Does a Fancy Promposal Entitle You to a Prom Date?
Originally Published: April 12, 2016
Revised: January 3, 2019
A week before I hunkered down to write this story, a kid I met through Facebook covered his girlfriend’s car in Post-it notes to ask her to formal. Somewhere right now, someone is planning a massive promposal. It’s de rigueur these days. In short, expectations are getting higher and higher, and with those higher expectations come pressure on both sides—pressure to outdo everyone else in the promposal game and pressure to say yes in response to the extravagant efforts the other person put in.
Which brings us to the good ol’ topic of consent. Consent doesn’t just apply to the sex that may or may not be implied at the end of prom night. No, this whole season is about consent—and a lot of people don’t know that.
So let me tell you guys a story and explain what I mean.
OK to Say No
Last year, a friend of mine who went to another school told me about a ridiculously fancy promposal a guy in his senior class had set up for a girl he really liked. He got her friends to wallpaper her locker with sonnets and pictures of the two of them, and then he waited by her locker with flowers and a Build-a-Bear.
She ultimately declined.
My other friends who overheard this story were floored, and their responses ranged from “She should have said yes to keep from embarrassing him!” to “That’s pretty heartless of her; he put so much effort in!” These are fairly common responses. I published a survey asking people what they thought of such a scenario happening, and a little over a third (34.2%) of the 210 respondents believed that if a person put in a lot of effort to ask someone to prom, then that someone was pretty much obligated to say yes.
But here’s why such thinking is so problematic. Everyone agrees that if a person puts in a lot of effort to ask someone else for sex, and that person declines, then that’s the end of it. So what makes the laws of consent different in the context of a promposal? Why is it that people believe that it’s not OK to be coerced into sex, but that it’s perfectly fine to be coerced into going to prom with someone who pulled out all the stops? Coercion is coercion, and because of that, it’s all the more important to realize that it’s OK to say no.
Manipulating Someone Into a Date
And if you’re planning on asking lavishly, be smart about it! Vasiki Konneh, 18, of New York City, says, “You should only go all out and do a promposal if you’re already certain the person may/will say yes. It’s a way to make them feel special at that point, like if it’s a couple. But don’t go throwing a promposal for the cute girl/guy in your Calc class, because you have no idea if they have a date in mind, are going or anything else for that matter.”
In other words, be smart, and be thoughtful. Unless you know for sure someone’s going to say yes to your promposal, don’t try to manipulate them by pulling off an extravagant promposal—that’s just rude. If you think it’s wrong to guilt someone into sex, it’s just as wrong to guilt someone into spending an entire night with you. A fancy promposal doesn’t entitle you to a date any more than a nice time at prom entitles you to sex—so you have every right to say no to both.
Happy prom season, y’all!
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