I have a question for you: when it comes to heterosexual and heteronormative relationships, who do you think should pick up the bill? Should it be split evenly, or should the man pay? To split or not to split the bill—this is the age-old debate that is now dividing opinions on TikTok among young people. So what exactly is going on and where does this trope come from?
Traditionally, the expectation to pay the bill in full has always fallen on men, in the name of ‘chivalry’. Over the last few decades however, this concept began to slowly change. Many men and women started to feel that the act is rooted in sexism, and if anything, it holds us back from true gender equality. Both millennials and gen Zers are considered to be the two most liberal generations, so it might come off as a shock that many of them do not believe in an equal fifty-fifty split.
Many argue that splitting the bill equally shouldn’t happen in a world where women are still not treated as equals. Recently, 23-year-old TikToker Kiera Breaugh went viral for sharing her opinion as to why women should not be expected to pay half of the bill while on dates with men, describing it as one of the most “insidious” effects of patriarchy.
“Men going around like it’s 2021, equal rights, right? You’re gonna pay fifty-fifty,” she stated in a video. “The fact that men expect women to pay fifty-fifty when [they] don’t get 50 per cent of anything? 50 per cent of the money, 50 per cent of the privilege, 50 per cent of the safety, 50 per cent of the space they’re allowed to take up—none of that. But, pay. Pay equal amounts even though you don’t have equal rights. Do you understand how ridiculous that is?”
“Why are we starting with women pretending like they’re equal, before they get equal? Because it benefits men. It benefits men to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m a feminist, I believe in women paying fifty-fifty on dinner dates.’ And that is the only time they believe in equality. Make his pockets hurt,” she went on to conclude.
Breaugh is not the only person on the platform to hold this view either. Another TikTok user, Leanne, posted a stitch to Breaugh’s original video, stating, “Most men don’t actually care about fifty-fifty, except when it comes to money. They don’t care about [it] when it comes to the risks of pregnancy,” she listed as an example.
She continued, “They don’t care about fifty-fifty when it comes to the mental, emotional, and physiological changes a woman has to go through after childbirth and dealing with all their bullshit. They don’t care about [it] when it comes to the wage gap. But they do care about fifty-fifty when it comes to paying for dinner. Or moving in together, so he can ask you to pay 50 per cent of the rent.”
It’s understandable why a lot of women on the app (and outside of it, for that matter) feel that a lot of their experiences are not equally matched to those of men. The gender pay gap in the US, for example, reportedly remained the same over the past 15 years, with women earning around 84 per cent of what men earned in similar roles, according to Pew Research. Meanwhile in the UK, the Office For National Statistics (ONS) reported that while the country’s gender pay gap has been declining slowly over time, it went back up to 7.9 per cent in 2021, in contrast to being at 7 per cent in 2020.
What is crucial to point out though is the fact that this discourse taking place on TikTok is predominantly led by gen Z and millennial women. On the one hand, millennial women have been in the workforce for over a decade now, so the wage gap is something many would have experienced. But how is this different for gen Z women—many of whom are just entering the workforce—and is the wage gap something they need to worry about?
According to Student Beans, when entering the workforce, both men and women are likely to start on similar wages, the gap widening as they move along in their careers. Data suggests that 59 per cent of students have part-time jobs, mainly in fields like retail, customer service, and food (reportedly, men tend to earn 1.8 per cent more than women in the food industry). Similarly, 74 per cent of female-identifying gen Zers reported the gender pay gap as a top concern for entering any male-dominated industry (with the gap still being at 6.3 per cent in industries like teaching, 6.2 per cent in psychology, and 5.2 per cent in fashion and other design professions).
To understand this discourse a little bit more, SCREENSHOT spoke to other women about their views on this. “My TikTok sensationalises my views, but overall, I have a relatively negative opinion of splitting things financially fifty-fifty. At a bare minimum, I think there should be an equitable split—for example, two people each making 30,000 and 70,000 should have a 30/70 split,” TikTok user @arealtwit told us.
“Ultimately, I feel like over-focusing on splitting everything equally is a major red flag and indicates a lack of true commitment,” she continued. “Paying for things as a woman can feel empowering. However, creating rhetoric that undercuts women’s overall societal disadvantages with the goal to make us pay for dinner… Pathetic […] Men traditionally make more money and have more professional opportunities than women. As we make progress towards professional and financial equality as a society, other dynamics will become popular (and feasible). However, until then… Don’t let a broke dude con you into paying for his dinner in the name of feminism,” she concluded.
22-year-old Brianna Madrigal, who also stitched Breaugh’s video, shared, “I don’t believe the act of men paying for women is sexist. Women and men have the same rights and opportunities to have a career. I think people who label chivalry as sexism are simply looking to find ways to identify as a victim […] I can think of many far more sexist issues in the world.”
“I personally don’t date men who expect me to split the cost of bills. I have dated both types of men and found that men who pay for the bill are generally more ambitious in their career and life, which is a quality I appreciate in someone. In my dating experience, the men who expected to split bills fifty-fifty grew up in a home where their mom was the main breadwinner. I know I want more of a ‘traditional’ relationship, so this wouldn’t work for me. I do believe, however, that there are some women who would enjoy dating a man who splits bills fifty-fifty, and that’s completely okay too.”
Of course, men paying for dinner every now and then does not solve the underlying issues contributing to the gender pay gap, or any other inequalities. But it is important to note that splitting a bill equally doesn’t necessarily help that either. So why did we start doing it in the first place?
I myself am 23 and in a heterosexual, long-term relationship. I like to alternate and take turns in paying as I like the feeling of giving and doing something nice with my partner—this always felt fair. However, I can also admit that throughout the course of my relationship, my boyfriend has probably picked up the bill a lot more. I can’t tell you how much of this is due to gender expectations, and how much of it is due to our age gap—my partner is a few years older than me, and thus, was able to establish his career and income before I did, as we met when I was still a student.
For many other women, letting a man pay for them might feel uncomfortable for a multitude of reasons. In some cases, it may feel like they expect something more in return—and as we all know, sometimes rejecting a man is not as easy, or safe, as we would like it to be. In other instances, women feel a lot more independent by doing so. Long story short, everyone has a different approach to their finances.
In fact, outside of TikTok, a 2021 Student Beans survey on the new generation’s dating habits found that 43 per cent of gen Zers prefer to take turns in paying for dates (with 46 per cent of those voters being female and 29 per cent male). 29 per cent voted to split the bill in half (with 30 per cent being female and 22 per cent male). When it came to wanting your partner to pay the bill in full, female voters accounted for 21 per cent and the male just 1 per cent. In contrast, 3 per cent of women voted to pay for the bill themselves in full, in comparison to 47 per cent of men.
Of course, having someone pay for you doesn’t take away your independence, but it is also understandable why a lot of women would feel so. Gender inequality is still very much prevalent (and not just among cis men and women), so it is also valid that so many women just do not believe in a fifty-fifty split. This conversation would also be entirely different within a queer relationship. So what do you feel—is a fifty-fifty split between men and women fair?
Do you have a ‘type’ when it comes to relationships? What does the ‘man of your dreams’ look like? And what do you think the chances of finding him are? According to a new online tool, no matter what your preferences are, you’re delusional—down to a point where “you don’t even belong on this planet.” Ouch.
Creatively dubbed the ‘Female Delusion Calculator’ and hosted on the URL ‘igotstandardsbro.com’, the website invites heterosexual women to input specific choices for age, race, height, weight, income and marital status to calculate the probability of finding the ‘ideal man’ who fits the profile. Here, sliders let you choose between 18 to 85-year-old for age, “White,” “Black,” “Asian” and “Any color or shade” for race, maximum height up to seven feet—with an option to “exclude obese”—and minimum income ranging between “any” to $500,000.
Since the website throws much inclusivity out of the window, let’s sigh and analyse how it works. I tried entering my own quantitative preferences, or “standards” as the calculator deems it, to get a supposed reality check. For context, I’m a 22-year-old Indian who’s 5 feet 8 inches tall. And the metrics I went for are: age 22 to 27 (since the slider requires a minimum five-year range), exclude married, Asian, minimum height of 5 feet 9 inches and earning at least $20,000 per year. Not a wild reach for the stars, so there should be hundreds of options flooding my screen, right?
Apparently, the chances of finding such a man is a slim 1.7 per cent. “That is 24.9 per cent of all Asian men in that age range,” the website noted. Rubbing salt in the wound, accompanying the result is also a depressing probability table—visually highlighting the statistics among a data set of 1,000 men. The takeaways don’t end there either. Towards the end, you’re also hit up with a “delusion score” which is measured in… cat litter. Well, I bagged four out of five on the scale and the tool went on to label me a “cat enthusiast.” How original, indeed.
In a bid to test the calculator, I toyed around with the metrics—and the results were both surprising and questionable. For starters, the live search processes statistical data from two sources. While income and marital status are derived from the 2020 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau of the United States, height and body mass index (BMI) are extracted from the 2017 to 2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. In short, the tool calculates your chances of finding the ideal man from the demographic based in the US alone.
Now, let’s look at how the “delusion score” aka cat-lady meter works. Courtesy of fellow coding enthusiasts on Reddit, I was able to get a rough numerical idea about the percentages which lead to the ratings. If less than 50 per cent of US men fall in your spectrum, you get one out of five cat litter bags and the label “easy to please.” Yes, you heard that right. Having an ‘average standard’ for your partner apparently means you’re easy. If you manage to pull less than 10 per cent of men, then you end up with two bags—automatically making you “down to earth.” Three bags (less than 2 per cent men) means you’re an “aspiring cat lady” and four (less than 0.1 per cent) makes you a full-blown “cat enthusiast.” Oh no, if it isn’t our worst nightmare!
If your dream man is practically non-existent in the US, then you’re hit up with “you don’t belong on this planet” with 5 bags on the scale. Okay, so what if you bump up the metrics to include every single man in the US? I’m talking ages 18 to 85 of any lineage, height and income. The verdict? Sounds like the person who made the calculator is a little delulu themselves:
If you head over to the ‘about’ section of the website, you’ll realise that the creator is, indeed, a man. The incel maths practically gave it away but, oh well. “During my ‘dating career’ as a man living in North America I couldn’t help noticing that women often have unrealistic expectations. They see themselves being passed around by those high quality men they feel entitled for, failing to realise those few men are in high demand,” the creator justifies, in terms of the motivation behind making the calculator. “Time passes, options shrink, their standards don’t change and they wonder why they are still single.”
According to him, the results of the Female Delusion Calculator can “prove there are not enough high quality men for every girl out there.” Therefore, the tool aims to help women “discern what is realistic from what is highly unlikely.”
Now, I’m not denying the possibility that this website could’ve been made as a joke. And there would be people out there thinking “Oh, ‘feminists’ get angry over everything nowadays.” I mean, that’s literally the type of comments several TikToks addressing the calculator are facing at the moment. In fact, the hashtag itself has amassed close to 2 million views on the platform.
When the website was introduced to Twitter in 2021, many users applauded the creator and called it a “great tool for perspective.” They also suggested tips to improve the statistics and recommended the addition of a metric for “the size a guy’s ‘packing’ in his pants.” Meanwhile, others admitted finding the tool helpful to stay away from women who are deemed delusional altogether. As for those raising their voice against the tool or expressing anything borderline-opinionated against men in general, enthusiasts would immediately link the website in the thread and comment “good luck.”
Taking all of that into consideration, is there a possibility of such websites making a real-time impact on someone? “Even though I’d see this as more of a joke website, a lot of women will come across this and allow it to affect them in a way where they’d feel even more hopeless about meeting ‘the one’ than they do now,” Trina Leckie, the relationship expert and breakup coach behind the breakup BOOST podcast, told SCREENSHOT. “And I think that is really damaging and not the message that should be sent out.”
The expert preaches how there’s so much more to a person than just checking off particular boxes. “If an inch of height, for example, is enough for a woman to say she is not interested in a man, then she is clearly looking for someone to ‘check off a box’ versus the ‘right’ one,” she said, adding how the former majorly involves impressing family, friends and strangers on social media.
In the latter case, however, Leckie believes more emphasis should be placed on income than other factors. For instance, women are socially expected to have babies, so they might look for a man with a steady income to support the household financially in the long run. “When someone is just getting by or can barely pay the bills, it’s not ‘shallow’ to not be attracted to that. It’s being smart,” Leckie noted. According to the coach, financial instability is one of the top reasons for breakups—given the stress it induces on everyone involved. Aside from the monetary aspect, she also believes the factor is reflective of one’s mindset, from complacency to lack of ambition.
“A difference of $75,000 to $80,000 isn’t a big deal. But a difference of $35,000 to $75,000 is. If you want to have an enjoyable life and relationship, you can’t be broke. It’s not realistic.”
Leckie went on to explain that when a man has his life together, a respectable income and you are attracted to him, all of these factors usually make the baseline from which you have something to work with. “What makes someone the ‘man of your dreams’ needs to build on that,” she continued, prompting women to ask themselves the following set of questions: Are you compatible? Is there chemistry? How do they treat you? Are they supportive, encouraging and a good listener? Do you feel as though you can grow together as a team? Do you share common goals? Are you on the same page in terms of having kids, how to raise them, religion, politics and others?
“There is so much more to having a solid and healthy relationship than focusing on height and income”
In Leckie’s experience, some of the other things that women typically look for in their partners include a decent level of effort, thoughtfulness, humour and respect. “A woman also likes to see how he interacts with kids to get a sense of how he would be as a father,” the expert added. Compatible interest is another one on the list. “For example, he only likes camping and she likes vacationing in big cities… that can cause friction down the road.” I hope you’re taking notes, Mister North American with an ex-dating career.
I believe the internet is a game of risky Whack-A-Mole which can’t really be gatekept or censored completely. Therefore, humanity is also graced with a website targeted towards men who want to calculate the chances of finding their ‘dream woman’.
Lo and behold, the ‘Male Reality Calculator’—because men have realistic standards while women are plainly delusional, am I right? Here, the ages range between 18 to 85, but you have the additional option to exclude mothers other than a separate option for married women. Hold up, doesn’t this perpetuate the narrative that women are more invested in their children than fathers? Maybe I’m thinking too much into it. Wait, but the minimum income here is $0 and the maximum the slider goes up to is $275,000. The male metrics on the other calculator lets you choose up to $500,000…
Apparently, the Male Reality Calculator also believes women automatically stunt their growth at 6 feet 7 inches. Nevertheless, the website clearly states that it’s “inspired by its female equivalent at igotstandardsbro.com.” That being said, Leckie claimed that it’s never good to deduce things. “Where one might see this as assuming mothers are more invested than fathers, to me, that would ring more true if these calculators were both created by the same person. Because then, it would be perceived as more ‘offensive’. But seeing as they were created by two different people, it could’ve possibly been an oversight.”
On these terms, the expert explained how dating people with kids is hinged on certain preferences. “It goes without saying that when someone has kids—men or women—it impacts relationships in a significant way,” she said. The factors that come into play here include questions like: How old are the kids? Do they see them just on weekends or are they one-week-on or one-week-off? Who houses them during the holidays? Do the parents even live in the same city?
“Dating someone with kids when you are used to ‘freedom’, so to speak, is not appealing to a lot of people. There’s also drama that usually comes into the mix from exes that others would rather not be a part of.”
On the other hand, however, Leckie continued by mentioning how those with children may prefer dating others who also have offsprings of their own. “Do I think it’s more challenging for a woman who has kids and houses them the majority of the time and is wanting to date again? Yes. You can’t just come and go as you please, there’s a lot more responsibility and financial stress.”
In order to get her expert thoughts on both the calculators in question, I urged Leckie to visit both the websites and share the insights from her results. On the Female Delusion Calculator, Leckie ended up with “aspiring cat lady.”
“That, in itself, carries a negative undertone,” she admitted. “Not just because of the ‘cat lady’ sentiment, but also because it rules out the fact that there are women who actually enjoy being single and don’t feel that they are any less without a man.” Leckie also pondered on whether the online tool was created with bitterness by someone who encountered a lot of rejection, be it justified or not. “There’s a way to do this type of thing that doesn’t aim to take digs or make jabs,” she summed up.
Comparing both the websites at hand, the coach also highlighted how the Male Reality Calculator has an option for “Hispanic” people under preferences for race. Here, they are also presented as checkboxes rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ radio buttons that only let you choose one out of all the options—like in the case of the Female Delusion Calculator. “These things are automatically lowering the result,” Leckie added.
Given how she believes there are numerous other factors at play when it comes to relationship preferences, the expert admitted to perceiving both websites as ‘entertainment’. “I definitely wouldn’t allow it to affect me in a negative way,” she said. However, that’s not the case for everyone.
For the past few years, we’ve been hearing about an online movement consisting of participants who have embarked on violent shooting sprees and banned from every platform they visit. Termed as an “emerging domestic terrorism threat” by several authorities, the manosphere consists of men’s rights activists (MRAs), men going their own way (MGTOW), pick-up artists (PUAs) and incels. Demonstrating violence as a coping mechanism for their ‘social grievance’, several studies have claimed how this concerning space is evolving rapidly.
Why’d I mention the manosphere here, you ask? We’re talking about an online website with common hatred for women on all platforms that it’s being promoted on. Take a wild guess. “The irony of the Female Delusion Calculator is that if you only focus on height, race and income. That is what is delusional, in terms of having a happy and healthy life,” Leckie noted, outlining how there’s a difference between having standards with regards to what a person likes and wants in their life and being desperate for any type of relationship.
“Not every woman only focuses on race, height and income. And not every woman needs a man to complete her.” Look at it this way, even if you only have 1.7 per cent of finding your ‘ideal man’ in the US, that’s still over 5.6 million people we’re talking about in 2022. Delulu cat ladies, assemble!