Gender-based role expectations have changed a lot over the past 50 years. But one thing remains the same: Millennial women, just like their pre-feminist forerunners, still expect the man to be the one who proposes.
“It’s a script that’s emotional and cultural, and that’s really hard and slow to change,” according to Amanda Miller, a sociology professor at the University of Indianapolis and co-author of a study, “Waiting to Be Asked,” published in the Journal of Family Issues.
Miller and co-author Sharon Sassler, a professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University, interviewed 30 couples. In only two cases had the woman popped the question — and one of them said that she did so inadvertently.
It’s not that women are waiving their right to have a say in their future. “Women did not leave all relationship decisions in the hands of their male partners,” the study says. Many of them “advocated strongly for formalizing their relationships via engagement.”
Nor is it a case of men insisting on being in control. On the contrary, several of the men said that the pressure of making the proposal special — doing it in a way that would give their fiancées a memorable story to tell their friends — was something they gladly would have given up. “Proposing was often viewed as a burden,” Miller and Sassler reported.
So, why the insistence on the man proposing? Because that’s the way it’s always been done, apparently.
“Most of these couples adhere to conventional views, referencing tradition as a justification,” the study concluded. □