A couple got engaged on Sunday. They are by all appearances over the moon with happiness. Guess who isn’t? The internet. This is because the happy couple in question got engaged in the middle of the New York City Marathon, a race one of the newly betrothed, Kaitlyn Curran, was running for the very first time.
According to CBS News, Curran’s boyfriend, Dennis Galvin, hopped the spectator barrier and got down on one knee in the middle of said marathon to pop the question, and in doing so stopped his breathy beloved in her tracks. In the now-viral video footage of the proposal, Curran tells Galvin yes through tears. He puts a ring on her finger. She bids him adieu and finishes the race in four hours and 24 minutes.
What’s wrong with this picture?
The problem, according to the flurry of social media commentary and magazine columns that have since followed the event, is that Galvin interrupted Curran’s race, an act that not only impacted her finishing time, but also allegedly stole her thunder.
This should have been her moment, the story goes, but he made it theirs. This should have been an individual feat. He made it a group one. He is therefore insensitive, selfish and worse.
In the words of prominent feminist Jessica Valenti, writing on Twitter, “I’m glad we all agree that marathon proposal guy f—— sucks.” Nice, right? It’s worth noting that Valenti doesn’t appear to personally know “marathon proposal guy” nor presumably does she know his fiancée. But knowing someone is irrelevant when you are determined to recast a celebratory moment as a teachable one about everything that is apparently wrong with men these days.
For another prime example of this phenomenon here is Heather Schwedel writing in Slate this week about why the marathon proposal is the “absolute worst”:
“It’s totally possible Curran loved the way Galvin proposed and doesn’t see any problem with it, as is her right. Maybe she even requested a big surprise. But it doesn’t matter. In truth, when you propose in such an inescapably public way, it’s no longer about you — it becomes about your projection on everyone else.”
But the only projecting going on here is by feminist writers who presume to know the mind of every woman and the heart of every man. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of public proposals and when they involve a flash mob I have Carrie-esque visions of setting everyone therein on fire. I asked my wife to marry me, at her request, in private, somewhere secluded. The only witnesses to our bliss (and spoilers of it) were mosquitos.
But there are plenty of women out there who do love a good spectacle and there are plenty of people out there who don’t care how long it takes them to run a marathon so long as they cross the finish line. It isn’t the job of feminism — not my feminism at least — to judge and shame an ordinary man whose life we know nothing about for orchestrating an outlandish proposal his partner may have been yearning for her whole life.
Some people are tacky. This is not a problem for feminism because a) it isn’t solvable. And b) it’s irrelevant to the goal feminism which last I checked was advancing the rights and status of women.
Of course there’s a chance Curran didn’t appreciate being proposed to in such a public fashion but we don’t know that. What we do know, according to CBS, is that she met her fiancé at the finish line and the two went on to “celebrate with family and friends.”
Perhaps it would be best if we moved on too, and focused on what truly matters to our cause — the advancement of fundamental rights — rather than pretend that some guy’s grand gesture is a hindrance to it.
Emma Teitel is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @emmaroseteitel