By Chelyse Prevost
Web Content Contributor
It’s that time of year again. High blood sugar is in the air, and all of our public spaces are saturated in heart-shaped everything. Everyone’s coordinating pink and red as if the two don’t clash and pretending like there’s nothing tacky about it.
If you’re in a relationship, I’m sure you’re as giddy as can be (or pretending to be at least). The rest of us, however, have no choice but to look alive and smile throughout the day’s festivities.
Despite our oh-so selfish emotions, we’re expected to sit around, dewy-eyed at romantic gestures or face being reduced to a bitter, bothered Valentine’s-less reject.
What’s even more frustrating about that dichotomy is who controls this narrative. Men — in my experience, at least — have the freedom to be nonchalant about Valentine’s Day, whereas women are expected to at least acknowledge it as something meaningful.
We should all be sweet and sentimental, moved even, by the idea of a Valentine’s Day gift or outing. The more uninterested we seem to be about it, the more we must be covering up some hurt.
I assume this is a thing because men are especially known for articulating how they feel. Their nonchalance having nothing to do with their ulterior emotions, obviously.
I know this to be true because I brought up not really caring about Valentine’s day to one of my guy friends. He listened, thoroughly, and then verbatim responded: “I don’t know who hurt you, but I got you this year…”
He then went on to include his two-cents about my love life because of what I’d done for Valentine’s Day in the past years. Again, this was all said to imply that I had “felt some type of way” because I was somehow deprived of an experience I was supposed to have had.
Simply, as if I was in some deepwater because another man hadn’t been noble enough to shed his grace on me.
The fact that heteronormative standards paint women on both sides of the Valentine’s Day ordeal as “hurt” or a “victim” is baffling.
The idea that a woman’s temperament on Valentine’s Day, bitter or not, is in regards to her past or present inability to “get chose” is old, and quite frankly, tired as can be.
Perhaps, we’ve watched too many rom-com’s where the lonely, desperate woman goes above and beyond to prove she’s unbothered by Valentine’s Day. Maybe, the stigma is perpetuated by the misconception that women are inherently bitter and bothered because of their love lives
(Despite living in a society that literally makes “happy” during holidays an expectation).
Nonetheless, I’m here to say that no one should feel as though they have to do/feel anything out of the norm for a holiday that may/may not pertain to them. No one wakes up on St. Patrick’s Day ready to antagonize others for not wearing green or getting drunk.
It’s just “top of the morning” for those who celebrate, Irish or not. No one owes anyone an explanation for their participation or even an explanation for their lack of explanation.
I, of all people, love to compartmentalize, but boxing people by the conclusions you’re already reaching for is a bit much. Celebrating Valentine’s Day doesn’t/shouldn’t determine your bitterness or level of “unbothered”.
How people feel about whatever you decide to do on Valentine’s Day says a lot more about our social construct than it does about you and your love life or lack thereof.
Instead of looking at non-willing Valentine’s Day participants a certain way, maybe we can just pretend that all of us (yes, women too) have our own unimaginable realities.
These unimaginable realities should empower us to live in our truth, Valentine’s Day or not. What we’re not going to do though, is act like it really matters anyway.
Featured image by Chelyse Prevost.