Now, before we start, please note: I do not think you are a bad person if you celebrate or ‘buy into’ Valentine’s Day. I am not condemning those people; I myself am one of them sometimes.
So that hallowed hellish day is approaching. It was barely New Years before V-Day stuff started showing in the shops and just… no. It brings up many issues for me and the retail side of things is just the start. But I would like to begin with this brilliant quote that I saw on Twitter…
That’s my first problem. Pretty much all retail Valentine’s-related displays, gifts and cards cater solely to heterosexual couples. I know sometimes you get non-gender-specific cards, but it’s surprisingly difficult to find. Even one that you think is okay for a same-sex partner you sometimes open and find it says “love from your *insert from gender-friend here*” or a similar message. And to be frank, if my friend can get her boyfriend a ‘to the world’s greatest boyfriend’ card with a picture of a boy and a girl, why can’t I get one for a girlfriend featuring two girls? It’s not that these things are necessary it’s that if you’re going to have them for straight couples, you should have them available for same-sex ones too. It’s that simple.
The same goes for gifts – what if I want to get a ‘Mrs & Mrs’ mug set? Can I? Yes. But from a specialist gay retailer for double the price you find in shops. This isn’t complex stuff. I mean do the retailers not realise that if they provided this stuff same-sex couples would buy it and therefore the shop would make more money?
It is also worth mentioning that Valentine’s Day is incredibly insensitive towards aromantic and asexual people. It suggest that romance, and (sadly) consequently sex, are the be all and end all. If this holiday makes it seem shitty to be single, and shames those people, then imagine how it makes aro and ace people feel.
My other problem with Valentine’s Day is simply the premise. It’s sold as a day to celebrate love, but it’s not – it’s a day to celebrate having someone. It’s about whether or not you’re alone that day or the others, it’s about being able to say you spent that day/night with someone. Perhaps I’m hypocritical, because for the years I wasn’t single I enjoyed Valentine’s Day fair enough and this year I won’t be spending it alone either, so yeah, maybe I’m hypocritical. But growing up I’ve come to realise that it’s just an unnecessary ‘holiday’ that shames people who are single. Let’s be honest, if you’re in a happy relationship you don’t need a specific day to explicitly show your love. Yeah, it’s nice to have a day set aside for that, but you can do that on your anniversary or any other day. There is no reason to have another worldwide day just to celebrate having someone. It makes those in relationships feel pressured to spend money on their significant other, to out-do other couples and even their partner. And it makes single people feel unloved, unwanted and worthless. Also please let’s not forget the gender inequality, totally expecting men to deliver material gifts and money on dinner, and women to reward them with sex.
It is a day hugely over-hyped by the media and retail just to get people to spend money and it suggests that your worth is based solely on whether or not you have a romantic partner. Newsflash: your worth is defined by your morals and your mind; your integrity, your loyalty, your open-mindedness and a bunch of other things that Valentine’s Day and a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/partner-of-any-kind has nothing to do with.
Finally, some fun V-Day facts!
- Some credit the holiday’s origin to the ancient Roman festival of ‘Lupercalia’ which celebrated the start of Spring by pairing off women with men via lottery.
- Lupercalia tradition stated men must sacrifice a goat and dog then whip their women with the resulting animal hides.
- Have you noticed how red roses actually go up in price as Valentine’s nears? Yep.
- In America last year the total expected spending for Valentine’s Day was $18.6 billion. Do you know how many people that money could help if given to charities instead of greeting cards and gifts which will just end up in the bin?
- Springtime is actually the time of year in which most people attempt suicide, which some studies attribute to Valentine’s Day.
- In 1929 the Valentine’s Day massacre occurred when an Irish American gang and South Side Italian gang clashed over controlling organised crime in Chicago. Seven people were left dead.
- In Finland V-Day is called ‘Ystävänpäivä’ which roughly translates to ‘Friends’ Day’ and they put more emphasis on friendships than relationships. So that’s fab.
So go, celebrate Valentine’s Day. But be aware that you needn’t spend any money, you don’t have to be with a romantic partner on that day, you’re kinda just supporting unethical conglomerates and you don’t have to make it a special day whether you’re single or not.