So the excellent Heather Corinna
(she who makes me look beautiful in my author photo) runs a site called Scarleteen
, a sex education site for teenagers and young adults, which aside from all its other strengths is GLBT inclusive. Scarleteen is having a fundraising drive, and I have to say I think this is the best possible gesture to mark St. Valentine's Day, which in modern American culture might as well be called Heterosexist Disinformation Day.
1. The commercial exploitation of Valentine's Day enshrines the heterosexual romantic relationship as the be-all and end-all of personal achievement. (Ditto its even more nauseating and artificial clone-daughter, "Sweetest Day.")
2. Likewise, it yokes together romantic love and conspicuous consumption in such a way as to make it seem as if love can only be expressed through material objects.
King Lear believed this. And we know how well that
3. It perpetuates the sexist double standard that MEN buy gifts--expensive, impractical gifts--for WOMEN, and WOMEN accept gifts from MEN as their due. Diamonds are a girl's best friend.
4. Strongly implied is this follow up: in return for these expensive, impractical gifts, the woman will reward the man with sex.
5. Leading us to a conclusion that we really need to think twice about: women only have sex because men bribe them.
6. This is reinscribing a whole host of horrid sexist ideas and practices, and is at least as unfair to men as it is to women.
7. Since also strongly implied is the obverse face, that if it wasn't for Valentine's Day and the advertising blitz, men would never buy presents for women at all. Or do anything nice for them.
8. Furthermore, it teaches women that a gift is not a gift, but an obligation. Because he wouldn't get you anything, you know, just because
. He wants something. And if he wants something, it's your responsibility to give it to him. Because he gave you a gift.
9. Obligation is not love. Not the obligation to give a gift, not the obligation to reciprocate.
10. And then there's all the people this paradigm leaves out in the cold, starting with gays and lesbians, the intersexed, the transsexed, those who are asexual, those whose sexuality just doesn't fit into this One Man One Woman nonsense. Yes, those who are not heterosexual and monogamous can reinterpret Valentine's Day to suit their needs; my point is that THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE TO.
11. Last November, I voted against the sanctity of marriage.
12. And I'd do it again.
13. And still. I'm straight and monogamous and married and in love with my husband, and I hate Valentine's Day. I hate the way it simultaneously overemphasizes and cheapens love, the way it tells those people who are not in a relationship that they're somehow unworthy, not as good, doing something wrong. I hate the way it MANUFACTURES social pressure. And I hate the way--thank you, LiveJournal, for your hideous pink and red hearts--it tries to camouflage its social pressure in being "cute." I hate the way it lies.
deserves better than this crushing, trite reinforcement of a bogus paradigm.
To donate to Scarleteen, click here