You’re either celebrating it, or wish it would go away forever.
Okay, so that may be a tad bit extreme, but in reality there are a great many people who completely ignore what many consider to be a commercial cash grab of a “holiday.”
“I think it’s a very good way for card companies and florists to make money,” says Wendy Pearson, undergraduate chair of women’s studies and feminist research at Western University.
“I don’t think it has much meaning beyond that, quite frankly.”
While a common perception is that the holiday is all about the guy buying a gift for the girl, Pearson says this isn’t always the case.
“I don’t think it’s always gendered the way we expect. We expect that women will take it seriously and men won’t. That’s the sort of view of gender that the media propagates. I know some men who take it very seriously and I know quite a few women who couldn’t care less.”
In the end, the day has a different meaning for each individual couple.
“Some people take it very seriously and for them I suppose it’s symbolic of how they feel about their relationship. The big problem there is if you’ve got two people in a couple, and one takes it seriously and the other doesn’t, then there needs to be some sort of communication about what your expectations are.”
One can’t spend an hour watching television this week without being reminded that, yes, that $4000 diamond necklace would definitely make her happy, and lead you to your financial ruin. But Pearson takes issue with the media’s portrayal of couples as being exclusively young, white and heterosexual.
“The commercial aspects of Valentine’s Day don’t really cater to same sex couples. It’s very hard to find a Valentine’s Day card, for example, that isn’t gendered. It still tends to have some sort of squirrel or otter, some kind of cute animal where one is wearing a pink ribbon in its hair and the other will have a blue bow-tie just so you know it’s an opposite sex couple.”
She adds that while she knows some same-sex couples who observe the day, most tend not to bother.
“It’s really promulgated as predominantly a heterosexual festival and the way in which commercial aspects of it are marketed actually reinforce that quite a lot. There’s not much focus on a couple who has an open relationship, or people who have alternative family structures. The whole day is kind of arbitrary. Historically, if you go back to the story of St. Valentine there’s not much in that story that would support the way in which Valentine’s Day gets used.”
Right, the actual story. In the year 269 AD, Valentine, a Christian priest, was executed because of his stand for Christian marriage, which went against the desires of the Roman emperor Claudias at the time. Claudias had a ban on the marriage of young people because he thought that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to their families if they died. Valentine performed marriages in secret before he was caught, and died for standing up for what he believed in.
Which has so much to do with chocolate and candy, right? Didn’t think so.