A few weeks ago, I trekked all the way up to New Rochelle, N.Y. to have a Last Supper of sorts with some of my favorite people on the planet. One of the homies was about to take her talents down to Atlanta, and because we’re all super classy, we thought a Chinese buffet would be the perfect setting for a quality send-off. But, true to form, a few of the guests were tardy for the party, so we spent a good amount of time just choppin’ it up.
After cycling through a few hot topics, we landed on gender roles and that’s when one of my female friends asked:
“Wait…have any of you seen the videos on Facebook with those foolish women proposing to their men?”
Before I could even open my mouth to say yeah, side-eyes and the sound of sucked teeth rained down from the rest of the women at the table. Now, I know how I (and many of my male friends) feel about the subject, but I never imagined that my reaction would draw so much ire from the ladies. They wasted no time responding:
“Hell. Nah. The n**ga that thinks I’m finna get down on one knee and propose to his ass must think I got “Boo Boo the Fool” tattooed on my forehead.”
“Seriously, though. These women out here lookin’ real crazy. Like, sis, don’t you know when a man doesn’t want you?!”
“You gotta be some kinda desperate. I mean, the Good Book is pretty clear on it – it says, ‘He who findeth a wife…,’ not the other way around.”
They really went in. And I get why.
In the vast majority of heterosexual relationships, it is the man who has the “duty” of asking for the woman’s hand in marriage. And as for me, my stance on the matter is consistent with conventional thinking— when the time comes, I’ll be doing the proposing. Perhaps I’m reinforcing some antiquated tenet of patriarchy here, but I honestly feel that it is my chief responsibility as a man in a relationship to make my woman feel loved and desired. But don’t get me wrong. I can surely appreciate the gesture in reverse for what it means – a woman who’s willing to pledge her life to me and be bold enough to actually propose despite traditional expectations. It’s beautiful. But I would feel like I failed if my lady had to come to me on bended knee.
Perhaps I’m reinforcing some antiquated tenet of patriarchy here, but I honestly feel that it is my chief responsibility as a man in a relationship to make my woman feel loved and desired.
Now, I do acknowledge that it is 2018 – gender roles are becoming more and more fluid, and I’m all for it. For instance, another topic we veered into was the concept of stay-at-home dads. Personally? Taking care of a household is a full-time job. See, ultimately, a man’s job is to be the head of the family, no matter what that entails. And if my wife is caking to the point where my family would be better served with me at home, that’s precisely what I would do. And I know there are plenty of insecure fuckboys out there who would never entertain the thought of being a stay-at-home dad because they believe a “woman’s place” is in the house and, more importantly, it would shake the very foundation of their manhood. Fortunately, though, fuckboys are irrelevant.
A woman’s place is everywhere and I’m so very glad to be part of a generation that gets it and is actively working to dismantle patriarchy as the driving force in our society. The shit is hard work – no doubt – but it needs to be done. I mean, let’s face it – the world would be a much better place if more women held positions of power and prestige.
But, let’s circle back to the whole marriage proposal thing. Typically, I’m not this rigid in my beliefs, especially when it comes to gender roles. And while I absolutely do support parity across all genders, I’m sticking to my guns on this one. The future Mrs. S. will never have to wonder how I feel about her. Nor will she feel the need to pop the question because I’m dragging my feet. Nope.
And let me be clear – if you’re in a healthy, loving relationship where you and your significant other are perfectly fine with switching things up in terms of who proposes to whom, that’s perfectly fine. Different strokes. But for me, I just couldn’t do it. The only time my woman is gonna slide a ring on my finger is when we exchange vows.
Malcolm Spaulding is a freelance writer for CASSIUS.