The first time I knew it was a leap year was about three days before the end of February. This Gregorian calendar phenomenon crept up on me but seems to spark inexplicable levels of excitement in others.
The date falls fifteen days after Valentine’s Day, meaning romance is already in the air for many. Panic starts to set in for many unmarried men. They haven’t forgotten it’s a leap year, believe me. The panic also spreads among many unmarried women too, who are perhaps bored of waiting for a proposal and debating whether or not to take the plunge themselves. Do they risk it and end up with a ring and the security they desire, or get the alternative result of either being bitterly disappointed or even emasculating their man? Tricky.
To many, it would appear that I’m not one for romance. My husband and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together by watching Tottenham beat Slavia Prague 2-1 down the local pub. The pub landlord praised my date for finding such an understanding woman. I didn’t like to break it to him that I love football myself. It may not have been moonlight and roses, but we spent an enjoyable evening together doing something we both love, watching football, drinking beer and laughing. Seems pretty perfect to me.
Romance comes in all different guises and it is not for us to judge each other’s choices. The same goes for how a couple become engaged. Does it really matter where it happens or even who asks? I love tradition and it certainly doesn’t make me feel like the weaker sex to have accepted a marriage proposal, rather than be the one to do it.
Yet another newspaper article[i] this week about how marriage and a man proposing is sexist and outdated merely made me roll my eyes. This is not feminism, this is simply man-bashing and rebelling for rebelling’s sake. It is exactly the sort of article that damages the cause and certain sections of the media are rife with it.
We are constantly told by the media that as women we should fight for equality in every little part of our lives. On the whole, as a British woman I do feel equal. I have an opinion, I can vote, I can work, I even venture out unaccompanied when I want. Fancy that. However it often goes a step further than fighting for equality and they seem to want women to stage some sort of coup, surpassing our male counterparts and ruling the world. Beyonce would be proud.
I don’t see why enjoying romance and tradition is harmful to my being a female. We are told that expecting a man to propose is wrong and undemocratic. Why? My husband and I discussed marriage before he proposed, we knew what each other wanted from life and were mature enough to find that out first. It wasn’t some huge shock that left me feeling like I wasn’t in control of my own life, it was a very expected, very welcome question. It was also full of funny and ridiculous blunders but that is a tale for another day.
Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment and is therefore one of the most important decisions a person can make. Communication is key in all walks of life, so surely knowing whether or not your partner values marriage, wants children or would prefer to live a commitment-free life travelling the globe is more important than worrying about who asks who?
We are constantly being told that not only should we be equal but we should be better. There also seems to be a wave of thought that we should be de-gendered. Well not me. I am a woman and I love it. I love being a nurturer, a giggler, a good listener and a committed talker. I also love Emma Watson, and not just for her excellent portrayal of Hermione Granger, for she has brought a breath of fresh air to feminism. She has ‘realised that fighting has too often become synonymous with man-hating…this has to stop.’ Well said and my sentiments exactly.
Like it or not, men and women do on the whole have different personality traits. Before you rush to tell me I’m being ridiculous or even sexist, there have been scientific studies conducted that prove this. I’m really not just basing it on my own opinion or even my many, many observations. It doesn’t mean they don’t cross over but there are general variances.
I for one celebrate this. I don’t find it stifling or oppressive, I don’t feel like I’m being pigeon-holed and it certainly doesn’t stop me from being a strong-minded woman. Ask my husband if you don’t believe me. Why doesn’t it stifle me? Because I would never let it. What we do with our own personality traits is up to each and every one of us and that is certainly not gender dependent.
International Women’s Day is 8th March, so I think this is a very good time to celebrate being just that, a woman. It doesn’t matter what you look like, or whether you choose to be a mum, an engineer or a cage fighter. Maybe all three? What matters is that you embrace what makes you unique as a woman and you don’t put men down in the process.
I won’t ever apologise for being a woman. There are many women out there just like me who love feeling like a woman, rather than merely a person. As for playing out traditional gender roles, surely this is up to the individual to decide for themselves? If a woman would prefer to be proposed to by her man than just have a ‘let’s get married’ conversation and leave it at that, who are we to get in the way? For those that do want to tackle the marriage proposal, so what? It really isn’t anything for us to get our knickers in a twist about.
A proposal should be right for the individual couple, the same as the ensuing marriage. It is not for us to judge and it is not for the media to dictate how we go about it. There are plenty of areas where inequality is still rife, such as pay, child marriage and genital mutilation, so perhaps those who want to fly the true feminism flag should turn their attentions there.
Photo credit: Inma Heredia