Yes, men proposing to women oppresses them…fight the power!
By Meghan DeMaria
You’d think the obvious sexism of the modern proposal would rankle my progressive friends. Yes, plenty of brides have men in their bridal parties, more and more women are ditching the “virginal” white dress, and guys aren’t running to ask their fiancees’ fathers for “permission” to marry them anymore. But our culture still, overwhelmingly, pushes the traditional male proposal: down on one knee, with a sparkly diamond (and often a flash mob) in tow.
Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon argues that the male proposal is “a culturally sanctioned time for a man to show his tenderness.” But the tradition pushes stereotypical gender roles: The “tender” man is still in control of the situation, while the woman is forced to take a passive role. And if a woman proposes to a man, it’s seen as emasculating.
It’s not just men pushing the tradition, either: A 2012 study at the University of California, Santa Cruz, found that two-thirds of heterosexual students, both male and female, were “definitely” in favor of the male marriage proposal. A recent study by The Knot and Men’s Health found that 76 percent of men think they should go down on one knee to propose. And a poll by The Associated Press found that just 5 percent of current American marriages began with a female proposal.
The engagement ring is a sort of 21st-century dowry in the Western world, too. The traditional two-month salary rule not only signals a man’s interest in spending a life with his partner, it inadvertently sets the relationship up for a lifetime of inequality. It’s vestigial sexism at which no one seems to blink.
Read more: The Week