Can't men and women just be friends?
“I assume you’ll be taking this,” the waitress said, handing the bill to me after having lunch last week with a friend I hadn’t seen since her wedding in September.
My friend laughed as the waitress walked away, clearly unaware that my friend and I were not married or dating and, despite the modest bill, had planned to split the check.
I wasn’t trying to dodge paying the bill. I have, at times, paid for meals with friends and they’ve, in return, done the same thing. It’s not uncommon for friends to go to a
Nowadays, most restaurant staff ask if the bill will need separated, knowing that a party of two or more might not be related.
What I found surprising was the waitress’ apparent sexist assumption that because I was a man and my friend was a woman, we obviously must be together, and I must obviously be paying for the meal.
(Never mind the fact that my friend had on her wedding ring.)
When people talk about sexism, they often refer to it from a woman’s perspective — You know, being treated unfairly at work, not earning as much money as a male counterpart, somebody assuming they’ll wash the dishes or laundry — all things that are red flagged as making women seem like a subordinate to men.
When the waitress assumed I was footing the $18 lunch bill, she was being sexist. In her mind, I’d obviously be taking care of paying.
Not only was that degrading to me, but it also was degrading to my friend.
Maybe I’m naive, but I thought we’ve moved past this belief that men rank higher on some fictitious hierarchy? If women can successfully run businesses, be elected to Congress, run for president and have any job a man can have, surely they can pay for what they ate at a restaurant, right?
It isn’t the first time somebody has assumed, incorrectly, that the person I’m dining with, shopping with or just hanging around is nothing more than a friend.
On more than one occasion, I’ve been places where restaurant staff or store clerks have assumed a male friend and I were “together.” The tone from the employee changes and odd facial expressions are made.
On more than one occasion I’ve been dining with a male friend when one of us orders a dessert and the waitress asks if she should bring two spoons.
Once, out of mild amusement, I said,“Just one. We’ll share.”
Whether I’ve been with a male or female friend, it’s not as if we were holding hands, blowing kisses or being flirty (though, there was that one time when I instinctively wiped up ice cream off a male friend’s glass before it hit the table).
It’s as if the thought of friends having dinner, drinks or dessert together is unfathomable. Everybody who steps into public space must be married or dating, right?
Wrong. I don’t understand the simplistic thought of this— that just because I’m with a male or female friend, we obviously must be dating/married.
I’m always hanging out with another guy friend or two of mine, and also am seen with some single female friends. So are other people making assumptions about the folks I’m around?
Is it really that difficult to imagine — in today’s culture — two people being nothing more than friends?
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