Suzannah Weiss on her feminist blog Bustle, has written a piece entitled “6 Marriage Traditions That Reinforce Rape Culture”. Number one on her list is the tradition of men proposing marriage.
Weiss argues, “Putting what men pursue over what women want perpetuates rape culture.” This is essentially the crux of her argument against the tradition of men proposing marriage. If you carry Weiss’ argument to its logical conclusion it would turn then tradition of proposing marriage completely around making it the norm for women to propose marriage rather than men. Essentially what Weiss is arguing is that it is sexist against women for men to traditionally propose marriage. But if you turn this tradition on its’ head it would be sexist the other way. But that’s okay because sexism is a double standard and apparently we’re okay with that.
There are reasons why men traditionally propose marriage or “make the first move” if you will in romantic relationships. This tradition partially originates from the biblical perspective that generally, the husband is the head of the household. If the many is to be the leader in the marriage relationship, he has to start “leading” long before his wedding day. While obviously not everyone agrees with this perspective, as even many Christians do not, it has become ingrained in our culture over the years. A second reason as to why men traditionally take the leading role in a relationship, is because it is inherent in their nature. It is inherent in men to go after what they want, men love chasing after the woman they want, and women love to be chased after. Thus it is just more natural in human nature for the man to take the leading role in a relationship. Nonetheless, that is not to say that women cannot propose marriage or “make the first move” if she likes what she says. In fact, women acting as the pursuer is becoming increasingly more acceptable in our culture, however it is still not the norm, and I am not sure it ever will be. However, I make one caution against women taking the leading role in a relationship. Many men tend to be turned off by women who are pushy or aggressive, and while you might not mean for your intentions to come across this way, that is how he might read your actions. So even if he is interested, making the “first move”, might scare off the very thing you want most by your impatience.
So while there is nothing inherently wrong with a woman “going after what she wants”, there are reasons why waiting for him to act might be in your best interest. Weiss says that the expectation that it is the woman’s job to respond is problematic. Not true, responding is not equated with agreeing, she can respond negatively if she’s not interested.
According to Weiss:
Men often feel as if it is their job to make the first move, even if they’re not sure if a woman wants it — and that if she says “no,” she’s just saying it because it’s unladylike to pursue someone.
Well that is just stupid, if he asks and you’re interested, don’t play “hard to get” it’s not “unladylike” to say yes if he expresses interest.
Lastly, there is a reason why it’s traditional for men to get on their knees when proposing. It is a symbolic act of placing themselves in a position lower than the women and asking her permission to become a part of her life. Which is the farthest thing from pursuing his own desires at her expense as Weiss would say. It is an act of humility. None of this is to say that women can’t or shouldn’t propose marriage, but there are reasons why it is not the norm, and probably never will be.