A new dating site geared toward food lovers, HiDine, has recently captured the media’s attention. Not necessarily because of the novel concept of bringing together singles in search of love, but because its principles enforce patriarchal gender codes.
According to The Huffington Post:
“The site, which launched in November, promises women they’ll be taken out to their favorite restaurants by benevolent, presumably wealthy men who will pick up the bill. The tagline? ‘Chivalry is alive.'”
The tagline implies that all a woman has to do is show up looking pert and pretty and us men will do what’s expected of us, wine and dine you.
According to Fox:
“Like other dating sites, men and women create a profile with a picture and their story. On HiDine.com they also include their favorite restaurants and foods they love. Members are free to browse. When a man asks a woman out on a dinner date, he also pays a deposit, of which HiDine gets to keep a percentage of, ensuring that no one pays for the site’s service until an actual date is arranged.
At HiDine, we believe in old-fashioned chivalry. Men pay for first dates. You spend enough time and money on clothes, shoes, hair styling, and beauty products. Before you even sit down at the table with a guy, you have made an investment in the date in order to look your best. Any guy should appreciate that. And the last thing you should worry about is who is going to pick up the bill.”
Kids, excuse me whilst I swallow that. Isn’t that telling us men that a women is essentially worth her appearances and the effort she takes in those appearances, and that the value of a man is conditional on his ability to “pay” for a woman’s upkeep.
Never mind that us men are also expected to keep up our own appearances — health, fitness, grooming — and, of course, not dare expect women to endear us by paying for the effort we make. Because that responsibilty falls conveniently in the domain of men.
But this, too, serves to create pressure on women, something that some men are quietly aware of.
One user says, “Some females may feel pressured. They may feel like they are obligated for something more because they [the man] paid for it. Especially since they’re putting on these websites some restaurants that may be costly.”
Another commented, “This is very little to do with chivalry, or even gender norms and primarily about bartering dinner for sex or the expectation of stuff for sex.”
Another added unabashedly, “Basically an app to find or meet dinner whores.”
Despite all that, Kyle McGinnis, who founded the site, insists the site, which is currently based in Los Angeles and NYC, will bring food lovers together and merely dictates social conventions.
He told New York Magazine, “If I ask a girl out, she’s going to expect that I pay. It’s fair that that’s what girls expect, to be romanced in the early stages of dating…. I come from a small town where guys act more like guys, and this wouldn’t even be a question in some places.”
That might work well for those of us who come from small towns and embrace traditional values, but not necessarily for women keen to assert their independence and not be held subject to the assumption that “if he pays for it, he deserves it.”
On the flip side, there are some women who will inevitably use the service as a way to guarantee themselves a free meal as they prey on certain men’s sense of chivalry.
McGinnis told ABC: “Dating/courting has existed forever, and only recently are we trying to take that out of the equation. We think it is mutually beneficial, and should be preserved rather than looked down upon. We believe many men are able to get away with not paying, not being gentlemen, etc., and that if we allow that recent trend to continue, romance will wither along with it. Only the negative aspects of sexism should be removed in our culture — and we just don’t think this is one of them.”
While the site has its detractors, there are those who are in favor of it.
One commenter said: “I’m all for this. I don’t care if it’s not politically correct — I like when a man makes an effort to impress me, and I do prefer more traditional roles in dating.”
And another added: “Yes, the website is worded ridiculously, but the baseline is that this site is trying to go back to old-fashioned dating. Things are not as sinister as you may think.”
The site has declined to reveal how many have joined its exclusive community, but its Facebook page currently only sits at 242.