Is Valentine’s Day a tool of biopolitical social control? Is the Pope Catholic? Valentine’s Day was originally a pagan holiday appropriated, as so many of them were, by the Catholic Church for nefarious keep-the-people-in-line purposes. (I can say this because I was raised Catholic.) The holiday has since been co-opted by global capitalism, which has defanged the radical potential of free erotic communion by commodifying it in the figures of post-Burning Man Mary Kate and Ashley.
The Opiate of the Masses
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I feel steadily uglier—oh global capitalism, up to your antics again! Keep women feeling sad, and we’ll buy all the gym passes and Maybelline foundation you’ve got. Because if we weren’t fixated on being perfect decorative objects, we’d spend less energy buying shit, and more energy reaching the upper echelons of politics, business, and journalism. Also, staging violent revolution.
But let’s be real. If I only felt sexually desired enough, I would shut up about the violent undoing of male domination and lean in to Valentine’s Day. And then it occurs to me: I have an endless source of positive affirmation from random men–OkayCupid! So now, a word from our sponsors:
Hello, nice pic. I would like to get to know you.
Did you hear that, mom? He wants to get to know me—in the biblical sense!
Hi beautiful. How are you doing today?
Okay, whoah. He called me beautiful. Then asked how I’m doing. Normally when men call me beautiful the next question is “So can I put it in?”
I don’t know what that refers to. But sure!
Do you think you could help me study for my oral exam?
Okay, alright, not great, not terrible. Pretty terrible. At least he wants to go down.
You look all peachy in those pics ❤
I’m also juicy, curvaceous, and covered in fuzzy hair!
I wanna do you good hun.
Oh my! What a proposition. That’s so funny, because I totally want to be done.
Okay, alright, alright, guys, maybe this Valentine’s thing isn’t going to be so bad. There are 10-15 actual human men (and one Quincy turkey) who would totally engage me in sexual intercourse, filling my womb with seed and my life with purpose.
Or maybe we ladies should forget this whole sex thing. Maybe we should use Valentine’s day as an opportunity to connect with ourselves. That’s right: Rather than devote our thoughts to M-E-N, this Valentine’s day will be sponsored by the letters S-W-U-G. Ladies, listen up: Here are four swuggin’ steps to a V Day all about self love:
1) Take a lux bubble bath: Just you, the bath salts, a bottle of wine, and your sexual anxiety. Tinder from the bathtub.
2) Spa day! Unwind with some pore-clearing masks, a few girlfriends, and a cucumber. For eye-cooling/beverage-making purposes.
3) Dance alone in your room to your favorite song. Throw glances in the mirror every so often to make sure you look like Beyoncé. Know that you do not look like Beyoncé.
4) Have a slumber party with your lady friends! Talk about crushes, your feelings about male authority figures, and how you’re actually a lesbian. Maybe you’ll even make out!
I’m trying to think of a Valentine’s Day that has not felt as anxious as a fitting room, as tense with judgement as a bathroom scale.
February 14, 2014: Breakup argument in my bedroom.
February 14, 2013: Breakup argument at the Kong.
February 14, 2012: Yes, this was a good one. Valentine’s Day my freshman year. I was just beginning my first relationship. We made out on my bed. I had long hair and I think I was still a C cup, and after we macked I went to belly dance practice.
Oh, yes–I can feel it again. The kind of silly you feel the first time you’re in love with some- one who loves you back. You wait by the door and your cheeks are getting red, sort of high on the cheekbones. Your breath starts coming fast. God it feels good. You shower, you wash your hair in a kind of ecstasy, you want to be no one else in the world. God it feels so feverishly good to be you then. Like all the selves you’ve ever been are lined up to meet you. For a second it doesn’t matter how you goddamn look. Because you’re waiting for them. Your heart beating, your blood rising, your heart beating. So you wait. The sound of their footsteps. The knock at the door.
This post first appeared in The Harvard Crimson.