Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spark of Wisdom: Valentine's Day Equals Happy Hetness

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky. 

Valentines day has swung round again. And words cannot express how much I hate this day (though I am looking forward to the much more fun holiday - cheap chocolate day!)

Not just because it's so commercialised that cupid should have a Clinton Cards logo branded on his arse. Not even because I think greetings cards are the biggest con since people started trying to sell London bridge

No, my first annoyance is just how empty it is. To me Valentines day means "society has told me I should give you this card and this sanctioned gift. This is no indication of my feelings - it's required on this date." Nearly every couple around the country - and more, will be doing the same thing, probably even the same gifts and maybe the same cards. It's very impersonal...

And if it's impersonal, how can it be romantic? I'd much rather Beloved surprise me with a gift that is meaningful to me, on a date that matters to us (or just randomly because he wants to.... well, depending on his surprises anyway. Beloved has a bad track record with surprises). A gift given on the 14th February feels like a duty gift - something you are obliged to do, words you are obliged to say - because that's the way "it's done."

That doesn't mean that loving couples don't celebrate, and it doesn't mean that people can't make genuine romantic gestures on this day (*and hey maybe it's a reminder for people who don't to actually do so) but it does feel a little contrived - and more than a little like the greeting cards industry saying "there are no damn holidays in February?! Let us exploit their loooove/guilt to make them buy shit!"  


But the second and main reason I hate it? Well, is there a holiday on our calendar that is more heteronormative than this one? Is there one holiday that is more overwhelmingly straight? For the weeks leading up to it and the day itself, it's one giant het-fest - even more so than daily life.

I'm glad I don't watch much television, because the weeks of adverts of lots of straight folks celebrating romance would quickly drive me up the wall. I mean advertising is usually wall to wall straight folks anyway. It's absolutely everywhere you look, in every media you consume and it's all straightness all the time. Well now we get to throw in the emphasis on love and couples blaring from every direction and the omission is glaring. "It's the time of year where we all celebrate romantic loooove! Uh... but not yours. No we don't want that. Yours doesn't count. We mean real love. And by real love, we mean man/woman love - the only love there is!"

What's with that Milk Tray man?! Am I not worth James Bond rip-off stunts to bring a box of poxy chocolates too?!

If I go shopping I am bombarded "straight love! WORSHIP THE STRAIGHT LOVING! Anyone not in a straight loving relationship right now is sad and lonely in a desolate empty life!" (can you tell it bugs me?) Signs and banners, packaging and jingles. And don't even get me started on the music. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Girl sings about losing boy. Boy sings about wanting girl. Boys and girls sing together about how wonderful the opposite gender is. Gods, if they do a cover of a song that was sang by the opposite gender they change the damn words to desperately avoid THE GAY! *crash of thunder* *lightening strike* *maniacal laugh*

And it's a damn good thing I do think cards are just a con because if I did feel the need to buy Beloved a Valentines day card I'd have to trawl past acres of straight cards and hope I could find something suitably generic that will hide the fact it's meant for a man to send to his girlfriend - or vice versa. Actually finding a card for gay men to celebrate out love? Yeah, that's going to be a specialist supplier there. Major greetings card companies just don't cover same-sex love. Hallmark is "thinking about it." and taking  "baby steps" It's a card for crying out loud. You need a 10 step plan to make a card?! And Clinton Cards in the UK? They're producing THIS vile thing

So yeah, cards? Probably not even if I were willing to spend that much on a piece of paper.

This holiday is a constant barrage It's 99.9% man/woman man/woman, man/woman THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE! MAN/WOMAN!!!! The Hetero-holiday has spoken!

So to those who celebrate - happy Het-fest!

To the rest of us, let's buy cheap chocolates, lots of booze and snark at things. Bah... hmmm... what's the valentines equivalent of 'humbug' anyway? "Bah Garage Flowers?"