The ‘man-gagement’ ring

Apparently gender equality swings both ways, as men increasingly demand the right to wear an engagement ring.

While the number of little boys who grow up dreaming of their dream ring is probably statistically insignificant, the ‘man-gagement’ ring is the latest buzzword stirring the wedding lexicon. Recent reports suggest it’s indicative of a growing trend among betrothed blokes.

Where is this uprising for ring equality coming from?

In these progressive times, it’s not unheard of for a member of the fairer sex to get on bended knee and ask a man to take the plunge. Traditionally, the only date a woman could pop the question was February 29, making it, quite literally, a once-in-a-leap-year occurrence. Nowadays, we're less beholden to superstition and convention—Britain’s Daily Mail quotes a survey suggesting that one in ten women have proposed marriage.

Far from finding it an emasculating experience, it's reasonable to imagine that men would welcome this reversal of gender roles. Many fellas would be rather pleased to find themselves suddenly spared from the whole responsibility of the proposal.

With gay unions on the rise (and the legalisaton of gay marriage a possiblility in coming years), the male engagement ring’s popularity is sure to continue into the future. And while it all may seem incredibly modern and forward-thinking, the ring-for-him is nothing new. It has historical precedence. In South America, grooms are partial to wearing an engagement ring before shifting it to the opposite hand once they’re hitched, while US soldiers in WWII were known to wear rings as a memento of their betrothed back home.

What exactly does a man’s engagement ring look like? It's not too dissimilar in style to a man's wedding ring: that is, a wide, flat band, perhaps with an embedded stone. Given the tradition is relatively new in Western cultures, there are no hard and fast rules as the look of an engagement ring and how to wear it. It could be a temporary keepsake to warm the ring finger until the wedding day or be worn with (or opposite) the wedding band, post ceremony.

Some suggest it’s all just a cunning ploy by jewellers to sell twice as many rings to men tying the knot. If so, it must be said that they’ve messed up on the branding front. No man in his right mind will utter the words ‘man-gagement ring’ out loud, whether to his girlfriend, jeweller or mates. Like the murse, meggings and mandals* before it, man-gagement ring is a clumsily fashion moniker—a ham-fisted portmanteau that devalues the sentiment behind it.

An engagement ring is, for all intents and purposes, a signal that the wearer is ‘off the market’, confirmation that another person has dibs on their affections. Women have made this public declaration for eons but it's been a one way gesture as engaged men roam the streets with bare fingers. Is the humble ring simply an acceptable way for modern men to mark their 'territory'? Back in neanderthal times it was a wooden club; now a shiny diamond is employed in an attempt to lure the female into the cave. 

Now the tables have turned, let the equal opportunity ring-bearing begin. Women everywhere can stake a claim on their man and guys are free to show the world through jewellery that they are no longer up for grabs. And why not? The engagement is a significant phase of a relationship and just as worthy of celebration and rememberance as the first time a couple met.

The male engagement ring should be a boon for single women as they discover the new-found ability to identify attached men at 20 paces. Meanwhile, little boys the world over can start dreaming wistfully of their perfect diamond ring…

* for the uninitiated: murse, meggings and mandals are a purse, leggings and sandals for men.

Ladies, if you're popping the question, click here for tips on the perfect proposal

Photo by: flickr
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