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Douglas Spencer

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... and an answer. [Jan. 15th, 2007|10:52 pm]
Douglas Spencer

An answer to the question I posed earlier, where I invited people to speculate about my first reaction to this comic. If you haven't read the comic yet, go and have a look now.

My reaction is as follows.

The purpose of a proposal of marriage (for that's what the comic contains) is twofold. Firstly it's for person A to make their feelings plain to person B, and this purpose, this purpose only, is well served by this comic.

The second, and more important, purpose is this: to invite the recipient of the proposal to respond. That response is crucial: The entire purpose of the exercise is tied up in the nature of the respose. It's absolutely, fundamentally, vital to the usefulness of that response that it conveys the wishes and intentions of the respondent faithfully and accurately. A response which is hasty, which is ill-considered, or worse, which is extorted from the recipient under artificial social pressure, is of no use whatsoever. In fact, to make a proposal in the way that this was made is to do exactly that -- it's extorting a reply under duress. As some comments to the comic said, "it's not like Wednesday is going to be able to say no", "no way the person's going to be able to say no gracefully", and so on. It's not acceptable to guilt someone into accepting a proposal of marriage, it's never acceptable to do so, and a confidence that she'll say yes, or an assertion from her after the fact, that it was okay, don't make it acceptable.

If someone does this to me as publicly as this, it'll be cast-iron evidence that they don't understand what makes me tick and a fatal breach of trust.

I've unscreened the comments in this post now. nwhyte came closest to working it out although he linked to another comic which isn't similar at all since the proposal itself took place in private. zarabee's views came closest to coinciding with my own.

[User Picture]From: hawkida
2007-01-15 11:39 pm (UTC)
At the time I first saw the post I was reading it on my phone and never went back until now.

I agree with you completely - it's manipulation. I always thought that when TV shows would turn the camera on the audience and a bloke would propose to his girlfriend. I was quite impressed by the woman who had the guts to say "I'll think about it," instead of agreeing immediately. But she still didn't dare to actually say no.

That said, I'm not sure how well a relationship can recover from a "no" to a question like that, however and wherever it be delivered.
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[User Picture]From: gaspode
2007-01-16 07:28 am (UTC)
I agree with you fundamentally - but there is one cavet, It really depends on the couples relationship I guess. Its possible they had already decided to get married and this was just a public declaration (Reet and I did something simular) in which case she had already agreed and this was just an icing on the cake moment (which she may or may not have known was coming). Otherwise I agree fully - complete and blatent manipulation.
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[User Picture]From: purpletigron
2007-01-16 07:44 am (UTC)
I'd feel 100% able to say no, even if the love of my life proposed this way, if it bothered me.
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[User Picture]From: dmwcarol
2007-01-16 11:31 am (UTC)
I can see your point, but we'll never know exactly what went on in private leading up to that comic strip. There's bound to be a private story that needs to be looked at alongside the public statement.

I knew Gary was going to ask me to marry him, he knew I'd accept, we'd even chosen the ring together, but he still wanted to make the actual proposal special. What's to say that wasn't the case for these guys too?
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