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.