"Mengagement" rings on the rise

The latest in men's pun products: Is it a boon to equality -- or simply the jewelry industry?

Published February 18, 2010 5:01PM (EST)

Manscara. Meggings. Mantihose. Spanx for men. And now, the latest product repackaged for the men's market? Engagement rings. According to a story in the London Times, as men grow more comfortable with their girlfriends proposing, jewelers in the United Kingdom have seen an uptick in customers buying "mengagement" rings. The couple in the Times story -- Amy Scott and Alan Zammit -- saw it as a question of gender egalitarianism. The groom, Alan, explains: "I'm not one for jewelry -- I'm allergic to gold … But I am one for sexual equality. And when she asked me to marry her I just thought, 'Well, you've asked me to marry you, I want an engagement ring.'" 

Admittedly, the idea of engagement rings for men may be more of a boon to the jewelry industry than to women's rights, but, as the article points out, the rise of wearing male wedding bands in the United Kingdom is comparatively recent. (Though had they been marketed as "man bands" or "meddings," the Times points out, "the acceptability of male wedding rings might have been hampered a little.")

Sure, the idea of engagement rings for men is silly. But if you get down to brass tacks, the idea of engagement rings for women is pretty silly. Engagement bands for women since antiquity have marked the bride-to-be as a man's property or boasted the groom-to-be's wealth. The diamond engagement ring, now a centerpiece of the traditional engagement, has only been popular since the 1940s when copywriter Frances Garety came up with the slogan "A Diamond is Forever." In fact, as Rebecca Mead pointed out to Broadsheet back in 2007, in 1939 a third of women got married without an engagement ring. You know the drill: the wedding-industrial complex! Blood diamonds! Bridezillas!

Are mengagement rings harbinger of deep social change? Probably not. Do you need to buy one for your future hubby? Nope. But if you want to, and you can afford it, no one's stopping you. When it comes down to it, mengagement rings aren't much more ridiculous than any of the other trappings of most weddings. It's cheesy enough to serve crackers with, but it's true: what really matters is the guy you're mengaged to.


By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in New York City.

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