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At the risk of emasculating their boyfriends, women will be doing the asking this leap year. WORDS: REBECCA KENT

Ladies, is your man taking forever to propose? Why wait? Instead take advantage of a once-in-a-leap year opportunity when it is considered acceptable for a woman to pop the question. TNT finds one girl counting the days down to February 29, when she plans to do just that.

“I’m a nervous wreck,” admits Jess*, who, on the 10-year anniversary of her relationship with Ben*, has bravely decided to fly in the face of tradition of men getting down on bended knee, and propose to him.

“My mum put the idea in my head. She said, ‘well, you know you and Ben have been together a while now, and it’s a leap year ...’ I was reluctant at first but then thought, it was something I’d quite like to do,” says Jess, 23, who lives with Ben in Clapham.

“We’ve sort of talked about marriage, not like it’s going to happen in the near future, though. But now I’m ready.”

As February 29 approaches, Jess, who works in marketing, admits she is getting anxious. But she’s not about to bottle it.

She has booked a table at her architect boyfriend’s favourite restaurant and plans to plant the ring – a silver band inset with lab-made diamonds (from – in a champagne bottle.

“He’s going to be so shocked, but hopefully he finds it endearing I’ve made the decision to sweep him off his feet rather than the other way around,” Jess says.

It’s lucky for Ben we are not living in the Dark Ages. Back then, If he’d have rejected Jess’s proposal, he’d be fined £100 under a law known as ‘The Ladies’ Privilege’.

He would have had every chance to duck the proposition, though. Historically, if women were planning to get down on one knee, they were expected to wear scarlet petticoats as a warning – the opposite of a red rag to a bull; a sign for the man to run away.

Nowadays, it seems odd it’s considered gauche for a woman to propose at a time other than on February 29, says Lady Alex, Wam Bam Club seductress extraordinaire.

“Many women are doing roles once considered only suitable for men, but when it comes to asking for marriage, we are still in the war times,” she says.

Alex is all for women doing the deed, but she suggests choosing a setting in which to propose, wisely. It could affect the outcome.

“I’ve seen many a couple become engaged at my burlesque club before. It makes women feel strong, sexy and confident and the men, well, they have never complained.”

*Names have been changed

Click for TNT's tips on how to pop the question...


Take a leap: Proposals in the leap year
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