Last night I almost made a gossip columnist drop her drink in horror with a single sentence. Luckily we were on the roof of 60 Thompson, which is such a classy establishment that the drinks are served in plastic tumblers, so no harm would've been done, but my gossipy friend's gasp drew the attention of another woman in our group, who asked me to repeat the shocking thing I'd said. She, too, did a double-take. "You let a man allow you to pay for your own dinner on the first date, and you're seeing him again?" I nodded. One of 60 Thompson's insanely bitchy waitresses stopped in her tracks as she overheard, almost dashing a tray of plastic-sheathed vodka tonics to the flagstones. What was going on here?

"I just ... I went for my wallet, and he didn't stop me. I didn't mind! I like paying for myself," I told the gossip columnist and the publicist.

"That's so rude. That's like not letting a girl get out of the elevator first," a Maxim staffer not exactly known for his chivalry chimed in.

"If a guy doesn't pay on the first date, you are establishing a dangerous precedent, " the gossipeuse continued. "If a guy tries that move on me, I just tell him, 'You know what? I've got this. I can write you off.'" She paused to smirk at her own joke. "I've used that line so many times."

On my way home, I had to wonder. Ha, sorry, but I DID HAVE TO WONDER. What time capsule are these women living in? Why on earth would you want to feel beholden to a dude for any reason? Sure, free things are nice, but not when they come wrapped in cultural assumptions that men are the wage earners and women are their cosseted pets. What the fuck makes women feel like being asked to pay their own way is an insult?

Today, still wondering, I asked a dating expert if she'd ever been asked to go Dutch. "In the entire history of my life, there was one guy who demanded we go dutch. I was so fucking mad, I wanted to cut off his balls. I'm STILL angry about it. And it was three years ago. I'm not even kidding, I thought about it two or three days ago when I got an invite to his book party, and I thought "THAT FUCKING MOTHERFUCKER MADE ME PUT DOWN A TWENTY WHEN HE WAS THE ONE WHO GOT AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE!"

Okay, so we know what side she's on. But, um, why? Why are men supposed to pay for us again? "Um, because we have to wear high heels and push up bras and control top panty hose and makeup and belts/jeans/dresses which cut off our circulation and we have to change the ways in which we're uncomfortable every season and ON TOP OF THAT we get to pay a fuckload of money for the privilege???"

Ah, the old 'reparations' theory. And the counterargument, of course, is: we don't actually have to do any of that stuff. I mean, no one's telling us to. Except, you know, prevailing cultural norms that, in spite of a lot of people's best efforts, don't really seem to be going anywhere.

But we can still try to fix the system, one not-free entree at a time! Or, you know, we can go to the bathroom right before the check comes next time and see if that enables us to dodge the issue.