Is it time for women to do the asking?

Friday, December 11th, 2020 00:00 |
Is it time for women to do the asking?

We are now living in a world where ladies are not afraid to make the first move such us going in for a kiss or asking for a phone number on a man they fanc. But why is the idea of them proposing still mindboggling?

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra

The festive season is finally here when pressure piles on singles to get hitched before the year ends.

So as a woman, you have been friends with this guy who ticks all the boxes in your list. Only that he is yet to propose to you. Would you go ahead and pop the question first? 

Ideally, women are meant to wait, not to rush or ‘trap’ men. In any case if a woman decides to propose to her man, she is branded as ‘bossy’ by their male counterparts and also makes her appear desperate.

In fact, for some, a woman would rather call it quits if her man takes long to propose than go down on one knee.

But few women have been bold enough to propose. Elizabeth Warren, an American politician proposed to Bruce Mann, a law professor, in a classroom. 

Singer Alecia Beth Moore professionally known as P!nk proposed to Carey Hart, a motorcross pro after dating for a few years by holding up a sign that said ‘Will You Marry Me? I’m serious!’ as he raced.

He missed it the first time he went around, but as soon as he noticed it, he pulled over and said ‘yes’!

Here in Kenya, many people still follow the traditional model where men propose. 

Surveys have shown that women proposed in only around five per cent of heterosexual married couples.

But proposing is a huge decision, one that can shape the rest of your life, so why would 95 per cent of women who presumably want to get married just wait around for it to happen?

“I don’t think I can ever propose to a man because it is going against societal norms. It is not in my place to do that.

Therefore, I will hint it to my boyfriend until he realises that he has to propose,” says Leilah Busienei.

“Other than society being a barrier. I just don’t see how I can gather the confidence to ask a man to marry me. That might even affect my self-esteem,” says Mercy Nanzayi.

Gladys Nyachieo, a sociologist at Multimedia University concurs that in most cases, women see it as a big deal because it goes against the norm.

She adds that despite the feminist revolution, where women took careers long held by men, proposing is still considered a masculine move.

“Although we are past the phase where gender roles are changing, the idea of a woman proposing will take a while to sink in the society.

If a man doesn’t propose, it could mean he is not ready, or is not interested,” says Nyachieo.

In her opinion, many women might feel the pressure of proposing, but would not do it for fear of how their friends and family will judge them. 

“If a woman proposes, a man might just agree, because he is supposed to be a gentleman. But a woman comes out as aggressive, a bully or someone without manners,” she explains.

“Our grandmothers and aunts told us being bold is considered a flaw—and when it comes to a relationship, it’s even more frowned upon.

Women don’t want to be seen as less feminine, or too sexual, or coming on too strong,” she adds.

Nicoleta Muingai, a psychologist/marriage therapist, concurs that a woman proposing goes against society’s expectation. 

No big deal 

Culturally, a man might feel inferior if a woman proposes. “The problem is we want to do things like the West, but we are not there yet. We still have a long way to go in terms of letting go of our culture,” she says.  

“It is okay for a woman to get an idea of proposing to a partner that she has been waiting on for too long.

But the moment, she takes action, the narrative will change. The man will constantly feel like you forced him to be with you,” she says.

But on a brighter note, Mungai says that some men raised in a modern set up would find no fault in women proposing.

We are now living in a world where women are not afraid to make the first move such us going in for a kiss or asking for a phone number.

Generally, many couples have already had casual discussions around getting married and building a future together prior to a proposal. It’s not about ‘if’ but rather ‘when’ they will get married. 

The male ego is a real thing. “Before proposing to your boyfriend, ask yourself if he’s open to the idea. If your boyfriend is more traditional, your proposal might throw him off guard.

What if he’s been dreaming up the perfect proposal since he met you, and you stole his thunder?

At the end of the day, you need to know your boyfriend to know if your proposal will be romantic or not,” advises Beatrice Nderitu a sociologist.

Rebecca Odipo says it is wise to let him know exactly what your intensions are. “So, yeah I will pop the question.

In fact, I believe many of my male friends haven’t proposed to their women because they fear being turned down since the girls have decided to wait.

But if these ladies proposed, the uncertainty wouldn’t be there and no time would be wasted.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be in public, you could do it in the house while you are just the two of you,” she says.

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