Occupy Valentine’s Day

Photo of a woman holding a sign that says, "Love Is Beautiful. Compulsory heterosexuality + commercialized romance are not. Occupy Valentine's Day."

Let’s do the thing.

Author: has written 5280 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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81 Responses

  1. Captain Awkward
    Captain Awkward January 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

    Mine would say:

    “Assuming that men are agents who ask women out and that women are objects who look pretty and wait to be chosen is fucked up and bullshit. Let’s fuck in a way that also fucks the patriarchy.”

  2. igglanova
    igglanova January 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm |

    Our ways of loving are not inferior, base sexual impulses. There is no magical, transformative power in heterosexual romance that is not present in the queer variety also.

    Fuck heteronormativity.

    Love,

    iggles

    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

  3. igglanova
    igglanova January 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    P.S., I particularly appreciated this entry. Rawk.

    http://occupyvday.tumblr.com/post/16483266349

  4. Ashley
    Ashley January 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm |

    I like the doing it wrong note.

  5. shfree
    shfree January 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm |

    Speaking as the granddaughter of independent florists on both the maternal and paternal side of the family, it is considered a grievous sin to ignore the Flower and Chocolate Giving holidays. (At family funerals there is no such thing as “in lieu of flowers please donate to such and such’s favorite charity.” They want FLOWERS. FLOWERS FLOWERS FLOWERS.) That does not mean one has to make it some heteronormative display, one can buy flowers for oneself, a partner, family members, a friend, or one can get a plant if they don’t like the idea of flowers. Or, one can even buy them the day after that stupid day on the cheap, probably, and the tiny local seller who has a hard time in February in general will appreciate the business.

  6. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 25, 2012 at 11:20 pm |

    The only flora I would want from a boyfriend/girlfriend would be a cactus or a Venus Flytrap. Or they could plant a tree in my name.
    That said, I hate romance and all things Valentiney with a passion. I’m gonna go drop a line suggesting that some of the DJs do an anti-Valentine’s Day program.

  7. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 26, 2012 at 12:03 am | *

    Warren Ellis doesn’t do anything for me as a writer, but Happy Horny Werewolf Day is a nice sentiment.

  8. Azalea
    Azalea January 26, 2012 at 12:37 am |

    My hubster and I will be that douchey lovey dovey couple on Valentine’s Day as we are damn near everyday who call each other, text, flirt with one another and go out on dates. My first Valentine was my dad and we have a tradition every year he gets me Godiva chocolates, some flowers, a card and we go out on a date. My mom and I do the same every other year. In short, Valentine’s Day for me isnt all about being a couple, it’s about loving and being in love with people. I love holidays.I will however post on twitter and facebook stats on domesitc violence and sexual abuse to help raise awareness.

    As an aside, I also SERIOUSLY think its bullshit that the only time people really talk about black history makers is during the shortest month of the year but I dont boycott or refuse to talk about those history makers as a way to protest it only being in February.

  9. Susan
    Susan January 26, 2012 at 12:49 am |

    A romantic holiday named for a saint honored in the Catholic church… uh, okay.

  10. Chip
    Chip January 26, 2012 at 3:09 am |

    I would like my sign to say , I’m not the one in charge and I don’t want to be. Women are not children and not to be treated as if they are!

  11. La Lubu
    La Lubu January 26, 2012 at 8:45 am |

    I thought, “what kinda bull-shit is this?”…but then went to the site and saw, “who needs Valentine’s Day when box wine and insta-Netflix is available 365 days a year?!”….and it made me smile.

  12. Jay Phoebe
    Jay Phoebe January 26, 2012 at 9:42 am |

    I was picturing sit-ins at restaurants and chocolatiers from the lead, but no. :/ This is awesome, though!

  13. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated January 26, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    Old divorcee says: Give catnip.

  14. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. January 26, 2012 at 10:00 am |

    M was going to make lobster…but I guess I can forgo deliciousness for a good cause.

    Mine would say: Love is not a commodity.

  15. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit January 26, 2012 at 10:43 am |

    Occupy Half-Priced Candy on the 15th.

  16. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 26, 2012 at 10:57 am |

    Igglanova: Why would anyone want romance if they didn’t have to fake it? Seriously romance is mushy, life-sapping and disgusting.

  17. Caperton
    Caperton January 26, 2012 at 11:24 am | *

    The Boy and I celebrate February 14 as Be a Total Dick Day. We spend the other 364 days of the year being considerate and sweet and romantic, and then we spend the 14th sitting around unbathed, farting under the covers, stealing all the quarters out of the change bowl, and arguing over who has to go to Wendy’s to pick up dinner (not that the chosen individual will actually pick up enough food for both of us anyway). It’s a nice change.

  18. Andie
    Andie January 26, 2012 at 11:27 am |

    Heh.. last year one of my best friends sent flowers to my office because I griped about all the other girls getting flowers.

    Yesterday the newish boy broached the subject and seemed rather relieved when I told him that I have a longstanding grudge against Valentines day and that VD-day could get bent and that the best thing he could do that day is wish me a happy ‘Day-before-flag-day’.

    This is my Go-To image in honor of this occasion. (trigger warning for bloody gore and violence in a historical context) https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2390/99/41/290901833/n290901833_1232682_980.jpg

  19. EG
    EG January 26, 2012 at 11:44 am |

    Seriously romance is mushy, life-sapping and disgusting.

    Tastes differ. Yours is not objective fact.

    I like quite a few mushy things, and have never found the experience of romance either life-sapping or disgusting. Indeed, one of the experiences that always revives my faith in happiness is hearing my stepfather wax eloquent about the love between him and my mother.

  20. Andie
    Andie January 26, 2012 at 11:50 am |

    Agree with EG..

    Myself, I’m a huge mushy sap beneath my gruff exterior. But that doesn’t make VDday any less bullshit.

  21. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 26, 2012 at 11:57 am |

    Kristen: You do know that a lobster is basically a giant bug, right?

    Igglanova: Milage may very. I dislike romance for the same reason I dislike emotions. Both support stupidity. Romance has also been proven to be lifeshortening- see Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and domestic violence stats. I get very annoyed when women are encouraged to act stupid and gamble with their lives.

  22. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 26, 2012 at 11:58 am |

    *Mileage may vary* I really should stop typing and go back to sleep.

  23. igglanova
    igglanova January 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

    Igglanova: Why would anyone want romance if they didn’t have to fake it? Seriously romance is mushy, life-sapping and disgusting.

    I’m not really sure why this was addressed to me, but ok.

    I’d agree that the packaged, commercialized version of ‘romance’ that is being pushed forth by advertisers and other cynical interests is sappy, pointless, and emotionally draining…but not so for romance itself. I think we’re at a point in history where it is more acceptable than ever to individualize courtship and what we consider romantic. (I mean, aren’t most of us using the word ‘romance’ simply as a synonym for the emotional component of love and sexuality these days?) I don’t think you actually believe that emotionally investing in sexual relationships is pointless, but if you do, I find that…pretty bleak and depressing, actually.

  24. EG
    EG January 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm |

    Kristen: You do know that a lobster is basically a giant bug, right?

    A delicious giant bug, that is.

    I dislike romance for the same reason I dislike emotions. Both support stupidity. Romance has also been proven to be lifeshortening- see Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and domestic violence stats. I get very annoyed when women are encouraged to act stupid and gamble with their lives.

    Evidence for emotions supporting stupidity?

    As to “proven” to be life-shortening…you do know that your first two examples are fictional, yes? I believe that the stats suggest that marriage is correlated with a longer, healthier life-span (not that that’s any real reason to get married if you don’t want to).

  25. igglanova
    igglanova January 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    Igglanova: Milage may very. I dislike romance for the same reason I dislike emotions. Both support stupidity. Romance has also been proven to be lifeshortening- see Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, and domestic violence stats. I get very annoyed when women are encouraged to act stupid and gamble with their lives.

    Ok whoa, I posted before I read this. The most recent psychological research actually forces us to accept that emotions are deeply involved in every level of reasoning, and that it is impossible and unadvisable to strive toward a Spock-like ideal if one wants to hone one’s reasoning skills.

    And…DV has so little to do with romance that I am struggling to figure out why you even thought it was relevant.

  26. speedbudget
    speedbudget January 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

    If your idea of romance is in any way tied up with domestic violence, you are seriously, seriously doing it wrong.

  27. speedbudget
    speedbudget January 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

    And to build on igglanova’s point, there is ample evidence that recognition of faces in particular has a lot to do with emotional responses. There was the case of the man who had a head injury and couldn’t recognize his own mother anymore. He thought he had a series of caretakers throughout the day who were impostors of his mother. It was determined his inability to recognize the “impostors” as his actual mother was a result of the injury to his brain breaking the link between emotion and recognition. In other words, it’s not so much the face we recognize, but the emotions that the faces engender in us.

  28. konkonsn
    konkonsn January 26, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    I have one friend who, every year, gets super depressed around Valentine’s Day. For the life of me, I can’t get him past the idea that his worth as a male isn’t tied to successfully obtaining a girlfriend.

    I really fucking hate this holiday.

  29. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. January 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

    Wooohoo! LOBSTER IS BACK. And also I knows a bug, but its a tasty bug…particularly when its made with slow roasted garlic butter and served over homemade pasta.

    But, yes.

    Down with heteronomative, socially mandated monogamy, and commercialized romance. Up with people being happy in the social orderings that they decide make sense for them.

  30. Archie
    Archie January 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    We didn’t give a thought to Valentine’s day, which we saw as a purely commercial holiday that had nothing to do with our lives, until we had kids in school. Now, we all get together for a nice dinner (with kids) and tell one another how much we love each other. While we teach and practice love in our family every day, we now have to consider the “social norm” that the expression of love is important to social cohesion.

  31. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT January 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm |

    My wife and I have a pact to simply ignore Valentine’s day. Have I mentioned I really love her? ;)

  32. igglanova
    igglanova January 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    And also I knows a bug, but its a tasty bug…

    Invertebrates are seriously underrated as delicious morsels in general. I’d like to try roasted tarantula someday, though I have a sort of conflicted affection for spiders that might interfere with the experience…

  33. Jenny
    Jenny January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |

    Ok, I’ll say it: someone talked about “disliking emotions”? Kinda on the empathy-less sociopathic tip, seriously. As is suggesting romance is automatically linked to domestic violence.

    Yeah, I’m half of a douchey mushy soulmate couple too, and we’ll likely ignore valentine’s day because it’s more interesting to have new, unusual creative experiences all year round rather than do, whatever you’re supposed to do for V-day (I dunno, gorge on cheap chocolates? Dress yourselves in tacky lingerie? Engage in Lupercalia style S&M play? Whatever gets you through the night.) I’d really rather see people questioning/doing away with the commercialization of romance, or the societal expectations of what they’re supposed to be, or the stigmatization of those who aren’t in relationships for whatever their reasons may be. But lambasting love itself, or the entire spectrum of human emotion even more so? That’s not a world I want to inhabit either.

  34. nom nom nom » Occupy Valentine’s Day
    nom nom nom » Occupy Valentine’s Day January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

    [...] Schildchen, das meine Freundin Jill von feministe hier hoch hält, ist Teil einer Aktion, die erst gestern das Licht der Welt erblickte und doch [...]

  35. Yael
    Yael January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm |

    Archie, I like the family dinner idea and might adopt it. We never celebrated VD before moving to the US. Last year my son in kindergarten had to bring valentines for the whole class. that was the extent of our celebration.

  36. shfree
    shfree January 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    One year for Valentine’s Day the person I am in a long distance relationship with made me an in-joke video and posted it on youtube just for me. (it wasn’t some sort of sex thing, it was just about stuff we giggle about online) And even though I should be FLOWERS FLOWERS FLOWERS ALL THE DAMN TIME for the fake romance holidays (one of my cats will eat them and promptly throw up anything that is plant-based) it was still the sweetest thing I ever got as a present for the fake romance holiday. Which I am still obligated to celebrate, because FLOWERS FLOWERS FLOWERS. Even though my grandparents are now dead, it is a Way of Life.

  37. Donna L
    Donna L January 26, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

    I don’t know. Ever since my most recent partner (we had then been together for several years) gave me a sweet, loving, very romantic Valentine’s Day card six years ago, and then promptly broke up with me over the phone two weeks later, the holiday has had some negative associations for me!

  38. Katya
    Katya January 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

    I love our V-Day indoor picnics, complete with blanket on the floor and Chet Baker on the stereo. Celebrating love? Yeah! Imposing a particular vision of what love has to look like, and alienating people whose lives don’t, for whatever reason, match that vision? Yuck.

  39. LotusBen
    LotusBen January 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm |

    I’m not really big on holidays; I kinda like to operate on my own time table. But I know quite a few people who interpret Valentine’s Day as being about love in general, rather than being about romance in particular. So they use the day not just to celebrate girlfriends, boyfriends, sexual partners, or whatever–but parents, children, siblings, friends, anyone they love. To me, this seems like a really healthy perspective. Life can often be so rough and cold; I think it’s nice for there to be a day focusing on the love we share for each other as human beings. And I mean, yes, the commercial and the obligatory aspects of Valentine’s Day are pretty fucked up. . .but that is also the case for the commercial and obligatory aspects of every major holiday.

  40. Emolee
    Emolee January 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    Life can often be so rough and cold; I think it’s nice for there to be a day focusing on the love we share for each other as human beings.

    Agreed. In our family, valentine’s day is about all of the love, not just the romantic love. My mom and my sister and I usually exchange gifts, for example.

  41. EG
    EG January 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm |

    I also have to say, I find the hatred of Valentine’s Day to be too much like the misogynist hatred of other mushy, frilly, “girly” things to be comfortable with it. My relationship with the day is complex; it certainly does not always bring me joy, to say the least. But is it really any more commercial than Halloween or Christmas or 4th of July or Thanksgiving? It seems to me like a lot of the hatred is because romance, hearts, doilies, and pink/red things are associated with icky girls and the things that are important to them, and who wants to be associated with that?

  42. LotusBen
    LotusBen January 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm |

    Yeah, it’s taken me a while to realize how girly things are singled out for special and disproportionate hatred in our culture. So much of mass culture is crap that I was able to hate romantic comedies, for instance, without realizing that my hatred was based off of misogyny as much as cinephilia. I mean, yeah, most romantic comedies suck, but so do most horror movies, action movies, gross-out comedies–hell, most documentaries. When a “girly” thing is insipid, the insipidness is often blamed on the girliness, whereas when a more “manly” thing is insipid, it’s not viewed as a result of some overall deficiency in manliness, quite the contrary.

    The fact is: there are a lot of good romantic movies. And I also happen to think a lot of the aesthetics and rituals associated with Valentine’s Day are pretty awesome and adorable. I like flowers, I like the color pink, I like chocolate, I even find an odd sort of enjoyment in eating those small, hard, chalky hearts with the little words on them. I think Valentine’s Day is oppressive to people in much the same way as any major cultural tradition can be oppressive: there’s always certain jerks telling others, “hey, you have to go along with this, and you have to go along with it in a way that’s acceptable to us.” But I don’t see that as particularly unique to Valentine’s Day.

  43. stonebiscuit
    stonebiscuit January 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

    Now that I think about it, you know what would be a good way to actually Occupy Valentine’s Day? Raise awareness of the horrible conditions in the cocoa industry and encourage people to switch to slave-free, fair trade chocolate products.

    http://foodispower.org/slavery_chocolate.htm

  44. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

    EG: Marriage is correlated with a longer life span for men. It actually shortens women’s lives. The ‘women are too emotional’ excuse has been used for centuries to deprive women of access to the public sphere, and to deny them education and jobs. The only way to combat that myth is to not show emotion in public at all, so men will see women as equal- or even superior- to them.
    Also, lobsters are still bugs; they have exoskeletons and are part of Nature’s clean up crew.
    Igglanova: First of all, most men don’t have emotional investments in their sexual relationships. So why shouldn’t women follow their lead? Secondly, most women are in romantic relationships-or at least what started as one- with their abusers. And women are taught not to question anything in their relationships, so most abused women don’t realize they should get out until it’s too late.

  45. igglanova
    igglanova January 26, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

    I also have to say, I find the hatred of Valentine’s Day to be too much like the misogynist hatred of other mushy, frilly, “girly” things to be comfortable with it. My relationship with the day is complex; it certainly does not always bring me joy, to say the least. But is it really any more commercial than Halloween or Christmas or 4th of July or Thanksgiving? It seems to me like a lot of the hatred is because romance, hearts, doilies, and pink/red things are associated with icky girls and the things that are important to them, and who wants to be associated with that?

    I think much of the backlash comes from its inherent cheapening of love and tender feelings, which people seem to think should be above such base contaminations as greed and lack of uniqueness. I don’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment, to be honest, even if some of it comes from a place that is not totally rational.

    Besides, Halloween stands out as probably the most harmless of those sample holidays, reinforcing no stereotypes*, privileging no religion above all others, and lacking in celebration of colonialism and genocide.

    My own resentment of VD (har de har, insert the once-yearly joke of VD being homologous to, well, VD) has a lot to do with the obnoxious glorification of heterosexual romance that saturated my childhood. And I really do mean glorification. A lack of positive queer representation is bad enough, but when het luuuuurrrrrve, to which you find impossible to relate, is constantly thrown in your face as some divine force that represents the absolute zenith of humanity, it makes VD that much more of an irritant.

    *Yeah, Halloween is now constantly lampooned as generating yet more variations on the Sexy_____ costumes for women and the racist costumes for the whole family, but at least that element is not essential to the celebration of the holiday.

  46. EG
    EG January 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

    Well, I have known observant Jewish children who were not allowed to celebrate Halloween because it is, actually, a Christian holiday (All Hallows’ Eve), though I was not among them, thank goodness, because it is an awesome holiday. And it may not be associated with a genocide in recent memory, but the Christian appropriation of pagan rituals and holiday such as Samhain and decimation of paganism was not a non-violent process.

    The objectionable aspects of Valentine’s Day seem no less inherent to the idea of the holiday to me than the sexy/racist costumes are to Halloween.

    I do think it’s important to acknowledge the misogyny informing a lot of hostility to VD–the way men are culturally “expected” to resent celebrating it and have to be brought to heel by girlfriends/wives, the steak and blow-job day bullshit. And there’s really no way around the fact that VD is conceived of and portrayed as a holiday that has meaning and importance only to women. We never hear or read about a man who worries that his girlfriend/wife won’t give him a VD card or anything.

  47. EG
    EG January 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm |

    I think much of the backlash comes from its inherent cheapening of love and tender feelings, which people seem to think should be above such base contaminations as greed and lack of uniqueness.

    We don’t see the same kind of backlash and mockery of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and surely the commercial brouhaha around those cheapens love and other tender feelings as well.

  48. librarygoose
    librarygoose January 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

    Hells yeah! I hate flowers, the smell reminds me of funerals.

    Wait, does this extend to chocolate? It does?
    I just remembered, I can’t occupy Valentine’s Day…I’m busy. Ya know, with the children and bunnies and hair washing…(and chocolate).

  49. Jane
    Jane January 26, 2012 at 10:42 pm |

    @EG: I’m sure you know this, but Valentine’s Day isn’t a “woman’s holiday” everywhere — in Japan, as I understand it, it’s the day women give men chocolate/gifts/candy, and there’s a separate day for men to reciprocate.

    I guess I don’t really hate Valentine’s Day because in my family it was an excuse for my mom and I to give each other cute little heart-themed gifts and to make my dad a chocolate cake (his birthday is a couple days before.) And my dad would buy us both flowers. Even in college I knew a fair number of people who bought paper Valentines to give to everyone they knew, not just romantic partners. So . . . yeah. Excuse for consumerism, sure. About a certain definition of romantic relationship, not always.

  50. EG
    EG January 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm |

    I didn’t know that! That’s really interesting! See, I learn something new every day…

  51. igglanova
    igglanova January 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm |

    We don’t see the same kind of backlash and mockery of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, and surely the commercial brouhaha around those cheapens love and other tender feelings as well.

    I disagree. Maybe it’s different where I live, but Mother’s and Father’s Days never receive the same commercial attention and scripted expectations that VD does. Its presence never saturates every commercial venue in your path from point A to point B with heart balloons, chocolate, teddy bears, and other instantly recognizable icons of the holiday. The commercial emphasis is there, but it doesn’t really compare to VD in terms of magnitude.

    Another point…a backlash requires the public to feel constrained or oppressed by whatever entity it is that they are rebelling against. Since Mother’s and Father’s Days do not prescribe any ritualized, ‘correct’ way to show that you love your Mom / Dad, and the gifts you are encouraged to buy are almost always practical and not outrageously expensive (see, kitchen appliances and barbeque crap), nobody feels put enough upon to bother pushing back against the holiday, especially since you’d just end up looking like an ingrate, anyway. There is also no thinly veiled transactional relationship grossness there – a gift you give to your parent just stands as a way to show appreciation with no hanging expectation of reciprocity, whereas a girlfriend who receives a gift and then doesn’t feel like bumpin’ uglies later will have to worry about the semiotic consequences of that action. (Will it come across as an insult? The ultimate snub? Ungratefulness? Oh God, anything to not make me look like a bitch!)

    On the point of the gifts, actually…it is interesting that quintessential VD gifts are more desirable the more they depart from any useful function, such that the ideal gift ends up being a sort of manifestation of the love itself. You don’t see the same element with other gift-giving holidays. Appreciation / thoughtfulness requires that the gifts be useful or objectively enjoyable in some way. In other words, not a wasteful expenditure.

  52. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 27, 2012 at 12:30 am |

    Jenny: Without delving too deep into my history, let’s just say I spent the majority of my childhood years at the mercy of my emotions, and realized that reacting to my classmates meant that I lost and they won. Yeah, I was bullied, but a lot of the bullying was *my fault* because I didn’t understand the rules. Never again. (And, also, for the record, I’m more likely to harm myself than anyone else.)
    Speedbudget: I’m just pointing out that romance leads to women being duped and oblivious to other people’s true natures. It’s like a drug.

  53. Dao
    Dao January 27, 2012 at 8:36 am |

    I’ve disliked Valentine’s Day due to a traumatic event from my abusive ex. He cooked me a romantic dinner and then proceeded to assault me.

    I celebrate V-Day instead. I know there are some problematic aspects of the Vagina Monologues but directing the show and seeing its effect on a diverse group of women made the day almost bearable.

  54. Esti
    Esti January 27, 2012 at 9:35 am |

    I’m with you, EG. I can understand objections to specific parts of how Valentine’s Day is performed/represented, but I don’t get the hatred for the day in general. I think it’s nice to have one day a year when you make a special effort to recognize those you love — whoever they might be — just as I think it’s nice to have one day a year when mothers or fathers or veterans are celebrated.

    I do like the idea of “occupying” Valentine’s Day as a call to celebrate in radical and non-traditional ways.

  55. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll January 27, 2012 at 10:57 am |

    Can we cut out the use of occupy for everything?

    h ttp://www.dispatch.com/content/graphics/2011/11/22/stah111122_620.jpg

    It’s not such a cute word when you’re living in an occupied country.

  56. Alex
    Alex January 27, 2012 at 11:18 am |

    A lot of bigger Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Victoria, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, and London) hold annual memorial marches for the nearly 1000 missing and murdered Aboriginal women on February 14th. (Here’s the link to the Vancouver event but there are at least Facebook events for all the others.)

    I love doing that for Valentine’s Day, usually it’s with my best friends but this year I have a boyfriend so I’d imagine that he’ll come, too. Then we’ll probably all go out for pints and food. It might not be ‘romantic’ but it’s with people I love and for a cause I feel really strongly about.

  57. EG
    EG January 27, 2012 at 11:27 am |

    Its presence never saturates every commercial venue in your path from point A to point B with heart balloons, chocolate, teddy bears, and other instantly recognizable icons of the holiday. The commercial emphasis is there, but it doesn’t really compare to VD in terms of magnitude.

    Another point…a backlash requires the public to feel constrained or oppressed by whatever entity it is that they are rebelling against. Since Mother’s and Father’s Days do not prescribe any ritualized, ‘correct’ way to show that you love your Mom / Dad, and the gifts you are encouraged to buy are almost always practical and not outrageously expensive (see, kitchen appliances and barbeque crap), nobody feels put enough upon to bother pushing back against the holiday, especially since you’d just end up looking like an ingrate, anyway.

    Yes, we just have different experiences of the holidays, then. I do indeed find Mother’s Day completely commercially saturated, what with sales and gifts and commercials (and I never realized how commercially saturated until, as a teenager, I had more than one friend whose mother had died and learned how painful all those reminders were to them). And there are scripted actions, in my experience: mother’s day brunch, scripted enough that my mother wailed a few years ago that we never took her to brunch and why, why? (Because we both like afternoon tea, so I had been taking her to tea, was the answer.) And the kind of gifts you see in the Red Envelope catalog–necklaces for mothers featuring the birthstones of each of their children. For dads it’s sports stuff and shaving stuff–I see displays of that stuff everywhere I go in early June (mid-June? I never can remember when that holiday is).

    It sounds like you, like me, have a relatively stress-free relationship with your mother when it comes to gift-giving and gratitude. But I know for a fact that this is not at all the case for many, many people, and the sexual pressure a boyfriend can put on you is, for many people, as nothing compared to the guilt and emotional buttons that are pushed when a parent puts the screws on.

    I’ve never really heard of the whole practical gift thing. I think if I gave my mother a kitchen appliance or a vacuum or something for Mother’s Day she’d kill me. (Also…kitchen appliances are outrageously expensive!)

    I’m just pointing out that romance leads to women being duped and oblivious to other people’s true natures. It’s like a drug.

    Insofar as love releases biochemical compounds that make people feel good, yes, it’s like a drug–or drugs are like love. But one can just as easily point out that romance leads to women’s sexual satisfaction and general happiness. Drugs aren’t necessarily bad. And that’s not really gendered, in any case. Plenty of men have made terrible decisions because love blinded them to other people’s true natures.

  58. igglanova
    igglanova January 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm |

    I’m just pointing out that romance leads to women being duped and oblivious to other people’s true natures. It’s like a drug.

    Bullshit. People (not just women) decide to ignore others’ flaws and danger signals during courtship for varied reasons, but some of the most consistent are low self-esteem and the belief that they will not find a better partner than the flawed-but-conveniently-available scumbag. None of this is due to ‘romance’ in any common understanding of the word.

    The only truth I can find in your claims is that the human tendency toward connection – be it romance, friendship, or shootin’ the shit with your co-workers during break time – can sometimes lead to the abuse of one party by another. But connection in any sense has so many practical and psychological benefits that throwing it out with the comparitively sparse amount of dirty bathwater surrounding it will cause innumerably more problems than it solves.

  59. Jawnita
    Jawnita January 27, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

    My mother is super into celebrating holidays and making up silly family traditions, and the tradition for Valentine’s Day is that my parents used to make elaborate puzzle hunts for my brother and me. We were given a piece of paper with a clue on it, which led to another clue somewhere else in the house, and so on eventually to presents. (Another silly family tradition is that on gift-giving-type holidays, my mother always gives me something she bought on sale after the previous holiday, such as Halloween-themed socks for Christmas. So on Valentine’s day, I would often get candy canes, which are delicious.) These days, when I have a significant other on VDay, I make them a puzzle hunt and it is lots of fun. I love trying to write puzzles that will make both of us feel clever and creating a little adventure for the day.

  60. Azalea
    Azalea January 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm |

    @ LotusBen

    But I know quite a few people who interpret Valentine’s Day as being about love in general, rather than being about romance in particular. So they use the day not just to celebrate girlfriends, boyfriends, sexual partners, or whatever–but parents, children, siblings, friends, anyone they love.

    I am definitely one of those people. I’m a mushy, sappy person the people I love are showered with it ad nasueum :) Before I was married, even when I was not dating or coupled I celebrated Valentine’s Day. The irony of the holiday that is supposed to celebrate love is the one with the most hate.

  61. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm | *

    First of all, most men don’t have emotional investments in their sexual relationships. So why shouldn’t women follow their lead? Secondly, most women are in romantic relationships-or at least what started as one- with their abusers. And women are taught not to question anything in their relationships, so most abused women don’t realize they should get out until it’s too late.

    I know I’m a little late on this, BUT WHAT MEN, IF ANY, DO YOU EVEN KNOW?

  62. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 29, 2012 at 2:07 am |

    Evilfizz: It’s not really any of your business, but very few off-line. There are, you know, names for women who have guy friends in meatspace. I just prefer not to navigate that particular minefield, since I already lead a double life as far as my female friends are concerned. It’s just easier and safer to hide a lot of my interests. (Innocent stuff really, but why should I tell them what I’m actually reading, watching or listening to?)
    And the consequences are much more dire if I have a miscommunication with a man. I seem to remember a few male posters on here equating ‘eye contact” or ‘friendly chats’ with ‘consent.’ And that’s a misunderstanding I can cheerfully avoid. If only because I’m not looking forward to having to injure someone.
    EG: Men aren’t expected to erase themselves once they get into a relationship. A woman is expected to only half exist if she’s in a relationship.
    Igglanova: See above. Also men don’t fall as hard for the myths of romance as women do.

  63. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 January 29, 2012 at 7:03 am |

    I’ve disliked Valentine’s Day due to a traumatic event from my abusive ex. He cooked me a romantic dinner and then proceeded to assault me.

    May I ask, how did you become involved with this person?

  64. Sylvia D. Lucas
    Sylvia D. Lucas January 29, 2012 at 7:30 am |

    I don’t personally celebrate Valentine’s Day, but if people want to take that day as a “love” day and do special couple things for each other, I think it’s great. I DON’T think it’s great if people feel pressured by it. “Agh. It’s VALENTINE’S Day. I have to BUY something and PLAN something. Agh.”

    That’s no fun.

  65. debbie
    debbie January 29, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    I’ve disliked Valentine’s Day due to a traumatic event from my abusive ex. He cooked me a romantic dinner and then proceeded to assault me.

    May I ask, how did you become involved with this person?

    I don’t want to speak for Dao, but I would assume the same way that most relationships start (you meet someone, there’s attraction, etc). Your question comes off as victim blame-y to me. I have an abusive ex, and had no idea that he was an abuser until he started to abuse me.

    I am trying to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that there’s some legitimate reason for you to ask this question, but I’m having trouble thinking of any.

  66. miga
    miga January 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |

    @politicalguineapig:

    I too was bullied as a kid for being driven by loads of emotion. And my response was to keep it inside too, and to favor logic over emotion as much as I could.

    But it didn’t help me at all, because I’m an emotional being. In fact, it hurt me because it warped my sense of intuition, so that I often ignored it and wound up in abusive situations. I also became very quiet, shy, depressed, and stressed- because since I disliked emotion, and emotion was such a part of me, I distrusted myself. Only now am I beginning to embrace the full range of my feelings–and it actually makes me a stronger person. I’m not fighting myself anymore.

    I can also challenge stereotypes of weak femininity by embracing my personality. Why should we women bow even more to an androcentrist society by emulating the masculine ideal of a spock-like society, an ideal that not even men can fully attain.

    Secondly, Bullying is abuse. And it’s not your fault you were bullied. No one has the right to make another feel inferior.

    Thirdly, I take offence to your comment about being in a relationship with an abuser. As a person who was in a coercive, unbalanced relationship and is now in a healing, strengthening one I resent the idea that my silly emotions keep me from recognizing the two are of the same root, or that my current partner is not emotionally invested in me. You don’t know him, and you don’t know me. (And what are your opinions on non-hetero relationships? Or non cis ones?)

    On another note: One of my favorite valentines day memories was chilling with my roomie in college, watching “the science of sex” documentary on youtube…..come to think of it, I’ve been using valentines day as a way to express my nerd side. I buy awesome transformers coloring books to make cards with, I scour pop-culture and sociology blogs for sexuality articles, and this year my boo (whose company, may I add, makes me a better person) and I are going to the Sex Museum! V-Day to me is an ode to nerd-dom, a chance to knock off some of the titillating things on my bucket list.

  67. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm | *

    It’s not really any of your business, but very few off-line. There are, you know, names for women who have guy friends in meatspace.

    So you know “very few” men personally and yet you’re content with making gross generalizations about all of them and how they view sex? That’s, at best, misguided.

    And no, I don’t know what names there are for women who have guy friends in meatspace. But I’m going to guess that none of them are flattering and most of them refer to diminished intellect and a desire to prostrate oneself at the foot of the patriarchy.

    As I’ve mentioned before, let’s keep the gross generalizations to a minimum.

  68. EG
    EG January 29, 2012 at 3:12 pm |

    Men aren’t expected to erase themselves once they get into a relationship. A woman is expected to only half exist if she’s in a relationship.

    None of that is inherent in emotion. It’s inherent in patriarchy, whether or not a woman is in a romantic relationship: she can exist through her kids, through her father, through her male boss.

    As to abuse: yes, and most kids are in a filial relationship to their abusers. Does that mean that filial love is inherently damaging and stupid?

  69. EG
    EG January 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

    There are, you know, names for women who have guy friends in meatspace.

    Oh, do tell. What are the “names” you fling at women who have the gall to have male friends in real life? I’d like to know what I should be calling my best friends.

    Speaking as somebody who does interact in a friendly way with men fairly regularly, you’re so far off base in saying that men invest no emotions in sexual relationships that you’re not even in the right stadium. Why you are buying into a pop culture representation of masculinity not only as accurate but as desirable for women is beyond me, but it serves only to prove my point that the dislike of VD is related to a disdain for all things feminine.

  70. shfree
    shfree January 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

    Speaking as somebody who does interact in a friendly way with men fairly regularly, you’re so far off base in saying that men invest no emotions in sexual relationships that you’re not even in the right stadium. Why you are buying into a pop culture representation of masculinity not only as accurate but as desirable for women is beyond me, but it serves only to prove my point that the dislike of VD is related to a disdain for all things feminine.

    Seriously. I have no desire to become like a stereotypical man, as PGP seems to advocate with her insistence that we reject all emotion for logic. I simply don’t think that is a superior way to function in this world, nor is it safer or healthier for women as a whole, if that isn’t how we are wired. And just because I enjoy the occasional goofy gesture of love from the person I am with, and enjoy giving goofy gestures of love TO the people I love, that doesn’t make me some hopeless pathetic woman doomed to be abused by any man I come across. And while I’m not going to count my chickens before they’ve hatched, (even though I’m fairly confident that a long distance relationship with someone living across an ocean that I’m not allowing to live in the US, given that things here are INSANE, is unlikely to result in abuse) if that were true, the relationships I’ve had in the past would have been abusive, and they weren’t. So, voila, theory refuted.

    And really, I’m sick to death of the wrong headed sweeping generalizations. I feel like I almost have to defend men more than I should have to when she does it, they are so crazypants, and I haaaate to be in that position. Like near to birther crazypants.

  71. igglanova
    igglanova January 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

    I wonder if lovey-dovey gay and lesbian couples would just blow PGP’s fuckin’ mind.

  72. vireo
    vireo January 29, 2012 at 11:19 pm |

    I’m half of one of those “lovey-dovey gay and lesbian couples.” My girlfriend and I are taking a long weekend so we can spend time together. She’s making a fancy meal. We’re getting romantic gifts for each other to share– I bought a Feeldoe, and I have no idea what she’s getting yet but she’s been talking an awful lot about scented massage candles. There will be flowers and chocolate and some sort of sparkling alcoholic beverage.

    We’ve been together for two and a half years now, and as far as I know neither of us, despite being female, has begun to not exist.

    Politicalguineapig, is your mind blown yet?

    I’m celebrating Valentine’s day this year for two reasons. First, it’s a holiday, which is an excuse to do something beyond the ordinary. In this case, it’s an excuse to eat chocolate and have lots of sex. We do both of those things year-round, but it’s awesome that we can devote a day specifically for that purpose.

    Second, I’m celebrating because it’s a chance to strike a symbolic blow to heteronormativity. Romance isn’t just for hetero couples. I’m not sitting on the sidelines pouting just because the other kids won’t play fair.

    (And I hated Valentines day as a kid. I hated the little Necco hearts and the vapid, generic valentine cards I would get in a brown paper bag at school.)

  73. Helen
    Helen January 30, 2012 at 4:08 am |

    EG and Kristen: In Australia, we call ‘em as we see ‘em . [/derail]

  74. librarygoose
    librarygoose January 30, 2012 at 4:15 am |

    What the Fuck was that thing? It looks like a flattened lobster.

  75. EG
    EG January 30, 2012 at 7:13 am |

    But does it taste like lobster?

  76. Maria
    Maria January 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

    I wish my girlfriends would get behind that compulsory spending. I need some flowers up in here.

  77. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm |

    EG: No, but the filial relationship isn’t expected to be the defining aspect of the kid. They are expected to break away at some point, and recieve more support in the event of a bad relationship. Women are entirely on their own. Another reason, the men as friends thing is out; if anything happened to me, I know who they’d side with. No support is better then worrying about being betrayed.
    Shfree: Well, emotions can actually be worse for women- and cause a lot of health problems/ economic problems. You’re lucky to have the luxury of emotions, some of us can’t afford to indulge ourselves.
    Vireo: Good for you. Do you have any plans to migrate? (Sorry, bird handle triggered the bad joke.

  78. EG
    EG February 3, 2012 at 8:40 am |

    the filial relationship isn’t expected to be the defining aspect of the kid. They are expected to break away at some point, and recieve more support in the event of a bad relationship. Women are entirely on their own.

    You cannot possibly be serious with this. Children are the single most disenfrancised, disempowered group of people in the world. Abused children receive almost no support at all and are routinely returned to the care of their abusers. Further, the filial relationship certainly is constitutive of the kid’s identity, well-being, and, well, entire sense of self.

    Another reason, the men as friends thing is out; if anything happened to me, I know who they’d side with. No support is better then worrying about being betrayed.

    That’s your call to make, though it has certainly not been my experience at all. Nobody is disputing your right to avoid personal contact with men. What we are pointing out is that to make accurate claims about men as a group and having them taken seriously, it helps to interact with some of them from time to time.

  79. Dao
    Dao February 3, 2012 at 9:24 am |

    Marksman2010 1.29.2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    May I ask, how did you become involved with this person?

    The hell is wrong with you Marksman? As if I have not been asked that by every other victim-blaming, “well-intentioned” friend who thought they were asking me some profound question because they just couldn’t grasp that an intelligent, confident woman like me could have ended up in a 5-year abusive relationship from the age of 14 to 18.

    How did I become involved with him? I fell in love with him before he showed any signs of the true monster beneath. I was young, alone, and had absolutely no support from friends, family, or my school in order to break away. I finally did it on my own, but not without him assaulting me one last time, in public, and you know who got all of the blame? ME! I was blamed for hurting the poor young man because he was so in love with me and how could I have ever broken up with him? Keep your ignorant questions to yourself, Marksman.

    @debbie Thank you for speaking on my behalf. I appreciate it. :)

  80. Katie
    Katie February 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm |

    Occupy Valentine’s Day
    By Katie Amatruda, LMFT and Trauma Therapist

    I feel assaulted wherever I turn by clichéd images of love – buy flowers, candy, diamonds, sexy underwear, even cell phones – to show love. Buy, buy, buy! Love, love, love! I say Bah Humbug!
    News blast – a lot of us are single, and are not going to be celebrating Valentine’s Day. So, Let’s occupy V-Day, and take this $17.6 billion* day away from Madison Avenue and make it our own.

    Valentine’s Day is a commercial day, in which the average person celebrating the holiday will spend $126.03. It is based upon the:
    • Dubious myth of one of fourteen martyred saints named Valentine, one of whom might have been in love with his jailer’s daughter
    • Pagan ritual stolen from a Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia; a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus
    • Belief during the Middle Ages that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season


    Here are some tips to get through the day:
    • Ignore it – pretend it is just another day in which a lot of people got a memo in which to wear red and pink, silk boxers or lingerie, but that you didn’t get the memo
    • Do something for yourself – be your own best valentine. Use the day as an excuse to go for that walk, start that painting, write that poem, make that phone call, or go out to see if you can catch any birds mating. Pigeons don’t count.
    • Learn to salsa, or any other kind of dance. Many places have a free lesson before the dancing starts.
    • Play basketball, run around the block. Scream as you drive through a tunnel.
    • Pamper yourself – it’s a good day to take a long steamy bath, to give yourself a mani/pedi, a facial, etc.
    • Celebrate yourself – enumerate the things you’ve done, and the successes you’ve had.
    • Celebrate your friends – bake them cookies, make them something, tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Have them over for dinner. Love comes and goes, but friends can last forever.
    • Keep perspective – it’s just one day, and, with hope, no one has died. That’s what’s important, that no one died. Period. Unless it’s him or her, and you want him or her to be dead, and then it’s a cause for celebration. See above.
    • Call in sick and stay in bed all day – just pretend the day doesn’t exist.
    • Volunteer – nothing puts our own pain in perspective than to see someone else’s pain, so go to the homeless shelter, the local children’s hospital, or sign up to volunteer with the local Red Cross. Bear witness with compassion.
    • Give – make some goofy valentines give them out to everyone at work. Everyone. Remember in grade school when you didn’t get a valentine from that one person who you really wanted a valentine from? Maybe even do something to counter the heterosexual bias prevalent in our society that V-Day perpetuates.
    • Pleasure yourself – if you’re not sure how, practice. Fantasize. Use it or lose it!
    • Laugh at yourself today – laughing will keep the hounds of depression at bay away better than almost anything else.
    • If you’re feeling really flush, send $126.03 to the U.S. Treasury, ATTN: Deficit. I wonder what would happen if enough of us did this…if you don’t like this idea, send the money to Occupy Oakland, or to Planned Parenthood.

    *National Retail Federation: http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1304

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