Sunday, August 12, 2007
In the search for my own engagement ring and an ethical diamond, I came across a peculiar trend: the right hand ring. Ads and websites urge women to "celebrate your success" with a diamond ring worn on the right hand. (Now single women can join in the fun of owning a diamond and show their individuality and empowerment -- through blind commercialism! That supports slavery!)
Like Art Editor Julia, I loathe ad campaigns that encourage pamper-spending for women. And obviously, the promotions occasionally insult women's intelligence. This Generous Gems page actually tries to convince you that right hand rings are fitted differently from left-hand ones.
My personal annoyance aside, I think the most interesting part of this trend is the way that it equates marriage with a successful career. Right hand rings are supposed to showcase a woman's monetary success, while presumably left hand rings showcase her skill as a mantrap.
I find this distinctly unsettling. Marriage and engagement rings are part of the private sphere and of a tradition that extends back through time, while careers are part of the public sphere, and for women at least, a relatively new concept. By extension, the right hand ring suggests that career women are married to their careers, and as such unavailable/unable to engage in marriage. Reminds me of the horrifically-insulting-to-women-everywhere Forbes Article "Don't Marry Career Women."
Furthermore, I'm not sure we should celebrate when anyone becomes a workaholic, married to their jobs. Careers are not replacements for a rich private life, whether that life includes marriage or not. And yes, we should celebrate success, but why not do so with a plum 401(k) that sustains long after a person has lost the will to work?