Burning Question: Why Don’t Men Wear Engagement Rings?

Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger
Love + SexMay 30, 2012


What a Prince Charming
What a Prince Charming

[Every week, Shine finds an answer to one of life's little mysteries. If you've got a burning question you want answered, tweet it to @yahooshine #burningquestions or share it in the comments section.]

Although I am a card-carrying feminist, I still appreciate having the door opened for me, the dinner bill picked up, receiving flowers on special and some not-so-special occasions, and other niceties of traditional courtship. And I especially like my engagement ring. It's a braided platinum band set with a faceted yellow sapphire and I remember every minute of the rainy, romantic afternoon when my husband-to-be proffered it to me.

Writing for Slate.com, Meghan O'Rourke has a different point of view. "There's a powerful case to be made that in an age of equitable marriage the engagement ring is an outmoded commodity-starting with the obvious fact that only the woman gets one." She traces the engagement ring's history in the West to the 13 th Century when Christians began giving betrothal rings, a tradition that dated back to Roman times.

The betrothal ring was originally a symbol that the man now owned his bride-to-be. Roman wives had few rights and after marriage were kept in virtual seclusion. The ring was placed on the fourth finger of the left hand because the Ancient Egyptians believed that it contained the vena amoris, a vein that led straight to the heart. O'Rourke also points out that, historically, jilted women were allowed to keep the ring as a payment for a "damaged reputation," since it might be assumed that they lost their virginity during the engagement period-something that would dramatically reduce their future prospects of marriage.

I'm thankful we live in more egalitarian times. While the history of betrothal might not be so pretty, "owning" me was not on my fiance´'s agenda when he proposed, nor would my ability to find another mate have been compromised if we broke up before marriage. At the risk of sounding reactionary, sometimes a ring is just a ring.

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