Why Women Proposing Should Be Supported in Africa: A Rare & Daring Culture

When the man utters the words ‘ Will You Marry Me?’  There is general acceptance around the world that he has done the needful. However, when the same is spoken by a woman, it ignites fire and even attracts online bullying and physical embarrassment.  The tradition of women proposing to men did not stop today, legend has it that “The Ladies’ Privilege,” as it was known then, originated in the fifth century, with an Irish nun later known as St. Brigid.

It was through her support that it was agreed that on February 29, an opportunity should be given to women  to pop the question as a way to balance traditional gender roles in a manner not unlike how leap year serves to balance the calendar.

To give a woman the right to ask a man to marry her may seem like an empowerment. However, it is not everyone that sees it that way. “The leap year tradition looked like it was giving women opportunities but in reality, it kept them in their place,” said Katherine Parkin, an associate professor of history at Monmouth University in New Jersey. “Back then women who asked men to marry were portrayed as ugly, mannish, crass or desperate.”

Back to the present,  a lot of women have been disappointed by men, their dreams destroyed, future altered because one man out ready decided to play with them and dump them. Sometimes, we see desperation on ladies who are getting older with partners who are not ready to marry them.  Some women who are not ready to be shamed after many years with man, decide to pop the question and give the man no chance to delay any longer.

However, Africa is Africa!  The tradition of men asking women to marry them is a norm that if it is challenged, there is resistance.  While other developed nations do not see this as any problem, Africans do see it as taboo.  The fear of rejection is still there even in developed countries. We have seen women who are ready to compete favourably with the men in every area of life, joined the struggle to liberate themselves from what they consider to be male and societal oppression and domination.

Surprisingly, it has been the women who often lead their affairs to end in marriage.  When they realize that their partners are not ready to be the man, they abandon him and move on to a man who is willing to marry them.  We have seen couples get engaged immediately they ended a quarrel and get more serious towards marriage.

Women may not be the ones taking a knee with rings to propose, but they have been in charge of getting a man take a knee. When the man is not ready to do that, some of them who are daring take a knee and propose.

Whose happiness are we arguing here? What is the need of saying it is not acceptable when the happiness of someone lies on it?

“It’s kind of like the moment you imagine your whole life… I’ve seen that in movies. I’ve read that in books. You don’t want to miss out on that moment,” says Jessica Deegan, a woman profiled in a post at CBS News regarding this possibly new trend in engagement proposals. It’s true, many women have spent much of their lives dreaming of the special day their Prince Charming pledges his love forever, and letting go of that fantasy is difficult. Ultimately, it’s about the people involved and no one else.