening was buy some chips and juice. We got to the register when my boyfriend was saying he wanted a different type of snack than the one he’d already selected. Ready to go, I half-playfully told him to just roll with what we had and keep it moving. And he playfully went into a diatribe about why this type of chip was better than the other. Whether out of irritation, impatience or a snap judgment made about our situation, the cashier said, “Man, just get what she says. She’s the one paying for it.”
He said it with a smile and a glare. I don’t think it was said with the intent to scold or belittle my boyfriend. The bodega is near my apartment so his loyalty is to me. But still, the fact that he felt the need to comment on who was paying for something as simple as a snack was interesting to me. Furthermore, the notion that my boyfriend shouldn’t have a voice because I was paying for it was even more intriguing. Did that then mean that when a man pays for something for a woman, she doesn’t have the right to disagree or suggest something else?
This chip and juice run had turned into a lesson in gender roles.
Truth be told, the comments gave both me and my boyfriend pause. I didn’t explain to the store clerk how dude spends exponentially more on me and us than I do because that’s none of his business. Secondly, if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s for someone to count me or my people’s money.
But the whole interaction did make me think about my mother and the women in my own family who had gone out of their way to give off the appearance that their man was the one with the cash.
When I asked my mother about this practice of hers, she simply said, “Listen, that’s my husband and I love him. I don’t do anything because he’s asked me to or out of obligation. But if I can keep him from being embarrassed in public, then I’ll always do that.”
She’s ride or die apparently.
I can’t say whether or not I’ll be following in her footsteps. I’m not married and I don’t want to feel burdened by the judgments of others but there is something to be said about making sure the unit looks good in these streets. Still, I come from a different era than my parents. And I would like to know that my man won’t feel a way if he’s judged critically by those who are completely ignorant to the financial matters of our relationship.
So ladies, what do you think about this. Would you hand your man your money to pay the bill in public, just so he can save face?