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Viewpoint: ‘Why engagement rings objectify women’

Viewpoint: ‘Why engagement rings objectify women’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Matilde is not married at the moment but she lives with her partner Media strategist Matilde Suescún believes that the fairytale aspiration of a big expensive engagement ring is damaging for women.She believes this fantasy should be stopped, and writes for BBC 100 Women about why things need to…

Matilde Suescún Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Matilde is not married at the moment but she lives with her partner

Media strategist Matilde Suescún believes that the fairytale aspiration of a big expensive engagement ring is damaging for women.

She believes this fantasy should be stopped, and writes for BBC 100 Women about why things need to change.

I have been married twice in the past, and may marry again, but I have never had or wanted an engagement ring.

I believe engagement rings are anti-feminist. They symbolise an attitude which is in complete antithesis to the idea of an independent woman – signifying that the woman with the ring belongs to another person.

They are also a way of signifying status: the bigger the diamond, the greater apparent value they give to the woman wearing it.

Why did women only get one day to propose?

All of my friends here in the US disagree with me. Most of them have diamond engagement rings, some bigger than others. And they usually show them off on social media and when we meet up and make fun of me.

And it’s not just my generation who find my ideas odd – my daughter makes fun of me too.

She dreams of having a showy engagement ring. I try to understand her because I know it is part of the cultural context in which she was born, but I don’t agree at all with that mentality.

In fact, the whole ritual of proposing marriage bothers me. The pantomime of a man kneeling down and asking for a woman’s hand seems absurd to me. It puts her in a passive role, and asking her in a very public way – such as live on stage or in front of cameras – makes her even more vulnerable. It really is an eccentric act.

Marrying someone is not just a romantic gesture – it is a mutual agreement. It has economic and legal implications.

What is BBC 100 Women?

BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational women around the world every year. We create documentaries, features and interviews about their lives, giving more space for stories that put women at the centre.

One of our projects this year is the Freedom Trash Can.

In 1968 feminist protestors encouraged women to throw their “items of oppression” in the bin, so we’ll be asking our audiences what they would throw away as women today.

If my ex-husbands had proposed I would have started laughing. But it never happened because it was more of a conversation – it was a mutual decision in both cases.

Although women can of course take the lead and propose marriage themselves, it still rarely happens that way.

Image copyright Matilde Suescún

Image caption Matilde was born in Colombia, where she says the culture is different

I am concerned that society and the media seems to educate girls to dream, from when they are young, about the man who, to quote Beyonce, will “Put a ring on it”. And those girls then grow up with this idea that married life will then solve all their problems.

Instead of just aspiring to marriage and a ring, I think girls should aspire to be independent, to study and develop, to seek happiness for themselves.

When I wrote something similar in my blog for El Tiempo, a newspaper in my native Colombia, readers called me a radical feminist and accused me of killing romance. But that is not true – I am a very romantic person. What I don’t find romantic at all is waiting for a “brave prince” to come into my life with a ring.

What I actually do find romantic is the idea that if I do get married at my age, it’s simply a reflection of a profound commitment of loyalty and love to the other person.

As told to Lucía Blasco, BBC News Mundo

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