Is there no subject feminist writers can’t turn into a bitchfest? Now there are gender rules for where you have to sit on a date.

17 Jul

I don’t know why I clicked on this story at Slate today.  The image came to my mind of a call girl, sitting against a bar, looking for a man who might be in need of some company.

call girl

I personally have never sat at the bar on a date with someone, but it’s been a long time since I went on a date, so what the hell do I know?

True Story:  my first “date” with Mr. JB (as in he called me up and asked me if I wanted to have dinner with him) took place in the men’s washroom of our student residence.


We lived in a four story dormitory and the Graduate Students (who tended to be older than the undergrads) were all housed on the top floor.  The whippersnappers who lived beneath us dubbed the fourth floor “The Geriatric Ward” and were constantly putting up signs admonishing others to be quiet because Elderly People Sleeping.


When you’re eighteen, twenty-five seems like a lifetime away!  The little jerks.


Mr. JB has a hidden talent for hair cutting, and he was running a barbershop in the men’s room, taking his payment in the form of liquid assets, AKA beer.  It was a price a lot of our fellow students were prepared to pay. He had intended for us to go to the campus bar and have natchos or cheeseburgers or something else equally elegant, but his customers kept showing up and when he had to choose between taking me to a proper sit-down eatery and forgoing beer, well, that was a no-brainer.


Beer, obviously.

Someone was doing a McDonald’s run and popped their head in to see if we wanted anything, and that ended up being our dinner.  I sat on the counter in the men’s washroom with my feet in the sink, eating a Quarter Pounder and watching Mr. JB cut hair and collect beer.

I’m not sure the last guy got the best haircut of his life, but it sure was cheap!

beer can

Okay, let’s jump into this Slate slime! It’s a short article, but packed with so much vacuous cuntiness that I can’t resist.  The lovely Katy Waldman in italics.


Last week, an Atlantic Wire piece explained all about the beauty of eating at the bar when you’re alone. Not having to stare at the empty seat across from you reduces existential angst, it said. You enjoy better access to drinks and conversation via the bartender. You don’t feel rushed, or guilty for taking up an entire table. All true, all pretty obvious. The more difficult claim—one the writer breezed right by—is that there is an equivalent beauty to eating at the bar when you’re on a date.

“It’s less depressing eating alone at the bar. When you’re eating alone at a table with only an empty chair to look at, you have visual proof of how lonely and cold this world is. The bar gives you a brief distraction from this depressing reality,”


How cold and lonely this world is.  Or how unlikeable and friendless you are?  I could see if you just moved to town, you might experience a bit of loneliness, but if you begin with the assumption that you are not entitled to companionship in this world, and that in order to be appealing to other people, you need to consider their needs and likes and wants, that whole “no one to share a meal with” problem should disappear.

We’ll keep that sense of entitlement firmly in mind.

The greatness of this seating arrangement cannot be overstated: The two of you are looking at something besides each other, which can provide conversational fodder. (“That bartender sure has moves.” “Did you ever see the movie Cocktail?” “Ugh, what happened to Tom Cruise? He had so much promise!” And so on.)


So, you are on a date with another actual human, but you prefer not to actually have to look at this human.  Hmmm.  Interesting strategy to encourage connection and intimacy.

You wish to have a conversation, but not based on your observations about how the other person is responding or how much enthusiasm they show for a particular subject.  Something superficial and trite fits the order of the day.  Oooooooookay.


You are more likely to get away with having something stuck in your teeth, or quietly spilling water on yourself, or dropping your silverware, in the forgiving ambit of his peripheral vision.



God forbid you should stop thinking about yourself for ten seconds all at once.  My teeth! How are my teeth?  Check your reflection in the bar mirror. How’s your hair?  Is your lipstick smudged?  Is that push-up bra delivering the promised boobage?  Maybe a little discreet lift and tuck is in order?

Me me me me me me me me me me me ….meeeeeeeee!

God, it must be exhausting to think about yourself so much.


The side-by-side posture is both equalizing and intimate—and  if he’s a dud, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the game while pretending to “get to know him.” (Or he might do the same to you, in which case, eating at the bar is bullshit.) But the best part of perching with your date at the bar is that it allows you to circumvent the gender seating wars.


I’m sorry, but why are even on a date if your intention is to watch the game while pretending to “get to know him”?  The outright declaration that you don’t really have any interest in this person as a human being is a little creepy, to be frank. He better be valuing YOU as a human though – that game only plays one way.


The fact that Katy can see where she sits as a “gender war” really says pretty much everything we need to know about her, doesn’t it?  You’re on a date with someone you don’t really want to look at, you don’t want to have any deep conversation with, you don’t particularly want to “get to know”, you can’t stop thinking about yourself and how you appear and where you sit is a declaration of war!

How does this woman ever get a date in the first place?

An unspoken Hammurabi’s Code seeks to dictate where men and women park themselves while dining together. (Same sex couples, I’d imagine, are spared some of this aggravations, or maybe the ambiguity just compounds the problem.) As I understand it, the lady sits with her back to the wall, facing the room, while the gentleman gallantly takes the seat with the more limited view. This is supposedly chivalrous, because the room-facing seat is perceived as more desirable, based on an ancestral antipathy to being caught unawares in the savannah, with your back to the lion.


Uhm, no.  That is not why the man sits with his back to the room.

“Think of the woman as the guest of honor,” says Post, “and the guest of honor always gets the best seat, which is with her back to the wall, looking out over the room.” When applicable, the man should also offer her the seat with less “aisle traffic” passing from behind. If it’s a table positioned in the middle of the room, then let her choose where she wants to sit, says Kirsch.


It’s actually a compliment to the lady, and the man is seated, presumably, between the lady and any danger that might arise, no matter how improbable.  Ultimately, you’ll note that a gracious man allows a woman to choose.

But leave it to Katy to twist a compliment into an insult.

It is not (necessarily) chivalrous. Certainly the men (sometimes) mean well, but I would much rather feel free to get up and leave at any point, rather than being boxed in by a seating arrangement that has me wedged between the table and the wall.

Is it just me, or does that whole thing sound kinda rapey?  Boxed in.  Wedged.  Vulnerable.  Freedom to just get up and leave curtailed. First date, and Katy already has her gentlemen companion wedged into the “all men are potential rapists” box.

How charming.

Other women will disagree, and that’s part of life, and dating—learning about another individual’s preferences, deciding whether or not you can accommodate them. But the rigidity of the Code makes it highly awkward, because I often want my date to sit where he’d prefer to sit anyway, and it’s weird to be constantly issuing disclaimers about how you truly don’t mind having your back to the room, especially if the guy is already pulling out your chair with a look of pained martyrdom on his face.

Other women most certainly disagree.  I have a question though:  how are you supposed to learn about another person’s preferences when you don’t want to look at him or talk to him and prefer to watch the game while pretending to “get to know him”?  Really. How is that supposed to work?


It’s weird to be constantly issuing disclaimers?  You would prefer that your date sit where he wants?  I have a suggestion for you Katy. Stop issuing disclaimers.  Shut the fuck up.  And stop thinking about what you would prefer.  Give his preferences top priority, and let him be gracious if he so chooses (although hell if I know why anyone would be gracious to you).  Try, just try, for the course of one evening, not to be an irritating, mouthy cunt.

Can you do that?

Probably not.

That’s why he’s wearing that pained expression of martyrdom, sweetheart.  He can’t wait to get the fuck away from you!

Enter the bar. The bar means parity, escape from the gender seating wars, an end to the passive-aggressive dance of “no, no, you pick.” Plus there are nuts.   

Oh, there are nuts alright.  Beginning with the guy who agreed to date you.

So there you are, at the bar.  No need to look at him.  No need to have any meaningful conversation.  No need to miss the game.  You can just pretend to “get to know him” while checking your teeth in the bar mirror. No feelings of vulnerability, being wedged into an escape proof seating arrangement, in case your date gets all rapey on you.  It’s all tickety-boo.

Why are you out with him in the first place?  Katy, you sound like a terrible date.  Like you’re entitled to male attention but with no obligation to return it or even make a passing gesture of acknowledgement like LOOKING at your companion.

So what’s the motivation? Why put yourself, and him, through this exercise of bitchiness and dismissiveness?

Bartender?  Check, please!


Oh, my. Well, there we have it, don’t we?  I guess that image of the call girl waiting for a customer wasn’t too far off the mark, was it?

Yeah, Katy, you sit at the bar.  Smart men will see you instantly for what you are.


The rest of us will be seated with our backs to the wall, enjoying the company of men we are interested in looking at and speaking to, and with hardly any requirement at all to “get up and leave at any point”.

Well, pee breaks, obviously.  And when your first date is actually in a washroom, that’s not a problem at all!

Lots of love,


34 Responses to “Is there no subject feminist writers can’t turn into a bitchfest? Now there are gender rules for where you have to sit on a date.”

  1. zornskin July 17, 2013 at 14:59 #

    Hmmn. It appears that I’ve been a mannerless oaf in the restaurant seating game, since I was in the military. I always try to make sure that I get the seat that puts my back to the wall has full view of the most entrances and exits.

    The idea is to get a seat by one of the exits and if it’s determined through active assessment that things appear to be going south, my intent is to get my date out of the building asap and have time to gauge the nature of dangerous escalations in the establishment.

    It’s only come in handy a couple times, but it seemed enough to justify continuing the trend, even long after no longer frequenting locations that tend to get hairy. Maybe I’m just paranoid at this point.

    I think if I was out with this lady… semi-adjacent tables might be more preferable.


  2. Brian July 17, 2013 at 15:19 #

    As a firearms instructor, I have had a similar seating strategy to zornskin. If I’m facing the room, I am better able to see problems as they arise and take action to ensure her safety far earlier.

    Granted, I also avoid sitting directly across from each other at a table for the simple reason that sitting on adjacent sides of a square table can be far more intimate. Facing each other across the span of a table frequently devolves into something resembling a job interview.


  3. Spaniard July 17, 2013 at 15:19 #

    In some nightclubs in Madrid the “normal” women and the call girls are all together there. No way to tell. And they are 50/50. Except… usually “normal” women dress like whores and call girls dress more prudish.


  4. Mr. Krishan July 17, 2013 at 15:33 #

    “The side-by-side posture is both equalizing and intimate—and if he’s a dud, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the game while pretending to “get to know him.” (Or he might do the same to you, in which case, eating at the bar is bullshit.)”

    She lost me here with her rampant hypocrisy. She’s okay to pretend to get to know him, but it’s bullshit if he does the same? How much of a two-faced bitch do you have to be to double-standard that blatantly?


  5. Exfernal July 17, 2013 at 17:09 #

    Perhaps, for a feminist, the sight of her date seated vis-à-vis her conjures
    similar images that could cause indigestion. She avoids the problem sitting at the bar, right?


  6. LostSailor July 17, 2013 at 17:18 #

    I’m going to kind of disagree here. I pretty much insist that a first date be at a bar (though I’m open to other scenarios). I usually pick places that also offer some kind of food, so if things are going well, a light nosh is usually in order. And I as a rule avoid sit-down dinners on a first or even second date. (Though when this does happen, I try to get adjacent seats on the corner of the table; not always possible in New York where many restaurants have banquette seating).

    One reason for wanting to sit at the bar is that it makes things a little more casual. The other reason is that it puts me and my date in closer proximity than sitting at a table, even on the corner. I find it better to promote a sense of intimacy this way. And while I share your ridicule of Katy’s need to be able to bolt for the door at any moment, there is a kernel of truth there, especially on a first date where neither of you probably knows the other well. Knowing that there is an easy exit available, even if on a subconscious level, usually makes most women more comfortable.

    As for the other BS reasons for women to want to sit at the bar, if you’re paying any attention to the game, I’m not doing it right. And I usually do it right…


  7. feeriker July 17, 2013 at 17:33 #

    It’s really amazing how you can walk into just about any bar, anywhere in the developed world, and spot the Katy right off the bat. She’s the lone sulker sitting at the end of the bar, nursing some specialty cocktail, a sullen, bitchy look on her face, belching out a sob-story to the bartender (who, if it’s a guy, is probably thinking “Dear God, why didn’t I just take that job as a mortuary attendant that I was offered?”) or anyone unfortunate enough to be within eyesight or earshot, usually a story that pertains to how miserable or arduous her princess life is.

    What is really amazing is that at some point, some schlub with more dollars in his pocket than sense or self-respect in his head will actually sit down next to this creature and try to strike up a conversation (usually using some cringe-inducing opening lines). At this point the bitchy look on the Katy’s face turns into a not-very-thinly-veiled sneer, one that even Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder couldn’t not notice. Yet Mr. PUA goes on undeterred. Over the course of a few hours, a succession of Mr. PUAs comes and goes, trying –and failing– to get something going with Katy, usually in the end having only an empty wallet/bigger than necessary bar bill to show for their efforts. Katy, for her part, gets drunk without ever having to open up her wallet for anything beyond the first drink and goes home with the same woe-is-me-where-are-all-the-good-men attitude she came in with. And why wouldn’t she? It gets her free drinks all night. A date with one man would result in a “you’re cut off” at some point.

    It’s a really fascinating thing to watch, both sad and hilarious at the same time. What I’ve never been able to understand is how any man could be so horny/otherwise thirsty for female companionship as to even think of approaching a Katy. To use an admittedly imperfect analogy, I might be desperately looking for a dog to serve as a combination of companion, guard, and retriever on my next duck hunt, but I’m sure as hell NOT going to try to find such a creature by visiting a quarantine kennel and picking out the most vicious of the inmates.


  8. feeriker July 17, 2013 at 17:38 #

    There’s actually an unappreciated advantage in this sitting at the bar arrangement for the guy on the date. Once “Katy” reveals herself to her date to be the self-centered bitch that she is, her victim can just ignore her, cut his losses (assuming any are yet incurred in the form of a bar bill or a dinner check), and pretend that the two of them aren’t together on a date. With any luck, some other sucker will pull up next to her on the bar stool on the other side of her and start making a play for her. Unfortunate Sucker Number One can then pay his tab, leave, and recoup the rest of the evening to do something worthwhile.


  9. judgybitch July 17, 2013 at 17:47 #

    Interesting perspective. Do you think it matters WHO (man or woman) wants to sit at the bar? Your motivations seem so different from Katy’s.

    I’m a fan of the traditional booth, myself. I think they feel cozy and like you’ve carved out an intimate little space for yourselves. If I am feeling comfortable and at ease, I will slip my shoes off and put my feet on my companion’s.

    It’s a gesture that feels relaxed and easy. It can be sexually alluring, but it doesn’t have to be. I do it it women, too. I’ve never had anyone object.

    I like the face to face interaction of being across from one another. I’m not sure I could sit beside someone I found really attractive and not engage in inappropriate touching. It’s just too easy to do the accidental boob swipe or put your hand on his lower back or lean against him.

    And on a first date, that’s a no go.

    Hypothetical, of course. I avoid sitting next to my husband at bars or picnics or dinners because we can get really obnoxious with our PDAs, and yuck! Who wants to see a married couple still acting all hot for each other?




  10. EMMA July 17, 2013 at 18:04 #

    How are you able to observe this entire situation with such insight and detail?

    Are you that guy, also sitting by himself at a bar, checking everyone out and assuming everything about their lives?


  11. Jeremy July 17, 2013 at 18:24 #

    If I’m paying for your dinner, then I get to look at you.

    (skip to 21 seconds in)


  12. LostSailor July 17, 2013 at 18:30 #

    Your motivations seem so different from Katy’s.

    Of course they are. Her motivation is to have a quick escape route because she’s probably looking for reasons to reject the guy and she can more easily bolt leaving him to pay the bill. My motivations are to create a more intimate space without having a table-top between us.

    It’s not like we’re both sitting there facing the bar and having a conversation out of the sides of our mouths. I always turn my barstool toward her, and she nearly always follows suit so we’re pretty much facing each other.

    I’m not sure I could sit beside someone I found really attractive and not engage in inappropriate touching. It’s just too easy to do the accidental boob swipe or put your hand on his lower back or lean against him.

    Bingo! (And you’re my kind of gal…)

    Who wants to see a married couple still acting all hot for each other?

    Get a room!


  13. feeriker July 17, 2013 at 19:04 #

    Are you that guy, also sitting by himself at a bar, checking everyone out and assuming everything about their lives?

    No, I’m “that guy” sitting at a table in the same bar with my wife, some friends, or both, “people watching.” Combined with just the right combination of alcohol and the right companionship, you can’t ask for better entertainment.


  14. desperada57 July 17, 2013 at 20:19 #

    Whenever Desperado and I go out to eat, I always sit facing the window. Desperado is legally blind (but not total black-out blind) and the glare from outdoors hurts his eyes. I never really thought about “gender seating”.


  15. desperada57 July 17, 2013 at 20:25 #

    It’s counterintuitive, but I know what you’re saying is true, Spaniard!


  16. Aye. July 17, 2013 at 21:35 #

    I can cook. And I make friends and keep them. The concept of going to a bar or restaurant alone is weird, and highly unnecessary, to me.


  17. Liz July 17, 2013 at 22:27 #

    My husband is military too and has always sat with his back to the wall, facing everything going on around the room. I think you’re doing it right!
    But I’m kind of paranoid too…


  18. judgybitch July 17, 2013 at 22:32 #


    So you guys are all saying where you sit depends on your individual personalities?

    You’re all doing gender war wrong.

    Wrong, I tell you!

    And there isn’t nearly enough bitterness from the ladies.

    Feminist card: REVOKED!



  19. Ajax Murgatroyd July 17, 2013 at 22:55 #


  20. Liz July 17, 2013 at 23:20 #

    I LOVE that story about your first date, JB…one to tell the kiddos (but maybe not the part about the beer). Daddy was giving haircuts for microsoft xbox points, or something. 🙂

    Our first date was a long walk on the beach (I think we picked up some greasy french fries along the way too, if memory serves).


  21. LostSailor July 18, 2013 at 00:11 #

    I can understand.

    But I’ve often gone to restaurants by myself when I am single and friends have other things to do. I’m not bothered in the least. While I’ll usually eat at the bar, I have no problem with sitting at a table.

    My sister, older than me, has a nearly pathological fear of being alone. In between husbands (the third seemed to stick) she went through a series of bad (sometime really bad) boyfriends that she stuck with because she couldn’t go even a weekend at home by herself. Years ago I once commented to her that I’d gone to a movie by myself. She was literally aghast at the idea and couldn’t comprehend even the idea of doing that. Don’t get me wrong, she’s accomplished and otherwise a normal, balanced person, but in this one area, she’s nuts.

    If I want to go to a restaurant, or movie, I don’t wait until someone is available, I just go.


  22. feeriker July 18, 2013 at 00:33 #

    But I’ve often gone to restaurants by myself when I am single and friends have other things to do. I’m not bothered in the least. While I’ll usually eat at the bar, I have no problem with sitting at a table.

    Remember this scene from the Steve Martin film “The Lonely Guy?”


  23. AnonymousBosch July 18, 2013 at 00:43 #

    “The two of you are looking at something besides each other, which can provide conversational fodder. (“That bartender sure has moves.” “Did you ever see the movie Cocktail?” “Ugh, what happened to Tom Cruise? He had so much promise!” And so on.) ”

    I’d rather eat alone than have a shallow conversation about movies and celebrities.

    I choose to eat alone at a table because: a) i refuse to take seriously the imagined negative value judgements of strangers that I’ll probably never see again, let alone interact with in any meaningful way; and b) I’m trying to eat, and don’t want to be bothered by desperate cougars thinking an empty seat is an invitation to engage me in conversation. No-one ever sits down at a table to flirt with you.


  24. Radical Suburbanite July 18, 2013 at 00:44 #

    Yeah, I get touchy when hubby and I sit next to each other. Hubby loves it.


  25. Marlo Rocci July 18, 2013 at 02:37 #

    I keep thinking how dangerous it is for feminists to constantly take the “all men are potential rapists” line, because it will get to a point where young men start internalizing and accepting it. Men will begin to feel like it’s something they have to do to feel masculine. Or worse, women will begin to accept sexual abuse because, you know, he’s a man and therefore can’t help himself. I mean, that’s your two choices, live in fear of rape or accept that all men are rapists and just accept it when it comes. This constant teaching women to have the worst expectations of men will have a price.


  26. Alex July 18, 2013 at 06:20 #

    Jesus McFuckingchrist! Marry me?

    I’ve been out with a Katy before and it’s not the funnest, surely. Though, I’ve been called a “sociopath” not so much a rapist… I’m still working up to that level of acclaim.

    Excellent goddamned post.


  27. Master Beta July 18, 2013 at 09:07 #

    Shouldn’t the man sit by the wall, and the woman sit in the seat easiest to get out of? That way, she is better able to get up and get me a beer.


  28. Master Beta July 18, 2013 at 09:14 #

    The best way to make someone into a monster is to treat them like one.

    I do sometimes find myself wondering if there’s something wrong with me for not wanting to rape/sexually abuse women. Not because it’s wrong/evil, but because I just don’t want to. I don’t see how you could enjoy yourself whilst knowingly harming someone else :/


  29. Kai July 19, 2013 at 00:06 #

    See, this makes sense to me,
    Even if you would like to be in a relationship, it is healthy to be able to be happy and content on your own.
    Things like being able to just go out when you want to rather than waiting for someone else to become available are a good part of that.

    I don’t really eat out, so haven’t done it much, but a couple times when I was out of town alone (business), I’ve grabbed dinner out by myself – and I had no qualms sharing my table with a book.
    Maybe less acceptable at a fancy place, but in a pub, or casual restaurant? Just convenient.


  30. Mike S July 19, 2013 at 17:22 #

    Doesn’t she get it? Men take women on dates because they are interested in starting a relationship, and that is the traditional method. Dates are not some freebee granted to her by the Goddess, because of her status as Princess Specialsnowflake. If you don’t find the guy to at least have some potential as a relationship, decline the date. Is she that poor that she will go to a restaurant with a guy she cannot stand to get a free meal?


  31. James the general August 21, 2013 at 00:16 #

    What I remember from geography from 1st year high school history l, is that hammurabies code was the world’s first laws, and code of ethings, some how I dont think they were writing about where to seat a woman on a date.


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