Valentine’s Day: the day of love and lovers. The day of pink and red everywhere from stores to schools, malls to restaurants. The day of overpriced flowers, chocolates, and lavish gifts.
In retrospect, there is a lot of beauty in being reminded that love is all around us. Love in its most basic definition reminds us that there is a reason to this mess that we call life.
But then we come to Valentine’s Day.
Although it’s pink and adorable, the day brings out a great deal of archaic and patriarchal ideals when it comes to romantic relationships.
Throughout the last week, I found that quotes, memes, and gifs had flooded my social media networks, images that attempted to be romantic, but in reality held deeply patriarchal undertones. They were disturbing.
[bctt tweet=”You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen it too.” username=”wearethetempest”]
More than anything, these images contribute to the damaging gender roles currently upheld in society, which then lead to the toxicity in our romantic relationships. They’re the kind of posts that showcase the subservient woman, ready to sacrifice anything for love or the possibility of love.
You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen it too. The memes that talk about the woman holding her man down, being there for him through thick and thin, being there for him even when he cheats or harms her.
It’s not just the social media memes or the sloppily written “love quotes” that reek of misogyny. It’s the romantic movies with their “manic pixie dream girl” tropes, the romantic novels that do not even pass the Bechtel test, the media, the shows, the books, the social media posts, and even Hallmarks cards that all say one thing: “your job as a woman is only to ensure the happiness of your man.”
Worst of all, they say that if you’re a woman that refuses to center a man around your life, then you are worth nothing.
My issue is not with Valentine’s Day, but with everything it brings: an archaic and toxic idea of love, one that paints a woman as sacrificial. From a very young age, women have been told that the only thing we should aspire to is marriage.
[bctt tweet=”A woman’s life should not be sacrificial in order to be valued. Our love, all of it, should not be diminished by the harmful patriarchal standards we have gotten accustomed to. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
We’re told that we should dream about our Prince Charming on the white horse coming to marry us so we could run off to the castle of our dreams and pop out as many babies we can.
We have been told, repeatedly, that nothing we do will ever compare to the accomplishment of obtaining a romantic partner.
On top of that, we are continuously told to lower our standards, to sacrifice ourselves, our dreams, our needs, our wants, and even our futures, not just for love – but the simple possibility of it.
Valentine’s Day brings out a lot of the patriarchal heteronormativity that we attempt to dismantle. We know that Valentine’s Day is just another hallmark holiday – a trick to fuel consumerism. Despite knowing that fact, no matter where I turn my face during this week of “love,” I see the picture of a subservient, obedient woman, ready to sacrifice it all for a romantic partner. Gender roles, heteronormativity, patriarchy: these things are around us every day, but somehow they increase in number come Valentine’s Day.
[bctt tweet=”We’re told that we should dream about our Prince Charming on the white horse coming to marry us so we could run off to the castle of our dreams and pop out as many babies we can.” username=”wearethetempest”]
It is almost as if we’re saying that love cannot be real, unless it’s patriarchal and damaging to women. We’re saying that women are not deserving of healthy love, the kind of love that does not expect them to sacrifice themselves, their needs, their wants, and their dreams.
A woman’s life should not be sacrificial in order to be valued. Our love, all of it, should not be diminished by the harmful patriarchal standards we have gotten accustomed to. Valentine’s Day or not, I hope we all find our way to love in healthy, less damaging and less toxic ways.