‘He said Yes!’: Thai woman takes a knee for gender equality

Piyaporn Yibmantasiri gets down on one knee Sunday to propose to her boyfriend, at right. Photos: Piyaporn Yibmantasiri / Courtesy
Piyaporn Yibmantasiri gets down on one knee Sunday to propose to her boyfriend, at right. Photos: Piyaporn Yibmantasiri / Courtesy

In a white pantsuit and a bridal veil, Piyaporn Yibmantasiri went down on one knee this past weekend to propose to long-time boyfriend Tanawat Chawigoon. He said yes. 

Piyaporn could not wait to share the moment with the social media world this week with hashtags #LetsMakeTheFirstMove #WomenCanAlsoChoose and #GenderEquality. On Facebook alone, her post went viral with more than 12,000 shares and an overwhelmingly positive response.

“It’s a small step, yet very important,” Piyaporn said. “In terms of building a family together, this shows that we do not need to define that something is a duty of a man or a woman. Instead, we should start a family on the basis of gender equality and mutual respect.”

The “job” of proposing doesn’t necessarily have to belong to men, agreed Wannida Kasiwong, founder of Wonders & Weddings, which describes itself as a humanist, LGBTQ-inclusive planning service. 

“For me, equally celebrated relationships and marriages are and can be so much more beyond gender roles,” she said. “The world has also been moving forward to create more equal societies. So we’ll be seeing more women proposing to their male partners and hopefully more double proposals too!”

Among heterosexual couples worldwide, while it’s still the norm for men to propose marriage, attitudes and behaviors are shifting. 

Piyaporn, 28, said anyone, regardless of their gender identity, can propose. A businesswoman and former airline flight attendant, she has been with Tanawat for five years. 

“We’ve talked for some time about getting married. [My fiance] was pressured by some people to propose, which sparked the idea that ‘then I should do it,’” Piyaporn told Coconuts Bangkok. “I wholeheartedly made the proposal first because, no matter what, I am confident that he is the man I will marry.”

As soon as Piyaporn shared the idea with her friends and family, she said she got tremendous support from them, who helped organize the surprise event. 

“I thank [Tanawat] too for accepting what I wanted to do and not feeling that being proposed to by a woman would contravene his masculinity in any way,” Piyaporn said. “What he has is a masculinity that accepts the equality of his soon-to-be wife, which makes it clear that our marriage will forever have respect for each other.”

“Society today is more open and understanding of equality, which is a great thing,” Piyaporn added. “In the end, it does not matter which gender makes a proposal in the end, because equality and mutual respect are most important to me.”

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