Can a Woman Propose to a Man?

Can a Woman Propose to a Man?

Short answer? Of course, she can. Now for the longer answer. Times have changed significantly in just the last 50-60 years alone. Not only are older traditions often becoming obsolete beneath the wave of feminism and gender equality, but roles between men and women are also being questioned and flipped on their heads. Today, more men are taking on roles that even 20-30 years ago, might have only been assumed by a woman.

Stay-at-home dads have become a new norm as women enter and dominate in the workspace. Jobs once viewed as only the domain of men or only the domain of women, are now being filled by both sexes. Women today are beginning to mold their lives and careers and define their own independence as early as graduation from high school. In times past, that was something only men did, while women were left in the care of their parents until they married.

In view of all these social changes, it’s a little surprising that the tradition of a man asking a woman to marry him has stubbornly held its ground. Men who adhere to this tradition are often also the men who would save a woman first ahead of themselves if their lives were threatened. Many women still view this kind of chivalry as kind, romantic, and polite.

On the flip side, feminists view this thought more as “benevolent sexism.” Though this kind of behavior originates from a place of love and care, a pedestal isn’t much different from a box, in their view.

Why More Women Aren’t Proposing

To date, a relatively small percentage of women that are married or are engaged did the proposing. There appear to be quite a few reasons for this, but one of the biggest beyond mere tradition and romanticism is social conditioning and the norms surrounding gender roles. There are hidden pressures for women that tell them going after what they want, including a man, isn’t feminine or proper.

They’re taught (often by well-meaning family and friends) that they should wait and let him chase her. Some women are concerned (or are told) they will be seen as bossy instead of feminine, or too overpowering if they are the ones initiating the proposal. As to men, there are still many who prefer to do the chasing and the asking and feel less like “men,” or in other words, emasculated, when it’s the other way around. Which means there’s also a fear for women that the man they ask might say no because of these things. No one likes being rejected!

Women also experience pressure from other women that’s not so well-meaning. There is a lot of cattiness and criticism that happens between women today, instead of encouragement and building each other up. If one woman behaves in a way another woman doesn’t agree with, she is instantly labeled, talked about, and at times even bullied by other women for bucking the norm.

This actually works in both directions. Women that believe men should do the asking will criticize or tsk over women doing the asking. And likewise, women that believe a woman has the right to ask too, will criticize women who favor a more traditional view and call them old-fashioned or unenlightened. Neither conversations serve anyone, but they happen anyway and place a stumbling block in front of both men and women in their pursuit of each other.

The Realities of Today’s Society

So, back to the conversation, can a woman propose to a man? The reality is that where you stand on this is a highly personal choice. Whether you’re a woman that is opposed or not opposed to doing this, you are not wrong in your view. Men who prefer to be chased or do the chasing are also not wrong.  It doesn't matter what anybody thinks because we are all individuals, with our own makeup, our own personalities and sets of beliefs, and our own personal traditions surrounding marriage.

Some men and women are more “old-fashioned” and that’s okay. Some men and women are more progressive or liberal, and that’s okay too. None of these should be dirty words to describe others. The real beauty of individual freedom is that you are allowed to be whoever you want to be, as long as you are not hurting someone else by exercising your freedom. 

That means if you are a woman and you know you have found the love of your life; you don’t have to wait around for him to realize it first. If you want to pop the question and ask him to marry you instead of hoping, wishing, and waiting on him to do the asking, there’s literally nothing stopping you, except you. Now's your moment to surprise everyone, change gender norms and turn your boyfriend into your husband! What are you waiting for?

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