I normally adore Last Psychiatrist’s posts but this one is just too bizarre. What should a man do, this talented blogger asks, if a man proposes to a woman but she thinks the diamond ring he is offering is too small. Last Psychiatrist’s suggestion to such a man is to analyze his own motives and recognize his own manipulative and shallow nature:
The truth is that you knew when you bought it whether the ring was what she wanted. What you were banking on is that she’d accept it anyway. It was a kind of test of her love. That’s why this offer of the less than “perfect” ring that she rejects can be understood to be a defensive maneuver: you don’t want to marry her. “You know what, you’re absolutely right.” Not so fast. I mean you’d be much happier just dating her, living with her, status quo. And you know, if she just waited, someday, someday, someday, you’ll be rich; and then you’ll buy her a really nice ring. Yummy. Nothing the kind of woman looking for a perfect ring now wants more than a wait-and-see guy. You’re with her (partly) for her looks, yet you expect she’ll gamble those looks on a single horse race that starts sometime in 2025.
I’m from a different culture, folks, so many of the things surrounding this whole culture of proposing marriage is very alien to me. First of all, I don’t get this idea that one person decides to get married and makes a surprise offer to another person. My powers of imagination fail me when I try to figure out how this scenario can possibly transpire. I mean, if people are together, have a relationship, talk about things, how is it humanly possible that the subject of marriage is never discussed? Don’t people normally have plenty of conversations about their take on marriage, their attitude to the future, etc.? Or do they just studiously avoid the topic to create this weird atmosphere of a surprise?
I also really don’t get this whole diamond-giving tradition. It makes me feel kind of ashamed to consider the idea that a man I love will give me this hugely expensive gift while I just sit there. I have heard the whole spiel about the diamond being a symbol of his love. But if we are exchanging symbols of love, why doesn’t he get a diamond? Is it supposed to mean that my love should be bought? (Please note that I’m saying I, me, myself. This is how I feel, but nobody else is required or even asked to think the same way. This is just me expressing my thoughts on my blog. There is no personal criticism of anybody implied, really.)
So if this guy with a rejected diamond were to ask my opinion, I wouldn’t tell him to analyze his failings as a human being. I’d tell him that this entire system where men need to beg and pay to have sex and romantic relationships and women need to look for sponsors / providers to whom they can sell sex and romantic relationships destroys any possibility of a genuine, loving and uninhibited human contact. Yes, the ring is a symbol, but is it a symbol of something we really want to perpetuate?
Why is one person sitting there waiting for another person to approach, ask for a date, pay for a meal, call for a second date, propose, give an expensive ring just because she has a vagina? Why is one person taking the initiative, making choices, facing rejection, paying, saving like crazy to buy an expensive ring just because he has a penis? What possible sense can this make? Isn’t it possible that the vagina-owner is more into taking the initiative? While the penis-owner just happens to dig diamonds?
The entire system of courtship, romantic relationship and marriage is so contaminated by this stupid gender binary that it’s scary. Gender compliance is like a strange religion that people sacrifice their interests for on a daily basis. And what does it offer in return? Some vague and completely imaginary societal approval? Is it really worth it?
All that we need to disrupt the gender binary is simply to start asking ourselves, “Am I really doing this because I totally enjoy it or because I have decided that this is how things are done (passive voice) and I struggle to fit myself into the mold?”
The people who force themselves into the “small diamond=bad, big diamond=good” model are not shallow. They are just caught up in a gender binary that is so widely adopted as to seem natural. The only way of breaking the system down is not to dump on people who participate, but to question what is it that makes us see such a profoundly unnatural and weird system as something worth upholding at the cost of sacrificing a wider range of options.