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He Said Yes! We Asked Men How They Feel About Women Proposing

Human Interest

Shows like Married At First Sight and 90-Day Fiance prove that matrimony looks a little different than it did when our mother and grandmothers said their vows. Wedding traditions like jumping the broom and losing your virginity on your wedding night seem like a thing of the past, but there are some customs that seem like they will never go out of style.


For example, it is tradition that a man get down on one knee and propose to his wife-to-be, but with feminism on the rise causing a number of gender norms to be thrown out the window, it may soon become socially acceptable for a woman to ask for her man's hand in marriage.

Over the past few weeks, I've seen a number of videos where a woman gets down on one knee, followed with a slew of negative comments echoing the sentiment that it's a man's responsibility to propose. Some people have even used the Bible as a reference to support their argument, quoting a scripture I'm sure we're all familiar with:

"He that findeth a good woman, findeth a good thing; and of the Lord he shall draw up mirth (and he receiveth favour from the Lord)." (Proverbs 18:22-24)

Mind you, that description technically has nothing to do with a marriage proposal. The debate surrounding role reversal in marriage proposals has split the internet down the middle, so to get down to the bottom of this argument, I did a little bit of research. First, let's talk a little about how this ritual came to be in the first place.

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In the past, marriage was symbolic of a business agreement between two families. Historically, marriage was a ritual that ensured that children were legitimately conceived. Many of these marriages were arranged and contrary to popular belief had little-to-nothing to do with love or religion. While the first documented marriage dates back to 2350 B.C., in Mesopotamia, other cultures like the Hebrews, Romans, and Greeks adopted the custom over the next hundred years and applied their own traditions. Marriage between two people didn't officially become associated with the Roman Catholic church until the eighth century, and marriage for love didn't become a concept until the middle ages.

Around the 18th century, it became more of a custom that people choose their own spouses, but still, women often played a muted role in this process. Whether their spouses were arranged or chosen by their own initiative, it has always been tradition that a man ask a woman (or her father) for her hand in marriage.

In a nutshell, there is no biblical or historical reason why a woman shouldn't propose. Getting down on one knee isn't necessarily reserved for one gender. If you love someone, and they love you, why shouldn't a woman feel comfortable enough with her man to propose? Because... double standards. That's why.

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This male-dominated language of courtship has continued for centuries, but now, a number of women have taken it into their own hands to take their relationships into the next level. Before writing this article, I could not fathom getting down on one knee to propose to a potential suitor, but after reading other women's reasons for doing it, I can't help but think that asking for a man's hand in marriage is feminist and progressive AF.

Still wary of the concept, I took it to the streets and asked a few of my guy friends what they thought about a woman proposing. Here's what they had to say:

Clif Cooper, 27

Do you want to get married one day?: Yes

How would you feel if a woman proposed to you?: If a woman decided to propose to me, I think I would naturally feel awkward. Also, if the proposal of her asking me were to happen in a public setting, I would for sure feel nervous. I understand that progression exists and certain things change, but sometimes, it's OK to stick with tradition. Personally, I would want to be the one to put myself out there and ask for her hand in marriage.

Bryant Albert, 26

Do you want to get married one day?: Yes

How would you feel if a woman proposed to you?: I would feel like I haven't done my part as a man to make her feel wanted and secure enough to trust me to propose. Especially because that would be something I expressed in my relationship. I would take a great deal of pride in making her feel like the most special woman in the world. So, if she were to propose, I would have to assume that I gave her no other option.

Jordan Gray, 29

Do you want to get married one day?: Yes

How would you feel if a woman proposed to you?: If a woman proposed to me I would feel flattered. I'd feel flattered that someone found me worthy enough to want to marry me without me asking them. However, I would just feel uneasy because in my mind proposing to the spouse is the man's role. I feel like it has to do with masculinity in the relationship and my masculinity would have decreased.

Although time has passed, and marriage is no longer thought of as a business negotiation, it is still a formal agreement. One that, with discussion and planning, can be proposed by either party in the relationship. But before giving your man the chance to tell his family, "She went to Jared," take these things into consideration:

  • Have you two discussed your thoughts and expectations of marriage to one another?
  • Is he someone who would be flattered or insulted by such a grand gesture?
  • What does it mean for your relationship if he says no?
  • ASK HIM how he feels about the idea of a woman proposing.

I'm no marriage counselor, but the consensus of my friends' statements make it a "nah" for me dawg. It seems like proposing to their dream girl is a pretty big deal for men, and I would never want to rob my soon-to-be husband of that opportunity. But, I also know that every relationship is different, and some women say that proposing to their man took a lot of a pressure off of him and don't regret their decision one bit.

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After gathering this information, I see that the reasons a lot of people don't agree with gender reversed proposals are rooted in a somewhat patriarchal ideology. After this survey, I also will admit that I will never, ever get down on one knee, but, knowing the historical background of marriage proposals makes me think twice about judging the next woman who decides to.

Featured image by Getty Images.

Related Articles:

6 Women Share Their Unforgettable Proposal Stories - Read More

My Relationship Expectations Almost Ruined My Man's Proposal - Read More

9 Months After We Broke Up, I Proposed - Read More

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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