Over the last decade, the institution of marriage has substantially changed for the better. With a growing acceptance that marriage is not limited to just the union of a man and a woman, but of two people, societal norms have thankfully begun to cease in specific expectations.
"Why do we cling to the idea that a man should pop the question?" exclaims Dan Schwerin in his sub-headline of his article published in Vogue's recent July 2018 issue.
The cover photo of this article shows a sleek, illustrious-looking woman with her heel on top of a mini-convertible car being driven by an equally powerful man. The message being brought across by Schwerin in the sub-headline and cover photo alone immediately entranced me with a specific fascination.
Women nowadays are ambitious, driven, and independent. A lot has changed for us over the past fifty years and yet we still face several inequities on a day to day basis. So keeping in mind that we are stilldealing with unequal pay, sexual harassment and so many other struggles, can people really say that a woman proposing to a man is that preposterous? After all, us millennials have been seriously changing the game for some time now. With the shift of marrying and having children later, focusing on our careers and minds earlier has become the new normal.
Dan Schwerin's article begins to tell the tale of two individuals (himself and his wife) who are madly in love. Schwerin's wife, YJ, is a woman who was raised in a particularly secular Jewish household and was held to the expectation that "… a woman's highest ambition should be to get married as soon as possible and immediately start having babies". Despite this upbringing, she chose a different path and became increasingly independent in her career, in her travels, and in the construct of her own womanhood. She strayed away from traditional Jewish values and when she found Dan, a man who she knew would be her life-long partner, she vowed to never walk with him to the altar. It wasn't that she didn't love him, or didn't feel confident enough to make this commitment, but they mutually as a couple felt so content in their relationship that they didn't believe marriage would make any kind of enlightening change.
Afters years and years of not allowing the idea of marriage to cross their paths, YJ spontaneously proposed to Dan on a trip to Italy.
Some people would have to reread this statement a few times. She proposed to him?
Indeed! And believe or not— this gender reversal is actually not that radical! As of recently, more and more women have began to get down on one knee. According to Schwerin's article "Surveys have found that a majority of Americans are OK with the idea of women proposing, including in one study, most men." Yet, the internet has exploded in response to videos of women proposing, and it only happens in about 5% of marriages.
If we look at the idea with no biases, really what is the big deal?
Heterosexual relationships like Dan and YJ's thrive on equal power — as should all. Dan even spoke about how from the beginning of their relationship YJ wished for him to take her last name if they were to ever get married. She explained to him "…to make a crooked plant grow straight, you have to bend it back the opposite way. She wanted to do the same thing with our sexist society." In my opinion, gender roles are just excuses to deprive people of their potential and promote limitations. Saying the woman should be the one to exclusively do "XYZ" and the man should exclusively take on the rest, just does not add up. Relationships are a give and take experience, and "…if society expects women to do everything that men do, then why not this?"
Some could argue that this does not honor traditionalism — and it doesn't. If you are a woman who wishes to be proposed to by her future husband, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having that dream! Most of us do, after all. Yet, the way we look at marriage nowadays does not exactly associate with the original history that is traced back to the concept. The origins of marriage clearly say that when a woman is to marry, she is being given up from the reins of her father and into the arms of her husband. Most women have thrown away this ideology and personally, I find it sort of ridiculous. As a grown woman, I don't think I should have to be given permission from my father to choose who I want to spend the rest of my life with. Let alone have my husband have to ask for me. I believe the gesture is nice, but just not the history rooted within it.
Overall, what I found most enlightening about this article was this story being told from a male perspective. Dan Schwerin was a past speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and is obviously not unfamiliar with powerful women. It's actually inspiring to see that he would share this concept in such a way that is so personal, but revolutionary in terms of society. His words will hopefully teach society to continue to be more accepting and will allow for more growth.