In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Hannah Seligson longs for days of yore. The piece is called “How the Marriage Proposal Became a Negotiation: The question, like the ring, used to be a surprise.” It seems to be a given that this is fairly tragic. Seligson writes: “We’ve gone from popping the question to a long conversation, hammering out the details of when and how the engagement will happen.” Seligson even hints that this new negotiation-style is emasculating men and eroding gender norms, which seem to be understood as an uncommon good: “So how is all this bargaining affecting gender dynamics?” Seligson asks. She also writes: “the gender dance is still being worked out” and notes that one man felt cheated that his proposal wasn’t an out-of-the-blue popping of the question.
Seligson concludes, as if to allay WSJ readers fears that all that is sacred and holy and separate-spherical about traditional gender roles has been dismantled:
“Even so, do not mistake this for a level playing field. While there is more negotiation and compromise about the marriage timetable, Ms. Miller says her research showed that the man still holds the power to shut down the marriage conversation. Men in their 20s and 30s don’t seem to view the backroom negotiation as emasculating or ceding their turf to a generation of empowered women either. On the contrary—all this talking may have simply eliminated the only scary aspect of a proposal for a man: that the woman will say no.”
Yay! The men still have the majority of the power! Continue reading