Features

Why the leap-year proposal is a nonsense

The idea that women must wait for 29 February implies that we’re not allowed to propose whenever we want

27 February 2016

9:00 AM

27 February 2016

9:00 AM

I’m planning to propose to my boyfriend this leap year. I’m proposing that he earns another £10,000 and loses a stone. But marriage? Hell, no.

I don’t know why, in the age of equality, society still endorses women going down on bended knee on one solitary day every four years. The internet blames it on St Bridget, who in the 5th century allegedly complained that some men took too damn long to propose. It was St Patrick, though, who came up with the wheeze of granting us special dispensation to propose every 29 February.

But to propose on this day is hideously outdated. It is tacky. It is tabloid. It is a love cliché. It’s like getting married on Valentine’s Day, or like showering your amore with pink heart-shaped helium balloons and packets of Milk Tray. Like anything romantic done in a manner dictated by convention, it is the opposite of passion — it is pre-planned japes. It also smacks of exhibitionism. It is akin to getting down on one knee at the top of the Eiffel Tower or popping the question via flashmob. It has all the nauseating showmance of a Richard Curtis film. Gestures barely acceptable in Hollywood movies are absolutely never OK in real life. My own nightmare is of some chap proposing to me on the London Eye, me saying ‘no’, and then being trapped in a Perspex pod of awkwardness for an hour.

The very notion that women must wait patiently for four years to pass and 29 February to arrive depends upon the assumption that we’re not allowed to propose whenever the hell we want. The leap year proposal is a myth perpetuated to keep women in their place. Women do not need one ‘special day’. If we want to get married we should just ask.

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All the best women do the proposing. Zsa Zsa Gabor claims she proposed to all nine of her husbands. The actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Hudson and the singer Pink did so too.

It makes sense for us to propose. We are better at planning and we know which ring we want (a 23-carat pink princess-cut diamond, thanks very much). We are decisive about our love lives, so we won’t faff around waiting for The Moment. We are not afraid of rejection (we already face it every time we try on size 10 jeans).

And we have had quite enough of men’s appalling efforts at wooing us: petrol station flowers, crotchless red Ann Summers panties. We do not want to have to tell our grandkids, ‘I remember when your grandfather sent me an engagement ring emoji…’

When women propose, they propose with panache. The popstar Pink held up a sign during her boyfriend’s motocross race. It said: ‘Will you marry me?’ He ignored it on the first lap, so she held up another sign: ‘I’m serious!’

I love it when women pop the question. It proves we don’t have to sit around waiting to be chosen, as if our marital status depended on a 19th-century ballroom dance. I like to get really drunk and propose on a first date. But now that I’m tied down to a permanent boyfriend I can’t do that any more, so I just scream ‘MARRY ME’ at regular intervals. My man complains these proposals are so random as to be totally meaningless. But this is the point of them. I love all the drama of an engagement but I’m not quite sure I want to be stuck with him for life.

Marriage, after all, has lost many of its advantages. We no longer need to get hitched in order to escape our parents’ home. And as for money — we tend to earn more than our suitors. With none of these inducements, why sign up to a lifetime of mediocre sex? After all, these days, if it doesn’t work out, we may be robbed of all our winnings in the divorce. A girl sees how much the X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini seems likely to have to shell out and she shudders.

On reflection, it’s not surprising women dally for up to 1,460 days before proposing. What’s surprising nowadays is that they bother getting married at all.

Katie Glass is a writer for the Sunday Times.

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Show comments
  • Todd Unctious

    Some believe women can propose marriage at any time during a leap year. But if the man refuses a proposal on the 29th itself he is supposed to pay a fine. Traditionally several pairs of gloves to hide her shame at having no engagement ring.
    Like many intercalary days traditional gender roles are reversed. The extra days in the Roman calender at the end of December to balance theyear arecwhen we now have Panto with its leading “boys” and its dames played by men.

  • http://mikepower.net Mike Power

    “… the leap-year proposal is a nonsense.” Yep, we all know it is. In the real world it has absolutely no significance for anyone. It’s like mistletoe at Christmas. So why even bother to write an article about it?

    • Mary Ann

      It’s a space filler, or on television, a time filler.

      • hobspawn

        From the horse’s mouth.

    • samton909

      The internet has a voracious maw that constantly needs to be fed idiotic click bait that makes no sense at all. Hence, this article.

  • Scarlet_Billows

    But why don’t more women propose on all the other days, then?

  • MikePage

    Please please please don’t let the Speccie go the same way as the DT with trolling like this.

    • s.zorin

      What is ‘DT’ ?

      • SunnyD

        the shakes one gets when going without drink

      • MikePage

        Delirium Tremens, an overwhelmingly negative pervasive mental, emotional and physical state brought about by the knowledge that Dan Hodges is still employed. Employable, even.

  • SP_UK

    I don’t think anyone actually takes the “women can only propose on a leap day” thing seriously. It’s just a joke, not worth writing an angry feminist article about.

  • johnhenry

    I think the attitude about relationships between men and women exemplified by Katie Glass in this puff piece for feminists and metrosexuals is why relationships between men and women are so sad.

  • davidofkent

    Few people get married these days. A leap year proposal is just a bit of fun. Get over it.

    • Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      In the UK 51.3% of over 16s are married and 520,000 people each year get married. How is that “few”?

      • johnhenry

        Does that 520,000 figure include same-sex and bi-sex and trans-sex and sex-questioning and inter-species marriages? I thought you died yesterday, Father?

        • Father Todd Untious

          That was Father Jack Hackett from Craggy Island.

      • davidofkent

        ‘are married’ includes many thousands like me of an older generation when marriage was normal. My statement was ‘few people get married these days’. About half a million marrying each year doesn’t seem very high to me.

        • Father Todd Untious

          Each year about 800,000 are born. So there are about that number in each years cohort, adjusted for a bit of migration and few deaths. 520,000 does include about 18.7% as second marriages. This leaves just over half of people getting married for the first time.

  • Tickertapeguy

    Quoting the article “I’m planning to propose to my boyfriend this leap year. I’m proposing that he earns another £10,000 and loses a stone. But marriage? H*ll, no.”

    I agree. who cares about marriage when a man can enjoy the fun of intimacy without the responsibility that goes with it? if she gets pregnant let her deal with it. If she falls in love hey why bother? there is always another around the corner. Men can have such fun without ever parting with our money and inheritance. Commitment is for “losers” um the women lose quite a lot.

  • Joe Sixpack

    This article might have been brave 30 years ago. But now it comes across as humourless. Hope lots of you ladies propose to your man tomorrow!

  • s.zorin

    Here comes another Jewess, after so many other feminist Jew indoctrinators of hate and disorder, like Betty Friedan, Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem, telling stupid ‘shiksas’ [christian she animals, as the Jews call them] that the purpose of a woman’s life is to act counter to christian beliefs which have built and maintained the institution of family and the civilisation of the now dying Europe.
    Jewess Katie Glass’ article is a continuation of the Jew psychotic destructive agenda.

  • davidofkent

    It would be interesting to know how many women proposed to their boyfriends. And how many of the boyfriends said No!

  • hxfc25

    Did I accidentally click on a link to the Grauniad and not the Spectator? The leap year proposal is nothing more than a funny tradition that no one takes seriously any more (was it ever taken seriously, or was it just a little bit of fun gender-reversal role-play typical of Medieval humour?). I’m not sure how feminists can rationalise equality with the propagation of this joyless, protective hand-holding – ‘abolish all silly little traditions, particularly ones with any possible connection to Christianity, as it might offend some women’.

  • http://www.JeremyChamberlain.com SOCEagle
  • newyearsrunner

    Dear Fraser, Please do not continue printing this sort of nonsense. There is enough of it in the Guardian and Sunday Times Style, without it littering the pages of the Spectator. Regards.

  • Arnold Franken

    Marriage is a total con. Women almost invariably only want to marry men who are higher status than them and earn a higher income. Most women are basically parasites.

  • s.zorin

    Reposted comment [was it offending ?]
    Here comes another Jewess, after so many other feminist Jew indoctrinators of hate and disorder, like Betty Friedan, Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem, telling stupid ‘shiksas’ [christian she animals, as the Jews call them] that the purpose of a woman’s life is to act counter to christian beliefs which have built and maintained the institution of family and the civilisation of the now dying Europe.
    Jewess Katie Glass’ article is a continuation of the Jew psychotic destructive agenda.

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