My Inner Feminist vs. My Inner Princess

Please note: For the purpose of this post, a ‘princess’ refers to any woman who likes to be catered to, adored and surprised with gifts/flowers/chocolates/trips to the tropics. And a ‘feminist’ is any woman who prides herself on her independence, can pay her own bills and doesn’t feel like she needs a man to take care of her and/or validate her.

A few months ago I went on my first date with a nice gentleman I had met through mutual friends. When it came time to pay for the bill, I fought long and hard—as I always do—and to my surprise, he let me pay for dinner. At first I was like, oh okay – that’s kinda cool, I guess he respects my independence and I dig that. About thirty seconds later, I decided there wouldn’t be a second date. No goodnight kiss. Nothing. Ever. It was over before it even began.

I started questioning my identity. Why did I fight to pay for the bill then feel disappointed? In a society where generations have worked so hard to gain equality for women, are there still rules? Can we have expectations? Did feminism kill chivalry?

I can see the fence and you are split in half. On one side, I’ve got my I-am-woman-hear-me-roar sisters cheering me on for paying on the first date—the rest of you have a look of utter disgust and thought bubbles that read: Umm, NO.

Okay seriously, I’m pretty scary and I threatened him, but the truth is, I did want him to pay – I wanted him to fight back and say: “No, sweetheart, thank you for offering but my mama would kill me if she found out I let a pretty girl pay for dinner.” Now I know that sounds like a 1950s movie line spoken by the typical chauvinistic womanizer, but that’s how I envisioned that situation going down. Stop judging me.

My mini identity crisis led me to believe that most of us still want the best of both worlds. We want to be strong, independent and equal to our male counterparts while being treated like princesses once in a while (or more often than not). It’s also safe to say that we’re not exactly sure what we want, and we’re probably sending mixed signals. I mean, I literally fought him to pay—I gave him a very convincing speech while staring into his soul—what was the poor guy supposed to do?

Finding the balance between our inner feminist and inner princess is no easy task. But being on the same playing field as men doesn’t mean we can’t have expectations, and these expectations will differ from woman to woman. There’s still something undeniably sexy about a man that can and wants to cater to his woman—this is what girls rave about when they go for brunch. ‘He bought me this gorgeous necklace, then we went for dinner and he’s so cute he always makes sure I order first.’ And blah blah blah and all the girlfriends go ‘awwww’ and ‘ooooh’—it’s just the way it is.

So how do you find balance? By figuring out what you want. And what you want will be different from what your friends want. It’s all very simple once we’re honest with ourselves about how we expect to be treated—some women like to be wined and dined three nights a week and greeted with a bouquet of roses and a handwritten poem, others would be more than happy to spend a night on the couch watching reruns of Seinfeld (while drinking wine of course, you can never take wine out of the equation). The best part about dating in the 21st Century is that we make up the rules—and if there’s one thing feminists and princesses can agree on it’ that nothing feels better than being in charge.

Negin Sairafi runs two businesses in Toronto, one is her portrait photography studio and the other is an online art store. Follow her on Twitter @neginsairafi.

Image via Shutterstock

  • Carmen Lucía Carvalho

    great article! I’m tryting to find the balance between my femminist and my princess and this article is helping :)

  • Robert Remillard

    Never settle.

  • Alexa Scott-Johnson

    “LOL isn’t my hypocritical sense of entitlement cute and endearing?”

    *vomits all over the internet*

  • Jessi Kneeland

    Oohhhh I adore this article.. So honest and so embarrassing!! I’ve been there. I’ve challenged many a guy for no other reason than to prove he couldn’t handle me and all my independence. But then I went on to date a guy who broke all my previous rules (NEVER buy me jewelry, NEVER buy me flowers, NEVER hold the door for me, etc) And we’re very happy together :-)

  • Heidy Vogt

    I appreciate the honesty. I think we can be both “princess” and “feminist” all in the same moment. The struggle comes from being what we are and what we think we should be.
    Thanks for the insight!

  • Brittney Richmond

    I’m kind of old fashioned. I think it’s important to let him feel like he can provide. That’s one thing men are wired to do. Let yourself feel like a princess sometimes it doesn’t mean you still can’t take care of yourself. I believe you are even stronger if you can let go of you pride and let him feel like a man.

  • Monica M Torres

    Great article. I’m glad to see people writing about pertinent topics that I think most of us are struggling with in today’s dating world.

  • Joe L Hughes

    Women are in charge while men must retain their traditional roles and be useful to women? I do believe this article exposes some of what is wrong with feminism today. As phrased by bill burr; feminists treat “equality with men” like a shopping list, “oh equal pay ! Ill take that” “paying for dinner? thats icky” you can keep that” “oh ceo of a major company! I’ll have that” Oh dirty hard dangerous physical labor, you can keep that” Well equality is not a buffet. And the sooner more men clue into this the sooner we will no longer be tools without a say. It has been clear for generations feminism is about focusing on all the positives of a mans life while glossing over everything negative, while at the same time focusing only on how men negatively impact the world and ignoring everything good they contribute. Its a fools ideology thats best left in the trash along with outdated now unfair expectations of chivalry. Equality from 9 to 5 and only the best parts of patriarchy from 5 to 9, no, not for any thinking person that respects humanity anyway. This is exactly what to expect from today’s “feminist”

    • Diana Chandler

      I found this particular article actually very irritating. It barely addresses the dichotomy of reconciling feminist ideals within the realm of modern dating and makes feminists appear as hypocritical bullies. The writer decribes herself as “scary” as she insisted on paying for that meal–no one needs to act like that. Just for the record, Joe, not all feminists pick and choose to avoid dangerous, dirty and hard physical labor–I’ve chased cows on horseback and built fence in 100 degree weather, and I sure expect to get paid the same as a man. If my husband wants to show me he cares for me by paying for dinner or holding a gate open, I’m not going to beat him over the head for it. This article is ridiculous.

  • Julia Soubiate

    I loved this piece because last year I had a similar situation and it ended up being a round-table debate with people of all ages: I had met someone at an event, and gave him my contact. We exchanged texts for a week and then he asked me out. The thing was that, during the texts, he seemed a little dumb (he didn’t get ANY jokes – and that’s a biiiig red flag when it comes to me). I agreed to go out anyway because I do tend to be a little harsh on people, and I wanted to give the guy a chance. But before going out, I had a debate with my bff, her mum and her teen brother. The question was…. do I let him pay? I felt that this date was going nowhere, and I felt like letting him pay was encouraging him in saying “Yes, expect something out of me”. So my feminist wasn’t as strong as the one saying “I don’t want to lead you on”. I felt bad for the guy, like, he’s taking me out expecting something and acting gentleman-y and for what?? A big no!
    But besides this, I actually think – why should the guy pay? To be honest, it is some weird social convention.
    But then, as the debate grew longer and longer, we reached the conclusion that sometimes paying makes men feel good. I don’t know why, really but hey, here’s what I DO agree on: the man should be “the provider”, but as a symbolic figure. He has to “provide” and take care of your feelings, be a gentleman in his acts, not necessarily with his money. I had a boyfriend I liked veeery much, but the lack of “providing” attitude turned me off. And what I mean by that is that he wouldn’t say “hey let’s go here” or, “hey it’s late let me walk you home” or “hey i’m here to protect you”. He always asked me out by saying first that he was out of money, and that I shouldn’t expect anything grand. I don’t give a damn if you have money or not! But it is not sexy to say that all the time. It looks self-deprecating. It looks SAD!. He could have invited me over to his house to watch tv and eat a romantic cheap dinner, and I would have loved it all the same and more! His problem was not his wallet but his ATTITUDE. He was definitely NOT a provider, and that was in the end what killed the relationship.

  • Sabrina ‘Sabbio’

    Ha ha, I love this hones post! Yes the balance is real subtle. I worship and paint stong independent women BUT can’t we be strong and confident while romantic and want to lean on our man in times of trouble and fatigue?
    Nearly 15 years with my man and he’s still not sure how to do this! ^^

  • Sofeia Emi

    You cannot have it both ways and men everywhere are realizing this more and more,they are not your servants nor they are the disposable sex.Women came out yelling “women need men like fish need bicycles” or ” we can do it better than men and in heels”…..well ladies,it’s time to show us you can do it,after all…..this is what equality means.

  • Michele Desfontaine

    I don’t see why you can’t be both? Expect to be catered, adored and accept it when you are all while not actually need a man to validate you!

    I honestly think you were in the wrong and taking this paying the bill thing too seriously! You could of asked if he really wanted to pay, offer to split and if he declines, laugh it off and say “Fine but I’m paying next time.” Being a feminist means wanting equal rights NOT trying to dominate in the relationship or switching roles with 1950’s men.

    • Diana Chandler


  • val86

    Well whatever you want, just communicate honestly, i.e. “I like to be treated on a date.” Unless you ARE looking for a man that doesn’t listen to you. In that case faking that you’ll pay and hoping that he will stop you is a wonderful strategy for that.

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