The other day, I found myself watching some random deodorant commercial on YouTube wherein a woman proposes to her boyfriend. It's actually a lovely commercial, and I guess it would make someone sweat if they were asking such a huge question.
The woman actor is exceptionally believable and very cool. But as they say, never read the comments — ugh — because they're full of sexist garbage, like men AND women saying that a woman proposing to her husband steals her husband's masculinity.
But some ladies do propose to their dudes, and that's because more and more women are breaking free from the molds we're expected to be in. Thank god! Now, I'm ambivalent about marriage to say the least, but I will always champion for women's options. Here are four reasons why women still, apparently, can't propose.
1. People pity you.
"Aww, you poor thing! You proposed to him?"
Women fear their friends and family offering some weird mix of support and compassion when telling them they proposed. Which is crazy, because guess what? They didn't ask for your shoulder to cry on.
We fear that we look weak and desperate — that our noncommital gents were willing to let the years ride out so far that marriage would never be on the table. But guess what? The only difference between a man and a woman proposing is the genitals of the person on one knee (if they even take tradition that far).
2. Tradition is supposedly very romantic.
People find tradition romantic. Think about Thanksgiving: we're taught to get together with family and sip wine and eat lavish meals... all without so much as a thought toward what precipitated the celebration of Thanksgiving (ahem, slaughter and colonization, that is).
But people are comforted and find meaning (or create new meaning) through tradition. And that's OK. That's a good thing. It keeps the earth rotating and people sane.
But at a point, we have to let tradition be a choice and not a mandate, because while it's sweet to see a guy so smitten that he asks for marriage, it's just as lovely to see a woman do it! Also, if we all followed tradition, well... Hillary wouldn't be running for presidency. #HillaryForPresident
3. Some places even have laws about women proposing.
Apparently, women in Finland can only propose to their fellows on leap years — February 29 — for good luck. Same goes in Scotland. With archaic laws, or at least commonly accepted traditions like these — even if they're not punishable by law — it perpetuates the idea that it's just bad luck for a woman to pop the question. Funny, because it's mostly men that propose and our divorce rate isn't exactly low.
4. Women have been taught to be passive.
Even today, as we constantly disrupt the status quo, many women tend to think they should be feminine. This means waiting for the guy to ask you on a date, waiting for the guy to buy a drink, waiting for the guy to message you on Tinder. Because otherwise, you're desperate or slutty or pushy.
Of course, not everyone equates these behaviors to something bad (hello, Bumble app!). But this all goes back to the construct of gender norms. Cue the Southern Belle voice: We're just pretty little ladies sittin' here waiting on a big strong man to come and whisk us away to our future!
Because gender is way, way too big of a topic to get into here, just know that we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of being conscious about gender construction and its damages. It's not all horrible. The world won't end if the guy makes a first move, sure. But anything that says a woman shouldn't have the choice (or else they're weird or lame or desperate) is an issue.
5. When people think of a woman proposing as an attack on male masculinity, it suggests that men are entitled to power, choice and approval and that women are not.
If a woman proposing has the capability of breaking all construct of masculinity, there's an issue. Is it really hanging on by that tiny of a thread? Damn. Besides the fact that our ideas of masculine and feminine to some extent are constructed and perpetuated by stupid people throughout history, it's an issue that only men can propose because they ought to have the option to.
In this line of thinking, women are stripped of their choice and power — which is what women have contended with for centuries, really. People feel comfortable with men having the upper-hand. And that's because it was only about a half-decade ago that women were able to, you know, get a job that wasn't fetching coffee for their male counterparts. Social change takes time, and stupidity is contagious.
But so is dialogue! Speak up, speak out and don't tell women that they're lame for proposing. Because that makes you even lamer.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.