Public proposals: Male ego

RUBY HAMAD
Last updated 05:05 11/11/2013
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JUSTIN & EMILY: This future groom's 27 minute proposal video takes the act of popping the question to a whole new level.

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Another week; another public marriage proposal. Now that our collective narcissism has reached the point where "proposal planner" is a job that actually exists, we can all watch in horrified fascination as men succumb to yet another opportunity to outdo each other when it comes to impressing The Ladeez. 

So just what does a guy have to do to make a girl say "yes" these days? Well, New Yorker Chirag Shah decided that proposing to his girlfriend Simone Jhingoor live on America's Today show was the way to go. 

Jhingoor works for the Bronx-based Women's Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco), an organisation intent on building a "more beautiful, equitable and economically vibrant Bronx" through "energy-efficient, healthy and affordable homes; early childhood education and youth development; home-based childcare microenterprise and food business incubation; family support services; and arts programming." 

Pretty impressive stuff, right? So it was pretty neat that Today was willing to give her a public platform to discuss this admirable work.

Or so she thought. Unbeknown to her, Jhingoor's prankster boyfriend had orchestrated her entire appearance on the breakfast show specifically to propose.

In other words, Today could give two hoots about Jhingoor's work at the non-profit that helps 35,000 families a year, but they did think it was remarkable that a young man wanted to marry her.

"She Said Yes!", the show's website triumphantly gloated, seemingly unfazed by Jhingoor's initial reaction. "I thought I was here talking about my organisation!" she exclaimed. "I'm giving back to the community!"

Look, Shah seems like a nice enough chap who loves his now fiancee, but surely he must have had an inkling that this stunt kind of undermines the claim that society has moved beyond the presumption that the greatest thing that could ever happen to a woman is for a man to want to marry her.

See the video here.

I know we are meant to coo with delight every time some dude interrupts a basketball game or TV show to propose, but public proposals manipulate women into saying "yes" or risk backlash for not playing by the rules.

They are the internet's version of those "romantic" films where dorky guys chase after the beautiful girl of their dreams who foolishly resists their advances.

But it's a good thing our plucky heroes don't give up easily because eventually the girl comes around. She has to, you see, because he just tried so gosh darn hard to "get her" and now she owes him, damn it.

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That's just the way the script goes. Would you want to be forever known as the bitch that turned down that poor guy on live television?

I get that Shah is likely very proud of Jhingoor's achievements and it's probably a large part of why he loves her. But the thing is, we don't know her. She's just a woman we saw on TV for a brief moment who was about to speak but got cut off by her ring-wielding boyfriend.

I'm sure he is not alone in thinking he was being romantic, but in a world that still refuses to give women equal air time, that is dominated by male voices and male politicians and that remains actively hostile to women who express their views in a public space, Shah's proposal just adds to the problem.

What Shah essentially did was say that there is nothing the world needs to know about this woman other than the fact he wants to marry her.

No doubt Shah himself was feeling the pressure to do a "big" proposal now that every milestone in everyone's life has to be celebrated, shared and disseminated to a public audience. 

Men are upping the proposal stakes and no scenario is too outrageous. Consequently, for all the talk about them being the Happiest Moment In Every Woman's Life, public proposals are little more than vanity projects for men.

To this end, Shah's bait-and-switch actually pales in comparison to Russian man Alexey Bykov's plan to give his girlfriend Irina Kolokov an offer she couldn't refuse.

He faked his own death in a car crash.

When Kolokov turned up at a chosen meeting spot, she found her boyfriend lying motionless in a pool of blood. As she burst into tears, a paramedic, who - haha - was really an actor, told her Bykov was dead. After kindly permitting her to grieve for a few moments, Bykov jumped up and asked her to marry him.

She Said Yes!

"I wanted her to realise how empty her life would be without me and how life would have no meaning without me," the modest proposer told reporters. 

But surely the moment the public proposal phenomenon plunged to its nadir was earlier this year when, in what Buzzfeed gushingly described as "The Most Over-The-Top Wedding Proposal Of All Time Ever", a minor actor and filmmaker, Justin Baldoni, proposed to his girlfriend Emily Foxler via a 27-minute video

Yes, it took him 27 minutes to pop the question. In a video.

In "Justin and Emily: The Proposal", he arranges for her to watch a giant TV screen as she waits for him to arrive at their favourite restaurant. We are then treated to almost 20 minutes of, among other shenanigans, Justin pretending to be the lead singer in a boy band, Justin dancing while dressed as a Sexy Woman (WTF?), Justin leading a flash mob, Justin asking Emily's father for her hand in marriage AT HER FATHER'S GRAVE.

Who says proposals are all about women? One wonders why he bothered including her name in the video title at all. I look forward to "Justin and Justin: The Wedding":

Clearly, Justin is a canny guy who knows a prime opportunity to improve his Klout score when he sees one. When Justin finally materialises in the flesh before Emily, he gets down on his tired cliche, bended knee, flanked by his own entire family and Emily's mother who he flew in from another city.

It was all so carefully scripted. So naturally, She Said Yes!

- Daily Life

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