Women Should be Appreciated, but not With Valentines

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Hooray!!! Valentine’s Day is yet again upon us, and what better time to think about the women in our lives than February 14? That’s right!! Once a year, we gotta remember women and show how much we appreciate them. Too bad Valentine’s Day only recognizes women for their role as lovers and spouses.

On February 14, more than on any other day of the year, men go above and beyond the call of duty to show their appreciation for women. And I’m not talking about wolf-whistling and leering. I’m talking about thoughtful, sensitive attention—like chocolates, roses, lingerie, and romantic dinners. From flowers to jewelry to Victoria’s Secret thongs, the list of Valentine’s Day gifts is seemingly endless. And patriarchal. Patriarchal because it all revolves around a cheesy, sappy notion of womanhood that is completely disempowered, completely consumerist, and completely paternalistic. In other words, it’s a conservative and traditional view of womanhood.

That’s right, I said it!!! Valentine’s Day reinforces a traditional patriarchal view of gender roles and relations. Valentine’s Day glamorizes the woman not as a human being but as a sexual partner and as a wife. The whole point of Valentine’s Day is to celebrate the woman who is in some sort of arrangement with a man. The hearts, roses, chocolate, etc. are not merely tokens of male affection and attention. They are also status symbols, a woman’s proof of being spoken for. And woe betide the poor, unhappy woman who happens to be single on Valentine’s Day. A sadder and more pitiful creature has never walked the surface of this planet. The lucky majority that’s in some sort of relationship with a man will, however, be out on display, reaping the rewards of the very, very hard work that goes into being female . . . scratch that . . . the significant accomplishment of being in a relationship. Because let’s not kid ourselves, at the end of the day, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of women in relationships.

Not that there’s anything wrong with appreciating women for being lovers and wives. But women should be valued for much more than their success at entering and staying in romantic relationships. As such, Valentine’s Day is a day not for all women, just women who are not single. Which makes me wonder, is there even an affirmative adjective for such women? Something antonymous with “single” perhaps? I’ve never heard one. Probably because in a traditional worldview, being single is an anomalous state for women, which is why the single ones need to be qualified with an adjective like “single.” On the other hand, a woman in a state of involvement with a man is the norm, which explains why we seldom hear qualifying adjectives used for such women. The assumption is that beyond a certain age, a woman isn’t—or shouldn’t be—single.

Today, as lucky un-single women dine with their significant others at tables for two with new jewelry adorning their fingers, wrists, necks, and earlobes, let’s take a moment to reflect on what this day really means. What does Valentine’s Day really value? Why does it focus on the relationship aspect of a woman’s life, not on the woman herself? What does it mean to be a woman on this day? More importantly, what does it mean to be a single woman on Valentine’s Day, or on any other day?

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day values women not for being women, but for being “good” women who have succeeded at finding a mate. Because I don’t think this should be the highest accomplishment in a woman’s life, I won’t say “Happy Valentine’s Day.” If we’re going to celebrate women, let’s celebrate all women, not just the ones who’ve proven that they can find—and potentially mate with—a man.

So here’s wishing you all a very, very early International Women’s Day.

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3 thoughts on “Women Should be Appreciated, but not With Valentines

  1. Ramon A,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m not sure why you’re so mad but, whatever. Everyone’s got a right to their opinion. I’m curious though that you don’t really address the substance of my post, except to say it’s senseless. Why is it senseless? Because you disagree?

    As I see it—and I think I made this point in my post—Valentine’s Day values women for their role as lovers, wives, and sex partners. But women play many other roles besides the roles involved in being lovers or spouses. My specific problem with Valentine’s Day is that it is not a day for all women, it’s a day for women who are not single. You may say that Valentine’s Day is for couples, not for women in relationships but in the US, the majority of things sold on Valentine’s Day are sold to men—flowers, jewelry, chocolate, lingerie. In fact, I can’t think of a single traditional Valentine’s Day–related item that is meant to be bought by women for men. Oh, before I forget, you mention research. If you had done a little bit of research of your own, you would have discovered that March 8th (International Women’s Day) is not celebrated in the United States, which incidentally happens to be the country in which I live. Valentine’s Day is the day for women. Oh, and Mother’s Day too, which celebrates women for performing another “traditional” female role: motherhood (in case you hadn’t guessed).

    So . . . to sum up Ramon, I don’t know why you sound so angry. All I said is that I think Valentine’s Day values women for the very traditional roles of lover/spouse/mother. I’m not sure where the whole psychopath/victimization rant comes from but I get the impression you’re interested in the workings of the human mind. I’m actually quite interested in psychology and psychiatry too. And judging from the tone of your comment, I would bet money you were recently left by a woman. Perhaps a woman you were married to. And she got custody of the kids, right? Perhaps she didn’t feel like your spending money on her was a good way of showing how much you valued her.

    Despite your angry tone and bad grammar, you sound to me like someone who is capable of reflecting on your thinking and your attitudes. I urge you to do just that. Hopefully, that’ll help you get to the root of your anger and hostility towards feminism.

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  2. At least women in relationships are being valued… men aren´t. We´re considered less than the girlfriend, the smaller part, the one that have to pay a tribute.
    It´s outstanding the capacity of feminist to turn women in victims even when THEY are being valued. Why give a damn to single women in valentine´s day? The march 8th already exists for all women, remember?
    This post you made is completely senseless. A perfect example of victimization similar to psycopaths (make some research and you discover that they also try to become the victim).
    I would love to be a woman, being valued for being a woman, having the right to still have custody after divorce and so on (a big so on)

    PS: this day is for couples not just for “women in relationships” (you forgot that)

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  3. hmmm… thanks for the international women’s day wishes. there’s a holiday that is actually about women. valentine’s day, on the other hand, is not. it’s a day for lovers. commercial as it is, just like any other holiday it tries to remind us of something important. in this case – the people we love who love us. in addition to not being about women, it is hardly about the male-female romantic relationships. cards, candy, or just warm words come from parents to their children and vice versa, from bosses, from friends, and don’t forget same-sex couples. sure, there are some women who do not wish to be alone or ‘single’ on valentine’s day just as plenty of men don’t. insecurity, uncertainty and/or the desire to have a meaningful connection with another human being are not qualities unique to women. if they were, the world would really be a horrid place with no hope for any decent woman to find a man of any worth.

    i won’t argue that there are social pressures and misconceptions related to the singlehood of women. i am also fully aware of how depressed and stressed many women can get if they are single past a certain age as well as how they are viewed by some parts of our society. but i would much rather note the fact that society is changing. maybe a little bit at a time, but the attitudes are becoming different. especially in big cities where you and i reside. women are valued employees, leaders, friends. they are respected for their accomplishments and independence. and you will hear more and more single women celebrating their freedom and self-reliance.

    that said, i do not think there is anything wrong with being part of a loving relationship. not all relationships are so loving and yet people stay in them. i consider that a much bigger problem than how the society i live in treats single women. and i do not think that valentine’s day is a celebration of women in relationships. it is a celebration of love in relationships of all sorts. and yes – relationships are hard work – all of them – and should be celebrated and more often then on just one day a year. and in fact, the good ones always are. you just pay more attention on valentine’s day.

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