Friday, March 19, 2010

Politically Correct Commitment Tokens

Martin Donohoe has an article in the Human Rights Quarterly about how immoral flowers, diamonds, and gold are - that is, the very things men are most likely to give women as tokens of love and commitment.

He ends with this suggestion for alternatives:

Substitute gifts include cards (ideally printed on recycled paper), poems,
photos, collages, videos, art, home improvement projects, homemade meals,
and donations to charities.
I don't think most of these will work. Part of the point of a commitment gift, such as an engagement ring or a wedding band, is not aimed at the beloved women. Rather, they are meant to show the world that he has taken the plunge to commit to her only. Donohoe's suggestions of actions, rather than objects, strikes me as a particularly male way of showing love. All of these objects and actions are good and would, likely, be appreciated for their intention. But they do not take the place of engagement rings and wedding bands. If he wants an alternative to diamonds and gold, he needs something a little more public, substantial - and probably shiny.


Anonymous said...

I have been wishing for new symbols for a long time. Few things are more damaging to our planet on a human or environmental scale, and yet so pointless outside of our cultural context as a diamond embedded in gold. At least coal turns the lights on, and oil gets us places. There is no reason it has to be gold and diamond other than the fact that that's what de beers tells us true love needs. Bahh i get so frustrated with that garbage, and yet I know that when it comes time, guess what I'll be buying.

Black Sea said...

Flowers are immoral?

Percy said...

Flowers are VERY immoral.

Floriculture Industry – Thorns without Borders.

Another anti-capitalist weirdo?

Commerce bad. Hairy under arms good.

Kelly said...

I'd think buying a non-diamond ring would be a good alternative. I think a lot of women (especially my generation (gen X/Y)) might like a gemstone better than a diamond. I'd personally like a silver/platinum/tungsten garnet engagement ring better than a gold diamond ring.
And really, flowers? What's the argument there?

Gruntled said...

The gripe about flowers were the pesticides, as well as the fuel, etc., to fly them fresh around the world.

Gruntled said...

By the way, I gave Mrs. G. an opal engagement ring that had been my great-grandmother's. It did the job just fine.

Katie said...

Dr. Weston,

I think that your token of commitment was perfect. You set a fine example.

While it's awesome to give a family heirloom if you have one, it would also show a lot of time and thought (and love!) for a suitor to track down a beautiful antique ring somewhere.

Choose to not buy new--you can still get the ring without harming the world.

Rebecca said...

When we were dating, my husband overheard me say that I love grapefruit but that they are too expensive for me to buy on a regular basis. He then brought them to me before a date in lieu of flowers.

I know the grapefruit were probably grown with pesticides and that they had been shipped across the country. But it was still touching...and edible. Perhaps if we teach our hypothetical sons to buy local or, better yet, to cultivate their own commitment tokens then it will be a step in the right direction.

Victoria Wheeler said...

One option we looked into (but didn't pursue) when we were getting engaged was these new laboratory produced diamonds. They can make them more perfectly, and they're more expensive than normal diamonds, but worth less, of course. A lot of eco-friendly but traditional brides I saw looked into that. And then, as others have suggested, one of my friends who recently got engaged chose sapphire instead of a diamond for her ring. There are plenty of shiny, eco-friendly options, so I'm surprised that the author didn't mention those.