Men already have too much power and, in case you need to be reminded, we still live in a patriarchal society where the rights of women are continuously trampled on. I was reminded of all this when a viral video appeared on the internet on Tuesday – a graduation ceremony in Adelphi University, New York, showing a woman receiving her degree and then turned to see her boyfriend bend the knee to propose. The auditorium rippled with cheers and applause, and the woman herself held back emotions as she became newly engaged on her graduation day.
She bagged a degree and became a fiancée at the same time. 👏🏾💍❤️🍾🎓 pic.twitter.com/sgmfXzNJvT
— 👑 DaddyMo 👑 (@therealdaddymo1) May 20, 2019
On the surface, the proposal was cute, but it also drew criticisms on social media revolving around the man deciding to pop the question during the woman’s convocation ceremony. Even more, at the precise time she was being recognised and awarded a degree. There were also counter-criticisms: many opined that the woman looked happy and had no problem with the proposal coinciding on such occasion, massaging their argument into the tired trope of the ‘bitter feminist.’
Frankly, I felt dizzy with nausea while watching the video, made worse when I read the man’s Instagram post regarding the proposal: ”Today is a day I will never forget. Today I asked the girl of my dreams to marry me (she said yess!!) Our journey is forever and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to have by my side. Thank you for choosing me to take this journey with. I love you endlessly @cheriluv_”
The man’s name is Fabian, and inexplicably he has locked his Instagram account at the time of writing this piece. Why did he lock his account? We will never know. But I’d like to know what would make a man egotistically decide to use a proposal to undermine an important day for the woman he claims to love. Granted, everything is all couched in sweetness, this video acting as Instagram fodder. The couple are happy, blah blah blah. But this case highlights a patriarchal gender dynamic wherein the man has been conditioned to make things about himself, at the expense of the woman, so that her achievements, successes and accomplishments are bent like a shadow trailing him, never shining on their own.
It’s not her moment actually. She is graduating with a MILLION other people. So he stole from their moment as well and not just hers. It’s not an event for her it’s an event for her whole graduating class. You should have thought of that but you might be prone to clownery. https://t.co/bZggVxojpP
— Cosmic GrooVee (@grooveeshakes) May 20, 2019
As the tweet above points out, the convocation wasn’t just about the woman who was proposed to, but was also for everyone. How dare a man swoop in like prince charming and make his proposal to a woman a centerpiece? More to the point, heterosexual marriage is inherently patriarchal, so a woman’s graduation eclipsed by a proposal feels self-fulfilling. It’s worth mentioning that this critique doesn’t aim to police people’s happiness. But, at the same, we mustn’t hesitate to point out how this is wrong. To those in favour of men proposing to women on their special days: you are at your own wedding reception and some random dude proposes to his girlfriend and hence disrupting your perfect day.
Yes, now you know how it feels.