If your woman is wearing an engagement ring, I can’t think of any good reason why, in 2018, a man wouldn’t wear an engagement ring to announce to the world he’s getting married.
Fortunately, some men are daring to defy cultural norms and go for the gold. While one recent survey found that only 5 percent of men wear engagement rings, an increasing number of male celebs seem to be sporting them. For instance, props to Ed Sheeran for proudly sporting a silver-clay band made by his fiancée, Cherry Seaborn.
Similarly, cheers to Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin, who agreed with his girlfriend, co-star Anna Camp, that it was “odd” that men don’t wear engagement rings too.
Johnny Depp, so comfortable in his masculinity, reportedly wore Amber Heard’s engagement ring as his male engagement ring. And Jennifer Hudson’s former husband David Otunga happily wore a platinum engagement band she bought him.
You’re all great male allies. (Well, except for Johnny Depp. Fuck off.)
Regular guys are embracing the mangagement movement as well. “My fiancée and I both felt uncomfortable with the tradition that women have engagement rings and men don’t—but we didn’t want to buck tradition by having no rings at all,” says Stephen Mack, a 28-year-old graduate student in New York. He came up with a crafty solution: “I first had the idea that I would get two, small identical rings, one for while we were engaged and the other for when we get married, that when together would look like a single ring. The only drawback is that I’m asked if I’m married a lot, but that’s pretty easy to deal with. More often people are jealous they hadn’t thought of it themselves!” His fiancée bought him both rings, but he picked them out; she also decided on the inscription: a line from To the Lighthouse.
What these men understand is that there’s nothing emasculating about wearing a sleek piece of gold and telling the world you’re madly in love and about to save as much as $24,000 in tax deductions every year. And when you recognize why women historically wore engagement rings — as “tiny handcuffs” symbolizing a down payment to make good on the offer to own the bride — it’s only ethical for men to flip the script and join them.
Men didn’t even wear wedding bands — actual wedding bands, folks — until the 1940s. Historically, men only recently felt obligated to even “look” married, while it’s always been imperative that a woman’s status, impending or otherwise, flashes like a shiny neon sign: NOT AVAILABLE FOR FUCKING. Nothing about the honorifics for married men change, either — they remain Mr. and generally keep their surname, while a married woman becomes a Mrs. — why, it almost seems like they are getting away with something.
Thus, the male engagement ring. But most guys aren’t quite ready yet, and they have a litany of reasons why. If you want to read some fascinating modern-day contortions justifying why men still shouldn’t “have to” wear engagement rings, check out this Reddit thread on /r/askwomen. Let’s go through the excuses one by one, and I’ll tell you why they’re weak.
‘Men don’t need to wear them like women do’
There’s definitely a perception that women need to wear engagement rings (and wedding rings) so other men will leave them alone. “Some men don’t take ‘not interested’ for an answer and are more likely to back off if another man has some sort of claim on me,” a redditor noted. “And those men are also stupid and require proof.”
It’s true that women have been known to carry fake engagement or wedding rings around to deter men from hitting on them in bars and while traveling. It’s a sad fact that this is an effective or even necessary line of defense for many women in these modern civilized times, but none of this changes the fact that women primarily wear engagement rings to announce being claimed, whereas men have no such compunction — for their safety or for the social validation it provides. In other words, women are more or less already married when they become engaged, whereas men aren’t married until their wedding day. Cool deal, guys.
‘I don’t like jewelry!’
You’re going to wear the wedding band, right? Then bullshit.
‘There’s no historical precedent.’
“He could if he wanted to,” one commenter notes of her man wearing a mangagement ring. “I doubt he would, though. He’s very traditional. There isn’t really any historical precedent for men wearing engagement rings though, is there? For women, they used to act as a kind of insurance in case the man buggered off — you’d at least have some financial compensation in the form of the ring in case of breach of promise.”
This brings us into some fascinating matrimonial history. It’s true that somewhere around the 1900s, breach-of-promise laws allowed a woman to sue a fiancé if he ditched on the marriage, with the ring as proof that the legally binding marriage contract had been entered into. Even though some half of states now decline to intervene in broken engagements, it fostered the notion that the ring is a kind of insurance policy for jilted women.
But if anything, this is all the more reason why men should benefit from this insurance policy, too: Women are far more self-sufficient now financially, and they can also ditch on engagements as quickly as a dude can. So either both parties should return the rings and move on with their lives, or both parties should keep the rings and sell them, melt them down into matching coins of regret, or throw them into the ocean.
‘My wife-to-be doesn’t want one either.’
“I won’t be wearing a ring, but I know my partner wants a wedding band,” one female commenter notes. “I imagine he’ll wear that and I’ll get a necklace or something because I don’t wear rings.”
‘Actually, we both got tattoos.’
“Comes together to form the Celtic tree of life,” one commenter noted.
Go forth, cheesy egalitarian tattoo people.
‘I don’t need a ring because my partner trusts me.’
“If you trust him, why bother having him do so?” one /r/askwomen commenter asked of making a man wear an engagement ring. “It’s easy enough for him to simply say, ‘I’m engaged.’”
Yet women are capable of uttering the same phrase to interested parties!!! Or maybe they can only wildly gesticulate to one finger while smiling idiotically?
‘I believe no one should wear engagement rings.’
While traditions can be fun, perpetuating sexist traditions without the slightest bit of scrutiny — particularly ones that still regard women as property while men get to roam free — is depressingly retrograde.
Do what you wish, of course, but we should always be willing to take serious stock of such traditions and be open to pushing them into the light of the new millennia. The most intelligent point I found on this thread was the idea that either both people should wear an engagement ring… or maybe no one should.
They cost too much, are classist and showy and are basically useless, and you can just wait to splurge if you actually go through with the damn thing. “Neither of us [wear a ring],” wrote one commenter. “I’m sure most men would be happy not to buy an engagement ring if their partner didn’t want them!” another genius wrote.
Let this be the voice of the considerably less sexist future.