Sometime ago, I saw a clip of a woman being proposed to at her baby shower. Everyone was awwing and goalsing, but I remember thinking it was a little strange. Here’s a woman who is having a baby with a man and still shrieking in surprise that he would ask her to marry him. So weird. Surely at that point a proposal should not be a surprise or something to be blindsided by.
Silly me, forgetting that the key element of a proposal is surprise. Is a proposal really a proposal if the proposee is not totally in shock and displaying symptoms of a nervous breakdown? Even couples that have been together for aeons and are basically married in nature if not title still employ surprise in proposals. Why are all the women so surprised? Why the screaming and crying? Why the running out of the building with her friends in hot pursuit? Why the cries of disbelief? Why the fainting?
Two things burn my biscuits about proposals and the idea of proposals: first is the fact that such a huge life decision is practically left in the hands of the man. The woman literally has to wait for him to propose. You have to be patient and carefully tow the line between desperation and coolness.
Second is the idea that it has to be a surprise-not the event itself, but the whole marriage thing. When women say “oh my goodness I did not see that coming“, I assumed they were referring to the event but a lot of them are actually surprised by the marriage intention.
Women, it seems, are born ready for marriage and we just have to wait for men to staying playing the field and join us at the altar. That is why women can be surprised with proposals because more often than not we are ready to go. Surprising a man with a proposal is another kettle of fish. Occasionally someone, usually a meninist from the why do women deserve equality when they don’t open doors and fight in wars? school of thought, dares to ask why women claim to want equality when we don’t propose to men. The reactions to this are usually go something like: It just feels weird. I am traditional and I want my man to get down on one knee. Besides, every time you two get into an argument he will remind you that you forced him into the marriage; and my personal favourite: what if he says no? This is a valid fear, because if a man wanted to marry you he would have asked you himself.
This is why a random man can see a random woman living her life in a way that is not pleasing to him and pronounce the harshest sentence on her: “I cannot marry a woman like this”. Because though it can be argued that men benefit more from marriage, women are more eager to be married while men can afford to be coy and sow their oats and fully wallow comfortably in bachelorhood until they can wallow and sow no more. Meanwhile the marital hunger games begin for women once the diapers are off. But all this is a whole ‘nother conversation.
This takes me back a few years when I was creeping around on twitter and stumbled upon a man who needed advice. He had been dating this girl for a few months and he was ready to get married; he had a good job, a nice house, car, and he had bought an expensive-ish ring. The only problem is that he was a bit sceptical about proposing because he was not completely sure what her response would be. People (women) urged him to go ahead with the proposal. Strangers who had never met either of them awwwwed and told him to go for it, because of course the woman would be ecstatic. All I could think of was “why don’t you talk to her rather than twitter?” What is this silly need to surprise another with a proposal that you cannot even sit down and ask if she is ready for such a momentous step?
This is not to say that a man cannot or should not throw a lovely surprise for his girlfriend. It is one thing for the proposal to be a surprise-in that they have talked about marriage and reached the mutual decision to take the jump but she did not know that he was going to rent out Mount Everest to formally ask her to be his wife; it is another thing to be completely caught off guard that he was thinking of marriage-Oh my goodness I had no idea he was going to propose so soon; I had almost given up all hope…
Marriage is too serious a step to be left in the hands of one party, yet that is what happens all so often. We all know how cringey it is when a woman really wants to get married but her beau is luxuriously dragging his feet. She either turns on the desperation or even worse becomes one of those women who pretends not to care about marriage. The oh marriage is just a piece of paper that we don’t need to validate our relationship and we are stronger than a lot of married couples we know and we love each other that is all that matters and I don’t see the point of marriage really. Then 12 years, 20 children and 3 grandchildren later, he finally gets down on one knee and Miss I don’t want to get married bursts into happy tears of joy and relief and is just so happy that he finally proposed.
Do not become one of those women. Be honest with yourself. If you want to get married then be open about that and do not be shamed into pretending you don’t. In the same vein realise that it is perfectly okay to never want to be married. Either way live your best life and do not let marriage determine your worth.
Most importantly, if you want to scream and cry and faint when the love of your life proposes, then you go ahead and do just that darling.