Valentine's Day! It's an occasion to tell that special someone how much you care. An excuse to enjoy free candy, pretty much no matter what your romantic status is. (Also, on February 15, prices on bags of Hershey's Kisses are insane.) Basically, it's a pretty harmless day that combines chocolate and sex and the occasional unbelievably bad movie. But on the Internet, helpful reminders abound that some people are sleazy, violent, or hostile, no matter what the calendar date. Below, a Whitman's Sampler of some of the most anti-romantic sentiments in circulation today.
WHO: Blogger Carl at The Agonist
WHAT: Some wocka-wocka-wocka collar-tugging about how men and women are different. Fellas: "It seems a man can never get this occasion quite right: she's allergic to flowers, candy makes her fat, the lingerie is the wrong size--and heaven help you if you get a size too big!" Ladies: "If she's married, she has to grin and bear the usual clumsy last-minute presents... If she's single, she either has to put up with the plethora of invitations from guys who figure they can get some that night easily, or the shame of a silent phone."
CARL THE ROMANTIC: "Maybe Valentine's Day does matter for that narrow reason: the qualities that got us into that mess, the breasts, the hair, the way you kiss each other, the caresses, the smiles lighting up, need to be celebrated." Happy Valentine's Day, baby, here's to your rack!
QUOTED WITHOUT COMMENT: "Hookers look forward to today. They actually get a day off. I'd bet if there were a Hookervania, it would be a national holiday, a day when the blood can flow back into their legs (gender neutral, you'll note)."
WHAT: Tips for ladies on Valentine's Day, including pointers on communication ("the easiest way to figure this out is to talk about it") and whether or not to go psycho ("don't go psycho").
RICH THE ROMANTIC: "I'm not sure which is more awkward: receiving a gift when you didn't buy one for your significant other, or giving a gift when they didn't get you one. The second is definitely more embarrassing, so I'd urge you not to buy a gift if you're not sure--at least you can save face that way."
QUOTED WITHOUT COMMENT: "If you're single, don't let Valentine's Day make you lonely. Find your other single friends and hang out. But try not to form one of those bitter girl's groups because single guys like me and my buddies go out prowling for these groups in hopes of easy pickins."
WHO: Laurie Penny, columnist at The Guardian
WHAT: A broadside against sanitized, homogenized, corporatized ideas of love; also, a shot at the Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher comedy No Strings Attached that already feels outdated.
LAURIE THE ROMANTIC: "The rash of roses and restaurant deals that accompanies Valentine's Day has little to do with real passion. Rather, it nudges us into robotic ceremonies of spending and sexual bargaining. It turns love into a limited commodity when, in fact, there is more than enough to go around. And, to misquote Marx, it allows business to wield a grim control over the means of seduction." This actually does sound like a case for genuine, organic romance, until Penny brings Marx into it.
QUOTED WITHOUT COMMENT: "Real human hearts are not gaudy, cast in gold or made of chocolate. Real human hearts are bloody, meaty, beating messes of fear and emotional flux."
WHO: Karen Czapanskiy, professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, writing at New Deal 2.0, the blog of the liberal Roosevelt Institute
WHAT: A grim reminder that abuse, assault, and sexual violence are incredibly widespread in America, and social institutions often aren't up to the job of helping women in these situations.
FOR EXAMPLE: "Women soldiers who are sexually assaulted by someone else in the military are four times more likely to talk about the crime to their families than to their military command. Women in prison face not only the deprivation of their liberty and the threat of sexual assault, but also the loss of parental rights."
WHY'S IT IN THIS POST? Because of this intro: "On Valentine's Day, lucky American women will receive roses as a show of affection. But for too many, violence, intimidation, and abuse are the norm. In 2007, as in 1993, more than three-quarters of people killed by an intimate partner were women. During 2010, 15 women were murdered as a result of intimate partner violence just in the state of Minnesota. One in three Native American women is raped during her lifetime, and three in five are physically assaulted."
OKAY: This is obviously a serious problem, and there's no bad time to write about it. But, you know, that paragraph took an abrupt turn, didn't it?
WHO: Lionel Tiger, professor of anthropology at Rutgers, writing in The Wall Street Journal.
WHAT: It's hard to even say.
HOW ABOUT A QUOTE? "In our catch-as-catch-can-society it became an effective strategy for a female of a certain class to expect a guarantee of a man's commitment in the form of an utterly useless asset called the engagement ring. The current norm is that the male must convert two months of after-tax income into this special property for his fiancée."
HMM, GOT ANYTHING A LITTLE ... CRAZIER? "Our system increasingly favors females. In countless American colleges, the first day of classes involves a rape seminar--largely to please the lawyers, no doubt--which stigmatizes men as potential predators and women as victims. The back of every women's bathroom door at Colby College provides a list of things to do surrounding rape; first-year females at Brown are given a whistle to use when rape threatens."
HOW ABOUT CALLING WOMEN UGLY? "It's the female who makes the fundamental choice. The peacocks may flail their gorgeous feathers, but it's the dull peahen who decides which of the posturing lot is healthiest and most likely to provide the necessary goods and services to support the trying matter of bearing and raising offspring."
OR BLAMING ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN ON WOMEN BEING SNOBBY? "One reason is that many men are 'unwilling to commit.' But the likelier explanation is that 40% of women do not think the candidates available to them are worth the time and trouble."
LIONEL SOLVES ALL THE PROBLEMS: "To coin a phrase, men are becoming alienated from the means of reproduction, which presumably no one wants. Is there anything to be done to reverse this trend? A good first step is for women to ease up on the patriarchy yammer, especially when it comes to romance: Ideology has no place in the nation's bedrooms. For their part, men need to appreciate that female partners view relationships as of greater consequence and meaning than men do."