Some fun details are emerging about the Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher engagement that we reported on a few weeks ago, and apparently Kutcher went with a pretty traditional proposal. So traditional, in fact, that he asked Kunis’ father for permission beforehand. I don’t know about you, but that whole asking the dad for permission gamut really grinds my gears.
According to a “Kutcher insider” who spoke to People, Kutcher “talked with Mila’s dad around Christmastime. He asked for Mark’s blessing to marry her. It was important to Ashton to be respectful and traditional. This is the real thing for him and he wants to do it all right.” Look, if that works for Kunis and Kutcher, then God bless and good for them. But I really struggle with the idea of asking a father for permission or a blessing before proposing. It seems backwards, antiquated, and sexist, and frankly I can’t believe it’s still a thing that we accept.
I love my parents and respect their opinions, and obviously I don’t want any friction between them and my partner. My parents may not be perfect (neither are yours), but here are a few of the things they got right: They raised me to be my own person and to have my own sense of self completely independent from them. They trust my judgment and know that it’s up to me to pick my partner. They would never think to offer their permission. They are proud of my agency and independence. They respect me enough to know that I am not theirs to give.
There’s something that I find deeply creepy about whole thing and not at all romantic–my boyfriend sitting in a room with my dad, deciding my future? I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel particularly comfortable with two people who are not me deciding the future of my life or relationship. Even if it’s just a formality, it’s an unwelcome one. I love my dad, but my relationship doesn’t get his seal of approval. It exists completely separately from my family life. Shouldn’t it? Just because something’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s the only way or even the right way, and tradition isn’t an excuse for something as gross and oppressive as turning women into their father’s possessions.
You are not your parents’ possession. A woman is not a daughter to be given away by her father. Your relationship is yours and yours alone, as you are yours and yours alone, until you decide to share yourself with someone. The only permission needed is yours. Your family can be happy for you and supportive, but only you get to say yes and commit to a life with someone.
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