Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day

I think it's a stupid holiday.

Am I single? Yes, but that's not why I think it's stupid, I promise.

My relationship status does not influence this opinion. Just like the date of
February 14th should not influence how people act toward their significant others.

Going above and beyond simply because it is February 14th, to me, has a sense of
insincerity. If you're going to go above and beyond toward your significant other,
you should go above and beyond every day. It's a matter of integrity.

Similarly, the fact that February 14th causes the above and beyond to be societally
expected adds another level of insincerity. Going above and beyond simply because
it is expected by both society and one's significant other, well, it starts to feel
like lying.

Today, I deliberately wore green in protest. Petty? Probably. Clever? I think so.

What most amuses me is that the general reaction to my opinion is that I am bitter
because I am single. When I argue that is not the case, I am probably labeled as
in-denial. I can't say anything to make you believe me other than that that is false.

In contrast, I am not a relationship cynic to the point where I disregard the
significance of anniversaries or random acts of romance. While anniversaries may be
able to be argued against in the same fashion as the above (because they tend to
become societally and romantically expected), to me, an anniversary is different
than Valentine's Day because, while expected, the date holds significance.

Here's an open invitation to argue why the date of February 14th is significant and
how that significance is legitimate.

Anyway. Anniversaries are okay (in moderation... one week? Ridiculous.) because they
can express dedication and re-dedication to the relationship, as well as significance
of both the relationship and the date. Anniversaries are alright because the date
does hold significance for the relationship, as it is when the connection was really
(really meaning officially and/or publicly) solidified.

But the premise of Valentine's Day? To show extra affection toward one's significant
other? No. There is no real reason, other than society. And to show extra affection
on one particular day for no legitimate reason (anniversary) looks like a lack of
integrity which looks like insincerity.

I feel like I'm going to repeat myself if I keep writing, so I'll simply end with one
more way to convince you of my honesty.

I do not support the premise of Valentine's Day. Similarly, I do not support the
premise of Mother's and Father's Days, much to the dismay of my mother. Sorry, mom.

Regardless, my mom sent me roses and baby's breath, but not because society expected
her to, simply because she loves me. Right, mom? Also, because they were on sale. :)

Lastly, because I was just questioned... it is not a matter of me disliking today.
It is a matter of me disagreeing with the entire premise. :)

Happy Monday!


CarpathiaBenatar said...

Also, check out:

He reiterates my position against the Valentine's Day Mandate.

Luna said...

Super clever! I'm liking your style more and more each day! Regardless, I'm making dinner for's Monday, and I have off. Does that mean it's okay? hahaha

.dogfishly. said...

a very well written position on valentine's day and an enjoyable read. a stiff middle finger to a top-tier dinero-based holiday. tis quite a silly holiday to have. i agree completely with mother's day and father's day being tossed under the same category.

one thing i absolutely despise is disappointment and build up, which valentine's day is absolutely saturated with. however, the joy of valentine's day i find is the ability to take the holiday and transform it into your own holiday.

i recently purchased a 128 pack of crayons, so every friend i encountered today, i drew a little 5"x7" drawing for to show them thanks for being there for me. i didn't feel forced to do so, it t'was solely for fun. if i wasn't single, i would just use it to go out and do something fun rather than about material possession.

grasshopper said...

I completely agree! When I was single, I received the same reaction as you -- I was just bitter about the day. But, alas, here I am, married for 2 years, and I still hate Valentine's Day. I hate even more now that I do have a "valentine." People expect you to be doing something "special" on this day -- as though you don't do something special on any other day of the year. That's unfortunate, because my husband and I treat each other special every single day of the year. Every day is a love day in my life!

When you're no longer single, I hope you will still hate this day!


Cat said...

"Here's an open invitation to argue why the date of February 14th is significant and
how that significance is legitimate."

People seem to forget that until 1969, February 14th was the Catholic day of commemoration for St. Valentine's death. The Nuremberg Chronicle in 1493 says that Valentine was a Roman priest who was caught helping Christians and marrying Christian couples when giving any sort of assistance to Christians was a crime. He was beaten with clubs, stoned, and beheaded, and became a martyr. The Roman Martyrology lists his name on February 14th.

I guess my point is that February 14th isn't some arbitrary date decided upon by society. The date was chosen by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD. And if the legends about St. Valentine are true, what's so bad about remembering his sacrifices by celebrating what he died to protect?

CarpathiaBenatar said...

Luna - Thank you! <3 And yes, because I know that you make dinner for him on a fairly regular basis.

.dogfishly. - Thanks! I shared an ice cream cake with my roommates, not because it was Feb 14th, but simply because we could.

grasshopper - Thanks! I'm pretty sure my attitude will only grow as time goes on. I want a guy who can be a sweetheart regardless of the date, not because he feels obligated to.

Cat - I am aware of this piece of history and do understand the significance of the actual date. However, I think being sucked into the obligatory nature of Feb 14th is not the proper way to go about remember such a historic event.

Bridgewater College Republicans said...

I completely disagree. You have made a few arguments here so I will talk about certain premises that are troublesome to those arguments and to me.

1st: "Why can't everyone go above and beyond everyday?" (I think was your question) But this overlooks the possibility that if one were to go "above and beyond" everyday it would cease to be "above and beyond" and become normal.

2nd: Your unstated presumption is that to follow the norms of society (however they may manifest themselves) is a bad thing. This overlooks the fact that people are extremely social beings. Even the most intimate things that we do are dictated to us by society. Take for example the reason why we wipe our butts after taking dumps. There are no biological reasons for us to wipe. However, there are social ones. If we don't wipe we will stink. If we stink too much it won't be pleasant for people to be around us. Thus, we wipe so that we won't smell unpleasant to other people. Even that statement is a social one, who says what an unpleasant smell really is? So there is one social reason. Now I can go on and on but I'll stop there.

3rd: You bring up INTEGRITY but do not demonstrate how celebrating Valentine's day, by doing something special for your significant other, is related to a person's integrity.
The argument, as stated, seems to imply that there is no real intention by the person taking out their lover on Valentine's Day other than "for show". However, there is one thing there and those are feelings and the bonds of a relationship (in the case of couples).

People live in society. We are social/political beings even when we are alone. There is nothing wrong with accepting a social norm on February 14th (or mother's day or father's day, for that matter) that reserves that day, not to celebrate a specific relationship with another, but to celebrate the concept of Love (or motherhood or fatherhood). This manifests itself as treating your significant other with extra care and attention but that is a side affect of what is really being celebrated. Love as a collective concept is what is being celebrated that day. I believe rightly so. Your argument is extremely weakened when we take into account that parent's and children, Grandparents and grandchildren, Professors and students, Friends, Cousins, and even strangers all say Happy Valentine's day on February 14th. This illustrates that this is celebrating something more than just a specific relationship, it demonstrates that this is celebrating an overarching concept and value of our society, Love.

Looking at your argument from a macro perspective it commits a fallacy. The fallacy committed is called the straw man.

CarpathiaBenatar said...

Rudi – First, yes, very good point. But that ties into what I said about integrity. The fact that going above and beyond is EXPECTED on February 14th cheapens the above and beyond actions simply because they are expected. To me, expected actions tend to be less sincere. Yes, I will make a caveat that expected actions can be sincere, but it feels to be the general trend that they are not. But yes, making the above average the average creates the necessity for a new above average. I guess what I really mean is that sincerity shouldn’t really be judged in terms of average (or below or above). You’re either sincere or you’re not. You either have integrity or you don’t. These are not continuum characteristics. You can’t be somewhat sincere. Being somewhat sincere makes you insincere. You can’t have a bit of integrity. That means you lack integrity.

Second, you have any right to infer what is behind or underneath my argument, but please do not put words in my mouth. I’m a Sociology major and I’m kind of a fan of social norms as a concept (I’m also a fan of stereotypes (to an extent), which is discussed in a previous post you may find interesting). Just because I do not support what the societal norm of Valentine’s expectations stands for, does not mean I think “that to follow the norms of society is a bad thing.” I do believe I call Red Herring. An argument about norms seems relevant, but it’s not really a factor. Also, the Is-Ought Problem. Just because many norms have intrinsic/societal value, does not mean that all do. Just because all norms are, does not mean they should be.

Third, I think I sufficiently addressed integrity and sincerity (fulfilling an expectation for more than just “for show”) in my response to “First.” If a person wants to take out his or her significant other on Valentine’s Day, by all means, he or she should. But it is absolutely essential that both people know the sincere and integral motivation behind the action. Like Nietzsche and his concept of the transvaluation of values, we must find the root why and meaning in order to avoid ressentiment. Is my mention of Nietzsche irrelevant? Potentially, but it’s a fun fact.

Lastly, you suggest that the actions of people on February 14th (and Mother’s and Father’s Days) are done with the goal of celebrating love (and motherhood and fatherhood), but I highly doubt that is what most people have in mind when they are conforming to the norm(s). Do I have any data to back this up? Certainly not, but it is the general vibe I get when I observe people. The general vibe I get from most people is one of insincerity and a lack of integrity. So, yeah, maybe I’m just bitter. :) But anyway, yes. If a person really wants to do something out of the desire to really celebrate love or some other relational connection, then by all means, of course. This relates to my belief that the most fundamental thing in any relationship (romantic, familial, platonic, or otherwise) is to have a mutual understanding of that relationship, to view it in a similar way (this is mentioned in my post, Cake and Unicorns).

The Balcony Lady said...

all very interesting comments. I am the mom here that gets loved all the time, not just on Mother's day. I can argue either side of this having lived through 50+ Valentine's days! Valentine's today, as most all holidays, certainly aren't what they used to be. Life is not the same either more in the "fast lane" or "me first" or "less than heartfelt" things we do on holidays (or birthdays, etc). We need to know ourselves and know those important to us in order to do something significant for them. I think that is what Carina is saying....don't just do it because the calendar says so.

Anyway, I sent flowers to Carina for several reasons: not for Valentine's but as she pointed out, they were on sale (and I had a coupon.) I rarely buy anything at full retail. BUT, more importantly, I loved her so much when I read the blog dated February 2. I read that and I think I even posted on FB that when I read that, it just made me love her more. So at that point, I knew I wanted to do something special. Another reason was a conversation we had on Feb 6 about some news and the effect of that news on her next school year. I thought she had to deal with some change and then I truly was glad that I decided she needed a present. I had it ordered to arrive on Feb 11. Carina did not get her roses on Feb 11, but got them on the 12th instead. I wanted them to get there on Friday.

Which is another point of Valentine’s or doing for others…sometimes it is for the giver, not the recipient.

I have two final things to say:
one is the cynical self---it’s all about the money. The businesses want to capitalize on whatever they can to sell, sell, sell—so cards, candy, flowers and restaurants, etc. so “everyone” has to do something for Valentine’s. Even Subway was giving a free cookie with a sub on Monday! Really? Subway doesn’t fit into my romantic thoughts. So, one, it IS all about the money.

OR, secondly, is it a day to stop and remind ourselves of the meaning: our love for one another in the midst of the commercialism, busyness of life and all else that distracts us from saying, “I love you” less than we should. Say it more often.

So, Stop and buy (oops, I meant smell) the roses.