So, who’s going to be Occupying Valentine’s Day?
I think I’ve vacillated about Valentine’s in the past, some years being kinda grumpy about it, others being more supportive of people who are trying to enjoy it. I was never moved to any particularly strong emotions about it, one way or the other.
This year, I’ve got someone to spend it with, and with whom I’m also in the middle of planning a wedding next year. This is entirely new to me, and completely wonderful.
But I feel more compelled than ever to pronounce some sort of stance against the accepted traditions, even while I whole-heartedly go along with them.
This is from the “About” page of the Occupy Valentine’s Day tumblr:
The yearly celebration of Valentine’s Day — defended as an innocent and harmless tribute to love — often serves to remind us that either our romantic situation is not good enough or our single status is a tragedy.
Most people, coupled or otherwise, can’t stand Valentine’s Day. It puts pressure on couples to be a certain way, it privileges one type of love (think heteronormativity!) and it makes single people feel incomplete.
Celebrating love and romance is a wonderful thing, but it shouldn’t depend on buying certain products for the perfect experience (hello, romantic industrial complex) or on your gender, sexuality, race, class status or marital status.
I don’t agree with everything these Occupiers might stand for; as much as domestic violence and sexual assault are important issues that deserve our attention, making it some kind of alternative approach to a day when many people are trying to be romantic doesn’t really seem necessary. But as far as undermining traditional stereotypes of gender and sexuality? Hell yes.
I’m all for people using Valentine’s Day as a prompt to celebrate any positive thing in their life, and I don’t think OVD is opposed to that either, however traditional you want to be about it. The problem is with expectations. Any expectations. Expectations that you should be in a relationship, with a given number of people, of any particular gender. Expectations that your present situation should make you happy, or sad, or that you should be seeking to change it, or not.
Men should be fawning over their (female) partners and hoping they flatter them with enough flowers and shiny things not to find themselves sleeping on the couch tonight. Single men should be either drinking alone and sad, or revelling in the freedom of not being tied down and having to waste money on what the greeting card industry thinks you should be buying. Single women will obviously either be even more desperate to snag a man than usual, or decide bitterly and resentfully that none of the opposite sex is any longer worth their time.
Argh. Let’s grow up a little, homo sapiens.
I mean, if that’s how you want to play it, by all means go ahead. My own V-Day isn’t likely to shatter any preconceptions with its free-thinking independence. There’ll just be flowers and food and love, and that’s fine. But the idea that this is the way it’s supposed to be, which everyone should aspire to if they’re not doing it wrong, entirely fails to understand what love is and appreciate how diverse and wonderful it can be.
So, if you’re in a romantic relationship, I hope it’s everything you want it to be. If you’re single, I hope you nevertheless have love in your life. If you want a new kind of relationship with someone, I hope you find it. If you’re happy, laugh at the illogic of anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t be.