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21st Century Gender Roles: Is it Okay for Women to Propose?

The 21st century has sparked a ton of conversation about many hot topics such as climate change, sustainability, economic growth, pollution, manufacturing, global health, technological advances, and gender equality. All of these topics very often land on the controversial side of conversations. Although it is not as much of a hot topic as gender equality, gender roles have begun to stir a bit of conversation as well. Not only conversation, but gender roles have seen a major shift within the past one to two decades. One specific tradition amongst gender roles that I truly haven’t seen a shift in is women proposing. 

Yes! I mean the woman asking her significant other to marry her and become her life partner. A woman proposing doesn’t necessarily mean she has to get on her knee and showcase a ring but simply professing that she wants their love to be eternal, right?


We must identify why we aren’t okay with it


Surveys have shown that women proposed in only around five percent of heterosexual married couples. To be clear, that means if we have 100 heterosexual married couples, only about five of them are relationships where the woman proposed. Those numbers are relatively low, but the question is, why are they so low? Is it because of tradition - something that is important to people - but as we see within the 21st century, tradition is far too often finding its way out the window. Is it because women are still ostracized for breaking free from traditional relationship norms? Is it about a man’s concern for being publicly emasculated? What is it?


Will women proposing become more common in the near future?


Most women have found themselves comfortable with making the first move (the first kiss, asking to exchange information, asking out on a date, etc,.) Although, making the first move was once considered a male gender role, many women find themselves breaking that barrier and men tend to find it more attractive. In relation, in a survey of 500 men, Glamour magazine found that 70% of men would be psyched if a woman proposed. Does this mean that we are okay with women proposing? Or is it just an infatuation of the idea, but denial in reality? 


If it is becoming more common for women to make the first move, does that mean that proposing is not that far behind?

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There are women who are already game-changers


Although the masses are not fully on board with women proposing, there are already women who have taken their proposal decision into their own hands. Homosexual couples, by definition, are shifting what it looks like to propose. Women proposing to women. Men proposing to men. Everyone is just in love and proposing! Are same-sex relationships what we needed to help society let go of traditional gender roles? Maybe so. There are even women in heterosexual relationships feeling comfortable enough to propose to their partner. Read two women share their beautiful proposals to their partners:


"I proposed to my boyfriend after one month of knowing him with custom M&Ms and a watch! When we got to my house after dinner together, I told him there was a package waiting for him in the kitchen. He ran into the house, ripped open the box, and said 'You got me M&Ms!' When he turned around, I was on my knee with a watch in a box, and then he looked down to read the M&Ms that said 'Will you marry me?' With the biggest smile on his face, he said yes, picked me up, and gave me a kiss." - Angelica H.


“I knew I wanted to marry my partner, but I thought it was silly that I would have to wait for him to propose. I decided that if it’s what I wanted, then I was going to go for it and not worry about what others would think. I did it on our vacation to California. We were in Tahoe mountain-biking when I asked him to marry me when we stopped at an amazing view overlooking a gorge. Proposing to him is one of those things I’m super proud of in my life because I went after what I wanted and didn’t leave it up to a man to decide my fate.” - Angie R.


Beautiful right? How I see it, if you love someone unconditionally and see a future with them, it truly doesn’t matter which person makes the next step.

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Catrina is a junior at DePaul University, majoring in Film and Television with a concentration in Screenwriting. She is not only interested in writing screenplays, but also romance novels! When she is not working on her own material, she is either watching a film or reading a book. If you want to follow her on social media, you can find her on Instagram and Twitter (@hereiscatrina).
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