I dislike commercialism and sentimentality quite a bit. I am known to send texts like "You're so cute, I love you, voms x" because I find it extremely difficult to be earnest in the realm of romance. For Valentine's Day this year, I'm going to eat soup with my boyfriend while we hack up our lungs as we're both sick with colds, maybe we'll shoot some porn, and then I'm going to go see 'Kingsmen: Secret Service" with my partner later that evening. It's not terribly exciting or endless flowers and chocolates and I am a reasonably cynical person.
But I have a shameful admission that I am choosing to not be ashamed of anymore.
I love all that shit. I love stuffed animals, and heart shaped boxes of delicious candy, and beautiful big bouquets with lilies in them (my favourite). I love getting cards that say lots of mushy genuine stuff in them. I love receiving little boxes of thoughtfully chosen jewelry I can wear all the time to feel close to a sweetheart. I'm even coming around to public displays of affection like holding hands.
I get it, commercialism of emotions is bullshit. Christmas cashes in on feelings about family, and generosity, and ends up with us all scrambling to make rent the next month in the process. And the Fourth of July, another popular holiday to hate, stimulates feelings about patriotism that has me excited for fireworks even if I have some strong opinions about the United States. And Valentine's Day is about capitalism and heteronormativity meeting and manipulating love in many, many ways, so yeah I get it. I also want to acknowledge how Valentine's Day deifies romantic and sexual love/relationships over all other kinds, which is harmful especially when codependency is how we're programmed to care for each other. Yes yes yes, I'm with you on all that.
But have you noticed it's also a super femme holiday? Everything is pink and red and purple, bows everywhere, hearts everywhere, a focus on feelings rather than action. Love and romance are often trivialized in our society, sneered at as being feminized. A day to celebrate romance that often focuses on appreciating women in clear, obvious ways sounds pretty fucking good to be honest. We do a lot of unpaid ignored emotional labour and a day where we're lavished with attention and gifts and appreciation is the absolute LEAST I think women deserve. Not that men don't deserve to get flowers too- I think there's a lot to be said for queering Valentine's Day to celebrate the femme in everyone- but let's face it, women get this day, and Mother's Day if they happen to have children, and that's it for recognition.
So why do we resent that so much? Is it perchance because we have a general distain for femininity and femmeness? Is this perhaps a reflection of misogyny around "women's stuff" like self-indulgence and beauty that causes us to reject Valentine's Day so strongly? Is it about self-worth, and a fear that either by being unpartnered you're not worthy, or that your partner's lack of energy/creativity/money spent/whatever matters to you in planning a Valentine's Day thing is reflective of your desirability as a person? Maybe we push this holiday away because love is vulnerable and vulnerability is fucking terrifying. I mean, that's legit, to be honest. Love scares me every fucking day.
This year, though, I'm going to cautiously try to accept that yes, I have feelings, I do love people and they love me back, and that's a good thing. Maybe I don't have to protect myself with snide remarks again, but instead can just open my heart up to being cared about.