The Manswer: Ladies, Please Do Not Start Proposing Marriage

As a man concerned with matters of life and death, Jessica Pauline Oglivie’s recounting of an onstage marriage proposal made by a woman at a college commencement—the valedictorian no less (!)—gave my normally stolid heart a minor attack. I’m frankly a little shaken up by this and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to comment roundly enough without further internal conniption. Let me just say to you plucky matrimonial adventurers out there: please do not do this. Please do not start doing this.

I don’t care how progressive your relationship is, I don’t care how ambivalent your dude may be, I beg on the altar of everything holy, this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad precedent; a precedent with horrifying consequences that extend far beyond just one momentous day for you.

Now I know that we (men and women) have all been muddling through a rough patch of centuries lately, but let’s not go down this road. It’s not about power or tradition. It’s not about some chimerical assault on our manliness. It’s about your future husband’s self-respect.

Guys are frequently emasculated by their women. It’s the sadist in you. We’re forced to do and say things we never would and while I’m sure it’s somehow linked to a grander betterment, each time a guy is forced to go to dinner alone with his girlfriend and her friends or say something saccharine on the phone when he is out with his friends, there is a demographic exacting an unimaginable toll upon a man: his friends.

Take for example, Josh Walker—boy wonder of the aforementioned wedding proposal story. Has Josh Walker in landing the valedictorian of a college in New Jersey done well for himself? Most likely yes. His future wife is clearly an accomplished woman with the requisite streak of maverick needed to subvert the protocol of a “typical” marriage proposal. I am sure much vomit will be stifled upon reading their wedding announcement in the Sunday Styles.

However, of all the parties involved in this impending union, the parents, the siblings, the bride, and the groom, absolutely no one is as stoked about what has just transpired than Josh’s friends. They now have ammunition to make fun of him for literally the rest of his life. And don’t think that they won’t. They will. They is going on permanent safari.

From this moment on, anytime that Josh Walker hangs out with his friends, unless he gets new ones and doesn’t tell them the story of his wife’s marriage proposal, Josh Walker’s dignity is going to be under attack. Words that I cannot even type in this extremely liberal forum will be said. There will be no situation too inappropriate to assail him. Men who don’t even know Josh Walker (guilty) will tell their friends, “You’ve got to hear this…” and conversations of the meanest caliber of frattiness will ensue. A storm cloud will follow Josh Walker’s life and rain pejorative words for vagina all over it.

Again, I can’t fully explain it. Call it a guy thing. We’re too proud and terrible to each other. But if you love your man, let him pop the question. (He’s never really going to be ready.) Otherwise, you’ll just be placing a scarlet bulls-eye right on his back. I promise you’ll have the rest of your life to inflict other indignities upon him.

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    • rimesparse

      Any man who feels emasculated by a women declaring her love for him and proposing marriage is an asshole. And I suppose such an asshole like that might have asshole friends that would make fun of him about it. Hopefully no woman would propose to such an asshole anyway. So this post’s advice is moot.

    • Jen Dziura

      What the hell? Even if Josh Walker’s friends make fun of him, can’t he just say, “Yeah, she couldn’t live without my big cock?”

      I mean, whatever he’s got is so good that a woman is going to risk public rejection just to lock it down? A smart man could turn that into bragging rights. Josh Walker, if you find this, I propose the above comeback line.

    • themanswer

      I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying it’s true.

    • eEv

      OK, I have a problem with the concept of one guy speaking for all men. I have my preferences, but if I were to say, “Guys, please do not ever ever go to the gym because we ladies find six-packs really unattractive,” many ladies would disagree. I find six-packs unattractive, not all ladies. Just as you, Mr. Manswer, find the idea of a woman proposing, while not all men do. In fact, my fiance– although he’s the one who proposed– later said he had been hoping I would.

      • eEv

        find the idea of a woman proposing terrifying*

    • beseven

      I proposed to my husband 9 years ago, and we will be married 9 years in September. We had a 3-month engagement. I wasn’t about to let him get away. And guess what? He thanked me for proposing to him because he was too nervous to do it himself (although he did ask my father for my hand). No one ever mocked him in any way, shape, or form for accepting my proposal. And as I said, he was grateful. Does this mean that every guy would feel the same way and have the same kind of friends? Of course not, but it does mean that NOT every guy would have his life ruined by being proposed to, and that your advice is BS. And frankly, I agree with rimesparse.

      • Riley

        Why? Why do you agree with Rime Sparse?

        Men are trained by society just as much as women are. If a man, since his childhood, has been made to think that it is his duty to provide for the woman in his life, and make her happy, and propose to her, then why wouldn’t he be upset with himself when he has failed to so?

        Honestly, it’s not about men being chauvinists, or wanting women to be submissive. It’s simply about them wanting to fulfill the role that they have been given since adolescence. Masculinity is important to almost any man you’ll ever meet, and it’s a terrible feeling to have it taken away.

        If you really care about the guy… if you really love him.. and he feels that it is his duty to propose to you… please, just let him do it. Not all men are the same, but those who feel that way aren’t all a bunch of “ass holes.” Just let the guy feel good about himself for one day! Let him feel like he’s done something right, and like he’s provided for you.

        Believe it or not, most guys actually value the idea of one day finding a girl they truly care about, and making a commitment, and buying her a ring, and proposing to her, and holding her, and making her feel happy.

        If he feels that it’s his job as a man, as most men do, just let him have that… please!!!

    • ms. bunny

      Any man who claims to speak for all men in all relationships looses credibility. His experience of what “manliness” is, is stereotypical at best, misogynistic at worst.

      What is important is that a couple discusses what works for them. Every couple is different. Every man is different. Every woman is different. Couples should decide what kind of proposal works for them, not some jackass on the internet. For some couples, that will be the man proposing. But guess what — not all men are put off by strong women who take control in the relationship. Some men actually enjoy the possibility of a woman proposing.

      The pressure society puts on couples to do things a certain way does a disservice to all the real couples out there navigating real issues. Articles like this only add to perpetuate myths and cultural shaming of couples who don’t fit into a cookie cutter box. Adam Chandler should be embarrassed for turning out a trite article that brings nothing new to the discussion about proposals in contemporary society and relies purely on stereotypes.

    • laidymondegreen

      First, this post is ridiculous. If your friends make fun of your because you were proposed to by a woman, it’s time to get new friends who aren’t so stuck in gender roles. If you can’t get over this teasing, or tell you friends to knock it off, and thus have to suffer a lifetime (really? This sort of joking wouldn’t die off in about two weeks?) of suffering, well that’s your fault.

      I say you are who you surround yourself with, and if your friends are the sort of people who can’t just be happy for a guy who clearly is marrying a smart, forward-thinking woman, then I don’t think I want to spend much time around you either, let alone marry you.

      I’m so grateful that I married my husband, who wouldn’t have minded at all if I had proposed.

    • bminitter

      Sorry, not true. My wife proposed to me and neither I nor my friends give a crap that I didn’t do it, nor have we since she did it five years ago. Proposing to my wife really wasn’t on my list of essential-manly-things-to-do, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t matter to my friends one way or the other. Maybe you think it’s unmanly to say yes to the woman of your dreams, but don’t speak for all of us. What’s far more ridiculous is being afraid to face a little ragging. Get over it.