In which I express extreme gratitude, on behalf of all the ladies, at being permitted to act on our own will once every four years.

Something has been bugging me this week. It’s not the fact that it’s February and the weather went all weird and beer-gardeny last weekend. It’s not the fact that lovely budget-conscious husband took this as a sign that it was spring and turned off the central heating, meaning that I’m typing this with my dressing gown on over my clothes because it all went winteresque again. It’s not even the revelation that wine is not my friend, which I noticed for the absolute first time this morning after going out last night and have never had any sort of prior experience of at all at all at all.

No. The thing that is bugging me is that every time I’ve turned on the tv, looked at a paper (or at least a news website, because, y’know, newspapers are so 2005), or fired up the interweb, people are talking about proposing. Well, not actually every time, obviously. That was an exaggeration for polemic effect. It has, however, happened at least twice, and that’s one more time than is needed to cause mild irritation.

The focus for the proposing frenzy was 29th February, the date on which women are allowed to propose to their partners, or indeed to any random male (or female – we’re pro-equality here) that passes their way. Much discussion has ensued in those corners of the media world where the understanding of what classes as news has been warped by too much time spent staring at shiny items and talking about slimming aids. I’ve heard actual grown-up people opine that a woman proposing doesn’t seem quite right, that it’s a bit desperate, that it’s really the Man’s Role.  All this discussion can be met with only one rational response…

What do you mean women are “allowed” to propose on 29th February? We’re allowed to propose anytime we like. We’re also allowed to go out to work, own property, open our own bank accounts, vote, wear trousers in public, paint our toe nails, not paint our toe nails, write great literature, read great literature, get an education, get a career, change our minds about said career and go back and get some different education, stand for Parliament, compete in the Olympics, take up country dancing, become naturists, become baristas, become barristers (which is different), become naturist barristers, drive cars, drive HGVs (like long-distance Clara), read the news, make the news, buy a trawler, buy a fashion magazine, get drunk, win a Grammy, win six Grammys, get angry, get happy, and, if we want to and we’ve found someone else who wants to too, get wed.

We’ve come a long way baby…

Author: Alison May

Writer. Creative writing teacher. Freelance trainer in the voluntary sector. Anything to avoid getting a real job... Aiming to have one of the most eclectic blogs around, because being interested in just one thing suggests a serious breakdown in curiousity.

10 thoughts on “In which I express extreme gratitude, on behalf of all the ladies, at being permitted to act on our own will once every four years.”

  1. Am sensing pom-poms aloft here! Which is good! Where is the mention of naturist baristas though? Possibly dangerous given the potential spillages of hot beverages… Anyway, good feminist post. I have heard a number of men opine of late that they would withdraw a proposal of marriage to a woman if she did not want to take his name… Women as possessions anyone? Goods and chattels perchance? Troubling.
    But when we exist in a world where Katie Price claims to be promoting feminist ideals, then what’s to be done?


  2. I proposed!! Not on 29th Feb obviously…AND I didn’t take my husbands surname. I remember an old colleague telling me I was breaking the law by keeping my surname and that I HAD to change it. Feminism has a long way to go…


  3. Right on sister!!! It’s pretty common here actually for a man to take his wifes surname. I think people often tend to keep the surname which is the most unusual. Good ‘Clara’ reference – bringing equality to pigeon street for the 80-talisters.

    We shouldn’t knock Katie Price too much. She balances having kids with a high profile career and has done pretty much everything that a woman is allowed to do apart from maybe buying a trawler and winning grammys. Pretty succesful I’d say…!?

    Good post – I actually had never heard of this strange ‘allowance’ 😎


    1. I don’t deny Ms. Price is very shrewd and successful… but I struggle with the idea of her endorsing feminism. Oh and I too clocked the Clara ref – I look forward to further childhood motifs in future: may I suggest Hong Kong Phooey?


  4. Proposing marriage? All sounds a bit Jane Austen to me. I thought all it took was two grown-ups who decide they want to spend a considerable part of their lives together, some of whom, for reasons which presumably make sense to them, decide to go through a quaint ritual called ‘marriage’.


  5. I asked my Mother in laws permission to prospse on leap year four years ago today. A post will be written on my blog today to celebrate, remember, commiserate or maybe explain. I hope you pop by and read. 😇


  6. Agree entirely of course, but I don’t think you can expect people who think women should only be allowed to propose on one day every 4 years, to get their head around women being allowed to propose to other women! I mean, what is the world coming to??


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