It’s Time to Stop Co-opting Women’s Big Accomplishments With Marriage Proposals


Why do we have to detract from celebrating a woman’s accomplishments by focusing on her romantic life? (Photo: Getty Images)

Last night’s VMAs had its ups and downs (four not-very-funny hosts are better than one?), but Rihanna’s multiple performances were definitely in the up column. The 28-year-old singer was also awarded the Video Vanguard Award, honoring her entire body of work.

Drake, her rumored boyfriend, presented the award with a speech praising her both as a musician and person, saying, “She’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old.” Drake, who took home a VMA for Best Hip-Hop Video, had previously surprised Rihanna with an actual billboard congratulating her on the award.

During and after the wedding-vows-esque speech, fans on Twitter freaked out, demanding a proposal from the Toronto rapper. A sampling:

Even the MTV Twitter account got into the act, tweeting, “Yes, even I thought Drake was going to propose to Rihanna at the #VMAs.” Instead, the couple shared a chaste kiss before Rihanna’s acceptance speech.

When Drake posted a selfie with Rihanna later that night, fans across the world again urged the couple to get married.

Earlier this month, Olympic diver He Zi won the silver medal in the three-meter springboard event, only to have her boyfriend of six years propose during the medal ceremony. Although many were touched by the proposal, some questioned his timing, feeling that it undermined Zi’s accomplishment and took attention away from her big moment.

Similarly, the call for Drake to propose raises the questions of why we still want to turn a woman’s accomplishment into an excuse for her to become attached to a man. Rihanna seemed to want no part of it as she thanked her home country, Barbados, her fans, and black women (but not her boyfriend) in her acceptance speech.

Some tweeters also called out the problematic nature of Drake’s speech, like user @Catstello, who tweeted: “Drake at the #VMAs feels too much like that Olympic proposal. It’s not about your feelings, bro, it’s about Rihanna’s talent.”

Ariana Grande expressed a similar POV when reporters asked her why she was walking the red carpet without her boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller. She responded: “It’s OK to be alone even when you have a boo. You can do both.”

Let’s all follow these wise words next time we want to derail a celebration of a woman’s accomplishments by focusing on her romantic life. As writer Ashley C. Ford tweeted during the VMAs, “He better not propose! THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU, DRAKE!”


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