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Dear Dub: For Valentine’s,What’s a Feminist to Do?

The other day, I found myself incessantly pressing one of those Hallmark singing Valentine’s Day Hippos in a thrift store. The batteries were almost dead, so it kind of sounded like it was going to eat my face in the middle of the night. Surrounded by many other thrifters who were mid- eye roll, I began to doubt my own amusement. If I’m a feminist, can I enjoy this creepy plush representation of Valentine’s Day non-ironically? Of course I can.

Do I have problems with Valentine’s Day? Yes. Do I believe that sometimes we are fanatics of consumerism, conditioned to salivate at our corporate capitalist masters? Yes. Does that manifest itself in every other day, holi- day or not? Most likely, yes. So leave the truffles out of it, I crave chocolate every other day of the year anyways. Greeting cards can’t bolster your argument to be spiteful of other people’s love!

One of the more compelling reasons to take issue with V-day is its perpetuation of heteronormativity and gender roles. Gifts are “for her” or “for him” and assumptions about the idea that there are two ways to self-identify and clear designations of what genders “want” dominate the public realm of advertisement and celebration. Likely, if you want inspiration for a card that deviates from the typical “him to her” or “her to him” gushing, you have to delve deep into the internet. Either that, or settle for two panda bears that are probably mauling one another in desperate greeting card appropriation of “sexy time”. This sucks, is unfair, and on top of that, generally misrepresents the wide array of beautiful mating rituals found in the natural world.

Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day without the hate. If somebody wants do something nice for their partner(s), they aren’t necessar- ily feeding into the patriarchy by doing so. However, if you try to criticize or mock others for cel- ebrating love, the superiority you may feel for “not needing all the stuff ” may be more caustic than you think. This girl hate is inter- nalized misogyny. This is, essen- tially, the sentiment that anything that women stereotypically like is inherently bad. The blog Bleed- ing Feminist put it as, “The very fact that you, as a woman, think differently than how a socially- stereotyped woman is supposed to think is proof that our gender ‘norm’ are f*cking us over.”

This is hard. If you have done this, you are not a bad person or a bad feminist. The materialistic patriarchy works in mysterious ways, my friends, and feeling lonely or unloved is one of the most gut-wrenching ingratiating feelings that leaves you queasy, no matter how wonderful you are. If you feel this, the person you may need the most is yourself. Try touching into those roots you’ve buried deep in fear that some- body else might not like them. Screw them, only you can make you whole. Instead of ripping down the women next to you, realize that they too may need to be propped up. In the words of magnificent goddess poetess, Rupi Kaur, “we all move forward when recognize how resilient and striking the women around us are.”

I propose we do that, exactly: move forward. We must recognize how hard some have fought to be able to express their love for one another and endure to guarantee that it seen as equal and important. We can celebrate that, in many cases, love has prevailed and seek to destigmatize love that isn’t seen as equal yet by greeting cards. We can acknowledge where we must go, and honor V- day as well, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. We can call our grandmas. We can read poems and eat chocolate without it meaning anything other than we love poems and chocolate. Heck, we can take our partners’ a**es to Red Lobster, if we want. There is enough hate in this world, let’s celebrate the capacity to love.

About the author

Kristen Jovanelly