Saturday, 5 November 2011

On Romance, Proposals and Pressure

Today I had the grave misfortune of witnessing something no one should ever have to see. Just to observe it made me feel so unclean that I wanted to peel my skin off and soak it in bleach. I'm talking about this: 

(apologies for me being shit at HTML and not being able to embed it at the correct size)

If you can't watch it, I don't blame you. This was my face when I saw it:

The story goes like this - some poor, innocent woman is on her way home on a London Overground train. She is minding her own business, and then some twat starts singing. He is joined by several more twats. OH NOES! IT'S A FLASHCHOIR, HOW EMBARRASSING. Poor, innocent woman carries on sitting around in a bemused fashion while they do their little piece. The relief in the carriage is palpable when they look like they're about to stop... surprisingly no one has pulled the emergency brake and done a barrel roll out of the nearest window... THEY'VE STOPPED! Finally! Oh wait, what's this? Oh god... oh... no. NO. It's poor innocent woman's boyfriend, wielding a ring. He proposes, she cries, a nation vomits.

It's things like this that make me certain that there's no god. Any benevolent deity would have smited this bloke into next week before the idea had even crossed his mind.

I understand that this couple are happy, in their own special little way, and that's great for them. I'm genuinely pleased that two people who like that atrocious song have found each other and have decided to publicly declare that they don't want to knob other people. Honestly, I am. But it worries me.

The thing about proposals of this ilk, is that apart from being so toe-curlingly mortifying that kittens spontaneously combust whenever they are mentioned, they are pretty fucking creepy and demeaning.

This schmaltzy crap annoys the fuck out of me. All I can think when I watch it is "but what if she wanted to say no?"

The pressure faced by people who are subject to this kind of overblown public gesture is immense, and worrying. Check out this video, where the woman says no:

Even from a few seconds in, strangers are shouting at her to "SAY YES!". When she eventually runs away, everyone starts calling her 'brutal'. Which, you know, I consider a bit fucking harsh. The suggested videos all tell the same story too, with titles such as "Poor guy gets rejected".

It's like people want these women to just say yes just to please them. The woman has no decision - the man she ostensibly loves has gone to all this effort and spent all this money to make a big, ridiculous, over-the-top gesture. Who is she to say no after that?

I don't even believe that it is done for the benefit of the proposee. It's done, as with other big romantic gestures, so the guy looks like a hero. Look how much work he did! Isn't he awesome?!

Romance shouldn't be about one flash gimmick designed to make people who don't know you think you're cool. It shouldn't cost the earth and require all your efforts. It shouldn't be a cliche from a film, it should be something personal between the people involved. One of the nicest things my boyfriend has ever done for me was to get a pizza delivered to my house when I was too hungover to move. That, my friends, is real love.


  1. "Romance shouldn't be about one flash gimmick designed to make people who don't know you think you're cool. It shouldn't cost the earth and require all your efforts. It shouldn't be a cliche from a film, it should be something personal between the people involved."

    Too true! My parents wedding proposal went something along the lines of my mum saying "I suppose we should get married" and my dad aggreeing. They've been married over 35 years now, that's how these things should work.

  2. I proposed over a pint. I didn't buy a ring first. I don't get people who make the assumption that someone they've never discussed marriage with will agree to a lifelong commitment. Maybe they're the same people who jump the lights at level crossings.

  3. Just think- if she hadn't said yes to Lee Evans, they never would've gotten to finish their song!

    That you would subsequently upload this to YouTube must surely prove that you're feeling pretty happy with yourself: not only have you proposed in public, dangling your big 'grand gesture' in front of a carriageful of commuters, but you've decided to make the event even *more* public- viral, even- by allowing thousands of people you'll never meet to watch your girlfriend's emotional Waterloo. And the guy is the Romantic Hero (who can presumably pay lots of money to do that), and the girl just gets to say "Yes."

  4. I would never say "yes" to anyone who would propose marriage in a food court. That's just sick and tacky. I agree with Jam. She was 100% right to run away.

  5. i saw this via twitter and thought it was horrific for all the reasons you mention (not least the emetic qualities of the song itself). it's like watching someone get molested by a mobile phone advert.

  6. Oh, I remember this lovely story from my friend's school. Seems that there was this preening dickhead who fancied some girl almost as much as himself. So he contrived an entire school play, with himself as the main character. He arranged so that during the opening performance, she would have to sit in a specific seat on the front row. Then, at the climactic moment during the play, he crouched down and asked the girl, in front of the entire school and all the parents, to go out with him. She said no. Flat no. I can't say how delighted that makes me.

    Same goes for these flash mob gimmicks, which indeed, put a huge amount of pressure on the girl to say yes. Totally unfair, and very smultzy. The one exception I know of is when I guy had a special level made in a videogame for his girlfriend, which ended in a proposal. (Link: - excellent game, by the way) I liked that one, because at least he kept it private, did it professionally (he got the original dev team to help him on it), and even gave an opportunity to turn him down.

  7. I think I was just sick in my mouth.

    On the plus side, the second video just made my day. Dude, look at her body language, there's no way she's on board with this. His expression afterwards is priceless.

    I once witnessed someone get proposed at in Piazza San Marco in Venice. My favourite part was the guy had clearly planned it all BIG TIME - the trip, the evening, carrying the ring around, taking her to St Marks' Square - and then ruined it kneeling down right next to the dustbins.

  8. Hiya, I'm whizzing round trying to catch up with blog posts I've missed, as I've not been online much the last month or so.

    The video-size thing:

    Click Share→Embed, under the video, and scroll down to the bottom of the embed settings section. Type your preferred width into the 'Width' box, and it'll give you the height automatically. If Blogger allows you to use the code provided by YT, that's all you need to do—it'll add your custom sizes in for you. If it's like WordPress, where you have to use the page URL, add the width and height to the end of the URL thus (I went for a width of 400): &w=400&h=233 so the URL will end up looking like:

    w w w etc/watch?v=3mWXrHi1Rks&w=400&h=233

    Hope that's of some help.

  9. Cheers Daz. I am... hopeless with things like this. I'll try and follow your advice but knowing my luck, I'll probably end up exploding the internet. I've missed seeing you around, I thought you didn't like me any more ;)

  10. Nooo! I've just been really really busy! If you have problems, mail me ( [that's my 'safe for public viewing' address]). I love working out silly bits of techy-crap like that.

    For what it's worth, the main content-column of your blog is 560px wide with a margin of 20px to each side, so the largest you want to go for is a width of 520. If you go for smaller than that, you might want to centre-align the text when you paste the code in. That will (probably) centre the video.</geek-mode>

  11. Its definitely not to my taste, but, let people do what they want? I think the pressure comes from of society's expectations for women to "be proposed to" and say yes rather than from the proposer, and that happens in "normal" proposals too. Some say yes, some say no, no one should ever feel pressured into entering any sort of relationship they do not want to. The couple on the train may well have discussed marriage in advance? (Also, as an aside, lets not gender these people when we don't know them.) Any sort of argument over what "real" love is absolutely ridiculous and just makes people feel pressured to conform to certain types of relationships... I've heard people use a similar argument to say people in arranged marriages can't "really" love each other when they know nothing about them, and that really irks me.

  12. I completely agree - I want people who want to be together to be together! It just makes me really uneasy when people who obviously haven't seriously discussed marriage (see food court couple) doing a public proposal. The reason it makes me feel squicky is the people shouting at the obviously uncomfortable woman to 'say yes!'. There is no discussion here over what constitutes 'real love', just an attempt to illustrate that there are different forms of love. Some work for everyone, some make some feel sick to their stomach with nerves.

    I have always believed that arranged marriages can work for some, but they can more obviously work for everyone when each person in the marriage is able to articulate their desires. Although for some that remains a pipe dream. (The point I'm trying to illustrate here is that different ways of being in relationships work for everyone - I agree with your above statement)

  13. Ah yeah, I did wanna punch the person who shouted "Say Yes!" pretty hard.

  14. hmm.. do you think this is a good idea for some girl who are a shy type? I am afraid that a person like this would run away.

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