Diamonds Are A Girl’s Crappy Backstabbing Friend

Hello readers, long time no see! Welcome back to my silly little blog!

Let me preface this by saying no I’m not engaged, no I have no plans of getting engaged, and no this isn’t some subtle attempt to get my boyfriend to propose. And no I’m not being ironic with that last part, I promise. I’d also like to preface this by saying I swear I started writing this weeks before CollegeHumor put out their wonderful little Valentine’s Day video about engagement rings. No, really!

However, due to the sudden holiday influx of wedding mania from newly engaged friends on Pinterest, I HAVE been perusing wedding-themed items and planning tips a bit more than usual. Enough that both Facebook and Google think that Brilliant Earth ads on my sidebar are appropriate (then again, visiting theknot.com just to look at my sister’s old page does the same thing, so I don’t think I’ve been looking that much). Why Brilliant Earth, you ask? Whelp, let’s just say I’m not a fan of crippling oppression, civil war, and human rights violations. But as I started doing a little more research, I found the following things:

1. Diamonds are SEVERELY overpriced (caused by a monopoly on them for so long by the De Beers Group).

2. Diamonds aren’t rare, we just think they are because we’re told they are.

3. Diamonds are pretty worthless, actually.

4. Diamonds as a symbol of romance is a psychologically fabricated illusion that’s only been in place for less than 100 years.

So that brings us to the question… Why the hell do I want a diamond in the first place?

Let’s focus on #4 shall we? Back in the good old days, in say, the 1920s, diamond engagement rings just weren’t a thing. Modern women (and men!) have been brainwashed into believing that diamonds are “forever” (a hardcore De Beers marketing ploy to get people to not try to pawn their rocks and find out that they aren’t worth, well, anything, and you just wasted three grand on a hunk of carbon). How many times in your life have you heard it espoused that diamonds are the ultimate representation of romance? That their indestructibility is the perfect symbol for everlasting love?

Ugh. Bullshit.

First of all, diamonds aren’t indestructible, they’re just really tough. Jewelers tell buyers all the time that diamonds can chip and break from a hard knock, or even from falling in the right/wrong place. We’ve arbitrarily put a ton of value, both economically and emotionally, on fused carbon that can be easily replicated in a lab. There are claims (by diamond retailers, of course) that lab-created diamonds, which I suppose are a good alternative to mined diamonds if you’re concerned about human rights and “blood diamond” issues, are simply not as “beautiful”  and don’t have the “fire” of a real (read: mined) diamond. (Also, what the hell is “fire?” Who came up with that crap? Oh, wait, probably De Beers.)

Let’s get one thing straight. If you have a diamond engagement ring, diamond jewelry, just fucking LOVE diamonds, I don’t care. You do you. What I’m trying to examine here is why we (let’s say, American women) feel the need to have a diamond engagement ring. The sad thing is, I’m not exempt. It’s this weird battle between my conscious and subconscious; it doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that DIAMONDS SUCK AND IF YOU GET ONE YOU’RE A SELLOUT (or any variation thereof), I still want one. Need one even. It just feels “wrong” not to. And even if I do finally reach that enlightenment of knowing and feeling that having a diamond is stupid and useless and wasteful, I guarantee that I will have friends and family that will judge me and — more importantly — my partner for not getting one.

It’s very similar to wearing a white wedding dress. We’ve put a lot of cultural significance into the need for a bride to wear white on her wedding day to symbolize her virginity and chasteness (ignoring the fact that it’s going to be entirely spoiled by her husband that very night — that’s another issue altogether). It’s just plain silly in the modern era to believe that a bride in white is a virgin. (I particularly love pregnant brides that insist on pure white, but that’s just me being spiteful.) Why do we feel the need to follow these antiquated and sexist traditions? I look at a blue or pink or gold (or even cocktail-length) wedding dress and my immediate thought is “TACKY BITCH”. That’s just not fair. And unfortunately, I have a similar reaction when I see a pearl or emerald or sapphire or onyx or opal or… you get the idea, engagement ring. It doesn’t matter how fantastically gorgeous that alternative ring might be, my gut reaction is one of aversion. And I hate myself for it!

I could take this from a cultural anthropology perspective and say that these traditions are what make us who we are in the modern world. A valid point, but it’s also entirely possible to change those traditions through paradigm shifts in how we see ourselves in the context of our material culture. But that’s fucking hard, and probably won’t happen in our lifetimes. In heterosexual relationships anyway, men will continue to buy women diamond rings because they know/fear the scathing response they’ll receive in response to anything else. (Sorry dudes.)

I’m not saying it’s inherently wrong to desire a diamond engagement ring, but rather that there are some serious problems with our expectation that future marriage needs to be represented by something so… inconsequential.

My solution? My usual one: goddamn quality communication. Talk to your partner about what you want, what they want, what you can afford together. One day, I might decide I don’t need an engagement ring at all, and wouldn’t that be awesome? But until then, I’m stuck in this rut of cultural expectation that I can’t consciously overcome. And it sucks.

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If anyone out there has a non-diamond engagement ring, I’d love to see it in the comments!! (Let’s call it exposure therapy, yes?)

Feminist Sexism

***BIG EDIT: WATCH THIS NOW

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a happy reader of Cosmopolitan magazine. I think that it broke a great deal of ground on openness about female sexuality. I have a year’s subscription that I got for just $5 off Amazon during a sale. I generally enjoy reading Cosmo, but there are certain aspects of the magazine that I just can’t stand. The fact that a great portion of it only caters to straight women is just one of them (come on Cosmo, grow a backbone like Oreo!).

At any rate, I was finishing up reading the July issue (does it irritate anyone else that magazines come out the month before the date they’re labeled for? It’s like new cars that are called the next year’s model), which had Demi Lovato (yeah I’m gonna be honest I didn’t know who she was until now) on the cover in a hideous yellow zipper dress with cutouts, her obvious hair extensions blowing in the breeze. Headlines include “SEX SUN FUN,” “Sex He Craves,” and “Cosmo’s Weird Little Love Rule (It Works!).” I have to flip through four pages of ads before I get to the contents. Let’s turn to page 108, shall we, the “Weird Little Love Rule,” or, why I’m so pissed off right now. All quotes are directly from the article.

“Why He Should Love You – This Much – More Than You Love Him” (This Much in smaller type)

What. The. Fuck.

Excuse me, what did you say? My man should love me more than I love him?

First of all, Cosmo always, and I mean always, assumes that men who are complete assholes are the most attractive to twenty-something-thirty-something women. It’s “a lot easier to fall for the guy who doesn’t acknowledge your existence.” I’m sorry, but I actually enjoy being treated like a human being as opposed to a piece of ass, so stop encouraging us by including the topic in every article. This article apparently needs to assure the readers that a man who loves you more than you love him is still attractive and totally “doable.” Strike one for double sexism.

Secondly, it assures the readers that a man loving you more than you love him is putting the woman in a position of power. It assumes that women think men who are into them are clingy and needy, instead of just falling for them. Even when the article discusses how relationships fluctuate, having less feelings for the other person is considered having “the upper hand.” Like you’re competing with your partner and whoever is more cold-hearted wins. Ever heard of equality in a relationship? Strike two for double sexism.

Also, “experts agree that picking a guy who digs you about 10 percent more than you dig him is smart.” Smart. As in, if we don’t we’re doing it wrong. It must be true because “experts[!]” say so! Strike three for sexism against women, IN A WOMEN’S MAGAZINE!

The last, and perhaps the most frustrating issue I have with this article is that it emphasizes that men who are more into you than you’re into them let you be yourself from the beginning – instead of hiding your true self weeks, months, years before you’re comfortable around him. Did it ever occur to the writer, or the editors, that you should be authentic from the get-go regardless of whether he likes you more or not? If you’re authentic and he doesn’t like you, well sucks for you but at least you didn’t have to waste your time pretending. Strike… four(?) for double sexism again!

If you’ve read the article you may agree with me, you may not. You might feel that I’m oversimplifying it. Yes, it’s true that relationships ebb and flow with time. But authenticity is the most important thing. Cosmo fails in its mission to empower women with some of its articles, like this one, and promotes treating men like cattle. Sex tips are great, health and gynecological information is also awesome in Cosmo. But they should stay away from love because…

Who cares who loves who more in the beginning, the goal is to be happy, healthy, and in-love. It’s not a game. It’s not a competition between men and women. We cannot remove sexism from our society without acknowledging that men and women are EQUAL because they are HUMAN.

Thank you for reading!

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