Feminism Minimalism

Un-embellished: Why This Married Woman Isn’t Putting a Ring on it

A List of Famous Ring Advertisements

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Every kiss begins with Kay

Getting rid of headaches since 1888

He went to Jared’s!

One ring to rule them all 😏

I imagine Don Draper and Poindexter ad-exec types sitting around a mahogany table, exchanging stories about their little ladies and their uncontrollable appetite for all things bauble-y and shiny.

“Now see here, Charlie,” says a man as played by James Cagney. “If you want to please a woman, you spend no less than three months of your salary on that ring! She’ll practically offer to carry you across the threshold!”

“Hey Charlie,” rings in another man as played by Edward G. Robinson. “Jimmy over there is right. Why, if my Phyllis is giving me the cold shoulder, I just hop along over to Tiffany’s and it don’t even matter what I get so longs as I bring back one of them little blue boxes.”

Ah, the little blue box and its magnetism. We’ve been tricked into thinking that diamonds are forever, a girl’s best friend, and that they have a long history of value. Uri Friedman, a writer for The Atlantic, deftly dispells the reader of any notion that diamond engagement rings are part of tradition. In his article, “How an Ad Campaign Invented the Diamond Engagement Ring,” Friedman highlights the marketing prowess of diamond group De Beers. In a culmination of his findings, he gives us the following graphic which shows the rise in number of first time brides who receive diamond engagement rings.

First time brides who receive diamond engagement rings

DeBeers

When I was in my 20s, engagements seemed to be taking place all around me on my college campus. What a nice thing to be loved and to love someone in return, I thought. However, when someone got engaged, the first thing people ask about isn’t how excited they are for the wedding or how wonderful their spouse-to-be is.

“Let’s see it!” We demand.

It’s a package deal right? If you like it then you should put a ring on it! Apparently, we are just going to gloss over how unempowering that statement is for the lack of agency given to the woman.

Stake your claim on your woman and dazzle her with diamonds!

My favorite commentator to date on the issue of feminism and engagement rings would have to be Karen Fratti who wrote this gem for Hello Giggles titled “The feminist problem with engagement rings and why we should stop obsessing about them” which is pretty straight forward but I appreciate Fratti’s thought bubble of conflicted feelings I’ve shared about the issue of The Ring:

The conventional story goes like this: Once a man marries a woman, she then “gets” to have sex with him without being labeled a whore, and live in a traditional family structure in which she’ll conventionally do a lot of free labor like child rearing, cooking, and housekeeping. Women who did not get married were, and often still are, considered defective somehow and get labeled “spinsters.” Just think of all the historical dramas and Jane Austen novels in which the heroine frets that she will never get married and that that fact will have a huge, negative impact on her life. To this day, our culture tends to look at unmarried women as an (flawed) oddity instead of a perfectly normal thing.

My engagement story

When it seemed like engagement was imminent, I test drove a few different styles but my fingers tingled in an uncomfortable way. My mother even offered a $10,000 diamond she had but the flash of it seemed glaring and garish. It was a perfectly gorgeous diamond but I was not the right wearer.

I confessed that I didn’t want an engagement ring and so when Justin asked, it was over a dessert I had been eyeing at the grocery store–a heavily iced cake in the shape of a hamburger.

I appreciated our unadorned existence together. I find jewelry as confining and as ridiculous as the word “fiancé.” I can’t tell you why, but I hear it with an exaggerated Cajun accent. fee-YAWN-seh!

My betrothed (heard with a British accent) and I did agree to the exchanging of something at the ceremony. We tossed around a few ideas: spit and a handshake, balloons, dance moves.

Our families are pretty traditional and so we bowed to that expectation. Not that they’d care but the tertiary relatives might and we thought we’d save the primaries from the hassle of explaining the behavior of their heathen spawn.

So we bought some rings.

Justin found his ring at the first shop. It was titanium and $240. When I asked how much one would be in my size, the saleswoman sniffed and said, “About $150.”

“Sold!” I said.

“You would want something different,” She explained. “If you start a family, you might want a ring that can be altered for size.”

“Or you could wear the ring on a necklace,” the other salesperson added helpfully.

“But what if my husband gets fat? Won’t he need a new ring too?”

Reproachful silence from all parties.

“So, $150 you said?”

We wore them the first month we were married. Then, we didn’t. There was an echo of my own words in my head, “sold, sold, sold..”

I think what really bothers me about jewelry is that it has a long history as a default gift for moms, wives, daughters, and girlfriends. Sure, it’s special…but it’s unoriginal and limiting. “You are a girl, you must like this shiny or floral thing!” “You’re a boy, here’s your shooting mechanism, watch, wallet, or tie because you have to protect, keep time, pay for, and provide for the women in your life.”

This all seems alien to my husband who gifts me with video games and coffee.

It’s all just a waste of s p a c e

Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today). As cited in BecomingMinimalist, this one is particularly baffling. If you have never heard of “magpie syndrome,” it’s one’s affinity towards shiny objects and it’s much more relevant to humans than corvids. You can easily follow the money to find what people value. I don’t value jewelry, I won’t give it the time of day, and that goes for any jewelry.

If you must have jewelry, feel free to use the KonMari method of organizing it and paring it down. Also, if you have been the victim of MLM jewelry selling, you may like the following video (not by me) on organizing your shinies.

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