My Feminist Engagement Ring
Me: "sooo, over Christmas break Kyle and I got engaged!"
Her: "Congratulations! Let's see the ring!"
I show her.
Her face falls.
I get used to laughing every time this happens. Because it happens a lot.
Around here most heterosexual engagements end with the man-she-wants-to-love-forever getting down on one knee and asking the woman-of-his-dreams if she wants to make this forever-official, and she screams "yes, yes, a thousand times yes" while a hidden photographer snaps the candid-true-love-moment through the bushes and he slips a three-months-salary ring onto her left ring finger.
You can hire people to set up your proposal for you, and websites dedicated to "how he asked" to help you plan something spectacular with arches and candles, flash mobs, flights to Paris, scavenger hunts to all her favourite places, with of course, a stop at a the nail salon for the ring pic announcement. Because they all end the same way. With a sparkling declaration that you are going to be walking down the aisle to join the world of married women and are now officially off the market.
I might sound like I'm being a little sarcastic, or mean spirited, but I'm not. There's a lot of societal expectation that a proposal should go like this and it puts a lot of pressure on both men and women to perform to these levels. And for anyone who chooses to do it differently, some people are going to ask you to explain yourself.
People expect to be able to look at your left ring finger when you come home from announcing you're engaged to see a ring that cost three-months-of-the-husband-to-be's-salary or a minimum of $5,000 there. It should be one big diamond for sure, and then additional diamonds if you want, or if you are a wild and free empowered woman like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City 2, you could do something totally different, like a black diamond, an emerald or another precious gem. And I just didn't want to do that. But I totally get why you would.
The actual reason I know so much about how much rings "should" cost, and what they "should" look like, and how proposals "should" be planned, is because of all the time I spent daydreaming about what my engagement ring would look like, and crying over YouTube videos of lip dub proposals. But as I got older and I started to think that Kyle might actually ask me to marry him soon, I started to change my mind.
Here's why I started to question if I wanted to wear an engagement ring:
Straight up personality:
I don't wear (quality) flashy jewelry and felt that a big diamond ring would kind of cramp my personal style. I remember being at a brewery and seeing a woman with a big engagement ring and thinking she looked a little out of place fashionistically. I made a note to myself that maybe I wouldn't look quite as fly there anymore either if suddenly I was wearing a big engagement ring.
The expected cost of a ring thing feels a little icky to me:
The expectation around cost never really sat right with me. For one, I would generally rather go on a trip to India than have a diamond ring for the same price. But beyond that, it felt a little like wearing a big engagement ring would transport me to a scene from early Mad Men, where my ring would announce to everyone how much money my husband-to-be makes, and therefore where I rank in the social order against other women in my spin class. It didn't make me feel good thinking about it.
and my husband makes a ton of money so I would probably not even be able to lift my hand.
But it's not really anyone's business how much Kyle makes.
And I sort of don't know what it has to do with me
Here's the biggest thing for me. When women get engaged they wear a ring and everyone can tell "she's taken." Out playing wing-woman for a single friend you might catch yourself saying "did you check her finger for a ring?" because until he's liked it enough to put a ring on it, she's kind of up for grabs. Most engagements in Canada last for quite a long time, and according to Wedding Bells magazine it's 22 months, close to 2 years. So to me I was like, WTF? Eventually Kyle is going to get a wedding band and be "taken off the market" too, but for a potential 2 years before we seal our vows with a ring, everyone can tell just by glancing at me that I am committed to someone while he just gets to roam free, unencumbered by a really expensive band of ownership? It just didn't seem fair.
I didn't want to wear a ring announcing to the world about my upcoming nuptials if the man in my life was not also wearing one. We're supposed to be equal partners in this.
And that belief that we're supposed to be equal? That's feminism folks.
I love wearing my wedding band. I love looking down and knowing how it ended up on my finger and I feel loved and connected to someone, Kyle, when I touch it. But Kyle's got a matching ring on too.
You can wear a classic engagement ring + still be a feminist by the way. You do you girl. That's also feminism.
When Kyle and I started to have those serious, "are we ready to get married" talks, I told him that either we could both wear rings, neither of us could have a ring, or I could wear a ring on my right hand that nobody could tell was an engagement ring without asking.
And when it came down to it, Kyle really wanted to be the one to propose, and he really wanted to get me an engagement ring. He wanted to do it for the same reason that I spent so many hours researching what ring I might eventually want- Art Deco? Handmade? Tiffany's? Because it's a beautiful thing to do with a decently long tradition behind it.
Tiffany's. We went with Tiffany's.
And ho shit does it ever sparkle.
But it was a real decision + not always well received
It's a little thing, and it seems very dramatic to say, but during our engagement it was kind of hard wearing my engagement ring that didn't look like one. When people are expecting one thing, and they get another, they react. In the case of my happy announcement with my mildly alternative engagement ring, a lot of their faces fell, and that stings. I immediately want to defend my decision, or laugh it off "yeah, it's just little, but I love it." When discussing it before getting engaged, "Eva are you kidding me? Maybe I'd like it if it was the same but with like an actual rock as well," thanks well-meaning but mildly hurtful friend whom I still love the same amount. (You can't say that to my face after I'm already wearing it.)
In my life I tend to wear people down and they eventually tell me my idea is cool, and my ring is pretty, and I have a few feminists around who cheer me on, and some who suddenly go, "oh man I never thought of that -I might tell my guy that too." The majority of people love it.
But I did have to put up with a lot of people looking really disappointed, or trying their best to hide their dismay, and I am very sure I've endured some nasty comments behind my back. But oh well. This was the right decision for Kyle + me. We love my ring.
my ring is wearable daily reminder that
kyle wanted to marry me
+ that sure is wonderful
regardless of any of the other weighty decisions that go along with it