Dave and I got engaged January 1st. Besides being wonderfully happy to spend the rest of my life with the man i love, I am also excited to have a whole new world of wedding hoopla to explore, analyze, and write about! Discussing weddings from a feminist perspective will prove challenging. So here i'll start, at a good place as any, with the ever so important engagement ring... dun dun dunnnnnn
I think i figured out the formula to true marital happiness. The size of the ring = the size of his love for you. Right? Yea, i didn't think so either... but it's what they want us to believe.
The diamond industry is evil. But my dad is a jeweler. It's how he has made a living ever since we immigrated here from Russia in the 90's. Also, my great grandmother and grandmother both passed away and left me beautiful antique stones. I had little choice in the matter of a ring. I was getting one no matter how much i protest the symbolism.
Still, i need to be honest here. Though i wanted to show off my dad's talents and craft, i was very reluctant to wear a ring. I thought it would make me a hypocrite and all my feminist friends would disown me for it. I hate what engagement rings symbolize. The ownership, the "insurance" so he doesn't leave, the conflict diamonds, and everything else Feminist Finance mentions. Instead, i wanted a massage chair. This has been an ongoing conversation and i thought it unfair that i have to wear a symbol of ownership while Dave got his dream guitar as an engagement present from me. (See, now that you realize Dave got a kick-ass guitar all you couples that mocked our egalitarian relationship wish you'd changed your tune). I have always known i would get him his dream guitar when we decided to get hitched, because we should each get something substantial, not just me. So i wanted a massage chair. I wanted something expensive, that i wouldn't buy for myself, that i would love and use and appreciate. Something i couldn't wear on my finger, something that didn't symbolize ownership, something important to me. I realize my economic-privilege is showing here, i apologize for this.
A massage chair was out of the question. Like i said, my father is a jeweler. An amazingly talented, high fashion, well respected jeweler. I had to have a ring. Not just A ring but THE ring. Not having one was out of the question, so was the massage chair (couldn't we just gem-stone the hell out of the chair???) So if me wearing a ring was a nonnegotiable, i would have a say in this ring.
My ring is absolutely gorgeous. It's sparkly, it's unique, and most importantly it's meaningful. The center stone was my great grandmother's and the work is that of my father. I couldn't have asked for more from an engagement ring. Also, Dave is planning on wearing a wedding band throughout our engagement because my ring shouldn't represent i am "taken" while he is still "not." More the reason i love my feminist fiance.
But here's the catch: my ring was a size too big! So i am currently not wearing it while it is getting resized! Oh the horror!!! The first words out of everyone mouth as soon as D and I told them we are getting married were, "Congratulations! Let me see your ring." Or they'd automatically grab my left hand and pull it towards them. Or they stick out their hand, presenting their ring finger, expecting me to do the same as if i'm now a part of this exclusive girl's club. At first, before i can understand what was happening, i would stick out my hand too! When no ring was apparent their face would shift from excitement to disappointment, and then to pity. "Oh you poor thing," they'd think, "he doesn't love you enough to buy you a ring?" I never meant to offend anyone by not wearing my ring so i would quickly blurt out an apology, and that it's getting resized. They would let out a sigh of relief! "Thank god!" They'd think, "Thank god he loves you as much as that ring cost him!" But they never said that to me. Instead they demanded, "Send me pictures then!" I didn't. To be completely forthright, I only sent K a photo because she wouldn't let it go ;)
So what's with that? What if i don't want to be part of this exclusive girl's engagement ring club? What if my ring is incredibly special to me for so many reasons that have nothing to do with what the "engagement ring" symbolizes in America? What if i want to show my ring off, for what it means to me, but don't know how because of so much that is tied to it? What if engagement rings weren't linked to the amount of love = the amount spent on the ring? That's the exclusive girl's club i want to be a part of. The one where love is judged by commitment, honesty, and mutual respect. I've found some of that on OffBeatBride where i'm meeting more and more women in my position. Sick of what weddings have become and ready to reclaim what truly matters. Ready to be as unconventional, off-beat, non-traditional, and "tacky" as they want to be because it suits them and their relationships. Tip of the hat to you, ladies and gents, you're a pretty cool bunch :)
I apologize for the extremely heteronormative and classist post, i'm sure there will be more to come while we plan our wedding :/
EDIT: I read Feministing everyday, but somehow (and i have no idea how) i missed Jessica's engagement announcement! Check out her post and comment section, lot's of good stuff that i am struggling with as well.