SUCK IT UP, SINGLES
Valentine’s Day brings out the worst in single people. Every single year, jaded singletons bitch about Feb. 14 as if they didn’t see it coming.
We’ve heard it all: “It’s just a stupid Hallmark holiday,” “Self-respecting women don’t support celebrations of misogyny,” “He bought you a teddy bear? How pathetic,” “F**k you, St. Valentine. I’m glad the lions ate you.”
Look, I get it. I’m single and bitter too. Once I’m done taking cutesy Instagram photos of my roommates and their boyfriends, I plan to spend my Valentine’s Day eating an entire roll of raw cookie dough in my bunny slippers.
But here’s the thing: if you don’t like Valentine’s Day—regardless of your reasoning or marital status—you just shouldn’t observe it. There’s no need to be obnoxious about it.
When Hanukkah rolls around, I don’t cry myself to sleep at night because I have no Menorah to light. And, man, if I had a nickel for every time someone hosted an “I Hate Hanukkah” party…Christmas is a whole other story.
If non-Christians bitched about Dec. 25 like Valentine-haters bitch about Feb. 14, the American Civil Liberties Union would handle so many lawsuits it would have to create a second branch.
Fortunately, that isn’t how the world works.
For weeks prior to the actual holiday, non-Christians are forced to listen to Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” over and over again, but they rarely make a fuss. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and so on all let the Christians savor their bombastic holiday, and, if you haven’t noticed, Christians really know how to rub the birth of Jesus into people’s faces. Valentine’s Day may be a consumerist holiday, but it’s nothing compared to the commercial nightmare that is Santa Claus.
St. Valentine’s dissidents should follow the same example—please do us all a favor and stop making happy people feel guilty about being in love.
The forlorn people who bask in their hatred for Valentine’s Day are often the same people who love and relish in it when they are no longer single. Some pretend that their animosity is rooted in social principles—Valentine’s Day is “heteronormative” or “perpetuates stereotypical gender roles”—but they aren’t fooling anyone from atop their ivory tower.
The reality is that most people only complain about Valentine’s Day when they themselves are single. That, to be frank, is a selfish thing to do.
Whining about the day of love and chastising Valentine-supporters isn’t going to make you feel any less lonely. Instead, your angry tirades will do nothing but draw more attention to the overblown holiday and annoy your friends. The more you bitch about Valentine’s Day, the more powerful it becomes.
Just buy some Nutella and lament in silence.
Find Solace in Agony
Adrian J. Munger
Sports & Opinion Editor
Look, no matter how much single people hate Valentine’s Day, sooner or later we’re going to have to come to terms with just being sad on Feb. 14. I’ve embraced this fact. I’m used to being sad on Valentine’s Day. It’s the one day of the year single people can get away with as much sad bull***t as they want. Nobody’s surprised when their single friend gets blackout drunk on Valentine’s Day. Trust me.
If you’re single, don’t try to pretend you’re happy being single. Nobody is happy being single. If you’re single, you should be sad. Sad sad sad. Let your sadness take whatever form you want. Watch Netflix. Eat all the cupcakes in Cupcake Royale’s dumpster. Whatever.
I only have one piece of advice: make sure people see you being sad. Make sure your friends and roommates feel guilty for being in love or whatever. Rub your sadness in their faces.
Personally, I’ll be sitting alone in my pitch black room drinking a dozen wine coolers and a fifth of Raspberry Burnett’s. The only one keeping me company will be my teddy bear Mrs. Bubbles. Mrs. Bubbles’ button eyes have fallen out of their sockets. We get along because she cannot see my tears.
No, it isn’t fun. But it’s the only thing I know how to do on Feb. 14.
Because I’m alone.
Because I’ll always be alone.
THE TRUE MEANING OF VALENTINE’S DAY
On Valentine’s Day in eighth grade, I had no girlfriend and a lot of bangs.
That vague sense of injustice that many single people feel on Valentine’s Day began to wash over me as I got ready for school that morning. Being a young emo child and having recently watched far too many Tim Burton films, I decided I would enact revenge on this loveless mockery of a holiday.
On the bus, I pulled out my notebook and began to draw.
By the time the bus pulled in front of the junior high, I had a series of roughly eight or nine extremely morbid Valentine’s Day cards fit for the shelves of Hot Topic.
A brief sampling:
TITLE: Someone Got Bit By the Love Bug!
PICTURE: A man being violently disemboweled by a giant heart-shaped insect.
TITLE: Struck by Cupid’s Arrow!
PICTURE: A woman on a park bench, holding her lover’s recently decapitated head in her lap. A grinning cherub on the left, a bloodied arrow on the right.
TITLE: Crazy in Love!
PICTURE: A side profile of a couple kissing in loving embrace, each secretly holding a knife/meat cleaver behind their backs.
Pleased that I had sufficiently perverted this cheery holiday, I handed the Valentines out to all of my friends. To my surprise, they all liked them, and nobody reported me to the principal for potentially being insane. Some of them gave me chocolate
It was one of my favorite Valentine’s Days ever.
The moral of the story is this: Valentine’s Day isn’t really about having a significant other. It’s mostly just an excuse to give your friends dumb cards and eat a bunch of chocolate. So for all you single folk come Feb. 14, think of it as a celebration of the sacred cocoa bean and an excuse to make stupid crafts for your friends. Why would anybody be sad about that?
STOP (COMPLAINTS) IN THE NAME OF LOVE
I spend a lot of time agonizing over what is means to be a heterosexual, female, cisgendered, white, middle-class American. What does it mean to me? And what have I been taught about my identity? We are all socialized to occupy roles, embrace tropes and fulfill archtypes. Most of us are not totally happy about this and would like a little more wiggle room for ourselves and others. For example, I really hate when people tell me how small I am, but even more than that I hate that sometimes I make myself smaller (I’m pretty sure this “small” thing is somehow related to the “cisgendered, heterosexual, female” thing, though I’m not totally sure how). I also feel sad when my male friends feel like they can’t feel vulnerable, sad, needy, etc. Many people who share my distress over this “socialization” thing feel that Valentine’s Day epitomizes everything that is wrong with the way we are socialized, the stories we are told, and the people we think we have to be. After all, as much as Valentine’s Day could be about anyone, anywhere it is marketed and branded as an extremely normative holiday. But there are times—Valentine’s Day being one of those times—when a ceasefire must be called and even an ardent feminist can take a break and enjoy the gains made, the battles won and the boyfriend sitting across the chocolate, strawberry and rose festooned table.
DON’T LET HALLMARK SELL YOUR LOVE
The first Valentine’s Day I ever spent with a guy, I received a stuffed bear. Valentine’s Day is now the reason I dislike stuffed bears.
It wasn’t the bear, exactly. It was the fact that I explicitly said I wasn’t really into the junky Valentine’s Day objects that permeate every crevasse of every store.
For some reason, this guy was foolishly under the impression that I was kidding.
Hence the bear.
I have nothing against Valentine’s Day per se, but I think there’s this disconcertingly strong pressure to “buy in.” When this young gentleman bought me said stuffed bear, he wasn’t thinking of me. He was thinking of holiday expectations in relation to me.
Hallmark said buy, and he listened.
I don’t hold this against him. A lot of people have trouble resisting the wall of pink that lines the stores after Christmas. But why not find ways to take back Valentine’s Day from Hallmark?
Ancient Christian and Roman tradition talk of several St. Valentines, all martyrs and all into love.
One legend tells the story of Valentine as a priest during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage, saying single men made better soldiers than married men. Troubled, Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret.
Another story suggests that Valentine was jailed for helping fellow Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. While in jail, he fell in love with a young woman and sent the first “valentine” to her during one of her visits to his cell.
February also marks the month of a Pagan Festival called Lupercalia, a fertility festival in honor of Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.
Regardless of the variations in tradition, all of these legends say nothing about the need for chocolate-covered roses and gaudy stuffed animals on Feb. 14.
We’ve commercialized a lot of holidays; Valentine’s Day isn’t unique in this respect. But it’s the only one that revolves solely around this crazy little thing called love. You have the chance for that to be a love that you have claimed for yourself, not one that has been constructed for you by Hallmark.
In my opinion, that can be enough.
No stuffed bears necessary.
FEB. 14 LIMITS THE DEFINITION OF LOVE
I’ll be the first to say it. As a woman who is in a monogamous relationship, I’m in the kind of person to whom the vast majority of Valentine’s Day marketing panders. Convention dictates that I should be in a progressively dire state of mouth-foaming for the next week or so as I enter an estrogen-fueled, chocoholic manic state.
Sorry, world: I’m not really a chocolate person. My hormones are under control, but thanks for your concern.
And I’m really not that big on Valentine’s Day, despite being a member of the target audience.
The main problem, I think, does not lie in the exclusion of single people. It’s certainly true that our culture excessively privileges and fetishizes the romantic relationship, but the fact remains that not every holiday needs to be applicable to everyone (Mother’s Day, for example, hardly incites such ire from the childless).
By definition, Valentine’s Day needn’t necessarily cater to single people, but if it’s going to steadfastly remain a romantic holiday, society needs to redefine it to reflect coupledom as it actually stands—in all its ambiguous glory. Valentine’s Day marketing currently only capitalizes on a portion of modern couples. An extremely narrow, conventional portion.
I was recently talking to a friend who is about to celebrate his first Valentine’s Day with his wonderful new boyfriend. He expressed the confusion and uncertainty he felt about the upcoming holiday, and said that he lacks societal cues on which to base the progression of his relationship thanks to its lack of traditional gender roles.
It’s a natural inclination when Valentine’s Day rolls around to take the one-size-fits-all relationship mold and project it onto our messy, complicated lives. As it stands, Valentine’s Day is more or less a bastion of heteronormativity: buy her a necklace. Take her out to dinner, and of course, don’t let her pay. Jump through all the hoops, and perhaps you can arrive at the nebulous finish line of societally acceptable romance.
I’m here to say, give up. The concept that we’re sold every Valentine’s Day doesn’t exist. It doesn’t represent my polyamorous friends, it doesn’t represent gender-nonconforming people, and it doesn’t represent my blended family or even my attempts to make radical feminism and heterosexual romance mesh.
We’re all staring down modern intimacy in all its weirdness, and most of us feel ourselves coming up short on Valentine’s Day.