He’s No Zucker

Chuck Ross asks brides-to-be: Is it all about the ring?

I’ve never thought to defend Mark Zuckerberg. Farmville made that almost impossible. But I’ll do it this once. This has nothing to do with Facebook’s horrid IPO or its lack of a plan to gin up revenue to support its bloated market capitalization. Instead, I must defend Zuckerberg against a small but vicious pack of hyenas who are accusing him of being a cheapskate.

Intertwined with his company’s public debut, the newly minted billionaire married his longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan. Their ceremony was modest – it involved a backyard wedding at the medical graduate Chen’s home. Cheap Mexican food was served, most likely on paper plates. No honeymoon was embarked on.

But the real headline grabber, picked up by celebrity gossip site TMZ and others, was Zuckerberg’s thrift in the ring department. People who are concerned with such things estimate that the ring Zuckerberg bought for his bride cost a measly $25,000—or a micro-penny swing of Facebook’s share price.

At least one writer, the New York Post’s Rita Delfiner, complained that even Kris Humphries procured a $2 million stone for Kim Kardashian. Delfiner points out, without irony, that the former reality TV couple was only married for 72 days.

Channeling the frustration of women from Montgomery to Manhattan, Delfiner wrote “it looked as if Mrs. Mark Zuckerberg had won the lottery when she married the Facebook boss last weekend—but now she appears to be the unluckiest lucky woman alive.”

Few are crying.

I step up for Zuckerberg because I, too, plan to be up for review. My ring-purchasing prowess on display—most likely on Facebook. I’ll be engaged in the near future, and I’ll have to tackle this ring business. But I’ll admit that the thought of plunking down a large amount of money for a ring makes a part of me want to avoid the whole thing altogether.

Truth is, I’d probably already be married with kids if it weren’t for the engagement ring provision that holds so much cultural cachet in my—and many other men’s—social circle.

All of the guys I know who have gone through the rigmarole of either depleting their savings or going into hock to uphold this feisty tradition (which feminism has done little to dislodge) have told me, with faces communicating defeat, that they were powerless to withstand the pressure of the ring. Worse, the price of it has mysteriously inflated over the generations. An 88 year-old retired professor I sometimes visit with told me that the ring he bought his bride—now 65 years in—looked like something out of Cracker Jack box. But his bride didn’t complain because every other woman of the era was getting the same thing.

This ringflation comes at a time when young women are earning the lion’s share of college degrees and earning more income than men. The engagement ring tradition isn’t keeping up with the changing economic reality.

Marriage rates have declined marginally over the decades. The length of co-habitation is the highest it’s ever been—seventeen months today compared to just a handful a generation or two ago.

But there are still women (and men) who want to get married. And within that group, there is a subgroup of young women who really want to get married and who lament their boyfriends’ procrastination.

Thinking in economic terms, it makes sense that men in marginal relationships or men without great means would avoid the whole thing. I’m sure someone will come along and argue that the engagement ring is a good thing because it helps sift out the weakest relationships. But then there are the guys stuck here with me in the middle to lower-middle class who still face this pressure to perform.

And all this while student loans need paying and well-paying jobs are hard to come by. The women who truly want to get married in a timely fashion could speed up the process by relaxing this ring pressure. A simple “Hey, future husband, don’t worry about that ring. It’s not a big deal.” Women have historically been good at rallying around causes in order to enact social change. But the question is, do they want the ring or do they want the marriage?

 

—Photo credit: Philip Taylor PT/Flickr

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About Chuck Ross

Chuck Ross is a freelance writer living in the Midwest. He blogs daily at Gucci Little Piggy where he writes on economics, social commentary, and men's issues.

Comments

  1. Chuck: Too easy. I used Craigslist to buy my wife’s ring at a 40% discount from “retail”. Since reading Stephen Jay Gould’s piece on the diamond cartel, I didn’t want to give “those” jackals any piece of my hard earned cash, but I also understood the need to keep/save face amongst our friends. I settled on a ring just under a carat with silver band for $2000. Appraised by the same jackals for $3900, I was happy. Do NOT use the two month’s salary (or even 6 weeks salary) as your benchmark; buy a nice ring and remember; you can always expand it later as finances improve. Be your own man and don’t listen to storied cliches to purchase your ring. If she loves you, it won’t matter.

  2. Speaking as someone who has been married for almost a decade and has no ring, I couldn’t care less about the damn things. My husband is leaving for Afghanistan for his job in a few months, and we may buy some plain bands before then, but diamonds are seriously overrated IMO. I think it’s all part of the insanity surrounding wedding culture (and I say this with experience as I am a wedding photographer). Some people just get carried away with all the bells and whistles and it becomes more about putting on a show and keeping up with the Jones’. All that to say, I love weddings, I think they are great fun and can be very meaningful and culturally relevant, but I dislike many aspects of “wedding culture.” Hope that makes sense.

  3. my husband (20) and i (23) got married eight months ago, and neither of us got rings until october and november, respectively. both cost about $300. we were engaged since july. i’d much rather be married than have a fancy ring, and he felt the same way. it just seems really impractical compared to other needs. all i want is something to send a message to other guys who might hit on me.

  4. Women are definitely the ones propelling the idea that the ring means everything in the relationship. My husband and I made the decision to get married before we were “financially well off” (thank God) and so I have a very pretty but not “hunk of rock” engagement ring. I’ve had several girls look at my ring with an, “oh gosh, poor you” – which is such a sad reflection on priority and worth in our relationships now. And it makes me feel defensive of my guy, too, because it feels like a direct assault on either him, or what kind of man I chose to be with. Either way, it’s a bummer that women define their relational and marital success by one piece of jewelry usually purchased by a man in his early or mid twenties. And last time I checked, most men who are ‘making bank’ are 15, 25 or 45 years into marriage.

    • I completely agree with Lauren and add something.
      I have an idea that the ring I will get in the proposal (if I ever get one in the situation I can consider it, and not just because there is a man who thinks I’ll be perfect to show off at parties or something) will be the acid test of how deeply that man knows me and you know what? If he gets me an expensive ring I will conclude he doesn’t know me enough, and just believes I am like superficial, and an opportunist. Not really the best description from my prospective hubby, right?
      I have a dream design and it is silver with a small part of gold (that looks nicer if changed with all silver,) and a topaz. But any vintage ring or fantasy design ring will show that he knows who I am and what I like and he is really marrying the right one and not an idea of me that is only in his head.
      It saddens me that many women make it a matter of money…

      • Lisa Hickey says:

        I honestly can’t imagine why a woman would want a man to spend money on a ring. I really can’t. $25k? I’d rather take a trip around the world, buy something that both of us could enjoy — even put it towards potential kids education. Because a ring is symbolic? heck, I’d rather have love be it’s own symbolism — give me respect, kindness, joy — acts of love — any day. I’m with you Alessia that a man who couldn’t see that it just truly didn’t matter to me would not be the right man at all.

        I think we should start a movement #SayNoToEngagementRings

        • cheers to that!

        • Peter Houlihan says:

          Exactly, same with crazily expensive weddings. It’d make much more sense to have a small ceremony with both families and a few close friends and save the remainder towards something you actually need, like a mortgage or a family car.

          • I want my wedding to be open to anyone so it will probably be rather expensive but I see the point. If done just to show off you have the money (or pretend you have the money you show off) it just makes the whole marriage thing lose value in my opinion. Whether it is the engagement ring, the wedding band or the ceremony and party.

  5. Wirbelwind says:

    If I were rich I would never marry, I would be too afraid of being eaten alive by lawyers during divorce.

  6. A very on-point article. As a young, 30-something woman, who has been married once before, and intends to do so again in the near future, engagement rings have always turned me off. I didn’t expect, need or ask for an engagement ring from my first husband, and I won’t be participating in this stressful dynamic the second time around with my next.

    To some extent, even the actual marriage band itself destroys the freedom to simply (live the action of) commitment. (Although, I do agree with an earlier comment made stating that a simple marriage band of some sort is a quick and silent way to say, “no, thank you, I’m happily married” to random suitors).

    Ultimately it all comes down to personal preference and choice. Those who love to spend money on and receive the “bling” will continue to do so. Yet, people’s priorities, the times and economy have changed. Maybe if women en masse were asked to fork out mad amounts of hard-earned money to appease a sense of subtle greed & materialism glossed as expectant “love” and “traditional responsibility”, our relationships and marriages would be very different, in an *extremely* short amount of time! The ring should be an option, as in all good things. My inherent worth as a woman in in relationship with my partner/husband doesn’t have to be constrained by holding up appearances and accumulating excessive debt for a platinum-diamond fixation. For me, living a loving and supportive life together is the ultimate, symbolic turn-on, and priceless.

    • Eric M. says:

      “To some extent, even the actual marriage band itself destroys the freedom to simply (live the action of) commitment.”

      Agreed. I don’t wear a wedding ring. It changes nothing about how I live.

  7. Diamonds are seriously overrated. They’re glass. Or might as well be, anyway.

    Any other precious gemstone has more allure and visual appeal than some crystal clear hunk of polished glass. Get a sapphire or a ruby center stone…it is much more rare. You want a really rare stone? try finding a large carat, high quality piece of Tanzanite..one of the rarest stones on earth!

    • Glass is made from silica and can be produced easily with not a whole lot of heat, relatively speaking. Diamonds are made from carbon that’s been put under intense heat and pressure for millions of years. But they ought to be as cheap as glass, considering carbon is freaking everywhere. Completely overrated rock.

  8. Kirsten (in MT) says:

    All of the guys I know who have gone through the rigmarole of either depleting their savings or going into hock to uphold this feisty tradition (which feminism has done little to dislodge) have told me, with faces communicating defeat, that they were powerless to withstand the pressure of the ring.

    If they weren’t prepared to take responsibility for the ring they chose to purchase, how were they prepared to take on the responsibility of a lifetime commitment?

    My ex-husband gave me a ring that the sales guy at the jewelry store convinced him he should buy (DIAMOND!!!) even though I was standing right next to him saying I would prefer something less expensive (ruby/sapphire). He got the better deal than I did. I picked out for him a telescope that he actually wanted. When we split up, I gave him back the ring, but he kept the telescope! Cheesy, but funny now years after the fact. :-)

    • You should have kept it! Tradition says its yours if you tie the knot, but to return it if you don’t.

      My wife fortunately also wanted something simple. She wanted a diamond that was clear and not very big. She thought a huge rock would look silly. I doubt I’d have proposed if she was the type that felt otherwise. Now she seldom wears it, preferring the plain band and a mothers day gift with a tiny sapphire.

      Frankly I’m glad for Zuckerberg that he’s not trying to keep up with the Kardashians.

  9. Meh, I don’t want a frakking diamond ring. Overpriced overrated piece of boring crap…

  10. I’d rather have a man stand by my side through thick and thin, than give me a diamond…. any sane woman would prefer that than stupid materialistic items…

  11. I wear a simple diamond white gold engagement ring that my fiancé, now husband, bought when he was quite poor and working 80 hours per week thousands of miles from where I was doing the same…When we got married, he got me a white gold band with 3 diamonds embedded into it…although one diamond has since slipped out and has been lost…my GF urges me to replace the missing diamond (otherwise, the rest of the diamonds are “going to fall out”)….I just leave everything the way it is…I can’t bear to upgrade or change a thing (no matter how much my GF’s compare and contrast)….I don’t expect them to understand a thing about my relationship with my husband….How can you judge another person’s marriage by the size of the diamond?

    Needless to say, my GF’s have 2 divorces and 1 relationship blow-up between them…so that’s how helpful being a diamond expert is for marriage longevity….!

  12. If only you gals were typical of the women in my social circle.

    I’m jumping lily pads here, but I’ll tie this in to the thread about Noah Brand and his naked body. On the internet, we’ll find politically conscious, socially aware men and women who wouldn’t be hung up on such trivialities as diamond rings’ price carats and price points. But among the non-blog reading set, a lot of women in their middle twenties care about such things. It’s insane to me.

    • It’s insane to me too. I don’t understand it. Engagement ring commercials are so incredibly infuriating to me. A man’s love and commitment has monetary value?! No. No, no. Just… NO!

  13. Cheever says:

    >>> This ringflation comes at a time when young women are earning the lion’s share of college degrees and earning more income than men.

    This is not correct. First, young women are only earning more college degrees than men in North East urban centers. Second, these young women are not earning more income than men, they are close to on par with with young men, but only when NOT accounting for college degrees. Meaning that in the North East, women with college degrees are earning as much as men without college degrees. It’s an interesting discussion as to why more women than men are getting college degrees in the North East, but it’s not correct to say that these women are earning more than men.

    This site shouldn’t be spreading myths that the wage gap has disappeared, no matter how casually it’s slipped into an article.

    • If only you were so passionate about shooting down the “women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn” myth.

      To speak to your first point about women earning more degrees only in the Northeast. That’s completely false.

      Here is one piece of research (from 2003, but if anything the trend has only grown in women’s favor) that shows that women across the country are earning between 56% of degrees (in the West) and 58% of bachelor’s degrees (in the South).

      http://ovcaa-iro.org/ovcafo_archive/VCAFO%20Bulletins/gender_gap.pdf

      And here’s a USA Today piece about the trend of young, single, childless women outearning men of similar attributes. And that’s the type of men and women I’m speaking about in the piece here.

      http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2010-09-01-single-women_N.htm

    • Cheever:
      I haven’t looked up the distribution yet, but the assertion was that young women earns the lion share of college degrees and that happens to be true nationally at least:

      From 1998–99 to 2008–09, the percentage of degrees earned by females fluctuated between 61 and 62 percent for associate’s degrees and remained steady around 57 percent for bachelor’s degrees. In contrast, both the percentage of master’s and the percentage of doctoral degrees earned by females increased during this period (from 58 to 60 percent and from 43 to 52 percent, respectively).

      National Center for Educational Statistics: h ttp://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72

      Given these clear numbers I find it hard to believe that women only earn more college degrees than men in urbann center in the North East unless North Eeastern urban centers produces a very large part of college graduates in the US. I’ll gladly check any sources you have otherwise.

      As for the pay gap it’s not only in North East that women in their twenties are out-earning men in their twenties. Dallas had in 2007 a gap where women in their twenties earned 120% of men in their twenties. New York had a gap of 117% in favour of women. In 2008 young childless women in Atlanta earned 121% more than their male peers. (I believe neither Dallas nor Atlanta is in the North East). You claimed this was because college educated women (a subset of all women in for instance NY) were compared to all men (also those without college degrees). This seem to contradict that claim:

      In 2008, single, childless women between ages 22 and 30 were earning more than their male counterparts in most U.S. cities, with incomes that were 8% greater on average, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data released Wednesday by Reach Advisors, a consumer-research firm in Slingerlands, N.Y.

      h ttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704421104575463790770831192.html
      To me it looks like the sample is from all single childless women in their twenties compared with all young men in their twenties and nott just college educated young women as you claimed.

      Also see:
      h ttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/03/nyregion/03women.html?ex=1343793600&en=8941c5442f49a9a4&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

      If one looks closer it seems like women in their twenties in major urban centers are more likely to be highly educated than men in their twenties in major urban centers, but that’s not quite what you said when you said: “Meaning that in the North East, women with college degrees are earning as much as men without college degrees.”

      Of course, outside the major urban centers the picture looks differently. And it also looks differently over time as these women and men gets older (traditional sharing of child care is a large part of that).

      • Crap, I forgot to close the blockquote after the line saying: “52 percent, respectively).”.

        Please read accordingly.

        (and since it’s in moderation I would appreciate if the mods could be bothered to fix it).

    • Cheever says:

      Check out these results from the 2012 census:
      http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-129.pdf

      Particularly, review table 8, which shows women making less than men in every educational level.

      Here’s a good break down of those results.
      http://www.good.is/post/women-make-less-than-men-at-every-education-level/

      As for college degrees, it does look like I was using outdated numbers and that it may be more of a national trend. Unfortunately, even with those college degrees you can see from the most recent census that earnings have not equalized.

      As for that USA Today article linked to by Chuck Ross, it’s exactly what I’m talking about. It says that in cities, young, single, childless women earn 8% more than men. However, it also says that there is MORE than an 8% disparity between the number of men and women getting college degrees. This means that college educated women are getting paid less than college educated men in that group.

      To simplify it, let’s say that 100% of these women have college degrees and only 50% of these men have college degrees.

      Either: all men, regardless of college education, get paid 8% less than the women with college degrees.

      Or, more likely: the men without college degrees get paid LESS than 8% less than the women with college degrees (let’s say 20% less) and the men with college degrees get paid MORE than women, but not enough to bring the entire male group average up (so that women average still earn 8% more than the whole group).

      Based on the links I’ve posted above, the second option is the case. So if women want to earn more than men without college degrees, they need to go to college. They will still earn less than men WITH college degrees, but since so many more women than men are going to college (perhaps because of this disparity) the overall average shows (misleadingly) that for this one particular age range women earn more than men. As soon as you put college education as a qualifier in the reporting women earn less again.

    • Cheever says:

      Also, why are we all so proud of the fact that single, 22-30 year old, city-dwelling, childless women out earn men by 8%? Great! We only penalize women for: being married, having kids, not living in cities, or being older than 30. Because add any of those qualifiers and the comparable men are earning more. If you think that means that sexism is dead and there is no longer wage disparity, you are fooling yourself.

      It’s possible that YOU are a 22-30 year old, city-dwelling, childless man and you are worried that you will make less than comparable women, but, don’t worry, if you have a college degree you will still actually earn more.

  14. I lucked into my procurement of the engagement ring I gave my wife. It belonged to my grandmother and contained a nice sized stone, which I used as the centerpiece of the ring that she had made, at her specifications, because we went shopping for the ring together. So by virtue of being the first-born male on my fathers side of the family, I inherited her engagement ring. I think knowing where it came from and that it is an heirloom makes it more meaningful than valuable.
    But in general, I think men have the understanding that the ring they buy is a reflection on them not to their wives, but to their wives friends. And we have a fair bit of pressure to feel like we need to impress her friends.

  15. Eric M. says:

    What is interesting but not the least bit surprising is that the anti-gender-role crowd seldom raises objections to highly gendered, traditional practices where the man is expected to be the one begging and/or buying (in contrast to their very vocal objections to other gender-role traditions), such as being expected to be the only one to spend thousands (depending on how much he can save up for or borrow on credit) and get down on one knee to beg the woman to marry him.

    For some reason, those gendered social obligations and practices are cool (given their relative silence or defense/approval – for instance it’s not been objected to here on that basis) but other traditional gender-role practices are constantly criticized as sexist and must be stopped.

    • Cheever says:

      Funny, because in my experience they do. If you spend any time reading feminist blogs or take a gender studies course you’ll see that the “anti-gender-role crowd” absolutely DOES oppose these kinds of rituals. The whole engagement ring tradition is definitely looked down upon and whenever it comes up most people rail against it. I think that feminist blogs try to be careful not to tell someone that they shouldn’t do something if they WANT to do it (assuming it’s mutual and doesn’t impact anyone else) so they wouldn’t necessarily shame a woman who accepted a big honkin’ engagement ring from their man, but for sure they are vocally against the expectation.

      Sure, it doesn’t get quite as much press as things like states trying to take away abortion rights and other political/topical content, but the entire concept of chivalry is looked down upon as a well-mannered way for showing that women are frail and inferior. The fact is, when most feminists talk about equality, they REALLY mean equality, not just special treatment. I’d say most of the people who read and comment at this site are also real feminists and probably know this too.

      For what it’s worth, I did get my wife an engagement ring, but (a) it was a non-traditional ring (i.e. no solitaire diamond) that we picked out together and (b) she got me “engagement cuff links.”

      • Eric M. says:

        “If you spend any time reading feminist blogs or take a gender studies course you’ll see that the “anti-gender-role crowd” absolutely DOES oppose these kinds of rituals.”

        Not true. Evidence is right here. This has become, essentially, a feminist blog, and there is zero opposition of these kind of rituals; rather defense of them. 

        When you hear of opposition to gender roles, this is seldom mentioned, and I have read feminist blogs on this very subject. Whatever opposition there may be is few and far between and extraordinarily mild compared to the opposition of women taking men’s names or men being head of household or women having the assumed role of domestic care-taker. The opposition to all of that is loud, vocal, and unmistakable.

         “I think that feminist blogs try to be careful not to tell someone that they shouldn’t do something if they WANT to do it (assuming it’s mutual and doesn’t impact anyone else) so they wouldn’t necessarily shame a woman who accepted a big honkin’ engagement ring from their man, but for sure they are vocally against the expectation.”

        That’s absolutely not true when it comes to the traditions they truly disapprove of, such as traditional of women being called “Mrs. his first and last name”, women being expected to submit to their husbands, etc.

        “the entire concept of chivalry is looked down upon as a well-mannered way for showing that women are frail and inferior.”

        That is not true of most who call themselves feminists. There is a minority who do feel that way and, because they are a minority and because it is so unusual, they get a lot of press. But, in my experience most who call themselves feminists have NO problem with chivalry and most other traditional gender roles where it gives them an advantage, where they are served, or when it may be pleasant, such as these rituals.

        “The fact is, when most feminists talk about equality, they REALLY mean equality, not just special treatment. I’d say most of the people who read and comment at this site are also real feminists and probably know this too.”

        There is enormous evidence that this is not even close to being true.

        “For what it’s worth, I did get my wife an engagement ring, but (a) it was a non-traditional ring (i.e. no solitaire diamond) that we picked out together and (b) she got me “engagement cuff links.”

        I assume that the cuff links cost as much as the ring, as equality would require.

        By the way, I truly respect feminists that meet your description. They want absolute, positive equality and won’t accept anything that offers them an advantage based on gender. It’s just that such persons are few and far between.

        • Eric M. says:

          When I stated that “There is enormous evidence that this is not even close to being true”, it was in reference to his general statement not about any individuals

        • Cheever says:

          Okay, well, I guess we may just disagree on this issue, but that’s okay. I don’t think you are being irrational, I just think we are reading different blogs and different articles.

          As for this being a feminist blog, I agree. But isn’t article itself disproving your point? You say that on this blog there is zero opposition of these kind of rituals. Yet this very article we’re commenting on is pushing back on that tradition. So, while it might not be every article, we know that–at the very least–there is some amount of opposition that is more than zero! So I’m thinking maybe you are concerned that there is not enough opposition, not that there is zero opposition. Then it’s just a matter of scale.

          I do agree that there are a lot of people out there who call themselves feminists who don’t really know what it means and still take for granted a lot of traditions that are sexist to both sexes. But when I read blogs like the Good Men Project and Feministing and Feministe, I am encouraged by the number of people who really do push back against mindless chivalry and things like the engagement ring tradition.

          As for feminists criticizing someone for traditions they disapprove of… you’re right, there definitely are traditions that will incite harsh verbal disapproval. For example, the notion that a wife must submit to her husband… that’s going to get serious disapproval even if the wife says it’s what she wants. But things like taking the husband’s last name… it might result in eye rolling but most people won’t tell you you’re not allowed to do it. There’s a big difference between a tradition that results in real, physical subjugation of women and one that’s just nominal. An example: a lot of these blogs have spent a lot of time debating the issue of burkas. On the one hand, the orthodox Islamic tradition of women completely covering themselves in a burka is clearly based on a sexist history. On the other hand, if a woman says she wants to wear the burka whose place is it to tell her not to do so? I think that’s a complex issue and it would be wrong to take a stand on either side without a lot of thought and debate.

          And, finally, on the lighter note: my wife did not pay as much for my cuff links as I did for her ring, but I made a lot more money than she did at the time. So she only paid 70% as much as I did. :)

          (I’m kidding about that amount! She made less than me because she was in a very different field with lower salaries across the board. It was not due to gender income inequality.)

          (Actually, the reality is that I was not a true feminist back when I got engaged–even though I probably would have called myself one. It’s been a many year process of learning and working hard to try and see the world through other people’s point of view.)

          • Eric M. says:

            ‘But isn’t article itself disproving your point? You say that on this blog there is zero opposition of these kind of rituals. Yet this very article we’re commenting on is pushing back on that tradition.”

            The ones pushing back on it are non-feminists; the ones supporting and defending it are feminists. That’s very clear evidence.

            “So, while it might not be every article, we know that–at the very least–there is some amount of opposition that is more than zero!”

            Even if it’s not absolute, it’s clear that the vast majority of feminists support rather than oppose these unequal, gender-role traditions. Those who oppose tend to be the exception rather than the rule. By sheer coincidence, the ones that they tend to support favor women whereas the ones that don’t, they tend to oppose.

            “I do agree that there are a lot of people out there who call themselves feminists who don’t really know what it means and still take for granted a lot of traditions that are sexist to both sexes.”

            Why not write and submit an article on that subject, as a feminist. It would have an impact.

            “But when I read blogs like the Good Men Project and Feministing and Feministe, I am encouraged by the number of people who really do push back against mindless chivalry and things like the engagement ring tradition.”

            I can’t speak for feministing and feministe but the feminists that frequent the GMP do not voice opposition to chivalry and engagement ring traditions. They tend to approve, support, and celebrate them. Again, there may be exceptions but they are few and far between.

            “For example, the notion that a wife must submit to her husband… that’s going to get serious disapproval even if the wife says it’s what she wants.”
            Exactly. So, it’s not true (as they say) that feminists are okay as long as the persons involved consent.

            “But things like taking the husband’s last name… it might result in eye rolling but most people won’t tell you you’re not allowed to do it.”

            Right. In my experience, they just tell you all the reasons you shouldn’t.

  16. Here’s some historical background:
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engagement_ring#section_2

    The most pertinent thing is that most of our “tradition” was established by a South African cartel in the 20th century.

  17. The strangest thing to me about this discussion is that men aren’t in most cases buying a gift on their own, certainly not one that seems it would need reciprocation. Most couples share their finances and usually both are working. My wedding band cost a lot more than my wife’s simply because it had a lot more platinum, and for the engagement ring we both looked at the price because ultimately we both were paying for it. I don’t WANT some fancy cuff links to pay off, or a frivolous gift. I’ve got my simple band and that’s ideal.

    Her attitude was that it was going on my credit card, but both our names would be on that card in a few months. It seems that a view that it’s the “man’s responsibility” is somewhat willfully blind to her husband’s (and her) income, and would have made me very uncomfortable with the prospects for our future family finances.

  18. There’s this mineral called moissanite, and its existence means anybody buying a diamond to be used for anything but drill bits is a sucker. Moissanite is much cheaper than diamond, shinier than diamond, and is manufactured in labs. Giving your wife a rock that was manufactured in a lab doesn’t sound very romantic, but it’s better than diamond, which is mined out of the earth by slave labor.

  19. Me, personally I dont care about the price of the ring. I’d be happy with a wedding band. No need for a man to get me a fancy ring, unless he wants to.

    I’ll even take it a step further and say I dont need a fancy wedding either. I’d be fine getting hitched at the court house then having a reception for family and friends.

  20. Meh…I’m a feminist and I have zero interest in engagement rings, diamonds, or other ostentatious displays of wealth or silly attempts to “measure” something like human regard with dollar figures. I was raised by free thinking parents who did not wear rings–because they didn’t care for them and never “got” the whole wedding/engagement ring thing, so I think it’s just a socialized/marketed scam for the diamond cartel. The whole “a diamond is forever/two months salary” thing was dreamed up by De Beers and company who price-control the world diamond market (which is why diamonds have so little “street value”…the store price is a total fiction made up by the cartel and not at all tied to actual market value). And USians were pretty much the only target market that bought it hook, line, and sinker. Older cultures, such as many Europeans, simply continued on with their particular traditions, such as passing on family jewelry. As with many things, “follow the money” leads to the root of this recent tradition: profit for some, anxiety for others.

  21. I think it’s really awful and petty and small minded what Delfiner said about Zuckerbery and his wife. Measuring how lucky his wife is because her ring isn’t in tandem with his paycheck. If Delfiner knew anything about Zuckerberg, she would know that in general, he is pretty low key and it’s probably part of the reason why him and his wife work well together. My guess is she is low key as well. He didn’t marry some Playboy Bunny with huge fake boobs and died hair looking for her next reality TV show. He married a very beautiful normal down-to-earth seeming woman. I read an article where he had purchased a house that was under a million. I know a few of the guys that started Facebook drive regular cars and have regular homes. And personally, I think that’s really awesome and a positive character trait.

    When I get married, I don’t want a big wedding. Just something very small and personal. I would like a ring because I like what it traditionally symbolizes but I don’t expect something big and expensive. Just something that is representative of us. I do like jewelry in general and I think diamonds are beautiful. Some might think that makes me shallow or greedy but I don’t think I am. I don’t expect to be showered with diamonds. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting a ring or liking diamonds or jewelry. I hope the man I choose to marry feels the same way about the meaning of a ring between a man and woman and isn’t only giving me a ring to appease me while holding all kinds of negative perceptions of buying a ring to begin with. That wouldn’t be a good start for us or much fun for either of us. I simply wouldn’t be compatible with someone that only saw bad things in the tradition of marriage and a ring.
    I think women can take these things too far and get wrapped up in the fantasy of the wedding and the fun new toys. The dress, the food, the venue, the ring…It gets really silly and ridiculous. But I’ve also seen this happen with men in their own different ways. And usually when both genders are more invested in their fantasies and are encouraging to their other partner to fulfill more of their fantasies, it’s not a good or respectful place to be with your partner either way. Men and women both sometimes over fantasize and place unnecessary pressure on their partner due to only looking with blinders at their own wishes and desires. And certainly women can get wrapped up in that regarding rings and weddings. Both genders need to be more mindful of the expectations they place on one another and how far they expect their partners to take their fantasies.

    • Eric M/. says:

      “I think it’s really awful and petty and small minded what Delfiner said about Zuckerbery and his wife. Measuring how lucky his wife is because her ring isn’t in tandem with his paycheck.”
      He seems to be commending him for not buying into materialism. I personally agree. Not being materialistic is admirable, not small-minded, IMO

      “When I get married, I don’t want a big wedding. Just something very small and personal. I would like a ring because I like what it traditionally symbolizes but I don’t expect something big and expensive.”
      Would you be willing to help pay for it? For instance, would it be fine with you if he bought it using a credit card but planned to make the payments using money from your joint account, which you both contribute equally to?

      Do you plan to buy him something of equal monetary value that he might want (i.e. ~ equal cost) as a similar gesture? If not, why not?

      “I hope the man I choose to marry feels the same way about the meaning of a ring between a man and woman and isn’t only giving me a ring to appease me while holding all kinds of negative perceptions of buying a ring to begin with. That wouldn’t be a good start for us or much fun for either of us. I simply wouldn’t be compatible with someone that only saw bad things in the tradition of marriage and a ring.”
      That sounds as if you consider marriage and a diamond ring to be synonymous, as if you couldn’t have one without the other. If the marriage is truly the important thing, not sure why having or not having a diamond ring would be a show-stopper.

      What if he was okay with the tradition of marriage itself and everything else is great, but he is interested only in gender equality, and therefore rejects any unequal traditions, such as the man being expected to asking the father’s permission to propose, the woman having to take the man’s last name, the woman being expected to be walked down the aisle/given away by her father, the man being expected to get down on his knee(s) to propose, the man being expected to unilaterally spend thousands on a precious stone ring (with no equivalent reciprocation), etc.?

      • Eric said: “He seems to be commending him for not buying into materialism. I personally agree. Not being materialistic is admirable, not small-minded, IMO”

        Woops, it looks like I read it wrong. I thought he was getting lamblasted there. Clearly, from the rest of my comments, you can see that I don’t think he deserves to be lamblasted and that I clearly stated that the lack of materalism was nice and the small mindedness was directed to people that judged the luck of his wife by the amount of money he spent on a ring.

        Eric: “Would you be willing to help pay for it? For instance, would it be fine with you if he bought it using a credit card but planned to make the payments using money from your joint account, which you both contribute equally to?”

        I would hope that the ring would be a gift he would want to give me. Not something he was looking to make a equality war out of. If he wanted to use money that was mine to pay for it, then I’m not sure that’s a gift. I’ve never been in the type of situation to have a joint account. My parents where married for a very long time and all their money was “theirs” together. So whatever presents they bought one another was from “their” money. If he had an account, and I had an account and then we had a joint account and he used the money out of our joint account to pay for it, I wouldn’t really feel like it was a gift he wanted to give me of his own accord. If all our money was pulled together in the same account, then yes, this would be fine. However, each couple would need to define for themselves what is appropiate regarding money matters. Not everyone handles their finances the same.

        Eric said: “Do you plan to buy him something of equal monetary value that he might want (i.e. ~ equal cost) as a similar gesture? If not, why not?”

        I will answer this question Eric but I’m sorry, I find your questions already judgmental. I would have no immediate plans to just buy him something of the same monetary value just because he bought me something. However, I have no issue spending money on my man and buying him lavish gifts he enjoys. And when I decide to give him such a gift, I will not be looking for him to recipocate with the same monetary value just because I did. I don’t think relationships are about tit for tat equality.Respect and mindfullness is always a must but in relationships, not everything is always going to equal 50/50 every single moment. Sometimes you are going to give a little more and sometimes your partner will give a little more. If you can’t give your partner something without saying, “what’s in this for me”, then you aren’t really giving them something from your heart. Your gift is only conditional on what you get out of the deal.

        Eric: “That sounds as if you consider marriage and a diamond ring to be synonymous, as if you couldn’t have one without the other. If the marriage is truly the important thing, not sure why having or not having a diamond ring would be a show-stopper.”

        Excuse me but where did I say that having a diamond ring was the show-stopper or that I was looking for a diamond ring to be the show-stopper?

        You are boarderline insulting Eric. How about you ask me what I think of marriage and the ring instead of telling me what it sounds like you think I think. And a more honest and true conclusion about my thoughts on this is just this: I consider the diamond ring a traditional symbol of love between a couple that wants to get married/is married. I am not going to apologize because I like the tradition of a diamond ring. I am and like being a traditional woman in some regards. I’m not sure it’s fair to shame me for my enjoyment of some tradtional practices anymore then it would be fair to shame other people for their dislike of traditional practices. I certainly am not saying that I can’t be married without a ring. If my partner couldn’t afford a ring, and I was in love, then of course i wouldn’t matter. I would still get married regardless. A diamond ring is not a necessity and I never claimed it was. I was pretty clear that I understand it’s a traditional symbol. There are LOTS of things men enjoy within relationships that are not necessities but they still enjoy them and are happy when their partners freely give them. And sometimes these things are things men consider acts that show him she loves him. They might not be things she things shows she loves him but he does and she gives them to him for that reason.

        Eric said: What if he was okay with the tradition of marriage itself and everything else is great, but he is interested only in gender equality, and therefore rejects any unequal traditions, such as the man being expected to asking the father’s permission to propose, the woman having to take the man’s last name, the woman being expected to be walked down the aisle/given away by her father, the man being expected to get down on his knee(s) to propose, the man being expected to unilaterally spend thousands on a precious stone ring (with no equivalent reciprocation), etc.?”

        Then he isn’t the right man for me. I am looking for a man that holds some of the same ideas I do on certain subjects. It would be no different then being with a man that wanted 5 kids if I wanted no kids. We simply wouldn’t be a good match. If a man is not interested in traditional things and I am, then we aren’t a good match. If a man has a different belief system regarding his relationships then I do, then we aren’t a good match. You’re belief system is different from mine. I am of the belief that love and relationshpis are about give and take and that not everything always matches up 100% the same way. I am looking for someone that may have strengths where I have weaknesses and vice versa so we both bring our own unique things to the relationship. Since I am looking for that, not everything is always going to equal out the same way. But as long as both of us feel respected and loved in the relationship, that’s what counts. I think I would drive myself crazy in a relationship if everytime my partner did something for me, I felt like I better do somethign of equal means right away for it to be balanced. Or everytime I did something for him, he felt he had to do the same in turn. There should be an ebb and flow in a relationship based on my own belief system. We simply have different ideas about relationships Eric. Mine isn’t wrong neither is yours. We just need different things.

        • Eric M. says:

          If something is expected, obligatory, and required, it’s not really a gift, IMO. But, not everyone agrees.

          “Excuse me but where did I say that having a diamond ring was the show-stopper or that I was looking for a diamond ring to be the show-stopper?”

          You said: “I simply wouldn’t be compatible with someone that only saw bad things in the tradition of marriage and a ring.”

          “I am and like being a traditional woman in some regards. I’m not sure it’s fair to shame me for my enjoyment of some tradtional practices anymore then it would be fair to shame other people for their dislike of traditional practices.”

          I wasn’t “shaming” you for anything. I primarily asked questions. Further, if you prefer a traditional relationship, that’s your right. Most women do actually. I personally have no problem with that, and tend to be traditional myself. However, I find it curious when some reject certain traditions and anti-gender equality but insist/expect others that are just as anti-equality. It invalidates their claim of being motivated by equality.

          “I certainly am not saying that I can’t be married without a ring. If my partner couldn’t afford a ring, and I was in love, then of course i wouldn’t matter. I would still get married regardless.”

          Noted.

          • Again, I ask, where did I say having a diamond ring was a show-stopper or that I was looking for a diamond ring to be a show-stopper? There is an entire grey area between wanting to uphold the tradition of having a ring to wear when one is married vs saying I need a “show-stopper”.

            Further, me saying that I am not compatible with someone that does not agree with my ideas on marriage and tradition is not a slight on people who differ from me. As you can see for this article and the responses, there are a lot of women that don’t care about the ring at all. But just because I do consider the ring part of a tradition I am in favor of, doesn’t mean I am more greedy, or insert whatever adjective you’d like to attach to me, then the other women that don’t care at all about it. It just means we have different views. And yes, you were “shaming” me Eric. You weren’t simply asking out of an innocent curiosity. You were interested only because you wanted to make sure my responses showcased the kind of equality *you* were looking for. It comes through in your language. Well sorry but I still want to be treated like a woman, how I define it for myself and I am more then happy to treat a man like a man. I love cooking for my guy or doing his laundry or doing the kind of household chores ususally attributed to women. I could mow the lawn but I like when he does that for me. Should I feel bad about that? Should I feel bad that I want to be treated liek a woman in my romantic relationships even if i want the same oppurtunitites men get in the work place? I don’t think so. I don’t think that means I am being “unfair”. I don’t treat men the same at work as I treat my boyfriends when I have a boyfriend. And I would hope they weren’t looking to treat me exactly the same either.

            Eric: ” I personally have no problem with that, and tend to be traditional myself. However, I find it curious when some reject certain traditions and anti-gender equality but insist/expect others that are just as anti-equality. It invalidates their claim of being motivated by equality.”

            So you are tradtional yourself but I’m not allowed to want a ring without it meaning I am A) engaging in gender inequality. B) wanting a show-stopper. C) Selfish. That seems to be your overall tone Eric.

            I don’t find it “curious” at all when people reject certain traditions but adopt others. Times evolve and adapt all the time. Women use to have to be virgins to get married. How many people today get married and believe in the institution of marriage even if they are no longer virgins when they first get married? How far do you want to take this tradition discussion? We could find tons of traditions that are no longer practiced that you wouldn’t bat an eye at because they don’t fit into your “gender equality” rules. Just look at the changing role of men. In my father’s generation it was rare to see Father’s with their kids, driving them to games, taking them for playdates. My Mom is always impressed when she sees Dad’s out with kids because she came from a very different generation. Traditions change. Should Mom’s say, “tut tut, don’t change and evolve Men. Don’t change and evolve so that your changing needs are met.” Both genders are always changing and generations are always going to have differences. I think it’s wrong to say that just because a woman like the traditional aspects of marriage or dating or whatever, it must mean she’s just looking for a way to screw the pooch …so to speak. It is a fastly much more complex issue then what you are reducing it to. Which to me, it seems like you are reducing it to something that everything needs to be met tit for tat. And to me, that isn’t the right way to go about relationships or relationships between men and women.

Trackbacks

  1. […] A post at Good Men Project discussing, for starters, a piece titled “Your Hubby Zucks” at the New York Post by Rita Delfiner who writes: It looked as if Mrs. Mark Zuckerberg had won the lottery when she married the Facebook boss last weekend — but now she appears to be the unluckiest lucky woman alive. What’s Zuck’s crime?  Despite being a billionaire, he only spent an estimated $25,000 on his wife’s ruby wedding ring. TMZ made a point of highlighting how SIMPLE the ring was.  We can assume that there are other deranged lunatics on the internet who think that Zuckerberg is a cheapskate. The charge that Zuckerberg is cheap has been walked back a little after someone pointed out that red rubies fit Zuckerberg’s wife’s Asian ethnicity.  But the pro-ring lobby showed their true colors.  If Zuckerberg had absconded from his duty to spend x% of his earnings on a ring he would have deserved our collective shame. I turn from this to asking why, for those women who really, really, really want to get married, the ring has remained one of the little hoops us men must jump through in order to get married.  As economic power shifts from men towards women, why are men still buying these rings?  If the Zuckerbergs of the world are held to that standard, then why are guys like me and you held to that standard?  I have 5-digits worth of student debt and a menial job.  *And* my girlfriend really, really, really wants to get married.  I see room for some “negotiation” there – but not from me.  Makes me wonder, why do modern women want to get married?  For the man or for the ring? Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Uncategorized ← The Aloof City […]

  2. […] Look at engagement rings.  They’re a good enough model for this slow-moving two-step.  I tried to find data on this, but it is harder to come by than I assumed.  So I have to revert back to my senses.  Even as women are increasing in status and in the workplace, in order to get married many men still have to go through the engagement “ringamarole”.  Spending on engagement rings has decreased some during the recession, but it has not kept pace with men’s loss of status and relative income.  You’ll still see men who earn less money than women forking over thousands of dollars in order to get married.  He also sacrifices some of his masculine spirit whereas women seem more comfortable in the domicile.  All of these cost disparities are figments of a bygone era, but they’ve for some reason been amplified even as that era has become more and more bygone.  Over the really long term – say, post-War up until now – men’s relative status has declined immensely even as the average spent on The Ring has increased several fold. And anyone wonders why men are less enthusiastic than women about marriage? […]

  3. […] engagement inflation and wedding inflation, both serve as barriers to the entry of marriage.  The engagement ring is another component typically required of the potential groom.  The hoopla weeds out potential […]

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