Tag Archives: valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day: The End of an Affair?

17 Feb

A year ago, I wrote a feminist’s defense of Valentine’s day, basically arguing that Valentine’s Day is my time to celebrate myself and my loved ones instead of an outdated practice of devoting one day to buying women through the purchase of fancy gifts and flowers.

Sometimes I wonder if living in the city and working a traditional job in marketing has made me take up residence under a rock (if you could even find one of those in New York City), because this year I’ve seen only TWO angry Valentine’s Day posts and hardly any advertisements. I distinctly remember way more of both last year.

To be honest, I remember a little more Valentine’s Day love on my end last year, too. I can’t say that I really got excited for Valentine’s Day, which is unusual. Last year I bought myself flowers, my students candy, and ingredients for cupcakes. I even decorated our apartment. This year I…. did nothing!

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Valentine’s Day: A Feminist Defense

13 Feb

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m writing to share the love.

That’s right, I’m a feminist and I love Valentine’s Day– and I want to tell you why.

I actually don’t have any really horrible Valentine’s Day stories. I generally have a pretty good V-Day, single or otherwise. On my first celebration, my freshman year of high school, I spent the evening in a sleepover movie night with girlfriends.

My second was an awkward first date (yes, on Valentine’s Day. And I STILL don’t hate the holiday!). I dropped the chocolates and left the flowers on a table at the school dance, but hey– it was fun. I’m going on Valentine’s Day number 10; my boyfriend is halfway across the country and I plan on celebrating by hanging with friends and going to Poetry Night.

Sounds pretty fun– what’s to hate?

Honestly, I don’t really know. But everyone has at least one friend who won’t stop spouting off about how awful Valentine’s Day is, and now that Twitter and Facebook are ubiquitous, it’s hard to avoid these angry V-Day bombers (too soon?)

This year the bile started early, with posts hating on Valentine’s Day appearing on my Facebook feed no earlier than February first! We still have two weeks people! There’s no need to build your anti-Valentine’s Day army quite so early.

The posts started popping up, mostly bemoaning the entire month of February solely because of the one holiday. And I get that. If you’re feeling anti-love-and-happiness, it can be hard to suffer through the pink coating covering media and advertisements.

I also get that there are actual, legitimate reasons for thinking the holiday is just a bad excuse for sucking money out of innocent couples. But seriously, aren’t all holidays in America bad excuses for sucking money out of people in the name of love? Why fight Valentine’s Day?

In some senses, it perpetuates nostalgia for romantic ideals of love and femininity through chocolates, flowers, pink, and passive ladies swooning through held-open doors. Mashable just published an Infographic showing that the myth of a Valentine’s Day sugar daddy still exists. Rather than spending equally on the holiday, men outspend women by almost 50%. This is a harmful stereotype because it argues that women need at least one day a year for men to pamper and protect them.

Not to mention the blatant sex-for-goods jokes that circulate this time of year. You know, the one where bros joke that getting a lady a good gift means scoring later that night. Teleflora was slammed for depicting this attitude in their Super Bowl ad, but in last Thursday’s less noticed episode of 30 Rock the jokes multiply as Lutz tries to clean up on “Scumbag Christmas.”

 

Apparently the 30 Rock writers buy into the notion that  for single women, Valentine’s Day is the worst time of the year, the day they are the most vulnerable. But I just don’t agree.

Maybe it’s because Liz Lemon lost all her lady friends that she suffers on Valentine’s Day, but for me, Valentine’s Day is the day of the year when I eat candy and celebrate myself and my loved ones. I buy myself flowers and chocolates (in addition to the ones my boyfriend and mother send me. Don’t judge.) and I watch sappy romance movies like Notting Hill or Twilight. And I love every single minute of it.

This is what my Valentine's Day this year consists of.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run into tension between commitment to feminism and my identity as a romantic, chocolate eating flower-phile. I love the chivalric tradition, I’m fascinated by it, and in part I think my identity as a person is based on an “outdated” notion of femininity. I like to cook, I enjoy taking care of children, and I do like dinner dates. But I also really hate romcoms* (I’m an action movie kind of gal) and don’t buy into reality TV or baking. I also split the check at dinner– gotta keep my agency!

I know that the third-wave feminist idea of choice is outdated, since choices are influenced by the way society constructs acceptable behavior for men and women, so I can’t really explain away my contradictions that way. As a response to this problem I’ve been toying with the idea of conflicting identities. Being aware of the ways in which our experiences and the world around us shape us in contradictory ways, and knowing that that’s okay. And I would argue that talking about these conflicts, kind of like what I’m doing now, is the first step towards understanding ourselves.

Maybe I’m betraying the feminist cause by loving Valentine’s Day so much. But I don’t think so.

Notes:

*Someone just brought to my attention the fact that Notting Hill is a romcom. Since I’m writing about identity contradictions, consider this point proven.

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