Candy hearts that taste of chalk, cheesy greeting cards, glassy-eyed teddy bears. These are the images that come to mind when I think of the upcoming holiday of Valentine’s Day.
If you are assuming that I am just another bitter, single woman lamenting that she doesn’t have someone to romance her on this most special day, you would be wrong. I am head over heels crazy about my man.
What I am bitter about is how the holiday inspires portrayals of women as superficial creatures eager to barter their love for trinkets. Last year’s controversial Superbowl commercial showed a Victoria’s Secret model saying, “Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give and you shall receive.”
Is this the message that should be broadcasted to millions of people, to the young men and women in our country?
As a young, modern woman I suppose it’s up to me to change the world. How will I do this? By buying my boyfriend flowers on this romantic day. That’s a start, right?
I also have another idea. Instead of focusing on the present, I’m going to take you to another time, a time of oppression and sorrow – the very roots of Valentine’s Day. It involves a priest named Valentine, who defied Emperor Claudius II’s outlawing of marriage because “single men made better soldiers.” Valentine, as legends go, performed marriages in secret and when he was discovered he was put to death.
Although I want to use this day as a platform to spout about gender inequalities in our society, the true history of Valentine’s Day could be motivation to ignore our nation’s over-consuming nature and take a minute to appreciate the fact that we live in a country where we are free to love, free to marry and free to seek happiness.
And for gay couples across the state of Washington, that sentiment is particularly true.
So perhaps this is a time for those of us with a loud inner cynic to enjoy time with the ones we love. If that means accepting a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates, I suppose it’s okay – as long as it’s done out of love, not necessity.