I think that a case should be made that whoever initiated the date might feel obligated to pay; for instance when I was in high school money was hard to come by because I had a crappy part-time after school job - minimum wage was $3.25/hr at the time. And I had to pay my car payment - which was only $187/month. But figure out how many hours I had to work after taxes, etc... were removed from my paycheck for me to meet that goal.
Anyway, a girl who I liked... and I mean I liked her but wasn't really romantically interested in her... she asked me out to "dinner and a movie". Because we were friends and because she knew that I wasn't made of money - but she came from a very wealthy family and she had a new car (mine was an old used clunker) and she didn't have to work, I assumed we'd be going dutch.
Wrong. We get to the theater - we had to pass on dinner because she was late getting ready - when we arrived to buy the tickets she acted all indignant when I said, "We're going dutch right?" And she claimed she had no money.
Which I knew wasn't true.
I just said, "Oh... let's see... you ask me out because you expected me to pay for entertainment for you? No worries!" And I paid for the ticket.
She acted miffed the entire movie. Afterwards I dropped her off at her house, made sure she made it inside (as any proper Southern Gentleman would), and I never agreed to do anything with her again.
I knew guys back then (in the mid and late 1980's) that had all sorts of rules about dating... like the "bitch rule". In Southern culture it is a given that you will always open a car door for a lady. What is not given is that they have to do anything to reciprocate the courtesy. The Bitch Rule states that if you open a car door and assist a lady in sitting, she will be kind enough to lean over and unlock your door for you. Since at the time electric/auto door locks were not standard on any affordable car and not even an option in trucks. If she sat there and made you fumble for your keys to unlock your own door after opening hers, she was a bitch. And you'd never be expected to take her out again.
Silly stuff really. I know SEVERAL guys who never called girls for second dates because in the first few minutes of their first date the girl failed the Bitch Test. LOL.
What I do think is that if you ask someone out it's polite to assume that you will provide for the date. Unless at the time of asking the other person asks if you want to go dutch (because some people don't want to feel as if there is a score-card for dating... I've paid for the last 5 dates, blah, blah, blah) and they want to make sure that it is understood that they are independent and do not expect that you have to pay their way.
It's a complex thing really. As a guy - I ask you out on a date and I want to make sure that you understand that I don't mind paying because I initiated the date. I also don't want to seem like I'm trying to get leverage or be presumptive. But at the same time I also want you to know that I don't mind certain expected social gender roles because I was raised with a very old-fashioned, conservative social upbringing. This doesn't mean that I'm not open to role reversals or changes in decorum; I honestly wouldn't want any of it to be a point of discomfort or a reason for nerves or stress.
As a girl - I can totally understand that old fashioned "traditions" can be charming, but they can also denote a certain closed-minding thinking regarding gender roles - The man's place is this and the woman's place is this - the sort of mentality that doesn't allow for equality or egalitarianism.
In the end I think that if you are the sort of person, male or female, who thinks this topic is important to discuss before a date, then bring it up and be honest about how you feel. If the person you are discussing this with is offended or feels uncomfortable when you bring it up then right there you know BEFORE your first date that there's some issues between you regarding discussing gender roles openly.
Who knows... perhaps we can create the "Bitch/Tool Test Version 2.0" - where if you go to discuss payment responsibilities before your first date and the girl/guy acts offended they fail. :-D