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Is Chivalry Incompatible With Feminism?

16/04/2015 14:11 BST | Updated 14/06/2015 10:59 BST

Chatting to one of my flatmates, a twenty something male, as he spruced himself up for a Tinder date, I had no idea what was about to hit me. I was about to realise, for the first time ever, that I am sexist feminist (if such a thing exists).

The conversation started off with a question that as one girl living in an all-male flat, I've learn to provide a rebuttal to in my sleep. 'Why, if we are supposedly living in a society that is striving for gender equality, do men have it so tough?'.

Ready to defend myself, and my fellow females, in a battle about the glass ceiling, women being paid less to do the same jobs as men, and the pain of childbirth, I did not expect what was coming next. I was about to be delivered an irretrievable blow.

Clearly pondering the date ahead of him, he added 'If we are so 'egalitarian', then why are men expected to pick up the bill on a first date?'.

It pains me to say it, but in this instance my flatmate was right. Completely, utterly, and unreservedly right. We've come a long way here in Britain as far as gender inequality is concerned. I'm proud to say that I'm part of a society that is, albeit gradually (in some cases very gradually indeed), whittling away at sexist institutions. Why then, do we not have an equally progressive stance on men and money? Is it fair that men still have to abide by the age-old practice of demonstrating their commitment, and self-worth, through picking up the bill on a first date? Surely this dated etiquette is just sexism of the highest order. In the times when most women stayed at home and men went to work this would have made sense, but not now, not in 2015.

As I struggled to find an appropriate rebuttal (or any for that matter), my housemate then went on to suggest that perhaps sexism can actually be advantageous for women on the dating scene. In other words he insinuated that sexism in some scenarios was the preferable option. I was breathless by this point, truly overwhelmed. I could imagine the suffragettes spinning in their graves. How could he possibly suggest that women monopolise on such a glaringly sexist tradition? But try as I might to convince myself otherwise, I knew he was onto something. Somehow, we women forget that when dating is concerned we often allow sexism to flourish. Sure, we may be short changed in many other domains, the workplace, and the household for example, but does that make it okay that we are comfortable enough to exploit , on a very first meeting, the persistence of this frankly ridiculous gender norm? No.

Now I am the bill-splitting type, however I would be shocked if on a first date I was asked to do so. Any the worst thing is that I provide no reason for this at all. I just would. And that's what makes me and my chauvinist counterparts so alike. Our reasons for sexism are sometimes quite completely unfounded, they seem almost instinctual. And as my housemate puts on his blazer, grabs his wallet, and heads out of the door, I am left wallowing in self disappointment. I tell myself, next time, I'll pay the bill.