Lately it seems that many of my friends are getting engaged or married. I have finally hit that time period of life where weddings are everywhere around me. Added on to that, with the new digital age of social media, people’s engagements have become accessible, even if you weren’t invited to the physical event. I don’t know how many of my friends would really consider themselves to be feminists, but the classic engagement question did come to my mind: why do women wear engagement rings when men do not? This question is easily google-able so I will save you the trouble of regurgitating an answer and just dive into my own opinion.
Whether I like it or not, I think women wearing engagement rings is quite sexist. It would not be sexist if men had to wear one, too. As a woman who loves jewelry (especially rings), I clearly don’t want to be the one to point this out. Whether I like it or not, it simply is playing into a patriarchal narrative.
To give a little back story, I grew up and went to college in Seattle—a fairly liberal city. While many people do not outright label themselves as feminists, I believe that many people have the mentality that equality is for all people. This is why it’s ironic to me that one of the most sexist, patriarchal concepts has not been challenged by anyone I personally know. Of course social media also adds to bolstering up this tradition by adding filters and glitter to glorify engagements.
Obviously I wish it weren’t this way. But no matter what angle I look at this, it seems that engagements are pretty sexist. What I think metaphorically raises my eyebrow is that no one I know challenges it. It’s really upsetting to me that we live so passively in our society, accepting things that maybe don’t align with our moral compass. It’s like we live and breathe cognitive dissonance. We don’t care to challenge society anymore. Then when a few people do happen to challenge society, we secretly think “social justice freaks” in a passing thought. Maybe a lot of women don’t challenge the patriarchal concept of engagement because they want a flashy piece of jewelry that they don’t have to pay for. Maybe women have been brainwashed to believe that you need a band with a huge rock on it to be deemed “loved.” Who really knows. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we should challenge society at every angle, challenge the status quo, tip the scales. Social norms are implemented by generations before our time and they often don’t apply to the present. So why do we blindly follow them as if they align perfectly with our morals? Chances are, they stir up more cognitive dissonance than anything. Let us take more moments in our lives to reflect on what can and should change in our society. Then let’s go out and do it! On a small or big scale, every action towards change counts. Even if that means giving up a nice ring that we all secretly want.