Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

I wrote a few months ago about some billboards for diamonds that were incredibly sexist, and I’ve been heartened by all of the comments I’ve gotten from people who feel the same way.

I was reminded of that post recently while watching an episode of “Bones.” Two characters are shopping for engagement rings, and when FBI agent Seeley Booth picks up an extravagant one, the saleswoman comments, “That’s an excellent choice. You must be very much in love.”

When the second character, Dr. Lance Sweets, points to a less flashy but still very nice ring, the woman says, “Really? Is she pregnant? Do you have to get married?” Sweets says no. The woman continues, “Then I wouldn’t bother proposing. Not with a ring like that.” Booth says, “Don’t listen to her, Sweets. You get whatever ring you want.” But Sweets, who is a gifted psychologist and should know better, says, “No, she’s right … If I’m thinking about the money, then I can’t ask her to marry me.” Later Booth decides on a bigger ring than the first one he picked out, and the saleswoman is giddy: “You’re a wonderful man. A wonderful, wonderful man.”

The whole scene really bothered me, and not because I believe it’s an accurate depiction of jewelry stores. First of all, why would a saleswoman be so critical of her own merchandise? A commission is a commission, no matter how small, and she managed to talk Sweets out of buying anything. But more importantly, the idea of a ring representing how much a man loves a woman is problematic, to say the least. Some married couples don’t wear rings at all. Does that mean they don’t love each other? Does a woman love a man less than he loves her because the ring she gives him typically doesn’t include a diamond? Of course not.

It’s also troublesome that men are expected to go broke paying for engagement rings. Sweets decided against proposing because he thought he should be willing to pay any amount of money for a ring. His fiancee is a very practical woman, and she likely wouldn’t care what kind of ring she got. Frankly, I’d rather get a Cracker Jack secret decoder ring than have someone go bankrupt paying for a little circle of metal. One of my guilty pleasures is reading advice columns, and this question has been posed before: Should I wait to propose until I can afford a ring? And the response has always been no.

Because really, how can you put a price on love?

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Comments on: "'Bones' puts a price on love" (10)

  1. Lori Woody said:

    I have never understood the old adage to spend “2-3 month’s salary” on a ring. I came to my marriage with my “own” diamonds – my grandmother’s, and had it made into a ring. No ring in the store will ever mean more than that. At the end of the day….it’s what is in your heart, not what is on your finger. …regardless of what the “Real Housewives” will tell you.

    • I think the diamond industry has done a great job of telling people it’s “the thing to do.” But I much prefer your idea of reusing something meaningful, and I agree what’s in your heart is most important.

  2. Uncle Dave said:

    Wow, that Lori is a very wise woman !

    It is the finger prints of our loved ones and friends left on our hearts
    that really count at the end of the day !

    • Lori must have had some great teachers. :) You’re absolutely right that the marks left on our hearts are most important.

      • “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

  3. Kudos Molly. Great post. Too bad, there are so many shallow people out there.

    • Thanks, Rick! I think it’s sad society has made this connection between expensive jewelry and love. There are many more meaningful–and inexpensive–ways to show someone you care.

      • I could not agree with you more. Have not found the Bloom County cartoon yet. Basically, the jeweler was trying to sell Opus an enormous engagement ring. When Opus questioned the logic of that, the jeweler said something like, “well, you know, the one with the most wins.”

  4. The scene is supposed to bother you, its meant to be satirical. This is reinforced by the end of the episode when Booth proposes with the big fancy expensive ring and she turns him down. Not because she doesn’t love him, but simply because marriage is not her bag. The intention of the episode was to show how adhering to gender specific traditions – marriage, expensive ring, etc – can come between two people having a genuine relationship. Booth is a character is extremely traditional, he believes in black and white version of morality and gender roles, and yet he consistently falls in love with nontraditional women, and as such he keeps getting turned down because he won’t reconsider those principles.

    Sweets is a character that by the nature of his being is a nontraditional male, but wants to be more like Booth, so despite being a highly intellectual person, he’s very insecure about his masculinity and his relationship with his girlfriend. His reaction to the ring situation was unfortunate but in character. Hopefully Booth’s mistake will help him put his priorities in better order.

    • That may be what the writers intended, but it’s hard for me to give the show that much credit anymore. Despite having strong, nontraditional female characters, it often falls into relying on tired stereotypes (the recent comments about Angela’s pregnancy, for example).

      Also, even if my critique doesn’t hold up for “Bones,” I still think it’s generally true of society that men are expected to spend more than they can afford on a ring to show how much they “love” their fiancees.

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