I didn’t want an engagement ring.
There were a few different reasons for this.
Tradition. My mother only has one ring, her engagement ring. My dad’s ring is also a ring my mom gave him to commemorate their engagement, as the Chinese wedding ceremony doesn’t involve the exchange of rings. If I was marrying P I knew the church ceremony would involve exchanging wedding rings and I didn’t want more than one ring. It just felt messy!
Equality. I also didn’t want a ring if P wasn’t going to have a ring, because it didn’t feel right that one of us should have a ring and the other not. It’s like Mrs vs Mr — the marked and the unmarked state. My marital status shouldn’t be any more significant than his, in fact or in presentation. (You might say, why not get P a ring then? I didn’t think P would want a ring, and indeed he didn’t when I asked.)
Disgust. The engagement ring to me symbolised everything I find repulsive about the wedding industry — actually, why limit it, everything I find repulsive about how society measures the value of women and consequently how women view themselves. The rock. She caught herself a man. (It always is a man in the discourse I’m thinking about.) It must cost a month’s salary or he doesn’t love you enough. It must cost three months’ salary or he doesn’t love you enough.
It stood for how women are still rated on whether they can “catch” or “keep” men, and it stood for the crassest materialism, for how women judge each other for stupid reasons. (Don’t get me wrong, I love judging other people! I just think “she has annoying opinions about The Lord of the Rings” is a good reason for being judgey and “her ring is too big/too small” is a dumbass reason.)
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I looked at women with engagement rings and went, “Oh look at her, selling out to the patriarchy.” Probably the most important reason anyway was:
Greed. I was worried that if I did get a ring I would be sucked into it — this uncritical starry-eyed marvelling over things that cost a lot of money. I do like pretty things, is the problem! I REALLY like pretty things. I was worried it would be a diversion from the important stuff.
Ultimately I didn’t see why we should get me an engagement ring if there was no good reason for it, and several reasons against. But there turned out to be one good reason for it: P wanted to get me one.
That was enough for me. I mean, I didn’t really argue about it, except to clarify that P was saying it because he really wanted to and not just ‘cos he thought he should, or thought I wanted it. One of the things he said was that I might want a ring because everyone would be asking me about it. I think if we’d gone with not getting a ring I’d have enjoyed that aspect of it, actually — subverting people’s expectations! (One girl actually asked me if I was joking when I said I was engaged because she couldn’t see a ring. :O)
I do love my delicate ring with its tiny sparkly diamonds and glowy yellow gold. (I used to like platinum and white gold when I was younger, but now I think it looks cold … Yellow gold is a nice friendly colour.) But I like to think I’d enjoy being engaged just as much without it.