Our guest blogger today is Justine Rayborn, a Siegel Fellow at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. — Justine shares a probing meditation on a powerful cultural symbol...
I'm that little girl. Assuming vaguely that ALL little girls dream of a beautiful princess wedding some day. Every day I’m counting down to a wedding I haven’t even been asked to have yet. Most people get engaged before they hope for a wedding. But what does a giant diamond costing several thousand dollars sitting atop a freshly manicured hand actually mean? If a man loves you... shouldn’t that be enough? Why is it that I, like I’m sure a lot of the world, desire a rock to symbolize love? Why is it that my monogamous relationship with my boyfriend is in need of a materialistic validation? The reason I ask... is because I don’t quite know the answer.
I suppose I revert to my ten-year-old self on the daily every time I scroll down Pinterest and add things to my ‘wedding board’. Even more so when I drag my boyfriend into 100 different jewelry stores to remind him for the UMPTEENTH time, that I soon want that rock on my finger. But what is it that makes us women crave that ring? Would a wedding be the same without a proposal that had a ring? Does the ring truly symbolize the undying love a man has for you... or is an engagement ring just an expensive way for a man to mark his territory?
I guess it all depends on what commitment means to you. I’ve met people who don’t believe in marriage at all, people who don’t believe in wedding rings and instead have matching tattoos… and then there’s me who simply (or not so simply) wants a lovely diamond. But let’s be real: Do I want that diamond because I think it changes the love my boyfriend and I share… or would it change our wedding in any way if I didn’t have one? Or do I want that ring so that every girl who sees it is envious and knows my ‘fiancé' is taken?
It doesn't seem to me that an engagement ring is simply an engagement ring anymore. Something has changed the meaning for us. So all that's left is to ask myself, do I want a shiny ring to symbolize our love – or have rings become a relationship brand – a jealousy inducer... that I too have become a victim to.