Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Don't Like Valentine's Day, Because I Don't Hate Men.

     Our culture's commercially celebrated holidays have never held much appeal for me.  I prefer to create my own special days, and while I realize that some people find personal meaning in following the current cultural standard, I have rarely found meaning there.  I do enjoy celebrating what I call Winter Holiday, which is for me a combination of Christmas, Yule, and Solstice, but what it means to me is based on things I find internally important.

     Out of all of the typical American celebrations, Valentine's Day has always bothered me most.  If left to my own devices, I would forget about it entirely, but it can't be avoided.  Going grocery shopping any time after Christmas, there are displays full of pink and red and hearts.  Browsing on the internet or checking my email, there are advertisements for lingerie and jewelry and "adult novelties."  Most of those ads come with slogans which basically equate to "If you please your woman on this day, she just might actually give you sex."  And so, I end up thinking about that which I try to avoid thinking about.

     Really, I don't like the commercial formula of love.  I don't like being told what days are supposed to be important in my relationships, I don't like my partners being told to buy me things just because everyone else is doing it, and I don't like the entirety of the responsibility for maintaining a relationship to be placed on "the man's" shoulders.  Receiving gifts is not one of my primary Love Languages, but spending lots of money doesn't actually make meaning, and so is not important to people who do speak that language anyway.  And even so, I do like receiving gifts that have meaning on occasion (who doesn't?), but in my mind that meaning should be determined solely by the gift giver, and the gift receiver.  I don't know how many times I've heard a jewelery commercial, and thought about those penguins who choose mates based on who has the best shiny rock collection. 

     While there is some biological and psychological validity to choosing to mate with a partner who can provide the best stuff, we humans generally like to think we've grown past that.  And for the most part, we truly have... at least those of us who generally have our basic needs met. 

     Anyway, according to Valentine's tradition, it's the man's job to take the woman out to her favorite restaurant, provide her with some shiny (or delicious, let's not forget the chocolates and candy) things she likes, and hopefully he'll get laid, which she'll only barely allow because of those gifts.  And people think we're evolved.  I do realize that there are exceptions to this formula, as there are exceptions to everything I rant about, but they are few in our culture.  And hey, if you don't have anyone to buy shiny things for, or to buy shiny things for you, then you are made to feel bad.  Everyone knows that it's sad to not have a date on Valentine's Day, right?

     I've also heard people refer to it as Singles Awareness Day, in fact.  You might think that the primary goal of said day would be to raise awareness of the fact that single people aren't automatically less fulfilled, or missing something, or looking for a partner... but no, according to the Wikipedia article "On Singles Awareness Day, single people gather to celebrate or to commiserate in their single status. Some want to remind romantic couples that they don't need to be in a relationship to celebrate life."  So yes, the more positive association is there, but is is a distant second to the primary goal of commiseration.  I may be polyamorous, but I still take offense to the idea that singledom is inherently inferior. 

     Just as I take offense to the idea that it's the man's job to bring home the romance, and that I'm supposed to guard sex sparingly, as though it's something I hate and give only as a favor to one who has temporarily proven his worthiness.

     Just as I take offense to the idea that we need to be told when to show love, and that if we don't display it when everyone else does, it's not really love.

     Not to mention the ridiculous origins of the allegedly most romantic of days.

     If you do happen to celebrate the day, I hope you manage to do so in a way that is powerful and meaningful for you personally.  Even if what ends up being meaningful for you is the societal standard, I wish you an amazing day.  I wish for all of your days to be amazing though.  ;)

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