Why ‘putting a ring on it’ doesn’t objectify women?

December 4, 2018 · Print This Article

Along with paying the bill and opening the door for a woman, us guys may have another no-go area in the ever-progressive world of radical feminism.

Yes, it’s the engagement ring: (apparently) another archaic symbol of patriarchal possession and objectifying of women. Well, at least this is the view of media strategist Matilde Suescún. In an age where the landscape and notions of traditional relationships are being eroded by an ever-increasing radical equality and political correctness, here is why engagement rings are not about objectifying women.

But before I get accused of mansplaining, it bequeaths me to outline some of Matilde’s ideas. Writing for the BBC 100 Woman series, she explains that engagement rings are less about romance and more about objectifying women: they are incompatible with the independence of the woman; they are more about status; and the act of proposing puts the woman in a passive role.

I’m glad this type of thinking isn’t genetic; even her daughter disagrees with her.

The irony is, both on my way to and back from work today, there was a story that was putting a smile on everyone’s face. It was about the couple losing their engagement ring in Times Square, New York, after the man had just proposed. The NYPD managed to retrieve it and launched a social media campaign to find the couple from Peterborough, UK. And they did!

But there is a reason for why the engagement, with its ring, refuses to lose its fervour. Not because it is some socially constructed ritual (though questions still do abound as to when rings started to be used in marriage – probably with the Egyptians), but because there is something bigger going on with it.

The practice of giving an engagement ring to some extent is symbolic, but it speaks of higher virtues we would do well not to lose. One such virtue is not to seek the subordination of the one whose finger it resides on, but to remember it is the exclusive expression of one human choosing another. That’s why marriage will never lose its spiritual fervour: it is the only institution where you can be fully and exclusively chosen. And it is being chosen that humans want above all else. The ring, therefore, becomes an outward sign of the primacy of your relationship.

And this token – the ring – brings with it a unique outward marker of commitment, not confinement. In times such as these, where teenagers would prefer marriage to be more like a mobile phone contract: limited to a space of time before you can exchange it for an upgrade, it is one of the very few tokens that our culture still uses to indicate intimate commitment. I may sound old-fashioned, (after all, I’m 35 on Sunday), but signalling commitment is a good thing, not bad.

In fact, it is another way of honouring that special someone. Another way of expressing value in the relationship you have built. And, yes, although this may not be easy on the ear for some, it’s a sign of ceding your independence, for it is uniquely in marriage where two become one…that’s not a loss, but a gain.

I’m at that age now when if I become engrossed in good, healthy conversational chemistry with a woman, I will often look at their third finger on their left hand so that I don’t overstep any marks. In an ever-changing and transient society, throwing out one of the few culturally accepted markers of commitment, love, and virtue due to anaemic liberal virtue-signalling strikes me as not a sensible idea.

Let’s think twice before we throw out the baby with bathwater.

[Photo by Colin Maynard on Unsplash]

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