Yes, I’m one of those women who has their entire wedding already planned out, long before she ever meets the future groom.
I have lists of what I want my wedding to include — the dress I want to wear, the venue I want to host it at. Everything from the bridesmaids dresses to the bachelorette party has already been planned.
But the most important thing is probably what I don’t want. I refuse to have an engagement ring.
Engagement rings to me are inherently sexist. When you get married, both parties wear wedding bands, which is a mutual symbol of their dedication to each other. But engagement rings, those are just for the women, a symbol to other men that she’s been claimed. Engagement rings themselves don’t even date that far back, cooked up mostly by a De Beers (read this Atlantic article to find out more).
The engagement ring can start out the relationships on unequal grounds. According to statistics, the average cost of an engagement ring is $4,758, a heavy financial burden for any person who is doing the buying. Additionally, the size and cost of the ring also reinforce masculinity standards men need to conform to, and a hierarchy, women must submit to.
Now some could argue that the ring demonstrates the man’s commitment to the woman he’s proposing to. The ring buying process consists of, the months it takes to save up the money needed to purchase a ring, time and energy to find the ring (it takes a majority of men 3 months to select one), and in the eyes of many no man would put in that much effort and time for a woman he wasn’t passionate about.
But why does that commitment need to be shown in something material? If my future husband wants to prove to me that he’s serious about our commitment and our future, the ring is not how I want him to show it. Because the ring has never been about love for me, it’s been to show ownership to others.
I’ll admit, that when I’ve gone traveling alone I’ll wear a fake engagement ring, a symbol to other men that I’m “taken.” Unsurprisingly, a shocking number of men harass me in city streets when I’m not wearing it, and almost none when I am. People find it easier to respect the property of another man than respect my right to myself.
Maybe that’s why the engagement ring don’t feel like a symbol of love to me, but a symbol of ownership — turning me into the possession of my partner. When I walk down that aisle, I want the person waiting for me at the end to have proven his dedication not in one expensive show of affection, because that’s not where love comes from. Love comes from hundreds of small little acts of service that build up over time.