Occupy Valentines Day: Celebrate Love, Not Commerce
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The morally vacant, inexplicably beloved Don Draper memorably said, "What you call love was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons."
Valentine's Day, so inextricably tied to commerce, bears this notion out well.
But this Valentine’s Day has been "occupied." Samhita Mukhopadhyay, executive editor of Feministing, has started the Occupy V-Day Tumblr, whose mission is to show that, "Celebrating love and romance is a wonderful thing, but it shouldn’t depend on buying certain products for the perfect experience...or on your gender, sexuality, race, class status or marital status."
"Down with couple-talism!" the site commands, and below, a photo of Rachel Maddow leaning against a kitchen counter is accompanied by the following romantic sentiment, "Hey girl, why spend money ... when we could spend our time dismantling the romance industrial complex?"
The most pernicious effects of Valentine's Day, Mukhopadhyay says, occur "through heteronormativity, which assumes male dominance, female subservience, and traditional ideas of courtship." A big part of the Occupy V Day project is to provide examples of love that defy the straight, white romances that dominate advertising and media. Loving relationships of all kinds are shared and celebrated. One poster will celebrate Valentine’s Day with her 15-year-old cousin. Another bought two of her friends vibrators and Inga Muscio’s book Cunt to "celebrate our gorgeous female friendships and revel in the power of ourselves."
A woman says of her sister, "I have never known a love like this before." There’s a quote by The Rumpus’s Emily Rapp celebrating female friendships: "Friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories." An image of one "platonic girlfriend" kissing another says, "She’s Straight. I’m Queer. Who the fuck cares." A couple holding hands on a beach say,"Our relationship isn’t perfect. But we have a happy and healthy love. So, why does it matter to you what color we are?" A woman, in bed with her partner, holds a sign that reads, "The best gifts my partner ever gave me were Forgiveness and Unconditional Support of my dreams. (Oh, and all those orgasms.)" Jill Filipovic, of the blog Feministe, bears a sign pointing out, "Love is beautiful. Compulsory heterosexuality + commercialized romance are not."
Ultimately, the site tries to separate love from the larger cultural and economic forces that have warped and shunted the eternal feeling into a rigid, commercial, politically expedient form.
Mukhopadhyay says, "Less people are getting married than ever, traditional gender roles have shifted, women are making substantial financial gains, gay marriage legislation is passing." The new meaning of love is, in total, "one of the biggest questions of our generations."