Just a little more then a year ago, my then boyfriend and I decided to get married. Here I was, a middle-aged feminist scholar deciding to get married, becoming engaged. All my friends and family were glad for us. But then, they found out about the rock. Yes, despite this being my second time around, and despite being a successful author and senior professor, I wanted to wear a diamond. I wanted a ring that screamed out to everyone who saw me that the miraculous had happened. After more than a decade of looking, and after having decided that love was for youngsters, I was ready to settle for simply a good companion.
In all those single years, I'd had a good time, never had been lonely. Friends with benefits, nice guys to hang with, aren't that hard to find. I'd given up hoping to feel that utter magic that happens when you meet someone who you know you want to spend as much time as you have left with, who makes even a shopping trip to the grocery store a pleasure because it is shared. I'd actually fallen head over heels, foolishly and entirely, in love. I wanted everyone to know my good fortune. But not everyone understood. Some of my dear friends thought a traditional engagement ring unseemly.
Why did I need everyone to know a man had finally chosen me, they'd ask. Didn't wearing a ring that symbolized being "taken" clash with my egalitarian principles? What did it mean when even successful women chose to cling to out-dated gender-specific traditions, like wearing diamond engagement rings? Such questions hit home. I didn't want to be anyone's bad role model. I don't believe that traditions should be one-sided, my own articles and books have all been about creating a world where one's sex didn't matter for any of life's opportunities. But damn it, I wanted a ring.
And then it hit me. I wanted the world to know just how happy I was to have found my guy. I wanted to look down at my hand on a bad day and see his ring and smile, knowing that however bad the faculty meeting might be, he'd be home waiting, and usually with a fabulous meal and the wine already decanted. So why shouldn't he get that joy, as well? Why shouldn't every man who has fallen head over heels in love and found their life's partner also have the privilege to look down at his hand and smile, knowing that the love of his life had given him a ring? The love of his life wanted all those other women to know, he was taken.
So we went on out and tried to find a man's engagement ring. Don't bother trying, you'll fail. Where are those capitalist entrepreneurs always ready to fill every consumer niche? We hit a dead end. And then, we invented a solution. We designed our own rings and had them made. We thought we were pioneers, but then we got a call from a reporter writing a story about people just like us. Still, we know that most guys don't yet have the luxury of feeling this cherished by their fiancé.
If you are an engaged woman who wants a marriage where what is good for the goose is good for the gander, if you really want a marriage of equals, get going and buy that guy of yours a ring that makes his hand twinkle, to match the look in his eye when he smiles at you.
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