Occupy Valentine’s Day

You probably didn’t notice, because like me, you probably don’t care that much, but Valentine’s Day is around the corner. My position on Valentine’s Day has always been pretty mixed–it bothers my cool sensibilities because I think it is corny, but i’m also a little corny and I like celebrating and expressing love and the politics it represents leave a lot to be desired. Being a single lady on the holiday that commemorates heteronormativity in it’s purest form, has not always been easy. It’s hard to feel OK about a holiday that is so limiting in it’s purview of the appropriate and authentic ways to express love.

So this year in an effort to push the bounds of that exclusivity that so many of us feel on Valentine’s day, I wanted to think about the ways we can rethink love and romance to resemble who we are, as singles, couples and community. Celebrating love is a beautiful thing but shouldn’t depend on if we are in a relationship or not, our sexual orientation, our class background, our citizenship status or our marital status.

So I created a tumblr called Occupy Valentine’s Day to collect our re-imaginings of love.

Here are some suggestions from the tumblr’s about section for ways you can OVD. You could…

  • Blog about how traditional ideas of romance perpetuate gender inequalities and hurt people of all genders
  • Share statistics about the growing majority of singles
  • Raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault like others have
  • Not be that douche-y couple on Valentine’s Day—maybe hang out with your best friends, single and otherwise
  • Shout about the lack of queer visibility in sexual rights politics
  • Have a sexy conversation by candlelight with your partner about structural inequity
  • Make a commitment to have fulfilling, accountable and loving relationships in all parts of your life
  • Commit to never settling for anyone that is not good enough for you just because you are afraid to spend another Valentine’s Day alone

Occupy is a concept and action that has a tremendous currency right now and reflects the important  protests that continue in cities all across the world. The language of occupying gives us a critical moment to radically re-envision the kind of world we want, romantic and otherwise.

So join us and submit a picture, quote, link, cat pic, whatever and happy Occupying Valentine’s Day!

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6 Comments

  1. Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  2. Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Why does Valentine’s Day have to be about heteronormativity? I have always celebrated all the people I love on Valentine’s day, especially family members. I would think it could be a good opportunity to celebrate love in all its forms. If that’s what Occupy Valentine’s Day is about, then I’m in.

    Actually, I’m having a Valentine’s Day Party with my book club. It seems like we could have a lot to discuss.

  3. Posted January 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I think there is always more to do to promote healthy relationships rather than relationships for the sake of being in them for Valentine’s Day. I have too many friends who feel bad about themselves when this time of the year rolls around. There is also always more we can do to make the day less heteronormative. There is so much love to celebrate and Valentine’s Day feels so limited. I think that this is a great idea.

  4. Posted January 27, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    I agree with most of this, and “Occupy V-Day” a great idea which allows people to create more of a reverse discourse on V-Day and its popular claims. I dont agree with the conception of the ‘douche-y couple’ you mention midway through your list. It’s good to hang out with the various people you love…and I think it goes back to what Feministing has already posted before, the powerful rumpus article that says many female friendships can outlast many other relationships (http://therumpus.net/2012/01/transformation-and-transcendence-the-power-of-female-friendship/).

    However, what makes a pair enjoying V-Day, who may be choosing to spend it mostly with each other, not deliberately as in “Oh, I am not hanging out with anyone else” but more like “This person is special and someone I want to spend the day with ” douche-y or any less valid? Maybe I am just missing your reasoning, and that’s why it caught my attention.

    I think as feminists we should always be careful about letting our biases against V-Day permitting us to generalize the ways people do celebrate V-Day. Most holidays promote commercialism and are selling something that some people choose to “buy” (intellectually, financially, emotionally) and some people don’t (which is why Occupy V-Day is a really good idea, because it offers a forum where people can offer their opinions).

    Some people don’t even notice V-Day or choose not to acknowledge at all. Again, another valid choice.

    The pressure to be in a relationship is unfortunately very serious and a legitimate issue and should be addressed constructively. We should just take into account that some people do already celebrate V-Day with family/friends as well as people they date/spouses/partners etc. And I don’t personally find anything wrong with spending V-Day exclusively with someone if it turns out that way, because in the end, feminism is all about choice and I don’t believe that makes anyone douche-y necessarily, unless they’re actively trying to marginalize or oppress single people.

    Playing into the norms of V-Day may support its oppressive expectations, but we all have a choice as to what extent we meet those expectations and the emphasis we personally place on it. Holidays do unfortunately jerk us awake to things we should have been paying attention to all along, like giving to others, love, charity, virtue…so maybe V-Day can wake us up more to all the love that surrounds us, in all forms, whether it be a friend, a sibling, a spouse, a partner…etc.

  5. Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    In my usually-single experience, Valentine’s Day has been warm and inclusive. Here are some things I’ve seen in recent years:

    * My queer friends in relationships celebrate V-day the same way as straight couples — get each other a little present and spend time together, usually.

    * Straight couples don’t face rigid expectations either — last year my boyfriend made me a hat and we ran somewhere pretty.

    * People feel pretty free to ignore the holiday.

    * A cappella groups are hired to burst into classrooms and deliver songs to individuals in the class. Anyone might receive one — this can be used to embarrass your girlfriend or your best friend, and it makes the day fun for the whole campus.

    * A guy bought about a hundred roses, gave them to everyone he saw, and very sincerely wished them a happy Valentine’s Day.

    I don’t know if this is unusual… if it is, I’d like to make everywhere more like my college.

  6. Posted January 31, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I still celebrate Valentine’s Day pretty much the same way I did as a kid. If you were like me, as a kid you gave out pretty, handmade cards and sometimes chocolate to all the people you loved: friends and family included. It wasn’t about “romance”, but about expressing your affections for those most important to you. I still send cards to my friends (and yes, my boyfriend gets one too). I still give out chocolate indiscriminately. For years, my girlfriends and I made V-Day dinner reservations for a group of us (single or not) and it was great! Spouses and partners were invited if they wanted to come; some did, some didn’t. (This only ended because we have all moved away, at this point).

    And what’s funny is that I don’t think of this as “non-traditional”, since it’s what I grew up doing. I guess I never switched over to the adult, romantic version pushed by the media. I suppose my form of Occupying V-Day is to keep it about expressing my love for all my friends and dear ones.

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