By Jodi A. Shaw
Most romantic holiday of the year, hey? Valentine’s Day is more like the Paris Hilton of holidays: It’s there, we all observe it, and aside from the potential for an anti-climactic sex tape, it’s pretty much useless.
I’m not anti-love, romance or grand gesture. I’m a sucker for all the unrealistic romantic drama that is “Grey’s Anatomy” and I love me a cheesy chick flick, but I find Valentine’s Day an unreasonable pill to swallow. Aside from being overly commercialized and materialistic, it’s the most sexist holiday ever.
V-Day as it exists today operates on the presumption that women associate the worth and merit of themselves and their ability to be loved, not to mention their current romantic relationship, on gestures and/or gifts presented to them on February 14th. Every lady I know has a story of a horribly devastating V-Day when she was alone and depressed (though they were fine with singlehood the week before) or disappointed because her man didn’t deliver the diamond ring or sky banner or beach walk she’d had all organized in her imagination. Boo hoo.
I recall the story of an old acquaintance who marched into a pub on Feb. 14 to berate her ex-boyfriend for breaking up with her the previous November and make sure he knew that because of her pain and suffering over said breakup she hadn’t moved on and was all alone and miserable on Valentine’s Day. I believe “Only losers spend Valentine’s Day alone” was uttered repeatedly as she recounted the story to her girlfriends.
I thought we lived in a society where women reject the notion that we need to be attached to a man in order to be whole and happy. I thought women had been fighting for generations to gain independence from men and to be valued for who they are and what they are capable of. And then we all go and sob if Valentine’s Day isn’t perfect?
Ladies, really, it’s a day. One day. Are we so petty and insecure that we can’t be satisfied with being loved and respected 365 days a year? Do we really need to feel exponentially more loved on February 14th than we do any other day of the year?
Which brings me to the heart of my problem with Valentine’s Day. I often refer to it as “International get pissed off at your man day” because frequently that’s what happens. It is impossible for men to do anything correctly on V-Day.
Say you get your special lady flowers and card, maybe some chocolate. Why didn’t you take her out to dinner? What are you, cheap? Or, you make reservations months ahead and take her out for a fancy dinner and split a heart-shaped dessert. Well, that’s original. That’s what everyone does on Valentine’s Day. Where’s the thought? Dinner is so cliché. Or, you take her on a carriage ride and a walk along the waterfront or to some moonlit meadow somewhere peaceful. Doesn’t that sound lovely? You’re in trouble for that one too — you didn’t get flowers. Or a card. Or chocolate. Instead, you took her for a walk (which is free — again, you’re cheap) and she was in heels because she thought you were going for dinner and now she has blisters. Way to go.
It’s also entirely possible that everything seems to go smoothly, she seems happy and thrilled, and then wait . . . what’s with the cold shoulder on February 15th? One of her girlfriends got an engagement ring or a diamond necklace or a trip to the Bahamas. Clearly you don’t love her as much as so-and-so loves so-and-so.
Meanwhile, did you even get him something? Do women have spoil their men on Valentine’s Day the same way men have to spoil women? I’m pretty sure the answer is No.
Men are expected to turn into McDreamy on Valentines Day, which is hopelessly unfair, given that McDreamy is a television character designed to appeal to women’s schmoopy side. Don’t get me wrong, I swoon for him too, but I also know he’s not real. Women don’t like being expected to fit the stereotype of a model or movie star because we know it’s all airbrushing and make up and personal trainers. So don’t expect your man to be a McMan. He writes his own dialogue; he doesn’t have Shonda Rimes to help out.
The solution to the Valentine’s Day conundrum is simple: break up with it. Ladies, release your man from the shackles of this over-emphasized and sexist holiday. If you do, both of you will be relieved of the Valentine’s Day pressure and drama and you’ll be able to celebrate your love the way you should: everyday.