Well, the name has got to go

As I drove home after running an errand last night, I was listening to the awesome Boston-area music station I love when I heard the DJ make brief mention of something called “mangagement rings.”  For those of you unable to parse that appalling portmanteau, these are apparently the new thing in jewelry — engagement rings for men.

The name is, of course, ridiculous.  If we’re stretching the concept of “engagement ring” to include men, I’m not sure why we cannot also stretch our understanding of the term.  Unless we’re going to start referring to betrothed men as “mangaged” (please let us not start referring to betrothed men as “mangaged”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), there is no reason to refer to rings signifying their betrothal as “mangagement rings.”  While not as hideous as “manscaping,” I would like to declare a permanent ban on any neologisms that attempt to make “man-” a prefix.  It is not.  Please desist, America.

However, I believe I’m going to have to bait Kathy Shaidle and cast my vote in favor of the rings themselves.

First of all, I actually wore a ring on my left fourth finger after the Better Half agreed to marry me.  (I’ve considered myself “married” since we had a religious service with the whole wedding hoopla the better part of a decade ago.  It seems an odd demotion of sorts to now think of him as my “fiancé” as we approach the date of our “legal” wedding.)  It wasn’t a new ring, it was one he already had that fit me, and I liked wearing it.  He didn’t ask me to do it, but rather it was something I chose to do because it made me happy to have a visible symbol of my exit from the dating world.

Thus, I am all on board with gender parity with regard to engagement jewelry.  If we expect women to sparklingly declare “off the market!” to the world, I’m not sure why men should not so declare themselves.  They’re both “taken,” so to speak, not just her.  Why is she the only one we expect to make it known to possible paramours on the prowl?

This is not to say that I don’t think gigantic, extravagant diamond engagement rings are an idiotic frippery.  (Sorry to any readers who have gigantic, extravagant diamond engagement rings!  I will add you to “chronic Lyme patients” and “James Franco fans” on my “People Who Hate Me” list.)  I don’t know when it became de rigueur to sink a certain percentage of one’s liquid assets into a material testament of one’s beloved’s worth, but I think it’s silly.  Saving up for a mortgage down payment seems a more sensible and more meaningful way of saying “I love you” to me.  But then, I’ve never really understood status symbols as a whole.  Seeing some of the more affluent mothers in my practice with one of the Pillars of Hercules slapped on their left hands, I am often tempted to say “I see that you are very, very rich” because it is so obvious that that’s what I’m supposed to think.

Therefore, I hope that if this idea catches on that men won’t also start trying to one-up each other with ever more ostentatious displays of wealth.  (While I’m at it, universe, I’d also like a wine cellar.)  But as far as gender parity whether or not to wear engagement jewelry at all is concerned, I say bring on the engagement rings for dudes!

Just don’t give them a stupid name.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


    • Snarky for the win. Might as well close the thread now.

        • there was a strip club for the ladies called “mantasia” that may or may not be still in business in midtown. their tagline was amazing: “fulfill your mantasy”

  1. I’m just not a jewelry person.

    I wear one band because I want to communicate what it means. I find it helpful in dealing with strangers, particularly when kids are involved. There is no sentiment involved and virtually no sentimental meaning. We ordered our bands from an online catalog, and together they probably cost a tenth of what an average engagement ring might run.

    Especially attentive strangers will notice that my band is identical to the one being worn by this other guy who often stands suspiciously close to me and finishes my sentences. But it is surprising how many people fail to notice those facts about him.

    • Oh god, do you actually finish each other’s sentences? That’s nauseatingly adorable.

      • They are adorable. Although the level of my inattention was so great that despite having met Jason and Boegiboe together last summer at Leaguefest, I still didn’t know until just now that their bands are identical.

  2. Can we get an exemption for “mansplain”?

      • Years ago, my buddy wanted to start a band called Men-o-Pause. This was before anyone actually came up with the idea of menopause, so now that joke’s ruined.

      • Whatever it’s called, I need it. My roommate accused me of “Dansplaining” the other day, and that insult is too perfect not to exist.

  3. Using the term “mangagement ring” seems so counterproductive. There’s something lovely about the gender parity in men choosing to wear an engagement ring. There’s something ugly about the chauvinism of men unwilling to call it an engagement ring BECAUSE I AIN’T NO F*#KIN’ CHICK.

    On a different note, I would argue that you needn’t consider yourself “married”. I’d say you are married. Sure, with the whole legal thing makes it odd that your husband is also your fiance, but I certainly wouldn’t demote him to just your fiance. He’s like a f*ckin’ griffin (as you are, too)!

    • I wholly agree with your first comment.

      Part of the reason I put “married” in quotes before we had marriage equality in Maine was to highlight the lack of legal equality, and how we weren’t “really” married in the eyes of the law. And now, of course, we’re not “really” married because we haven’t actually gotten legally married yet. Murky and annoying waters. But I like the griffin analogy.

  4. Zazzy mentioned me wearing such a ring, though with different nomenclature, which I was open to, but ultimately we never moved on it.

    But while we’re on the topic, can we also eliminate “Manny”. Not as in Manny Ramirez, but as in “male nanny”. The underlying assumption is that there is something atypical or abnormal about a man caring for children. It may be uncommon, at least in a professional sense, but it need not be denoted as such with such a silly word.

  5. I will also cop to the fact that one of my groups of friends uses a form of “man language”, wherein we add “man” or simply the letter M to the front of certain words.

    But this is done largely because we are describing activities which icky coodie-filled girls are not allowed to be a part of.

  6. Incidentally, Minnesota is tiptoeing close. I’m on pins and needles now. Someone may need to put Maggie on watch though.

      • We’re gonna get it! The house was the only uncertainty and it passed in a walk. The Senate is in the bag and our Governor is 100% on board. SSM in Minnesota. Oh sweet sweet victory and also sweet sweet schadenfreude. If the social cons hadn’t overreached with their constitutional amendment…

        • Oh, hurrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!

          I am delighted for you guys. It’s an amazing feeling when it happens, isn’t it?

        • That’s awesome.

          It wasn’t that long ago that I was suspicious that we might be in the last days of being able to pass a Constitutional Amendment “protecting” marriage. And now there are almost enough states that have legalized SSM to prevent an Amendment by themselves!

          In less than 10 years!

  7. on my left fourth finger

    Meaning your ring finger? (I mean, what’s conventionally known as the ring finger — obviously whatever finger you put the ring on is thereby your personal ring finger).

    The problem with using the ordinal is that you’ll be misleading either violinists or pianists (not to mention the “thumb is / is not a finger” folks).

    • Saying “I wore a ring on my ring finger” seemed vaguely repetitive and borderline tautological. And thus I used the terminology I’d put in a medical record.

      • Wait, does that mean doctors use the thumb as the index finger?

        • Using one’s thumb as the index finger would be very counterproductive in a lot of situations. For some folks, it could result in a bloody nose.

  8. Ah yes, I see the dilemma — makes sense.

    Out of curiosity, would a medical record refer to the thumb as the “first finger”?

  9. My husband isn’t much for jewelry – his wedding band is the exception (although he does have to take it off at work when he’s in the sterile rooms).

    To be honest, since I knew he wasn’t much for jewelry, I never thought to ask if he’d like an engagement ring too.

    I did offer to buy an upgrade for his wedding band – some diamonds – which he declined. I said I was happy with a plain wedding band as well, and he said, “No. I want yours to have stones to match the engagement ring.”

    At that point I said, “Ok Dear.” I mean, there are some things I’m just not going to argue about.

    They’re not big stones (I love the size they are) – and more importantly I didn’t want him spending an unreasonable amount of money on the rings. He nailed the settings I liked – they’re all set INTO the band. In order for me to knock one loose, I’d have to break the band.

    Given that I’m right handed, an avid bowler, and wear my rings on my right hand…. now I don’t have to worry about losing any on the lanes.

  10. I’m engaged and both my fiancee and I wear an engagement ring (not the same one, we each have our own). Those rings will also serve as our wedding band, too.

    I didn’t really see it as a gender equality thing, although I have no problem with that construction. I just assumed guys wore engagement rings, too. But when I started showing people the ring, I often got a cautious response in the vein of, “so…..you already got married?”

    We purposefully got relatively cheap rings, about $60.00 apiece. I have a friend who got a very expensive one and lost it twice. Fortunately, it was insured. But that seems a big hassle to me.

    By the way, I’m not a jewelry guy at all. But I love my ring!

    • I bought my wife an extravagant engagement ring when we agreed to marry. Then on our honeymoon we got a more modest ring, but because we got it together during a special time together, she likes that one much more than she ever did the expensive one. I understand completely.

      • Even though my ring is pretty cheap and even though the main reason I bought it was so losing it wouldn’t be a huge financial shock and I could get another one, I’ve already grown pretty attached to it after only about 4 months, and I would be kind of upset if I lost it.

  11. No. Not the ring, and especially not the name. As a fan of sexual dimorphism, I regard any attempt to make men and women more alike with suspicion. If it’s to correct some injustice or alleviate some great hardship, that’s one thing, but why would I want to spend extra money just to adorn myself with the trappings of femininity? Vive la différence!

  12. By the way, has any port-man-teau (swish!) ever not been an affront to linguistic decency?

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