For years, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the fact that I like Valentine’s Day. Are feminists allowed to like Valentine’s Day?
Of course we are. And we’re also allowed to not like it.
I have always celebrated Valentine’s Day because one of my favorite things to do is show my nearest and dearest that I love them and care about them and not just on holidays.
It’s important to acknowledge that the mainstream understanding and celebration of Valentine’s Day is certainly flawed.
Healthy and fulfilling relationships (and I don’t just mean romantic ones) are based on ongoing and respectful communication of love through words and actions.
At least in its traditional celebration, Valentine’s Day teaches us to show love through consumerism and to only do it when obligated by a holiday.
Heteronormativity and gender roles also rear their ugly heads on Valentine’s Day. Gifts for “him” or “her” are clearly divided and marked and it’s almost impossible to find cards that represent queer couples.
I challenge you to go to any chain store and try to find a card that depicts queer couples. Trust me, you’ll inevitably have to settle for a card with gender-ambiguous animals kissing on it.
It’s not hard to see why Valentine’s Day is problematic for many feminists. Celebrated traditionally, Valentine’s Day magnifies many of the very systems of domination that we work to critique and dismantle.
I realize now that I enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day because I do so in a way that’s guided by a compass of feminist values and ideals.
It’s incredibly fun and satisfying to celebrate the holiday in a way that works to reclaim what it typically represents and promotes.
So here are a few ways for you to bring a feminist Valentine’s Day to life:
1) Celebrate V-Day.
V-day is the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, which you can support by attending a 1 Billion Rising event in your area on February 14th.
The ‘V’ in V-day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. The V-Day movement originated with productions of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.
To celebrate their 15th anniversary, they are inviting one billion women and those who love them to rise up this year on Valentine’s Day to end rape culture.
2) Get hooked on bell hooks.
Get cozy on the couch with bell hooks and any of her publications on feminism and love.
And send a loved one their very own bell hooks-themed valentine while you’re at it!
“Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics… Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion…. A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving… There can be no love without justice.”
3) Write a love letter to yourself or write a love letter to feminism!
Self-love is perhaps the most important pillar of love because its health and strength informs all of your other relationships and friendships.
So conjure up your self-love and write a heartfelt letter of gratitude, appreciation and love to yourself about yourself. You can even put it in a sealed envelope and ask a friend to send it to you randomly in the next year.
Writing a love letter to feminism is also a fun and empowering exercise!
How will you be celebrating (or not celebrating) Valentine’s Day as a feminist?
Sara Alcid is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism and is a young feminist living and working in Washington, DC as a reproductive health and justice advocate. Sara loves thinking, reading and writing about the socially and personally transformative power of feminism, queer issues, and women’s health. Follow her on Twitter @SaraAlcid.