The dirt on my hatred for Valentines

Ok, if you know me, you may very well know that I hate valentine’s day. I have always hated valentines day.* In high school I used to try to get my friends to join me in wearing black on February 14th to demonstrate our disdain for the whole concept. They, however, shared neither my hatred of the day nor my love for wearing black, so that never actually worked out.

This year I am finding myself particularly annoyed as the day approaches and I’m not sure why. I mean the reasons not to like the holiday are pretty obvious:

  1. pink. I really really do NOT do pink. I’m cool with red, but not when it’s paired with pink.
  2. bitterness. I admit it, my early feelings about valentines day were heavily influenced by my failures in the romantic realm. If you’re single it’s hard not to hate a holiday that celebrates the very state of couplehood.
  3. unrealistic expectations. Even when one is in a relationship, the hype of a day where your significant other is supposed to express the depth of his or her feelings for you with a gift, is just asking for trouble.
  4. gender stereotypes. This is a holiday that by its very design reinforces countless gender stereotypes. Don’t believe me? See point 1.

All of these are, in my opinion, perfectly reasonable reasons to not be a fan of the day but I will admit that the sensible thing to do, really, is just ignore it altogether. To a certain extent I do this, but this year, with just under two weeks to go before I can forget it completely, I’m already sick to death of valentines day. Of course the magazines I read for their food and gardening content (Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens) are full of articles keyed to the holiday. I’m sure some of the baked goods and other ideas are worth looking at but I frustratedly flipped through the many pages of pink and red without a second glance on Friday night when I decided I was going to chill out in the bathtub with the current magazine offerings. Too much pink! Seriously.

Meanwhile there’s a flower shop in Westwood that’s between my office and the parking structure I use. It’s full of the usual hearts and flowers, plus a big sign proclaiming the number of days until valentine’s day. I’ll admit since Lucky Baldwin’s belgian beer fest starts on valentine’s day this year I’m actually not loathe to count down the days. But still, I’d prefer the message be delivered in a different form. I want my countdowns in shapes other than hearts and colors other than pink.

I think what it ultimately comes down to is that I hate the cult of traditional couplehood paired with my refusal to fit myself into form of traditional woman. I hate the pervasive societal message that if I’m single it’s because there’s something wrong with me. And I hate the expectations for what a relationship is supposed to look like that come with holidays (valentines being the worst of these in my opinion, but certainly not the only culprit). It is not just that I believe that you should show your love for the people in your life more regularly and spontaneously, it’s that I believe that any such display is pretty worthless unless it’s genuine and original. Roses, chocolates, lingerie, diamonds. All of these are nice enough, I suppose. But anyone who knows me at all knows that handing me any one of those in the middle of February will get you a bored yawn at best (the diamonds would get you a long tirade about how little attention to who I am you must be paying if thought I actually wanted diamonds; the roses would get you a sniff of indignation and a brief grumble about out-of-season plants and the environmental issues involved with the notion of roses as the flower of romance).

In high school my bitterness was about my desire to be part of the club and my inability to figure out how. At the time I deeply wanted to perform femininity the “right” way. I wanted to fit in and be accepted and play by the rules. I wanted a boyfriend. Never mind that even then I was an outspoken feminist who frequently found myself in arguments about the role of women with the very guys who I desperately wished would find me desirable. In retrospect my inability to fit in to “be more normal” (as it was put by a guy I went on exactly one date with in college) was par for the course. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today if I hadn’t spent my entire adolescence feeling like an alien in my own peer group. Still, the pain of that still rears its head sometimes.

And really my problem with Valentine’s day is the way it is symbolic of a neat package of gender and life roles that I fundamentally reject. Deep down I rejected that whole package even when I was trying to fit myself into it, a conflict I didn’t even begin to resolve until I was in my 20s. I reject the notion that a woman is not complete without a man. I reject the notion that a man must bend over backwards to make “his woman” happy. I reject the idea that as a woman my heart can be won with such superficial things as crappy chocolates and flowers forced to bloom when they should be resting (even in southern California February is not much of a rose month; though it’s a great time to plant them). I think at some level my disdain for the holiday comes from the fact that it reminds me that not everyone thinks these notions are silly. The world is full of people who think that you aren’t whole unless you’re part of a couple, who think that it should be the role of men to impress and keep women, who think that shiny expensive baubles are a true expression of love. I know that most people wouldn’t necessarily say they believe these things but the fact that the early February store fronts are still filled with balloons and flowers in sickening combos of red and pink suggests to me that at some level they do.

But I will admit that I like gifts. So if you’re looking to make my mid-February happy buy me a beer, or some native California wildflower seeds, or some lovely yarn or fabric. Of course if you’re going for real seduction, the sort of gift that says “hey I get who you are and know what makes you tick” you’d get me about 20 cubic feet of good soil. Hey, I’m just saying….

* Ok, strictly speaking, this isn’t true. I liked it well enough when I was a little kid and valentines day meant hand-making cute cards for my teachers with construction paper and paper doilies and getting candy. But I think it is fair to say that I have hated the holiday since puberty at least.

One thought on “The dirt on my hatred for Valentines”

  1. I totally agree with everything you said. You hit all the points that I have stressed in my hatred for this damned holiday.

    Like

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