Law in Contemporary Society
Concerning our discussion of engagement rings: if an engagement ring is used by a man to vicariously demonstrate his wealth through his soon-to-be wife, does the same idea apply to the quality of a woman’s wedding band? If so, isn't it redundant for the man wear a wedding band as well? Or instead, is the quality of wedding bands, compared to an engagement ring, a conspicuous demonstration of wealth of the _Italic text_couple (and if so, why do they tend to be more modest than engagement rings?)?

-- WhytneBrooks - 27 Mar 2008

My impression is that the fashion for men to wear wedding bands is rather modern.

-- KateVershov - 27 Mar 2008

I think Veblen might say that the husband's wedding band is much more modest because the point of the relationship is to show how much the man has and how much he can waste, not how much he can get from the woman. The stark contrast between the man's wedding band and the woman's engagement ring further highlights the pecuniary power of the man. He spends so much money on an extravagant ring in exchange for something relatively little because he can afford to assume the cost or "loss in value." Also, I think the difference in value of the rings underscores the ownership and gender status dynamics of the relationship. That is, the man shows ownership of the woman by displaying for the world to see that he has the luxury of adorning and taking care of his wife. On the other hand, the woman, by providing her husband an “inferior” ring, shows that she cannot afford to provide her husband with luxuries. She is his pecuniary inferior.

-- ChristinaYoun - 29 Mar 2008

Perhaps a man's wedding band serves as an announcement that he has a wife. Otherwise, how would people know that he spends an exorbitant amount of money on his wife?

-- MinaNasseri - 31 Mar 2008

I agree with Mina's commentary, and it reminds me of one of the great lines in Martin Scorcese's The Departed which is spoken by Alec Baldwin in his newly resurrected career in which he is successfully casted as a neurotic, irreverent, and funny-type. In response to Matt Damon's plan to marry a doctor, Baldwin unwittingly links the pecuniary signs of marriage like the cash to buy a ring and pay for a wife to what message these symbols send, like man's sexual predation:

"Marriage is an important part of getting ahead. It lets people know you're not a homo. A married guy seems more stable. People see the ring, they think at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch, and ladies see the ring, they know immediately you must have some cash or your cock must work."

-- JesseCreed - 31 Mar 2008

Recently in the market for engagement rings, I noticed something as I went into stores looking for them. The clothes I wore almost completed dictated what rings I was first shown and the level of attention from sales people (Dress clothes versus a hoodie and jeans). Clothes was completely a cue on my income level and therefore how much I could afford and would be willing to spend.

-- JulianBaez - 31 Mar 2008

I agree with Julian, but I don't think this phenomenon is unique to the engagement ring market. I suspect almost any market of conspicuously consumable goods will yield the same result. A significant part of a salesperson's job is to assess what a potential customer will/have the ability to spend and to deliver to address those specific needs. Especially if they're working on commission, they won't want to waste any time and cut to the chase.

-- ChristinaYoun - 01 Apr 2008

Mina raises an interesting point. If the wedding band serves to show that he has a wife whom he can shower with expensive gifts, then how do men show that they have mistresses whom they can also shower with expensive gifts? The prostitution ring Spitzer patronized used a one to five star rating system, one being the least attractive to five being the most. Since men obviously cannot use deeply rooted institutions such as the wedding band to show that he has a wife he can adorn, I wonder if men have a way of saying "I have a five star mistress"? [Sorry - perhaps this question is a better fit for a different topic/discussion? Please feel free to move this to a different discussion.]

-- ChristinaYoun - 01 Apr 2008

I'm wondering if the husband's wedding band is really a signal that he has a wife for which he buys expensive gifts, or rather if it simply is a symbol that he is "manly" enough to provide for a FAMILY (especially back in the time when it was expected that every married couple would have several children). I'm not sure that male wedding band= showering wife with expensive gifts. If it does, my mother will be sorely disappointed to learn this...

-- WhytneBrooks - 01 Apr 2008

Julian, your analysis of the level of care you received as it related to your clothes is similar to complaints people of color have made as well. Minority shoppers are automatically made to feel as if they shouldn't even be in high end stores because they are just looking and can't afford the merchandise.

As for the wedding bands--I'd always thought that the bands worn by men as merely a symbol of their marital state and a sign for other woman to back off. Well, that is if those women respect the institution of marriage.

-- NicoleMedham - 03 Apr 2008



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r12 - 07 Jan 2010 - 22:47:19 - IanSullivan
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