"Do you want to split the bill?" the 20-something Aucklander asks on the first date.

"I've actually got no money on me at the moment," she answers as they approach the till at the swanky SkyCity restaurant, "I didn't think I needed to bring money."

"Do you just expect the man to pay?" he answers, adding "Okay, I think that's kinda sexist, eh?"

A clip of the experience, captured on camera for TVNZ's First Dates NZ, went viral around the world.

The most authentic date ever

The most authentic date ever? As some of you may know I went on this dating program in NZ called First Dates where they basically pair you up with a blind date that they 'matched' and film the shenanigans. I put off watching my episode for ages in fear I will cringe too hard at myself but it wasn't actually that bad! Just beneath threshold levels. It was really tiring on the day but looking back now and at this little highlight reel I made I can honestly say I'm so grateful for the experience! Even though I didn't get along super well with my date I'm still really happy she was the one there with me for this experience and wish her all the best :) If you want to watch the whole thing here is the link: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/ondemand/first-dates-nz/24-10-2016/series-2016-episode-3 For NZ IP addresses only. Just get smart if you're outside and want to watch it :p

Posted by Main Man Tian Tan on Monday, 7 November 2016

The dater, Tian Tan, posted it on Facebook himself, receiving 1.2 million views within 14 hours.

Some commenters got angry.

The days of men paying for first dates should be long gone, they said. It's patronising even if he offers - a hint that females are the weaker sex, that the gender pay gap is still very much alive - rather than a polite gesture.

It continued the conversation around gender and dating etiquette - which, in the era of #MeToo, appears as clear as mud for some.

The movement didn't appear to gather steam until October 2017 when allegations of sexual misconduct emerged against Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein.

But more confounding questions about gender stereotypes were at play much earlier, especially in the workplace.

When you genuinely fancy a colleague, how do you ask them on a date without risking an HR complaint?

Can you comfort an upset co-worker by putting your arm around them or patting their hand?


And are you allowed to comment on someone's appearance ever again?

Are we overthinking it? Isn't it just common sense?

Many of the very best-intentioned men - and women - are confused.

An aspiring actor and social media influencer, Tan, 26, has been on dates in the #metoo era, since the show, and says it shouldn't be that difficult.

Aucklander Tian Tan appears on First Dates NZ. Photo / Supplied
Aucklander Tian Tan appears on First Dates NZ. Photo / Supplied

"I think if any one person pursues another person with respect, kindness, compassion, love and all that good stuff, there would be less of a need for these sorts of campaigns," he told the Herald on Sunday.

"But I appreciate that they do play an important role in changing negative behaviours and attitudes."

When it came to etiquetteo ver paying for dinner, he thinks it should be an even split.

Across the two seasons of the First Dates show, producers say they have seen equal incidences of men footing the bill, and couples splitting the cost of the meal.

"The payment of the bill really comes down to the people involved and their feelings on the matter," says a spokesman for TVNZ and Warner Brothers International Television Production New Zealand.

"The dates shown are authentic, right down to the final bill, so it is left up to the couple to decide how they pay up."

Even Hollywood stars are struggling on the dating scene.

Superman actor Henry Cavill came under fire for his comments on dating. Photo / Supplied
Superman actor Henry Cavill came under fire for his comments on dating. Photo / Supplied

Superman actor Henry Cavill told the Australian edition of GQ magazine he was now too scared to chat up women in case he ends up being branded a rapist.

He had been asked whether the #MeToo movement had made him reflect on his own behaviour towards women.

"I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I'm old-fashioned for thinking that," he said.

"It's very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it's like, 'Well, I don't want to go up and talk to her, because I'm going to be called a rapist or something'.

"Now you really can't pursue someone further than, 'No'. It's like, 'Ok, cool'. But then there's the, 'Oh, why'd you give up?' And it's like, 'Well, because I didn't want to go to jail'."

Many criticised Cavill's comments, with one person commenting: "If you can't tell the difference between welcome flirting and harassment/assault, you have a big problem."

Cavill apologised and said he always held women in the highest of regard.

When Dr Katherine Ravenswood, whose teaching areas at Auckland University of Technology include gender and diversity at work and HR management, first "heard angst over how men are supposed to know what to do in the #metoo era" she was bemused, at best, she says.

AUT senior lecturer Dr Katherine Ravenswood. Photo / Supplied
AUT senior lecturer Dr Katherine Ravenswood. Photo / Supplied

"My response is: if you respect women and respect people, listen to them and don't treat them as if they are there for your entertainment and/or needs then you have nothing to worry about.

"That goes for at work too. And as we've heard with the example of law firms – which won't be the only profession - it seems that some men have not realised that the workplace is about work, not dating or sexual gratification. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination is illegal."

The Kiwi legal industry was highlighted earlier this year after accusations of inappropriate sexual behaviour and excessive drinking, most notably at Russell McVeagh,

Auckland University's Professor Nicola Gavey, a psychologist who teaches courses on gender and sexuality, says questions around gender etiquette did not emerge when #metoo did.

"I don't think I can pretend to know what the unwritten rules are ... they will differ in different contexts and different parts of the community. These kinds of questions and dilemmas are not new – they were explicitly on the table, similar to how they are now, 40 years ago."

Women are becoming more vocal. Sexual abuse helplines have seen a surge in Kiwis reporting historic incidents.

Filmmaker Chelsea Winstanley, wife of Taika Waititi, spoke up after nine years last month, revealing she made a sexual harassment complaint about a camera operator while they were filming.

Filmmaker Chelsea Winstanley, with husband Taika Waititi, was hit on at work. Photo / Getty
Filmmaker Chelsea Winstanley, with husband Taika Waititi, was hit on at work. Photo / Getty

It affected her work life and saw her seek the safety of producing roles rather than directing.

It is the first known #metoo-esque example in the Kiwi film industry.

And more is being done to recognise the issues.

New Zealand's Law Society announced a working group, chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright, focusing on sexual harassment reporting, as well as the development of an online portal and helpline for confidential reporting of harassment.

The society held a national survey which discovered one in five lawyers had been sexually harassed in the workplace.

And in Britain, after a two-year pilot scheme, Nottinghamshire police have recommended that misogynistic abuse – defined by police as "behaviour targeted towards women by men simply because they are a woman" – be recognised as a gender hate crime across the UK.

The gender question

Asking a colleague out

Dr Katherine Ravenswood says work should only be about work, but if you like someone, think about how you might become friends.

"Perhaps you have coffee breaks together and you think that you could be friends outside work. Ask if they want to meet up after work one day. If they say no, then that's your answer. Leave it there."

But if you're the boss - or even a team leader - steer clear of younger staff, she stresses.

"You have more power than them in the workplace. Like it or not, you can affect their experiences of work for both good and bad. Don't ask them out. Get over it. Or quit your job, and then ask them out."

Doctor Pani Farvid, Married At First Sight expert. Photo / Doug Sherring.
Doctor Pani Farvid, Married At First Sight expert. Photo / Doug Sherring.

Her colleague, senior lecturer Pani Farvard, one of the resident psychologists on Married at First Sight NZ, agrees.

"When you are in a workplace, the primary concern should be professionalism and appropriate work boundaries. Ideally, superiors should not proposition those junior to them, due to the inherent power-imbalance."

The moment someone says no, you should respect that and drop it, she says.

"Playing hard to get is outdated and no longer a legitimate excuse to keep pursuing someone."

Paying on dates

Farvid, who has done research on casual sex and online, Tinder and mobile dating, says the concept of expecting men to pay is also outdated.

It comes from the practice of "treating" in the early 1900s in the US, where working class girls would trade their time, company and sometime intimate acts with men who would pay for them to get into into dance halls, and buy drinks and dinner.

"It was not deemed sex work at the time – but sat somewhere in between prostitution and courting. Our contemporary dating culture or the need for a man to pay for dates, in part stems from these historic practices.

"I think the expectation should be that it is 50/50 unless otherwise stated. For example, if someone says, 'This is on me as I asked you out', or if a woman offers to pay but the man says, 'I'll get the next one'."

Having said that - she says in jest - the gender pay gap may mean a ratio needs to be worked out.

Women are more likely to be subjected to the "pink tax" where basic products aimed at women are more expensive than those aimed at men – like shampoo and razors.

Wolf-whistling, honking

The general consensus among the three experts about noises made when passing a woman – car-honking, wolf-whistling, hissing or kissing sounds – is, it's a no-no.

Nicola Gavey says the act is either explicitly hostile or a thoughtless assertion of dominance.

The moment someone says no, you should respect that and drop it. Photo / 123RF
The moment someone says no, you should respect that and drop it. Photo / 123RF

"With things like the grunts, groans – some of that is pure harassment – that's pretty obvious."

Farvid agrees the behaviour is sexist and a form of sexual harassment.

Ravenswood is more blunt: "Are you an animal?"

Unsolicited advice

Think "smile, it may never happen". Is it ever welcome?

Gavey says yes - if someone slips in a "cheer up love" as part of a caring conversation.

"But most women have probably experienced these kinds of random statements, which are just aggravating power plays.

"I think things like telling strangers to smile is also fairly obviously a patronising and aggravating power play."

Ravenswood says that before giving advice to women, men should stop and think.

"Are you their work friend? What would you say to a man? If you're not their friend and you wouldn't say it to a man, then keep your mouth shut. What's wrong with, 'Hi, how are you?' anyway?"

Farvid points to "mansplaining", when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending or patronising manner.

"The best way to go about offering advice is when you are asked for it, no matter what the gender of either party."

Taking a stand/opening doors

There is a classic and useful theory in social psychology when it comes to some acts that are seen by society as chivalrous, like offering your seat for a women on the bus, or opening a door for them, Farvid says.

Benevolent sexism - when we treat women differently, just because they are women, especially in a protective or paternalistic manner – is a form of covert sexism.

"My rule of thumb is, such acts of 'kindness' should be first and foremost reserved for those who are less able is some way - elderly, injured, disabled, pregnant. And gender should not play a part (except for pregnancy), otherwise it is sexist.

"If you would not do it for a man – why are you doing it for a woman? We should all be kind and open doors for each other, regardless of gender."

Gavey and Ravenswood agree that norms of politeness should be detached from gender.

Heavy lifting

We all sometimes need help for situational reasons - for example if you're carrying lots of stuff or looking after young children on public transport, Gavey says.

And some will need assistance because of different physical capacities – but gender is not a reason.

"Hopefully we are moving towards a point where they wouldn't feel demeaned by the thought of someone doing it for them. The reason feminists might have highlighted these kinds of practices as something to think about, is that if you are being offered an extra hand just because you are a woman, the subtext is that you are weaker, you need special protection because of this, just because of your gender."

Ravenswood says men should never assume women can't lift something.

"Women are strong and physical too, and sometimes stronger than men. How about putting a health and safety lens on it and assessing, together, how to move or lift things safely. Perhaps more than one person is required anyway. Don't not give women tasks because you think they won't be strong enough."

Can I still comment on someone's looks?

Ravenswood says that in the workplace everyone dresses to professionally impress, but work performance isn't reliant upon looks.

"Just don't."


When comforting a colleague, physical touch shouldn't come into it, Ravenswood says.

"Are you their friend or is this a workplace?"

Faux feminism

Comments like, ​"If I were less of a feminist, I'd want to grab you," are forms of modern prejudice or modern forms of sexism or racism, Farvid says.

"Because it is now less acceptable to be overtly prejudiced, people engage in covert or modern forms of prejudice, often by giving a disclaimer, but then go on to say something offensive or problematic. Such as, 'I'm not racist, but...,' and then say something racist, 'I'm not sexist, but,' 'I'm a feminist, but'.

"If the sentiment of sexism is in the words we utter – it's still sexism, even if it comes with a disclaimer."