29/365 A Leap Year Tradition

29. What’s the deal with this Leap Year?


It’s February 29th. If you needed a little refresher on leap years and such I included the video above. Recently I’ve seen a campaign to take this extra day you’ve been granted and use it to do something nice for someone. As if those actions are only possible and should be celebrated every four years. Rest easy my fellow blogger for I shall not cast judgments on how you spent your day because I spent it trying to recuperate from being out for my internship last night.

Peanut and I felt like some good old fashioned girly Netflix watching and as we were browsing the home page we came across the movie, “Leap Year.” You know, the one with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. Amy’s character Anna goes to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend but falls in love with Matthew’s character Declan instead. Good choice Anna. Despite this movie being based on the tradition of women proposing to men, that never actually happens. Instead Anna gets proposed to, twice!

When watching cheesy romantic comedies I usually wave goodbye to good taste and the acknowledgment of gender biased stereotypes for at least two hours. But alas the Hollywood film dust has been wiped from my eyes and as I was researching about this Leap Year tradition I felt myself become a little sick. First off, yes this tradition is a real thing and no it has nothing to do with Saint Brigid or Queen Margaret.

The actual origin of how it began seems to be a little fuzzy, but no matter the story that is paired with this tradition it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those who believe women have the right to make decisions about their own relationship status, regardless of the day. Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, aka Dorothy Dix, was a columnist in 1904 and I think she said it best when she remarked, “Of course, people will say … that a woman’s leap year prerogative, like most of her liberties, is merely a glittering mockery.”

Instead of women proposing to men being an empowering act it is reduced to another stereotype of desperate woman who are too aggressive and therefore are unattractive. Just think of the way Amy Adam’s character is depicted in the 2010 film. Not only is generally insulting it but science has deemed it as, “against human nature” for women to propose to men. Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation argues that men commit in a different way than women, and so when they propose it means they really mean versus if they just said yes. “There’s nothing ‘remotely quaint, or misogynist, or sexist about this tradition that men should do the proposing,’ because it is “rooted in human nature and the need for men to buy in.”

Err, I’m sorry. Does anyone else want to call bullshit on this one? Rooted in human nature?   Say it with me ladies, “down with the patriarchy!” The only reason this tradition seems odd is because of the reinforced inequality year after year. Inequality that is reinforced when you designate a day every four years for women to propose a life long commitment. Inequality when science tells you that marriages that have been a result of women proposing often fail.

When you love someone you should be able to communicate about your desire for marriage openly whether you are a man or a woman. It’s scary to enter into a life long commitment and scary to talk about it no matter who you are. Let’s all do each other a favor and not buy into such binding stereotypes.

Day Twenty-Nine

Feature Image: Taryn : Flickr



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