Modern America is a place where marriage and relationships are undergoing constant scrutiny and change. If you are dating a feminist, or you are a feminist yourself, you may be confused about how to navigate rituals and relationships that are steeped in a tradition of inequality. For example, the traditional engagement ring, worn by the woman but paid for and selected by a man, may not appropriately symbolize your idea of an equal partnership. In fact, many feminists choose to simply forego an engagement ring altogether. For other feminists, the engagement ring is an important rite of passage that they are not ready to give up. Can you have your cake and eat it too? Below are some ways to modernize engagement rings so they represent a modern feminist relationship.
Have Both Partners Wear a Ring
One of the common arguments against an engagement ring is the tradition of having only the female in a relationship wear it. This symbolizes that the woman is reserved for the male while the male is still free to explore other options until the day of their actual wedding ceremony. This may not fit same-sex relationships, relationships in which the female proposes to the male, or relationships that want equal expectations for both partners.
Instead of skipping the ring altogether, why not have both partners wear a ring? This allows both partners to celebrate and showcase their impending nuptials without placing unfair expectations on one partner. In fact, male engagement rings are becoming more popular, so you should have plenty of options for a ring that both partners in a relationship will appreciate.
Take Your Partner's Ethical Views Into Consideration When Selecting a Ring (Or Let Them Select Their Own Ring)
Modern feminism is about much more than equal rights for men and women. Inter-sectional feminism also takes into account the many ways minority identities interact in a single individual to create a hierarchy within society where one person may experience both privilege and oppression. Taking an inter-sectional viewpoint into consideration, your partner may have feminist views regarding the ethical sourcing of the metals and stones used to create their engagement ring.
If you want to surprise your partner with an engagement ring of your choosing, you should have an in-depth conversation about their views on various options before you select one. Alternatively, you can shop together for rings, making the experience a way for you to bond and deepen your relationship.
Discuss Shared Finances Before Making a Purchase
Another complaint about engagement rings is their significant cost. With many couples living together and sharing finances before getting married, spending too much on an engagement ring can take away from other shared goals, such purchasing a home or starting a business together. Even if you do not have shared finances, if you will both be purchasing engagement rings, selecting an expensive option may intimidate the partner that makes less money.
Before shopping for rings, consider discussing your finances together and setting a budget that you both agree on. This sets up you up to be in equal control of the finances with your partner.
Shopping for engagement rings does not have to be an archaic, anti-feminist issue. In fact, it can be an effective way for you and your partner to begin many important discussions about your morals, ethics, and ideas about equal relationships. This can make it a great way to start your journey into marriage and can actually strengthen your feminist relationship. However, it is important to involve both partners equally before making any final decisions about the ring and the proposal.