Matt Gemmell

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An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

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Engagement traditions

personal 3 min read

Some thoughts on the customs surrounding engagement, prompted by 
<a href="">Jamie's post</a> on same.
I don't feel particularly motivated to write a huge screed on this, so this post will take the form of my thoughts on the various topics covered 
by both Jamie's and <a href="">Erik's</a> posts on this. 
Here goes.


Engagement rings are sexist

Don't agree. Perhaps in original intent, but hardly so now. They've long since moved completely into the realm of tradition. 
The whole "symbol of ownership" thing, applied contemporarily, is just so much feminist nonsense. If anything, it's more of a 
symbol of the female's ownership of the male, by virtue of the financial outlay required to purchase it! Or indeed, of social 
norms' ownership of all of us.

Fiona and I got engaged recently, and up until that point I genuinely didn't realise that there's no male equivalent of the 
engagement ring. I'd always tacitly assumed it was like wedding rings, where each partner gets one. That's maybe quite funny, 
but I'd honestly never thought about it or bothered to find out how it all works before. It makes sense in a historical context, 
in terms of demonstrating the man's solvency (and indeed reflecting how the woman probably had little or no money of her own 
anyway), but it seems rather unfair today. Accordingly, Fiona did buy me a ring to wear when I spotted one I liked in one of the 
shops over in Gran Canaria. Just a simple, inexpensive one, inlaid with pieces of shell. I think it looks great, and it's the first 
piece of jewellery I've ever owned. Engagement is not a one-way affair, nor should the rings be nowadays.


The man should spend two months' salary on the ring

Don't agree. This has been popularised by the diamond cartels' advertising machines; nothing more. Like Erik, I'd much prefer to 
spend the money on things which contribute towards your life together, not on some token. It's important to remember that the ring 
is just that; a token. For me, it indicates commitment and also serves as a constant reminder of your partner. It's no more complex 
than that, really. Reading all manner of bra-burning "ownership" or "branding" into it is for the banshees. 


Engagement rings are still about the man demonstrating he can provide

Don't agree. The man and woman are equally responsible for providing. I'd have no interest in some flaky, ambition-free, useless female 
who wants a walking ATM for a husband, and sits around all day reading daft magazines and watching soap-operas, pissing away her meaningless 
existence. The woman has every bit as much of an obligation to contribute financially to the household. Nor does that mean that I think 
both parties should splash out on lavish rings, just to demonstrate solvency - that's insane.

If you feel a pressing personal need to show you have "enough money" to contribute to a relationship then (1) you have some fundamental 
misunderstandings about how to evalute your sense of self-worth, and (2) just show her your bank-balance, for christ's sakes.


The man should ask the woman's father for permission

Nonsense. It's not for the father or anyone else to give permission. The woman can make her own choice, or be damned. And what if the father 
said no? Would that stop the man asking the daughter to marry him? If so, he's a fool. Would the father's "no" prevent the daughter from 
saying yes? If so, she's certainly not worth having - the fact that she's so under her family's thumb would destroy the lives of her and her 
husband anyway. So, asking the father's permission is irrelevant and silly. I certainly didn't ask Fiona's father's permission, nor would I 
ever consider doing so. It's Fiona I want to marry, not her dad (who is a great chap, incidentally, lest my somewhat annoyed tone here convey 
any other impression.)


Engagement rings are important

They're not, really. In a comment on Erik's post, Jamie asks if the guy would buy the ring at all if the tradition wasn't in place. No, of 
course not - there's nothing immediately, inherently intuitive or "natural" about buying a ring to celebrate an occasion of any kind. Woman 
have just been so successfully duped into believing it's a symbol of the man's commitment, that the man <em>has</em> to buy her a ring, even 
if they both feel the tradition is unimportant. Because the woman can't abide the thought of other women's knowing looks, cruel gossip and 
general unproductive bitchiness (victims of their own social indoctrination in turn). Jamie says as much in her post, feminist or no.


Final thought

I loved this little gem (oh shut up) from Jamie's post:
Personally, I don't need a $15,000 ring. I'd be perfectly happy with something that costs 1/5 that much
So many things I could say to this, so I'll instead leave it to the reader's thoughts.