It’s crazy to me that in 2018 women are still not asking men to marry them in vast numbers. In every other way, women are more on fire than ever. We are coming out in the millions to protest for human rights of all shapes and sizes. We are raising children alone; we are marrying other women. We are founding tech companies and making breakthroughs in science, architecture, and all of these other fields that are traditionally male dominated. It is an incredible time to be alive.
And yet, this concept of the woman standing up and saying to a man, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” is still so radical that people are amazed when they learn that I was the one who proposed. Because even though I own my own company and take birth control and don’t shave my legs, the basic concept of the man deciding when it’s time to get married is still very alive and very well.
Because what are women who are partnered with men still supposed to do? We’re supposed to sit back, and hope. We’re told to give ultimatums. We gossip with our friends about when he might pop the question and what we might say if he does. We go on vacation and with every sunset, with every mountaintop hike, we think, “Is this it?!”
And I have to admit, it’s fucking terrifying to propose, no matter what your gender. I have been with my pre-husband for nine and a half years, and my squirrel brain was still freaking out. What if this changes everything? What if I’m messing it all up? What if he’s not really that serious—will we just keep on going as if nothing happened, and try again later?
In the end I didn’t propose on a mountaintop, or during the sunset on the beach (although I had meant to, and then chickened out for no reason other than nerves). I had a fancy box that had an engraved tie bar inside (an engagement thing). I took him on a trip to Mexico, and we stayed in a fancy hotel. And I proposed on the balcony of said fancy hotel, after night had fallen and the ocean waves crashed in the distance.
I don’t have an engagement ring, and I don’t want one (did you know that the concept of an engagement ring was invented in the ’40s by the diamond industry, to sell more diamonds?). We aren’t having a traditional wedding, and I won’t be wearing a white dress. I am standing up and saying “this is what I want,” and he is meeting me there. We are traveling down this road together hand-in-hand, on equal footing and with equal input.
I don’t think you have to propose to your significant other to empower yourself in this way, but I want more women to step into their lives in ways they always believed were impossible or untraditional or terrifying.
Yes, as women we have a crazy hard time asking for what we want. Yes, it’s terrifying to have that kind of conversation. But if we don’t start asking, and start making ourselves heard, we are perpetuating the myth that women need permission from men to live their lives.
This is about stepping up and saying: “I see you. Do you see me too?”