So how is it that, after 40 years of feminism, if you are the marrying kind, it is still the case that it is the man who proposes to the woman? This is a leap year, so the magazines gleefully told us that February 29th was the one chance a woman gets to propose to her boyfriend.
One would think that after such a long period of feminism and ‘equality’ (i.e. sameness) this norm should be dead as a dodo. But it is not and for good reason too.
Sadly, there are fewer proposals overall but let’s just stick for now with the heterosexual couple that wants to get married. The reason why it is still the man’s responsibility to propose is because men and women are different. Woman can do pretty much anything once considered the preserve of men (including, it seems, serving on the military frontline) but they still do not propose marriage.
I saw precisely two cases of the girlfriend proposing during a leap year. In one instance, the girlfriend’s proposal was greeted with the words ‘you silly girl’, and on TV the boyfriend said ‘I have been trying to avoid this.’ This is the epoch of girlfriend leap day proposals.
Many feminists lament the tradition, but it is there for good reason. In sum, although women are the gatekeepers for sex, men are the gatekeepers for marriage.
The idea that a man would promise to love and serve one woman and any of their children, to the exclusion of all others, until death does them part is not a natural occurrence.
Feminists love pointing out that monogamy and certainly patriarchal marriage is a social construct. It sure is – and it was a victory for Western Christian civilisation and the women lucky enough to live there.
Pausing here, let us examine what counts as marriage in other cultures, and previously in Western civilisation. We all know marriages in the highest class were organised by the families. It was a Pope, however, who said that for the marriage to be valid both parties must consent. Of course, pressure was still brought to bear but consent was and is a crucial requirement. The couple must marry ‘of their own free will.’
In contrast, in other cultures, and in parts of Britain, forced marriage is the norm – what the couple want and their free will is neither here nor there. Likewise is polygamy where men have a number of wives. Even worse is the norm of marrying young girls to older or elderly man (sanctioned child rape) and cousins marrying each other. It is women who are always abused in these cases.
But that is not the case with Christian marriage. Abuse occurs within such marriages – of course, but it is not sanctioned. This is a key difference.
In proposing marriage then, the man is deciding and promising to love and serve one woman and their children for life and “forsaking all others.” As I said, and in particular in today’s over sexualised climate when a man can feast at the all you can eat buffet for ten, maybe twenty years, this is big decision. It is not the natural order – the buffet is the natural order for men – so he is the one who must make the proposal.
It is also empowering for him to make the proposal and seriously emasculating for him if this is removed. But the male proposal is also/was a compliment to women. When women had superior moral status to men (which the feminists sacrificed on our behalf) men had to prove themselves worthy of them. In proposing he said, I believe I have proven myself worthy of you – do you agree?
The next stage is the answer. Now, most feminists complain that it is the men that ‘get’ to propose and that they have all the power. But I hazard a guess that asking someone to marry you is not the easiest thing in the world.
The power rests with him in deciding if and when he will ask, but once the question is popped, he is now in a vulnerable position for she has to power to reject him, a crushing and humiliating defeat.
Of course, these days couples do and should converse beforehand on the marriage question. The majority cohabit before getting married. Perhaps, most men who propose know the answer will be yes, and the women know a proposal is coming. However, short of a very, very unromantic negotiation process, someone does have to ask the question and that is still the man.
Although the trappings around the marriage proposal may have changed – I certainly am not fan of the attention seeking, social media kind – the essence of the tradition has not. And no matter how much the feminists fight this one, it is tradition that will remain.
Note: The site will be down over the weekend – TCW is preparing for her ‘New Look’ and will be back online for its launch on Tuesday March 8th…