The engagement ring is a sort of 21st-century dowry in the Western world, too. The traditional two-month salary rule not only signals a man’s interest in spending a life with his partner, it inadvertently sets the relationship up for a lifetime of inequality. It’s vestigial sexism at which no one seems to blink.
If anything, women are more to blame for the sexism of the male proposal. Instagram and Facebook posts of sparkly rings — complete with the obligatory “oohs” and “aahs” — perpetuate the idea that women’s affections can be purchased.
So maybe it’s time for couples to rethink the meaning of engagement rings and male proposals. In a society where many wives work and keep their last names, the male proposal seems terribly antiquated.