A post written by Women’s Center staff member, Yoo-Jin
This past weekend was the national holiday called “Valentine’s Day.” At its best, I think it can be a time for people to spend time together in an intentional and meaningful way. It seems that in our society, we are constantly on the run and the first thing that goes to the bottom of our lists is making time to hang out with the people we love. However, when I started to really think about Valentine’s Day, I realized that it’s often focused on the narratives of heterosexual romantic couples.
Like many other holidays celebrated in our country, Valentine’s Day seems to also fall into the trap of Hallmark commercialism, and in this case, heteronormativity. You see this everywhere– in advertisements, media, and storefronts. The narrative is often focused on romantic relationships focused on men, who are often expected to get their significant other (usually a woman) gifts like flowers, chocolates, teddy bears — you know the deal.
The heteronormative nature of Valentine’s Day can be incredibly limiting and isolating for other couples who may not identify similarly. Of course, in terms of gifts buying things for your partner as a token of appreciation (or because you freakin’ love them!) is not a negative thing, and it doesn’t have to be labeled as being sucked into commercialism. If you like the flowers, chocolates, etc- go for it! While romantic relationships of all kinds are great- it would be awesome to have an alternative, for example, for the people who are not in romantic relationships!
This is where Galentine’s Day (a concept from the T.V show “Parks & Rec”) comes in. In the show, Galentine’s Day is celebrated February 13th and centers on female friendships. It’s a day where we get to spend time with our “gal”s and appreciate them for being in our lives! In the show, Leslie throws an annual Galentine’s Day party for her friends. In the episode, they all meet at a restaurant and Leslie “gives them all a gift bag with a bouquet of hand-crocheted flower pens, a mosaic portrait of each of them made from the crushed bottles of their favorite diet soda, and a personalized 5,000 word essay of why they’re all so awesome” (http://parksandrecreation.wikia.com/wiki/Galentine%27s_Day_%28event%29). That sounds awesome to me! I wouldn’t mind a 5,000 word essay from one of my best friends!
This BuzzFeed Article also covers the reasons why we must absolutely celebrate this year! (http://www.buzzfeed.com/kaylayandoli/you-absolutely-need-to-celebrate-galentineas-da-cqn5#.eo8Q8lYwZ)
Of course, while Galentine’s Day is a wonderful event to get away from some of the heteonormative, pressured-to-be-with-someone, and commercialist system- it has some limits too! We have friends and loved ones of all genders in our lives! Even pets who we love a lot! Maybe we could make February a month of appreciation and gratitude for all of the people in our lives who have supported us. Yes, there are days for certain people in our lives (mothers, fathers, even teachers) but it’d be awesome to take time to recognize the people who have often supported us from the very beginning.