sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 3, 2021

romance reads pet peeves
posted by soe 1:30 am

I finished a book this morning. It was a cute, holiday-themed romance that was perfectly adequate — too many characters left underdeveloped, but generally a feeling of coziness and caring even among the ones who should have been edited out.

But its ending annoyed me, because there was a proposal, and it involved all the secondary characters knowing before the main character, as well as the casual comment about the love interest having asked the father for his permission or blessing or whatever.

I recognize that both those things happen in real life. Proposals, like so many other events, have become an opportunity for grandiose public gestures. There is intense pressure on the person being queried for an affirmative response, and unless that person has already confided that a) they’d like to marry you and b) they’ve always hoped to be proposed to in front of a million strangers, I’d suggest you keep your important questions to a more intimate setting.

But the part that more sets my teeth on edge is the asking of parents (particularly fathers) for permission to marry their daughter. It smacks of old-fashioned patriarchy and transactional relationships (“I will marry your daughter, as long as you include three cows and a hectare of land”), and I find it a wholly offensive gesture, rather than a romantic one. If you’ve already spent any significant amount of time with your love’s family, you know whether they like you or not. And, at the heart of it, it’s really not about them. It’s about the person you actually want to spend the rest of your life with, and their opinion should matter most of all. For the record, I told Rudi early on in our relationship that should he ever feel the need to propose, if he asked anyone else about it before me, my answer would automatically be no.

I recognize that not everyone feels this way, including some of my close friends. And in the end, marriage — and how you get there — is one of personal preference. So, you do you. But every novelist that includes that scene as something they feel is to be admired is getting knocked down a star in my rating book.

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