Sunday, August 23, 2009

Personal is Political: Ring edition

I thought I’d share some of the decisions Justin and I made in our engagement that we hope reflect our sensibilities and our beliefs about gender and relationships. I hope for this to be the beginning of a series on this blog about a variety of life choices that I see as political in some small way.

When Justin and I started talking about engagement, and looking at rings online we had fun looking at a wide range of things. I felt strongly about wanting a conflict-free gemstone, and about not spending too much money. We quickly learned that I couldn’t have both those things and also have a diamond. More shopping and some serendipity led us to a sapphire in a beautiful filigree setting that was already just my size, which I love.

The more we shopped for women’s rings, the more I wanted one. But one day Justin brought up how him giving me an engagement ring didn’t seem to represent our relationship very well. I agreed that the engagement ring tradition seems linked to traditions of status and marking ownership of a woman that doesn’t sit well with the way we see our relationship. But we were having so much fun shopping!

So we started looking for men’s rings. We wanted something that didn’t necessarily look like a wedding band, but that was still elegant and manly. We were excited when we found a designer on etsy who lives in Athens, GA whose work we loved, and I got Justin a ring in silver that we might replace with gold or platinum for our wedding bands.

Like a lot of the choices we are facing in our relationship, I’m happy with both of us having rings because it honors some of the elements of the tradition that I like: signifying our commitment in a way other people will be able to see and understand, honoring each other with a pretty gift. But it avoids some of the problems: irresponsible spending, unequal giving.

When I lay it out this way, it feels like a silly thing to spend so many pixels on. But I like that we made a few small unusual choices, and that they are weird enough that they sometimes bring up questions, which allows us to talk about our values.


Morgan said...

I fully respect and admire your decision. You probably could have guessed that, but just wanted to say it. :)

Debra Rienstra said...

Congratulations to you both! Great rings, responsible choices, good for you. Now, when you have your babies baptized naked, then I'll be impressed with your commitment to making countercultural statements.

suz said...

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for blogging about this! So much of the becoming married process has been co-opted by "tradition". My partner and I did something similar...and we later found out it's Dutch tradition for a male to also have an engagement ring.

La Historiadora de Moda said...

I just came across your blog from The Glamorous Grad Student.

What a great idea for you both to have engagement rings! My soon-to-be husband is not a big jewelry person and is allergic to a lot of alloys so that played a role in some of the decisions we made picking out his ring.