Remember when people simply got engaged to one another, and didn’t feel the compulsion to record and disseminate the news How I long for those days. The public proposal video has been an online mainstay for years now, but its relative merits and faults continue to be a talking point on social media, especially when it comes to the male tendency to make it all about him.
The latest man to annoy the internet is 27-year-old Edgaras Averbuchas, who chose his girlfriend Agne Banuskeviciute’s graduation ceremony to get down on one knee. She was in the process of receiving her English master’s from the University of Essex when Averbuchas sauntered on stage – rather stealing the spotlight, some might argue. The university posted the clip on Twitterbefore deciding it to remove it when it proved unpopular. One user said it was “bad form”: “Years of hard work and now we’re all supposed to be pleased for her. Not because of her achievement, but because she got her man.”
Banuskeviciute has told the media that she was delighted by the proposal, and no doubt the negative reaction will be framed as bitter, man-hating feminists failing to rejoice in a couple’s happiness. But if you put your private (public) moment out into the world, it is reasonable to expect that not everyone will see it in the same way you do. At a time when women have more agency and independence than ever before, the surprise spotlight proposal can look dated – not to mention fake. “It was such a surprise!” has to be the biggest lie told by newly engaged women, reframing months of sometimes fraught discussions as a grand gesture worthy of, er, Hugh Grant turning up at your press conference and making it all about him.
When a proposal is sprung on a woman during a celebration of her individual achievement – as in the case of the man who asked his diver girlfriend to marry him during her Olympic medal ceremony in 2016 – it can smack of egotistical insecurity. Why deny women their moment? Some may think it sweet, but for many it sounds alarm bells more than wedding bells.