It is a well-known fact that men do not wear engagement rings. They propose to the girl, preferably with a pretty diamond ring which marks her as his, placed on the third finger, the one (supposedly) closest to the heart. A girl with an engagement ring pretty much has a “Taken” sign on her forehead, warning off any other men who might want to pursue her.
However, men have no such marker and I think they should. I mean, it all seems very much a symbol of the patriarchy to cuff a girl in such a permanent manner without reciprocating the sentiment. If we’re going by stereotypes, men are just as (if not more) likely to cheat on their significant other.
Between me and my fellow gal friends, there has been many a time when a cute guy starts flirting with you, on campus or at a party, and you spend time with him. You get to know him, y’all hang out and then one day he lets the “W-word” slip from his lips, then looks as if he wants to take back what he said. You ask if he’s going to a wedding and he lets it out that he’s engaged, thereby effectively knocking him off the list.
Why don’t men wear engagement rings just as women do to let their status be known? Well, it kind of goes back to history. Originally, these rings were used as virginity insurance. The ring was collateral in case the man reneged on his promise to marry the girl.
It was general practice that the man would get to ‘test drive’ his fiancée after he had agreed on the union with her family. However, if he broke that promise, then the girl would be considered ‘damaged goods.’
By breaking off the engagement nowadays, people simply signify things didn’t work out, not necessarily because their partner was inadequate, but back then, the groom’s reluctance to follow through meant that she was insufficient.
Because she had been deflowered, this would knock the woman off the marriage market for a while, placing her in an economically precarious position.
Until around 1945, the “Breach of Promise to Marry” law allowed women to sue men for breaking off an engagement. Therefore, the woman would have the ring to keep as insurance so the man wouldn’t back out of the deal.
Since 1947, when the carefully coined phrase “Diamonds are Forever” came around, those shiny gemstones became the most acceptable material for that token of possession.
Now, I’m not bashing the total concept of engagement rings, but even if it’s merely a simple band, I think that the cuffing needs to go both ways. Men are taken too; because they don’t have a ring, perhaps they might not feel as tied down to their s.o. as those who are wearing the emblem of commitment.
It’s time to empower women by cuffing the men just as they cuff us. Diamonds may be forever, but they’re merely a (very shiny, very pretty) manifestation of the only thing that really matters: true love.