Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Can Gender Roles Be Reversed for Marriage Proposals?

by Charity Bailey 

In traditional Western societies, it has often been the cultural role of men to ask the women to marry them. Stemming weddingfrom the social role of man as the income-earner, men were expected to take the initiative and ask for a woman’s hand in marriage. Moreover, the man was often required to ask permission from the woman’s father before proposing to her. In this era of gender equality, women have been recognized for the independent, intelligent people they are, and more and more have gained enough social confidence to “pop the question” to their male significant others.


In ancient times, women were considered chattel and the property of a man; marriage was initially conceived as a business transaction between the man and the woman’s father, with the woman having no say in the matter. Marriage based on mutual attraction was only conceived about 250 years ago, and the norms of Victorian England held that woman had no desires at all. It is only within the past 50 years that marriage began to be based on equal attraction and mutual division of labor. Women’s rights have grown significantly since then, thanks to the women’s rights movement, and in modern American culture, women are as free as men in marriage.

Pop Culture

In pop culture, the social acceptability of a woman proposing to a man has been seen as early as the 1970s. In the popular television series Rhoda, the female main character proposed. A few decades later, the show Will & Grace used the same tactic. As pop culture often drives societal norms and challenges assumptions, the recurrence of female proposals on television have helped erode commonly held beliefs about gender and push women forward socially.


For a woman, proposing to a man could be a confidence booster and a demonstration of her desire to be equal within marriage. Though proposals by women are becoming increasingly common, it is still a bit of a novelty, so it would make for a good story for a wedding or for grandchildren. In a forward-thinking society, it should not matter who is doing the proposing.

Fun Ways to Propose

In terms of a fun way for a woman to propose to a man, the proposal itself should be no different from how a man would propose to a woman. One fun way to propose would be to pay a diver at an aquarium to hold up a sign inside the fish tank that says, “Will you marry me?” Another way would be to send your boyfriend on a treasure hunt, and the final prize would be you holding out a ring.

The main thing to remember is that in any marriage, equality and respect are the keys to a happy life. Equal treatment should start with the proposal, without preference to the gender of who does the proposing. If a couple can respect each other regardless of gender, life will be smoother sailing.

About the Author

Charity Bailey writes about environmental studies, marriage, and is advocate for forward thinking social rights and expectations. If you’re looking for a perfect accessory for your perfect proposal, Charity recommends Diamond Treasures Inc.

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