You Should Wear Your Wedding Ring

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About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website

Comments

  1. Quijiboh says:

    If it was socially required to have your salary tattooed on your forehead, would you? That way, you could ‘mark out’ to new acquaintances your class status and job security without them having to ask. Why stop there? Why not make it mandatory to carry a sign displaying your favourite flavour of ice cream?

    Hyperbole aside, my point is that you shouldn’t be required to put personal information on display if you don’t want to. The whole ‘it makes it easier for women to know whether or not you’re single’ just makes me think – ‘tough’. It’s not the married man’s responsibility to make socialising and dating easier for you, it’s just something you have you have to find out for yourself. Equally so with married women and single men. That’s what conversation is for, to discover information about the other person, that they wish to divulge.

    Besides, as you point out there are many couples in dedicated, monogamous relationships that aren’t married. For all intents and purposes (besides legally), the circumstance is exactly the same. Yet there’s no requirement to wear some sort of marker here.

    The kind of furore that kicks up over someone not wishing to wear a small band of soft metal is indicative of the very reason that my girlfriend and I feel that we can never get married. There’s too much baggage that comes under the heading of tradition. Too many expectations and requirements that neither she nor I wish to live up to. There needs to be a new, separate insitution that grants the same legal priveleges as marriage (which, as many gay couples will testify, are a real pain to live without) but doesn’t come with everything else that’s expected to go with it.

    I hasten to add that I’m not specifically against marriage, and I’m perfectly happy if other people enjoy the traditions and everything else. I just wish it was the case that it was possible to make a symbolic gesture of commitment to another person without people complaining that you’re not doing it the ‘proper’ way.

  2. Catullus says:

    Lots of people are happy to facilitate the ease of dating for others. Too bad they’re married. That’s why good ethical sense should prompt the married to signify their status.

    • Quijiboh says:

      If all that’s standing between a person and infidelity is a ring, then I would argue that their ethical sense is pretty screwed up anyway. Regardless of whether they wear it or not.

      • Catullus says:

        Oh, absolutely. I’m thinking more of sparing the hapless who might up end up as unwitting cohorts of these folks. An oft-Quixotic hope, as a marriage counselor or divorce lawyer or bartender can tell you.

        • Do oyu think the hapless has some obligation to take steps not to be unwitting? How hard is it to ask and find out?

    • So, you want me to wear a symbol that says “taken” to make mate-searching easier for you? How about all the other instances where a person is not available to you? Should I also wear a symbol to signify the gender of a prospective partner? Or maybe a symbol that I’m really not interested in people who see me only as a date or sex partner and aren’t much interested in conversation?

      One can ask,you know. One can have a conversation and learn about people. And, weird as it may seem, one can wind up having a really interesting conversation with a person who is not available as a future partner – and have good jolly good time.

  3. Anonymous Male says:

    My first knee-jerk reaction to this article is to get a little aggravated. I have a pretty automatic response to this idea that I should wear my wedding ring. I stopped and thought a minute and tried to look at it from multiple angles, and I do sympathize with the idea of using the ring as a handy loving symbol of a relationship, if that’s the symbol that the people in the relationship agree to.

    But, I still can’t shake my first reaction, as knee-jerk and almost cliché as it is. I can’t help but wonder, as I often do when reading this blog, “How would it work to tell a woman the same thing?” Would it go over well to tell a woman she should wear her wedding ring? I imagine for many women that would sound like they were supposed to accept being owned or bound or claimed.

    As for Prince William, one of the most recognized men in the world, surrounded by bodyguards, whose wedding will be seen by billions of people – are people going to mistake him for a single man? I think people should give him some credit for choosing a well-educated woman. She will be (or would be) the first queen of England to have a college degree.

    • I felt the same sort of aggravation. The same rationale could be made for saying that the wife should take the husband’s last name because “me is inextricably linked to an ‘us.’” And, the same could be said for using the prefix “Mrs.”
      -Jut

  4. Full disclosure: I’m not married and never have been.

    For me, the benefits of imploring men to wear wedding rings (celebrating the social aspect of marriage, “flagging” as not-available-for-romance) are outweighed by the normative enforcement that wearing a wedding ring can bring–I already get privilege for being a white guy in this culture, and am not interested in adding the privilege that comes from announcing that I’ve fulfilled the cultural norm of getting hitched:

    The heterosexual married couple continues to be the assumed, ideal family, and any option types of families and they are responsible for dealing with the consequences of their non-normative family.

  5. Clark Kent says:

    I tend to compare this situation with that of a woman deciding to keep her maiden name or not. For that is also another “symbol” of a married couples unity. I have recently read a couple of articles about women choosing to do so or not and have heard valid reasoning for both sides of the argument.

    I personally haven’t heard women get much flack for choosing not to take their husbands last name. However, I’ve not come across too many women other than celebrities and public figures not changing their names after marriage.

    I wonder if women who would rather keep their maiden names in marriage be open to the idea of their husbands not wearing a wedding ring. It would be interesting to see how she would react to that idea and whether it would have any influence on her stance about choosing not to take her husbands last name.

    I’m curious to hear some of our female commentators take on this and whether or not they have had discussions about this with their spouses.

    • How is the man wearing a wedding ring analogous to woman changing her name? I would think the correct analogy would be a woman wearing a wedding ring.

      I know many couples where neither the man or woman changes his/her name – and the children usually still have the man’s name unfortunately.

      I think I would probably want both me and my husband to change our names to something hyphenated or common – and then the children to have that combo name as well.

      I would probably wear a wedding ring just so as not to mislead others, and I would hope that my husband was similarly interested in not misleading others.

      • Reader: “and the children usually still have the man’s name unfortunately.”

        Why is that unfortunate?

        -Jut

        • Because it’s difficult for the mother – she has to go to the work of telling a school, doctor’s office, etc. that she’s mother even though she has a different last name.

          The practice of the woman being required to take the man’s name and giving the children the father’s name and not a combo of their names is thought to derive from the fact that maternity could be proven (as long as someone witnesses the birth) but paternity not so easily. The man needed to control the woman’s identity and restrict her economic and political autonomy and even her body as much as possible to know as well as he could that the children were his.

          Now that paternity can be proven – and disproven – genetically, I think it might be good to recognize both parents in the child’s name.

          • Reader: “Now that paternity can be proven – and disproven – genetically, I think it might be good to recognize both parents in the child’s name.”

            You make it sound so easy. I might agree with you if mandatory paternity tests were perfomed at birth.

            -Jut

            • I would think any man who wants a paternity test can get one. They aren’t that expensive; if you can’t afford one, you probably shouldn’t be having a child.

            • Reader: “I would think any man who wants a paternity test can get one. They aren’t that expensive; if you can’t afford one, you probably shouldn’t be having a child.”

              It does not matter if he can get one, if they do not carry the force of law. It is what is on the birth certificate that counts in the eyes of the law. If your name is not on there, it does not matter if it is your child, and if your name is not on there, it does not matter if you are.

              And, whether he can afford a child (or should have a child) is irrelevant, when the decision to have the child rests in the mother’s hands.

              -Jut

            • Thank you, sex/gender equality, for removing these “truthiness” types from the gene pool.

              Go watch “Bella.” It will give you alternatives to moping about the biology that the fetus grows in, and taxes, the woman’s body.

            • allow me to translate Reader’s comments for everybody:

              “I don’t have a rational response to the fact that a paternity test really doesn’t mean squat ( a man can still be forced to pay child support even if he produces a valid test stating that he is not the biological father) so I’m just going to throw around buzzwords (truthiness) and a few insults (removal from the gene pool) and make an obscure reference to an even more obscure movie (Just which “bella” were you refering to? The one made in 1970? 1998? 03? 04? 05? 06? 08?)

            • I was saying that paternity proves paternity and you can get equal parenting IF your marriage was originally set up that way and you meet abuse/neglect standards. Any man who doesn’t get equal parenting probably (a) set up his marriage with his job/career being more important and not learning parenting and not doing approx. half the unpaid work and/or (b) is unable to meet abuse/neglect standards.

              I suspect JuGory’s “poor me’ whining has to do with not knowing how to meet abuse/neglect standards and not having the courage and the work ethic to get in there and do half the parenting, including half the unpaid work. That is why I said he was being “truthy.” He has full proof he is the father; his “truthiness” is that he thinks others are blocking him and he blames others for his own failings.

            • “I suspect JuGory’s “poor me’ whining has to do with not knowing how to meet abuse/neglect standards”

              Are you really suggesting that JutGory is abusive and neglectful? Based on what exactly?

              How the hell is this NOT a character assassination?

              Question: Are you FemaleFeedback, who was also fond of performing psychiatric evalutions based on nothing more than a handful of postings? I’m starting to suspect you are.

              Frankly, I think you need to start posting some actual evidence (evidence like a court case) of your libel.

            • Reader: “I suspect JutGory’s “poor me’ whining has to do with not knowing how to meet abuse/neglect standards and not having the courage and the work ethic to get in there and do half the parenting, including half the unpaid work.”

              No, my “whining” was a response to your “poor me” whining that it would be so horrible and “unfortunate” that children would have their father’s name when the poor mother has a different name (by her choice).

              Then, let’s not forget the “don’t have children if you can’t afford them” meme. Not a very feminist thing to say.

              By the way, I do not have any children. So your presumption is mistaken.

              By the way, this statement, ” I was saying that paternity proves paternity and you can get equal parenting IF your marriage was originally set up that way and you meet abuse/neglect standards” demonstrates that you have very little knowledge of how the legal system works.

              -Jut

          • Catullus says:

            My daughter has a hyphenated name. It wasn’t my idea. I’d have been perfectly happy to use her mother’s name.

          • “Because it’s difficult for the mother – she has to go to the work of telling a school, doctor’s office, etc. that she’s mother even though she has a different last name.”

            How difficult do you think it is for a father to convince the doctor’s office that he’s the father even though he has a different last name than the kid?

            • If the children don’t have the father’s name, yes I imagine that’s difficult. The question I was asked, however, is why it is unfortunate that many children still have just the father’s name and not some name for both the mother and father, like the combo or hyphenated name I suggested.

            • Well, dear Reader, it is not quite as difficult as the lovely questions asked of a father by Emergency Rooms when they see a scar on a child’s face, or when you bring a child in with a broken arm: “So, can you tell me what Happppeennnneeddd???” (Almost always asked by a woman, since the medicos frown on hiring men as nurses, and almost always with an arched eyebrow. ) And when the answer is: “Pediatric surgery for removal of a nevus — Dr. Kim does good work, don’t you think?” or “She fell down on the school playground an hour ago and I immediately left work to bring her to you to set the arm and here is the Principal’s phone number if you would like to confirm the situation.” having the response be a complete change of subject without any apology for the assumption that you are a rat bastard batterer because you are a father and without any softening in attitude because doubtless you are still a rat bastard given that you are a father, even though a reason for your rat bastard status doesn’t come to the mind of the nurse at the moment.

              BTW, my wife and I retained our respective names, chose that neither of us would wear wedding bands, have been faithful to each other for 26 years (well, to my knowledge anyway), and used the Mexican custom of giving the kids both of our last names without hyphenation. The only problem we ever had was with our eldest on the first day of first grade, who asked for the teacher to use her mother’s last name rather than my last name. I got the call from the Principal’s office. I don’t think they were ready for my response, which was to use whichever name our daughter wanted, so long as we were all consistent.

      • wellokaythen says:

        A hyphenated last name would be a step towards symbolic equality.

        But, I have to point out that in most cases it would be the husband’s last name and the wife’s FATHER’s last name combined together. And, in most cases when a wife keeps her pre-marriage last name she is keeping her father or grandfather’s last name. Ironically, that is literally more patriarchal than taking the husband’s name.

        There’s no perfect solution, of course. I was just noticing the irony.

        • True – but in one generation the “irony” would be fixed.

        • It’s not her father’s last name any more than it is her very own. Once she is born she is an equal name-bearing member of society, and the name is hers, though she got it from her father. To me, the only way to push the point that a woman’s name is her father’s name is if one believes that a woman is her father’s property.

          • Thank you. My surname is as much my brother’s as it is my own.

          • Wellokaythen says:

            “It’s not her father’s last name any more than it is her very own.”

            I see your point that it is a choice and she carries her name with her and can change it as she sees fit. If being named after someone is not a symbol of ownership (and I don’t think it is), then what’s the problem with naming oneself after one’s spouse?

            Continuing to name oneself the same name as one’s father is by definition patrilineal at least, and is often understood as a patriarchal practice. (I know patrilineal and patriarchal are not the same thing, but the generally go together more often than not.)

            I’m missing something or maybe I’m being too literal. If having the same last name as one male is not a symbol of patriarchy, then what’s wrong with having the same last name as another male?

            My point is that hyphenating is not exactly a radical departure from a patrilineal system if it’s the name of the wife’s father combined with the husband’s father. It’s the name from two different fathers combined together. In a way it’s still holding onto the last generation’s naming system.

        • FlyingSquirrel says:

          I couldn’t resist joining in an argument about the symbolism of having a wife change her name to her husband’s upon marriage. I think we can agree that the practice stems from the days when marriage literally entailed transferring ownership of the woman from her father to her husband. In the USA, this is no longer literally the case. You can argue that as a result, you would like to alter the symbolism of the practice such that it no longer represents something demeaning. It sounds like several people are making the argument that since the nature of marriage has changed, the symbolism of having a wife change her name to her husband’s has necessarily changed.

          I personally think that the original symbolism is so bound up with the practice itself that there is no way of separating them completely. The woman is still literally naming herself after her husband- even if she is not his possession these days, the fact that it MUST be the wife taking her husband’s name (and not the other way around, or a situation where both parties change their names) indicates that an inherent part of the tradition involves female submission and male dominance. In my view, if the point of the tradition were to symbolize commitment to the relationship and the newly formed family, it would make the most sense for both the husband and wife to pick a new name, together- maybe a hyphenation of their names, maybe a combination of their names, maybe a new name altogether- and both change their names. That way BOTH partners, not just one, have signified the commitment with a name change. Plus, picking a new or combined name does a good job of representing the start of a NEW family, whereas having one partner take the other partner’s name would symbolize more that she has left her prior family and joined his. It’s a different message. Nonetheless, I have found that suggesting such a solution gets me horrified looks from people who feel strongly that a wife should change her name upon marriage. This makes me think that those people are very attached to the “female submission” aspect of the practice, much more so than the idea of it symbolizing commitment or the start of a new family.

          • Hell, here’s a fun idea: How about everybody who is not the bride or groom in question mind their own damned business? I’m really sick of people trying to shove their politics where they aren’t wanted. Take her name, take his name, change both, change neither, I don’t care, and neither should ANYBODY ELSE!

            Question: Why aren’t any of you concerned about the man having to get down on one knee (i.e. lowering himself) and asking the woman to marry him?

          • “I think we can agree that the practice stems from the days when marriage literally entailed transferring ownership of the woman from her father to her husband.”

            Uh, no, on several points:

            1) Wardship is not ownership. Women were considered minors, not property. They could not be sold or bought. That’s the histoprica background. Furhter there is the very nasty business of appropriation going on if we liken white women’s marriage conditions to black slavery by using the word “ownership.” The victim/oppression discourse of feminsm already relies quite heavily on this appropriation, so we might try to avoid perpetuating it here.

            2) For a very long time only gentry had surnames, male or female. Where they did occur, they usually referred to tribal affiliation – MacDonald, O’Neill – or to land holdings – Hohenstauffen or Felsberg or Bedford. When a woman married John X and went to live at X, she would very ften be called Countess X, while still retaining her family name at the same time, e.g. Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales.

            3) Then the rest of us had to start adopting surnames as we started moving out of our little villages where everyone knew us as individuals. Half the time that meant takling the name of a trade, and since women of that class were either “spinsters” or housewives, that didn’t offer much differentiation, so they went with the man’s, if he had one. So when it wasJ Markham marriying M Apppleby, where either or both or none would have done as well, the preponderance of customs dictated that the man’s name named the whole household.

            That was then, this is now, so I agree with all the rest of your comment, especially this bit:
            “it would make the most sense for both the husband and wife to pick a new name…”

            God, yes. And they could still retain their own personal surnames too. Where is it written that a person can have only one name or identity? Reify the ego much?

            • FlyingSquirrel says:

              To Jim: fair enough. It sounds like you know a lot about this topic, so I’ll trust you. I’m still sticking with the rest of my post, though!

              To Paul: I was pretty careful to make it clear that I was stating my own opinion (obviously I was arguing in favor of it, too)- I’m not going to make any claims of spouting Absolute Truth or anything of the sort. As for the validity of me doing so, I would point out that marriage is partially public in nature. Marriage is not entirely a private thing, although many aspects of it are. Because the public parts DO affect and involve me (given that I’m a member of the public) I think I can state my opinion about them. And I’ll bite: I think proposals are ridiculous, including having the man get down on one knee, but that wasn’t what we were discussing.

            • I’m curious as to what part of a marriage, beyond the actual ceremony, you think is actually “public” because I honestly can’t think of any.

              The concept of “marriage” perhaps, but thats why people actually do have the freedom to choose to name themselves whatever they want.

            • “I’m still sticking with the rest of my post, though!”

              Me too! I thought the rest of it was pretty solid. And I said so, way down in my comment.

      • Clark Kent says:

        It’s analogous because (generally speaking) most women have a good idea and maybe even fantasize about what their ideal engagement ring/wedding band will look like (before even getting engaged). Also, in MY PERSONAL experience I’ve never heard of a woman objecting to wearing a ring. So in my experience it is much more likely that a woman would be reluctant to change her name as opposed to her not wanting wear a ring.

        Additionally I am coming from the standpoint of traditional marriage where a woman takes her husbands name (And yes, there is still a number of us who prescribe to that traditional ideal without perceiving it as an “oppressive” institute of patriarchy). I believe (in general men) would view his wife taking his last name as a symbol of unity and commitment in much the same way as a woman (generally speaking) would prefer her husband to wear a wedding band.

        My point is this: If a woman can marry without changing her name and not be considered “sleazy” shouldn’t a man be afforded the same courtesy if he chooses not to wear a ring. I believe that is the reasoning Hugo “struggles” with in why he thinks men should wear a ring (Although, as Paul points out its pretty clear that he thinks married men who don’t wear rings ARE sleazy but is trying to convey it in the most politically correct and “tolerant” way as possible).

        However this is just my viewpoint of the situation and I don’t see where it needs to be “corrected”.

        • “Additionally I am coming from the standpoint of traditional marriage where a woman takes her husbands name (And yes, there is still a number of us who prescribe to that traditional ideal without perceiving it as an “oppressive” institute of patriarchy).”

          Yes, you would not perceive it as “oppressive” because you are the man in the patriarchal marriage, not the woman.

          Please stop making generalizations about both men and women and stating your wishes about what women would want as what women actually want. You do that when you say “So in my experience it is much more likely that a woman would be reluctant to change her name as opposed to her not wanting wear a ring.” and when you say “I believe (in general men) would view his wife taking his last name as a symbol of unity and commitment in much the same way as a woman (generally speaking) would prefer her husband to wear a wedding band.”

          You’re entitled to your own thoughts and feelings, but if you are unable to stand on your own with them and instead need the extra support of claiming to “know” others thoughts, feelings and wishes, you are not finished with childhood yet and so perhaps it would be good to postpone marriage – and definitely postpone having a child?

          • Reader: “Yes, you would not perceive it as “oppressive” because you are the man in the patriarchal marriage, not the woman.”

            Boy, talk about making generalizations! Men in this situation would not see it as oppressive because he is the man in a patriarchal marriage? How do you know what men in a “patriarchal marriage” are going to think.

            If I can speak for Clark Kent (and correct me if I am wrong, Clark Kent), perhaps he does not see it as oppressive because he sees it as a very touching gesture that a wife makes for him.

            When a man asks a woman to marry him, she either accepts him or rejects him (or does not answer). A man might think that a woman who takes his name is showing a greater level of acceptance of him than a woman who says. It demonstrates that she really wants to be a part of his family. It signifies that, when they get married, she becomes a different person.

            If that is not what you were thinking, Clark, I sure was. That was my wife’s thought: she took my name because she was telling me that she was going to be with me for the rest of our lives; I was honored by her decision.

            -Jut

            • “That was my wife’s thought: she took my name because she was telling me that she was going to be with me for the rest of our lives; I was honored by her decision.”

              If it meant so much to you, why didn’t you offer it to her in return?

            • How the hell is that any of your damned business? The two of them made a decision, one that clearly does not involve you.

            • Also, Reader, I have to wonder what your response would be to the reversal of that situation (he changing his name, and she keeping hers) would you still ask why SHE didn’t offer to do the same? I suspect not.

              I suspect, like most feminists I’ve encountered, that it’s not so much the system you object to, it’s who’s on top. I suspect that a reversal of the system (a Matriarchy) would not raise your hackles nearly so much, if at all.

              This is why feminists, on the whole, don’t seem to see a problem with a two-thirds female majority on college campuses, or a five-times greater rate of male suicide, or why a “female-breadwinner/SAHD” scenario is lauded as “progressive” while the reverse is seen as “oppressive and patriarchial.”

              No, granted, maybe I’m wrong, maybe you’re one of the few “feminists” that are after actual **equality** but, given the tone of the comments you’ve posted on this site, I suspect you aren’t. Even if you won’t actually admit it.

            • Reader: “If it meant so much to you, why didn’t you offer it to her in return?”

              It would not have been as meaningful to her.

              It is just like the wedding rings. The ring is more important to her than it is to me. But, I wear mine happily because, as Hugo says, it reminds me of my constant connection to her.

              -Jut

            • “It would not have been as meaningful to her.”

              How do you know if you didn’t try? Again, like “Clark Kent” you are claiming to know others thoughts, feelings, desires, and you are even doing with regard to something that never even happened.

            • Reader: “How do you know if you didn’t try? Again, like “Clark Kent” you are claiming to know others thoughts, feelings, desires, and you are even doing with regard to something that never even happened.”

              She told me. She said, “yeah, I don’t really care for my name. I want to be a Gory.” You see, that was the thing: before we got married, we actually had time to talk to each other and get to know each other and we shared our thoughts, feelings, point of views on life, religion, the world, etc.

              So, yeah, I did know her thoughts, feelings, and desires. Funny, I don’t remember your being there.

              -Jut

            • Clark Kent says:

              Thank you so very much Jut…

              It’s good to see there are people who can appreciate another person’s opinion for what it is and not retort to juvenile insults and insinuations about that person.

              Reader is just one of these unfortunate people who make it difficult for somebody (such as myself who honestly believes feminism can benefit society) to embrace some of the things in which feminism hopes to accomplish.

              However, she would rather attack people because their personal views and beliefs differs from her.

          • Clark Kent says:

            I don’t know why you felt the need to hurl personal insults because I stated my opinion…

            But since you decided to take it there I feel very sorry for your kids as well as your husband for having to be in the same household with a person such as yourself. I’ll definitely be keeping them in my prayers lol.

            • CK:

              I don’t mind that you stated your opinion.

              What I don’t like is that you presume to know other men’s or women’s opinions, thoughts, feelings, wants/needs. That’s not stating an opinion; that’s narcissistic projection, usually borne of a mind stuck in childhood and unable to stand on its own.

            • Clark Kent says:

              It’s quite hilarious that you can’t even see the irony in your repeated attempts to GENERALIZE my entire personality on a couple of posts made here on this site.

              Honestly I feel sorry for you and whatever event that occurred in your life that makes your feel so oppressed and on the defensive of what other people have opinions on.

              I hope you can find the peace in your life that you so dearly need. Good day.

            • “Reader” is not generalizing about your personality but about the evidence you’re providing yourself through your responses. You just can’t see the patriarchy because you’re soaking in it, as is much of this site. I don’t understand what the Good Men Project is, I guess. I just came over here from Hugo’s site and have been really surprised to see the lack of basic understanding of, and outright hostility to, feminist thought.

            • Right. People who disagree with feminism OBVIOUSLY just “misundertsand” it. There’s no possible way that feminism could actually be wrong about something, is there?

            • Clark Kent says:

              Oh really???

              Please show many any part of my comments that warranted this sort of personal insult from Reader:

              “you are not finished with childhood yet and so perhaps it would be good to postpone marriage – and definitely postpone having a child?”

              How in the hell can anybody come to a conclusion such as that from anything I’ve posted regarding this article? I don’t know what else it could be called besides a generalization. ESPECIALLY from a person who knows not ONE DAMN THING about me.

              Also, PLEASE show many anyone of my comments that were anti-feminist.

              The disparaging only comments I made were toward Reader only AFTER she begun to fling unnecessary insults at me. Then only thing I did in this discussion was to make the analogy that a man choosing NOT to wear a wedding band was no more harmful than a woman choosing NOT to take her husband’s last name. Not one time did I ever say either decision was right or wrong.

              The problem is that feminist ZEALOTS ( such as Reader and yourself) are so self absorbed and dense that they think anybody with an opinion unlike their’s is automatically championing patriarchy and the oppression of women.

              Please get over yourselves. BOTH of you.

            • I did not “generalize your personality.” Your words were a narcissistic projection in and of themselves. Maybe you never do this in other settings, but you did it here and that’s why I called it out.

            • And you inability to recognize what it is about what you said is a narcissistic projection is why I suspect this is a broader problem. Even though I quoted the objectionable language, you still deny and/or or don’t grasp the concept of narcissistic projection, which is why I think you are not ready to be a parent.

            • If you grasp the concept so well, why can you not recognize the condition in yourself? That’s probably symptomatic too………

        • It is also ironic because some feminists (maybe not Hugo) object to wedding rings for women on the basis that it is a symbol of ownership by the male. So, while some feminists argue that men should wear wedding rings, others argue that women should not.

          -Jut

          • Hugo is speaking within a still-somewhat-patriarchal culture where there are probably still floating around some subconscious meanings associated with wedding/engagement rings worn by men that may differ from when they are worn by women.

            As an alternative, which Hugo alludes to, some people see marriage as an entity in and of itself and the two people are independent/autonomous and yet joined to it. It’s not a matter of either the wife or husband owning the other but more their agreement to function in tandem – yet with a rope between them that is long.

        • Also, in MY PERSONAL experience I’ve never heard of a woman objecting to wearing a ring. So in my experience it is much more likely that a woman would be reluctant to change her name as opposed to her not wanting wear a ring.

          My wife and I never got rings. We agreed it felt like an empty symbol to us. Initially we didn’t change names, but eventually we decided we liked the idea of sharing a family name – and adopted mine.

      • Do you think Prince William is not wearing his ring to purposefully mislead others? I don’ think that is his intention and it doesn’t make it every other man’s intention either.

        • Part of functioning in the world is taking into account not just your perceptions, but those of others, no? Just being inside your own head and not seeing how you present yourself to others is not really that helpful, even to the self-absorbed person.

          • Good lord, we have a grade 5 irony alert.

          • I agree that the “perception” argument is silly in the case of a celebrity known worldwide like William. I guess then it just has the issue Hugo alludes to. Does this man see his marriage as a fundamental part of himself always there, if not at the forefront at a particular time, or something he is only in when he is in the presence of his wife.

  6. This article is extremely pointless. Here’s the tl;dr version. “I think you should wear a wedding ring, but I don’t judge you if you don’t. Except I think you’re sleazy, but I’m not judging you. Really.”

    I mean, Hell, stake out a position and frigging claim it already. The fact of the matter is you actually do think men who don’t wear a wedding ring are sleazy, but in your hyper-tolerant let’s all be friends mindset you can’t actually come out and SAY that, so you back peddle and wish-wash until your article basically says nothing. And an article that says nothing is one that shouldn’t have been written.

    Better luck next time.

    • Wade McClusky says:

      In contrast to Hugo’s experience…I don’t think, in my almost twenty years in the same marriage, that I’ve noticed anybody checking my left hand. Yes, I wear a ring. Yes, people consider me good-looking.

  7. I don’t follow celebrity/royalty gossip.

  8. Perhaps my priorities are completely screwed up, but as I see it, some people’s opinions count more than others in the decision of whether or not to wear a wedding ring. In order of importance, they are:

    1. The person wearing the wedding ring.
    2. The spouse of the person wearing the wedding ring.
    3. Everyone else.

    If it doesn’t make much difference to you or your spouse, then let the third parties have their say.

    I hope this is obvious good advice to everyone, but I’ll say it anyway: a person without a wedding ring could be married. A person without a wedding ring could be in a committed relationship. A person without a wedding ring may be romantically unavailable for a whole host of reasons. Why not check first before assuming?

  9. YeahRight says:

    This character Hugo also screeched to the high heavens in 2006 that the Duke lacrosse guys were guilty of rape, so….does he have any credibility?

  10. I’m still wearing a wedding ring after being seperated for almost 6 months. I can’t get the damn thing off, and despite no longer wanting to be married to my ex, I still have a little sentimental attachment to it and don’t want to cut it off.

    But arguing that men SHOULD wear their ring? That’s just silly. For many, many men, a ring is a serious job hazard. As a computer geek, I’ve seen two coworkers over the last 15 years lose a finger to degloving injuries – both while moving hardware between racks and both truly horrific. Guys in more physical jobs than IT infrastructure engineers have much higher risk for those sort of injuries spinning equipment or heavy things that you have to carry around make rings a risk – and helping single people avoid embarassment by being able to see that you’re married? Not worth losing a finger over.

  11. Hugo, your pieces are always well-written and you’re obviously intelligent in many ways. Yet I disagree with you on just about everything.

    I wear a wedding ring. I love it. But I have no problem with those who don’t and certainly would never actively advocate for it one way or the other. I understand people look at the left hand to quickly ascertain marital status, but even if you didn’t have a ring on and someone hit on you, you can just tell them you’re married. It’s pretty simple. Wearing a ring is a personal choice in a marriage that has absolutely no bearing on whether or not you’re sleazy.

    And I also disagree with you about the level of interest women show in men with wedding rings on.

    I suck at picking up women. I have no game. Terrible. When I was single I never had any success at bars, or garnered much female attention. And that was when I was in shape. Over the last five years, I’ve suddenly been approached by considerably more women at the bar. I’m older and fatter now, by all accounts less attractive than I was before. The only thing that’s changed? The ring. This also rings (pun intended) true for several of my friends. So I disagree with you and don’t think that’s a myth at all.

  12. As a young (unmarried) woman, I would have no objection if my current boyfriend/unofficial fiance decided not to wear a ring, the same way that he has no objection to the fact that I absolutely refuse to change my last name.

    As much as a ring is a symbol of your love / commitment, it is also a symbol of your financial, legal, moral obligation / commitment, and while that may be appealing to some people, it’s a huge turnoff to others. Perhaps this view is a product of my parents’ extremely protracted and unhappy divorce, but I’d like to imagine that marriage is a happy association between two free people, not a binding, hard-to-escape commitment that wraps around you like cold metal wrapped around your flesh.

    If I get married, I want to know that my husband doesn’t own me or think that he owns me. I want my husband to know that I don’t own him or think that I own him. I want a marriage built on the assumption that we are both free people, freely choosing to live together, honor our promises to each other, and maintain sexual fidelity out of love, rather than obligation or duty. I think marriage should be a pleasure, not a prison.

    The absence of a ring can be a powerful symbol in the same way that the presence of a ring can be.

  13. HumbledDad says:

    I don’t wear a ring. It gives me calouses, and I believe if I took it on and off, I would eventually lose it, which would be a bigger symbolic issue than not wearing it at all. My wife doesn’t mind. I have never cheated on her in 20 years and am not inclined to. On the other hand (ha!), royalty is all about symbolism, so what’s with the Prince?

  14. Safety statistics for men with rings are abysmal. Rings are much too dangerous for most men. Men should NOT wear rings.

  15. WellOkayThen said: “But, I have to point out that in most cases it would be the husband’s last name and the wife’s FATHER’s last name combined together. And, in most cases when a wife keeps her pre-marriage last name she is keeping her father or grandfather’s last name. Ironically, that is literally more patriarchal than taking the husband’s name.”

    If you’re going to get that technical about it, then lets at least be complete about it and go full circle.

    Using your rational, it’s not really the man (or father’s) name either but *his* father’s name and *his* father before him and his father’s before him…(you get the point). The day I was born, was the day that name, my father’s last name (that he got from his father) became *mine*. No different then my brother who on the day he was born, that last name became his. My name might change when I get married, but that doesn’t mean my last name isn’t any less my last name, rightly inherited, just like my brother.

    I really think it’s a little degrading to even have that rational about women to begin with, just completely writing them out of the picture and and basically saying they don’t exist as a person except through “their father’s last name.

    As for wedding rings, I have mixed feelings about the issue. While I think if you are one to believe in the institution of marriage, then you should practice the institution of marriage in it’s entirely. But most people pick and choose which facets of marriage they practice. I’d want my husband to wear his wedding band and be proud to do so. Just as I would. Because I would consider it as a symbol of our love. But I don’t think it’s neccesarily means a person is less committed for not wearing their wedding ring either.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Erin,

      I’m afraid I may have given the wrong impression. I didn’t mean to suggest that there is only one way to interpret choices about one’s last name. I also didn’t mean to suggest that my view of what people choose is more important than the reasons those people give. I think there is more than one way to look at a symbol like a family name.

      I also don’t mean to suggest that it makes no difference whether someone hyphenates or changes to a spouse’s last name. I’m not saying “well, hyphenated is still patriarchal, so you may as well change your last name to your husband’s anyway.” I’m not saying that having the same name as one’s father automatically implies ownership or guardianship. I’m not trying to say that women are written out of the picture and are meaningless because they have their fathers’ last name. If your mother changed her last name to the same last name as your father, your mother did not disappear as a person when she changed her last name.

      From the standpoint of comparing yourself to your brother, you are right, there is equality. You can choose to keep the last name you grew up with, the name that’s yours, just as your brother can. It’s the same name inheritance traced from the same person, in this case a man. Being able to choose the same way your brother can IS a big difference from previous generations, no denying that. That’s a radical step.

      My point is that if the choices are: name you grew up with, husband’s last name, or combination of the two, it is a choice of names all traced to fathers. Yes, your family name is your name to do with as you see fit, but I assume it was not randomly selected for you at birth, and I assume your parents did not flip a coin to see which last name to give you. It became your last name, just like it became your brother’s, because (I’m assuming) it was your father’s last name. (I’m assuming there was not a gender-neutral reason why you have the same last name as your father and not the same last name as your mother.) That doesn’t mean your father owns you, and adopting a spouse’s last name doesn’t mean a spouse owns you either. I was just noting that to my mind the choices still seem to be among male-centered names.

      I’m having trouble coming up with a good analogy. Here’s an admittedly clumsy example: let’s say your father was the Chairman of the Board of a company, and he inherited that job from his father, who inherited that job from his father. When he gave that position to you, you could continue in the title and call yourself Chairman. Your brother would have the option to call himself Chairman. If you called yourself Chairman, you would be completely in your rights to do so, and completely equal to your brother. Completely equal to your father, in fact. But, it’s still a male-centered title.

      Reader,

      I can see the argument that this is just an awkward generational moment and the hyphenating irony could straighten itself out over. But, I can also see some awkwardness possibly increasing over time, maybe even exponentially. If two people with hyphenated last names get married and combine them, that would likely mean 4 last names hyphenated together. (Okay, not a big deal, European aristocrats do this all the time). If the next generation after that is made up of people with 4 last names each, and two of them get married and combine names, that means 8 last names. It would double every generation, in fact. If I had great-grandchildren under that naming system each of them could have 16 last names.

      • Welokaythen-

        You seem to be grasping at straws trying to avoid an egalitarian marriage.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Dang it, you caught me. I am out to prevent any gender equality in marriage. I thought I could get away with it. How did you figure that out? I cannot figure out how you spotted me. I thought I kept my identity and motivations pretty well hidden. I thought I had a great disguise by avoiding ad hominem remarks, focusing on common sense and logic and math, looking at arguments played out to their full conclusions, and presenting myself as a dispassionate writer. It was the use of numbers, wasn’t it. I should have known that making the hyphenation look absurd would tip my hand. I should have stopped at 8 names instead of 16.

          (I told my wife about this exchange and she thought my reply was really funny. Still got her fooled. She did not change her name. She must think that makes her more equal to me. Sucker.)

          I can only guess that you have some kind of intuition or psychic ability. Incredible. Oooh! Do another one! Tell me what’s going on in the mind of someone else on the blog. What’s Tom Matlack really like in his heart of hearts?

          • My kids will get the more interesting half of my (double barrelled) surname, together with my partner’s (not double barrelled) surname. I’m hoping this will lead to them having the most interesting possible name for each generation. This also means that I get a part in their names, without changing mine.

            I just wanted to point out that you don’t have to continue adding names forever, just because you’ve put two of them together.

  16. Used to work with a guy who literally had his ring finger torn off when his ring caught on a shelf during an accident in a warehouse. After I told that story to my wife she didn’t have a problem with me taking my ring off whenever I think it’s unsafe to wear it.

    • I used to run on an EMS ambulance, I could tell you some horror stories about rings and watches getting caught on things.

    • I posed this scenario to a co-worker of mine…that wearing a ring can cause an accident like this to happen, and what would she say if her husband lost a finger due to her insistance that he NEVER under ANY circumstances take off his ring.

      Her response….

      “That’s the price of love”

      Fucking hell

  17. There is a whole other spaect of Prince William not wearing a wedding ring and it’s surprising that a British citizen like Hugo passes over without even a word. The custom of the husband wearing a wedding ring is a recent middle-class innovation. Why would Prince William want to imitate such vulgarity, or even take notice of it?

    • wellokaythen says:

      Not to mention the fact that because William is a member of the English royal family, getting divorced is a much, much bigger taboo than for a commoner. It’s practically illegal, as his father and other ancestors can attest. Not totally impossible, but an even bigger headache than for the wee people of the realm.

  18. Hugo,

    I agree with you our marriages are important. After 24 years mine certainly still is. But to me, the symbols of marriage are not. I don’t carry my marriage on my finger, and I don’t think it’s important to relay my state of marriage to others. At the end of the day, my marriage is between me and my wife. We never even got rings.

    As for the being marked “off the market”, well, anyone who would actually have a conversation with me (say, someone who met me in the hotel bar during one of my many business trip) would learn about my family fairly soon. And, you know – if people are only chatting me up as a pretext to partner search as, well, maybe they are the ones who should be more clear. After all, I don’t want to waste my time trying to have a conversation with someone who don’t really care.

  19. It’s weird how this title isn’t actually what the article is really saying at all…It doesn’t sync up. The title is sensationalist, designed to elicit a reaction, and the article is much more nuanced, and has WAAAAY more shades of gray. Did the writer pick the title too? It’s weird how disjointed the two are.

  20. Agree, If we got married we have to wear our wedding ring , first all it is a way of showing respect for our partner and it is the symbol of love.

  21. Symbols are public and private. It’s not about signifying that you’re “off the market”. It’s a small symbol between partners that signifies commitment.

    Weddings are always public, otherwise most people would get married in private. Obviously they don’t. They get married in public because it’s a public declaration as much as it is private.

    Wearing a wedding ring is not a big deal, either way. It doesn’t make you rebellious not to wear it. I can’t help but think that some men don’t wear it because they don’t want to commit fully and want some women to think they are still available (this is more of a self-delusion on behalf of the man himself).

    I guess it’s more important to do what works for you, though, as long as you’re being honest — with your partner and with yourself.

  22. My ex refused to wear his wedding ring most of the time. He said it bothered him when he typed. I spent all day typing too, and my ring was designed the same as his. Mine never bothered me.

    He sometimes carried it in his pocket. It disappeared out of his pocket one evening when he visited a girl he had a major crush on. I later realized, that was the beginning of the end.

    Nevertheless, I think it’s an important symbol and tradition. The rings don’t have to be expensive. But since marriage is a legal contract, that has some affect on others. If you’re brought to an emergency room unable to speak, for instance, a ring would tell the staff there was a spouse to contact. If a woman is looking to date, as I have done, it’s a very helpful indicator of who isn’t available.

    • Kitti, sorry about your misfortune. However, most people do or should carry an emergency contact card in their purse or wallet. Further, there are no secrets anymore. Also, the police have access to public records so as to identify one’s spouse.

      Bottom line, there’s no real reason to wear a ring unless one wants to. It only has as much symbolic importance as that assigned to it by the wearer. Wedding rings don’t keep marriages together or pull them apart, people do.

  23. I will never wear a ring. Ever. I hate jewelry and always find it uncomfortable and can’t stand wearing it. I have two college degrees and never bought a class ring. I don’t even wear a watch.

    If she insists that I wear a ring or not get married, we won’t be getting married and I would be grateful that she showed me her true colors before marriage, that she expects to control me, even down to what I wear.

    • Wow catch. So you’re telling me when you meet a woman who’s compatible in every way possible, so much so that she understands your free-spirited nature- you’d not wear your wedding band or even marry her if she made ONE request for you to do so. Sounds like the controlling one is you, and the one who has to make a few sacrifices is your significant other, never you. What a mellow dramatic relationship I’m sure not many women have wanted to pursue.

      bottom line, you should love her more then you hate jewelry. I love my boyfriend and I wouldn’t necessarily demand him to wear a ring when we get married. But if he didn’t I would be a little blue.

      • Wow catch. So you’re telling me when you meet a woman who’s compatible in every way possible, so much so that she understands your free-spirited nature- you’d not wear your wedding band or even marry her if she made ONE request for you to do so.
        catch may not be too far off base. If this hypothetical woman is going to base a (hopefully) long term commitment on the acceptance of one condition then it does sound like she is controlling.

        …and the one who has to make a few sacrifices is your significant other, never you.
        And I don’t think the decision to not wear a ring saying that catch wouldn’t make any sacrifices.

        I love my boyfriend and I wouldn’t necessarily demand him to wear a ring when we get married. But if he didn’t I would be a little blue.
        That could be explained as simply jewelry not mattering to you as much as catch.

        But what if it was something that you would not compromise on? Changing your last name? Trying to get you to leave a job that you enjoy?

      • No, YOU should wear a wedding ring if you want to. Leave the rest of us alone to make our own decision.

        I don’t wear a wedding band, don’t ever plan to, and see no reason to. Everyone who is anyone knows that I’m married, even people who know who I am that I haven’t met or don’t remember meeting know that I’m married. The only people who don’t know are total strangers. I have no reason to inform strangers about my personal life. It’s kind of none of their business.

        It wouldn’t trouble me in the least if my wife were ringless like me. Wearing or not wearing a ring changes absolutely, positively nothing about my life, except prevents me from being in a constant state of discomfort. There is no good reason to try to demand that someone wear something they don’t want to wear. Everyone should get to decide for themselves what they do or don’t put on their body.

        • Amen Eric! I got married young (23) and my husband was (25). For the first yr we both wore our rings faithfully but being the young vibrant outgoing couple that we used to be we both lost our rings about 3 times in 3 yrs! I finally decided not to keep spending unnecessary money on things we keep losing. 13 yrs and 4 children later my husband STILL doesn’t wear a wedding band although everyone knows we are married. I wear my engagement band sometimes (to church, weddings etc) but it makes us no less married to wear them or not. And I’m very secure enough in my relationship to not pressure my husband to wear one either!

  24. I bought my husband a silver wedding band for Christmas,and knowing his line of work as a carpenter, wish I hadn;t but it still hurt that he won;t wear it when he isn;t working,and we have been married 34yrs,and it has been good,rings don;t make a marriage love and commitment make a marriage and that is what I told my husband, I believe in my vows and what God brought toghether, and I still love my husband very much, think I will take the ring back and get a watch,

  25. What an incredibly arrogant and misinformed article. I find jewelry of any sort poncy and effeminate as such i am simply not prepared to wear. this does not disract one iota from the love and commitment i know i have for my wife. in future keep your ignorant and myopic views to yourself.

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