Australian women still not proposing to men

Article by AAP /
Sky News /
March 04, 2016 /
Click here to view original /

Saint Patrick supposedly decreed that women could propose to men on February 29 in leap years after Saint Brigid complained women had to wait too long.

But leap day or nay, it seems Australian women still rarely ask men to marry them.

Why? Possibly because a woman asking a man to marry doesn’t fit the fairytale that countless women have been conditioned to believe in.

‘There’s the theoretical idea that ‘Sure, women should be able to propose in an equal society, but I’d still rather be proposed to’ because it sounds more romantic,’ gender studies researcher Lauren Rosewarne told AAP on Monday.

It’s a paradox that when it comes to marriage proposals, even in 2016, modern-day attitudes about equality lose out to traditional views on romance, the University of Melbourne lecturer says.

‘The reality is that, individually, people still prefer traditional and supposedly romantic proposals.’

In a recent survey, 66 per cent of women who were in a long-term relationship, engaged or married, said the idea that women shouldn’t propose was old fashioned.

Yet less than six per cent were thinking about popping the question or had done so themselves, according to the online poll of 1089 women conducted by a bridal fair.

Author and former Big Brother host Gretel Killeen believes women are held back by fantasies regarding ‘true love’ with Prince Charming.

‘We are still perhaps obsessed with the fairytale notion,’ she told AAP on Monday at a QV Melbourne event.

‘We’re trained to think this.’

Social media feeds filled with photos, videos and reactions to marriage proposals further entrench notions about how they should play out.

‘Culturally we’ve got to the point that for a woman this is a man’s way of showing just how much he loves her, and I think social media has made this a little bit worse,’ Dr Rosewarne says.

It’s likely going to take more than an extra day in February every four years to change how society views women who ask men to marry them. And indeed women who ask men out.

‘We still have this idea that it’s a little bit desperate, a little bit forward,’ Dr Rosewarne said.

‘That’s completely stupid. It’s funny that we still have these archaic courtship rituals when, happily, we’re moving closer and closer to equality.’

Female proposals aren’t necessarily a feminist act, either, the academic argues.

‘We’re forgetting the really complicated history of marriage for feminists, and pretending it’s all OK if the woman proposes.’

Kristy Froggatt, 34, proposed to her 42-year-old husband Darren during the 2012 leap year because of how it made her feel.

‘I think it’s really exciting when women actually just take the leap and do it themselves,’ she told AAP.

‘Write your own fairytale girls.’