It’s a huge dilemma for progressives: on the one hand, it’s terribly patriarchal for a man to pay for a woman’s dinner. On the other hand, the gender pay gap of feminist mythology holds that women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. So isn’t the failure to pay just another contribution to structural sexism?
Equipay, a new app for Android and the iPhone has a solution. Developed by San Francisco-based “comedian” Luna Malbroux, the app divides bills between dinner guests according to their race and gender. For example, black women, who allegedly make just 64 cents on the dollar compared to white men, would only pay 64 per cent of their share of the bill.
According to the app’s website, “Equipay helps you avoid the entrenched discrimination that exists in our society. It doesn’t split the bill equally—it splits it equitably. You pay what you should to balance out the wage gap.”
The app is free to use — unless you’re a member of a “high-privilege group.” Then there’s a surcharge. As the site explains: “When dining out with a high privilege group, Equipay automatically adds an EquipayItBack Surcharge. This fee subsidizes meals for others and funds Equipay’s charitable arm. Thanks!”
Last but not least, the app allows users to let their followers know whenever they’ve used the app to smash the patriarchy at the dinner table. In a live presentation of the app, Melbroux described how a user, “Graham” shares his Equipay-powered purchase on social media “to show that he is a social justice ally.”
Of course, having informed the world of his use of Equipay, it remains to be seen if “Graham” will ever be invited out for a meal again.
The app won first prize at San Francisco’s “Comedy Hack Day,” which brings “comedians, developers, and designers together.” However, Melbroux insists that the app isn’t a joke. In an interview with Care2, she expressed hopes that the app would start a serious conversation: “I hope that this, more than anything, starts a discussion and helps people to start thinking a little bit differently about how we can use more technology and more innovation to address inequality and wage inequality.”
For the rest of us, the app’s social media sharing function will give us a useful list of people to never invite out for dinner.