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

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