“Will you go to prom with me?”
It’s a question commonly backed with a grand romantic gesture, akin to a rom com marriage proposal. Widely admired and awe-inducing, prom proposals manage to capture the entire senior class’s attention throughout the months of April and May.
With the second term seniors teetering on the edge of graduation, there’s anxiety built up over the last huge social event of the year. Since prom is the last big occasion before we all go our separate ways, it is only natural that it’s the only thing we talk about nowadays. There is a huge buildup to prom, as girls get their dresses months before the event occurs, proposals happen, limos are booked and after-prom plans are set. As Stuy students, we often stress out about every little detail, and this is no exception.
Despite the happiness and romance associated with this event, the sight of another rose bouquet from Morgan’s irritates me every time. Huge, public, involved, and gutsy proposals cultivate a sense that grand romantic gestures are a requirement for any worthwhile prom experience. Publicity demands attention and attention creates competition amongst the seniors to create the most elaborate proposal. This air of competition surrounding prom can have a wide array of negative effects.
Proposals with roses and self-written songs may seem romantic to a crowd of people watching, but it leaves the girl with very little time to think about whether or not she actually wants to go to prom with the person who asked her. The guy has all the time he wants to produce an attractive proposal that will win the girl over, giving him freedom to choose exactly whom he wants to be his date, but girls have to wait for guys to pop the question. In this situation, if the girl says no, she’s deemed as “mean” and inconsiderate of the guy’s feelings by placing what she wants over everyone else’s desire to capture a feel-good moment on their phones. Publicity is detrimental to both parties here—girls are basically obligated to say yes; otherwise they risk embarrassing the person who built up the courage to ask them. No one should have to go to prom with someone who makes him/her feel uncomfortable—so how does it make it right for anyone to judge someone for acting in her best interests?
I’ve commonly heard girls say things like “I’m not going without a date” or “I’m just waiting for someone to ask me.” More often than not, girls spend a torturous amount of their final term at Stuyvesant waiting to be asked to prom in a public in a flattering manner. This general dependence on the male student body to make the females feel significant is inherently self-destructive towards the girls. Girls need to come to the realization that a date is not necessary, and that they have as much capacity to ask someone to prom as the guys do.
Moreover, asking someone to prom seems to be defined as an inherently masculine action to take. If a girl were to ask a guy, it would be seen as either “emasculating” or as an act of desperation. Because this responsibility is thrust onto the male population, there’s a social force that requires them to get the roses, spend the money and woo the girl. If they don’t, they’re looked upon as lazy or boring. The guys are expected to risk vulnerability and rejection, all for a night of, at most, dancing, eating and photo opportunities. This double standard is clearly unfair to both genders.
Prom proposals aren’t necessary to have a memorable and fun prom night. Acting like they’re necessary reduces the actual prom experience. In theory, I would enjoy hearing about elaborate prom proposals if the people who didn’t engage in them weren’t so looked down upon. People shouldn’t be considered lazy for texting “will you go to prom with me”; we are, after all, only in high school. Our expectations for such an insignificant event within the scope of our lives shouldn’t be so high. Proposals can be fun, creative, romantic and exciting, but shouldn’t be considered a necessary life experience. Traditions can be broken if they create obvious problems that socially cripple both genders. Tacking on the excuse of “it’s tradition” to something that’s obviously obsolete and unnecessary only perpetuates the problem. Frankly, I have to say no.