February 12, 2013

Boycott Valentine's Day

I found myself standing in front of a bunch of Valentine's Day crap.  Pissed.  And the only reason I was there was because I have kids who have parties -- it's certainly not because I like Valentine's Day.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Every year my ritual is to rant about Valentine's Day during the week of Valentine's Day. And friends who have known me for many years scatter like feral cats when they see me coming.

And I suppose it's ridiculous, because as holidays go it's rather innocuous.  Who wouldn't like a holiday that promotes love?

Except, the thing is, it doesn't really promote love.  Rather, it oppresses men and throws women into another arena where they compare themselves to each other to confirm how "worthy" they are in the eyes of those around them.

It's no secret that men say women are "complicated" or "tricky."  I've heard being in a relationship with a woman compared to walking through a room that is rigged with flashbangs -- you never know when you'll set one off accidentally, unwittingly. As a woman, I personally don't feel I'm terribly complicated but it's also hard to argue with the deer in the headlights look a man gets when you ask him if your ass looks big in the dress you're wearing.

And so comes Valentine's Day.  And on that day the man must go forth and procure for his lover some red or pink article that expresses just the right amount of love and creativity.  Too much and you overshot your mark (does that send a message?), too little and you're a cheap, uninspired bastard who doesn't appreciate your girl.  I don't envy a guy on Valentine's Day.

And for women -- imagine sitting in an office and all around you in their little cubes women are getting flowers delivered, or candy or tiny inappropriate teddies that they'll hate  And you're not.  Because maybe you're single. Or maybe your husband forgot it was Valentine's Day and is out in a leaky fishing boat with a 6-pack.  Or what if the girl next to you has two dozen roses and you have a little $3 box of off-brand chocolate from the dollar store that is half oxidized because it was actually left over from last year?

In my opinion, the whole day is trouble waiting to happen.

"But, Wendy," you protest. "Isn't the day really about the sentiment? It's the thought that counts."

I don't know... does an obligatory holiday that forces someone to buy me a present really quantify someone's love for me?  Are you buying it for me because you love me or because Hallmark says you should?  And, you are a kind person who doesn't want me to feel ridiculous when all my girlfriends get stuff and I don't.  Thank you for being kind, but maybe instead do something authentic for me like leave a funny note in the pocket of my jeans.  Or bring a 2pm snack by the office and say, "Hey, just wanted you to have this treat." Do it on a day nobody tells you to do it.

And let's do it for each other -- not just our lovers.  Let's do it every week for teachers or doctors or the lady who grooms our dogs or for the garbage man -- especially the garbage man, because his job really sucks.  Open your heart to anyone and everyone who ever made your life better.

I started to ask you to consider boycotting Valentine's Day, but maybe instead what I really want is for you to celebrate Valentine's Day every day of the year.


17 comments :

  1. I was going to send you flowers, but I've changed my mind.

    Srsly, I agree. I used to work in a retail field that depended heavily on Valentine's Day (and Mother's Day, and Christmas . . .). We're conditioned by advertising media to believe we must buy something on such days.

    But more to the point, we're conditioned by advertising media that something must be bought for us on such days, and that's the real problem. The guy who doesn't bring home flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day will likely be viewed as less than wholly committed.

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    1. Steve, I am okay with flowers on the 15th!

      I saw a news segment about Valentine's Day in Japan where it is flip-flopped and women are obligated to buy lots and lots of chocolate for their male bosses and co-workers at sometimes great expense. (They have a subsequent "white day" a month later for men to return the favor if they got a gift on Valentine's Day.) The news segment I watched had most of the women saying they definitely did not love the holiday too much.

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  2. We don't celebrate many holidays anymore except Thanksgiving, and that one is all about the food. But, when we feel the need to be pampered we say so. Me I just announce it, hubs just has a way about him that tells me so.

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    1. Thanksgiving would definitely be my last holiday to give up, that's for sure. It sounds like you and your fella have it worked out just perfect!

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    2. It's the tofurkey, right?

      I actually love this. Very well put, Wendy.

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    3. Jennifer, nothing says "love" quite like tofurkey.

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  3. Yes, please. Move love every day. Love it!

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  4. Uh-uh. No flowers for OUR garbageman. Have you SEEN HIM?

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  5. I agree...tons of pressure on men. Why are women not being pressured? and the commercialism is outrageous!

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  6. It does put a lot of pressure on men and, admittedly, I've put some unnecessary pressure on my fiance in the past. This past year was our fourth Valentine's Day together. And, this year, it was definitely the most laid-back. My "present" came in the form of groceries. His "present" came in the form of dinner and a gift certificate to one of his favorite breweries. Just little basic things that we do every day, or need to get done. Those things were much appreciated. And though flowers can be nice, they also die and wither. I would much rather receive seeds for herbs that I can grow, or a potted plant that is going to hang around for awhile or that I can stick outside once it gets warm. I don't want him to spend money on trivial things, only for the sake of showing off. Cards and candy and stuffed animals (especially the stupid animals) are flashy soley for the purpose of making others turn and look and think, SEE, THEY ARE LOVED. Those sorts of tangible things shouldn't be necessary to let someone know they are loved. So, as an adult, I now prefer to write handmade & homemade cards for those whom I care about. I'll mail things out to everyone. It's still something personal. It's not big, it's not fancy, but at least they know how much they are appreciated. And it always makes me smile to come home and visit my grandma, and see that same card magneted to her refrigerator.

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  7. Sheesh, make up your mind. Boycott it or celebrate it? Both?

    You women are so complicated!

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  8. Oh my gosh Wendy I love you for this post

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  9. Great post!!! I am not a big fan of obligatory gifts and cards. I like the "just because" gifts. They are the one's that always win me over. :)

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