Don't worry, he said yes.
I think I have to start this by stating that I never considered myself a Feminist. When I was growing up, my exposure to feminism was about radical anarchy: bra burning, protesting the wage gap, foregoing shaving (Ok, I’ll admit - I don’t really ever shave my legs, but that’s less of a feminist stance and more a combination of laziness, my blonde leg hair, and my access to pants and tights).
This may partly have to do with where I grew up (in California) where white women (which I am) have it pretty good. I mean, apart from the fact that we only recently got free access to birth control, and the wage gap is still a thing. But I can imagine if I had grown up somewhere where women are treated like property, where walking outside alone is a radical statement, I may have considered myself an extreme feminist.
So although my decision to propose to my pre-husband wasn’t a feminist one, I can see why people react that way - and maybe it has more to do with my own feminism than I realize.
It’s crazy to me that in 2018, in the US, women are more on fire than ever. What an incredible time to be alive. We are founding tech companies, making breakthroughs in science and architecture and all of these fields that are traditionally male-dominated. We are raising children alone, we are marrying other women. We are coming out in the millions to protest for human rights of all shapes and sizes.
And yet, this concept of the woman standing up and saying to a man “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” is still so radical that people are amazed when they learn that I was the one who proposed. Because even though I own my own company, and take birth control, and don’t shave my legs, the basic concept of the man deciding when it’s time to get married is still very alive and very well.
We sit back, and we hope. We give ultimatums. We gossip with our friends about when he might pop the question, and what we might say if he does. We go on vacation and with every sunset, with every mountain top hike, we think, “is this it?!”
And I have to admit: it’s fucking terrifying to propose, no matter what your gender. I have been with my pre-husband for nine and a half years, and my squirrel brain was still freaking out. What if this changes everything? What if I’m messing it all up? What if he’s not really that serious - will we just keep on going as if nothing happened, and try again later?
In the end I didn’t propose on a mountaintop, or during the sunset on the beach (although I had meant to, and then chickened out for NO REASON other than nerves). I had a fancy box, that had an engraved tie bar inside (an engagement thing). I took him on a trip to Mexico and we stayed in a fancy hotel. And I proposed on the balcony of said fancy hotel, after night had fallen and the ocean waves crashed in the distance.
I don’t have an engagement ring, and I don’t want one (did you know that the concept of an engagement ring was invented in the 40’s by the diamond industry, to sell more diamonds?). We aren’t having a traditional wedding, and I won’t be wearing a white dress. I am standing up and saying “this is what I want” and he is meeting me there. We are traveling down this road together hand-in-hand, on equal footing and with equal input.
I don’t think you have to propose to your significant other to empower yourself in this way, but I do hope my story can inspire you to step into your life in ways you always believed were impossible, or untraditional, or terrifying.
Yes, as women we have a crazy hard time asking for what we want. Yes, it’s terrifying to have that kind of conversation with a man. But if we don’t start asking, and start making ourselves heard, we are perpetuating the myth that women need permission from men to live their lives.
This isn’t about dominating men or declaring that we don’t need them at all. This is about stepping up and saying “I see you; do you see me too?”