By Jo (with excerpts from Karly and Hannah)
I’m chronically unlucky in love; if luck is a combination of hard work and being at the right place at the right time, my work can be described as half hearted at best and my placement exclusively wrong place, worst time.
As such, I’ve never had a romantic valentine. The best thing I ever got for the day of love was a kick ass thermos from my mom. Wherever I left it, I bet the vegetable soup I was obsessed with that year is still warm and steams up the glasses of whatever motherfucker is lucky enough to find it.
Not that I’ve not tried to have a romantic valentine; it’s just never worked out. My first boyfriend begged to plan a trip to Paris for our first Feb. 14, but I broke up with him at the end of January because he literally hadn’t planned a damn thing and the train tickets were gonna be wayyyy too expensive.
Another time a guy I wasn’t-quite-seeing-but-had-said-I-love-you-to ignored my VERY BLAND “Happy Valentine’s Day xx” text for three full days before responding by starting an entirely new conversation.
This year, I *handmade* a Valentine’s Day card for a guy I hadn’t even gone on a date with yet; then our first date ended with him apologizing, saying he’s busier than he thought, and actually this needed to be our last date until MAY (unless he is busy then too).
All of which sucks ass, by the way. As holidays go, Valentine’s Day is very much up my alley. I love seeing people carrying around flowers, and having excuses to go on and on about how much you care about someone. Valentine’s is so Obvious and Loud— both of which are very much my aesthetic.
It’s a tragic irony that I Alone Among Men, haven’t had as much as a whiff of spark that lasted through Aquarius season, EVEN ONCE.
So I asked my Three companions how they feel about the holiday.
Karly who is beautiful and lovely and married to the partner of her dreams said:
My parents got married on Valentine’s Day, so it was always a bit of a big deal in our family. My mom would get my sister and I cards and treats on the day (heart-shaped gummies were a family favourite) and we’d often go away as a family for the week, usually on a ski trip. As a result, Valentine’s Day has always felt quite special and wholesome, and I associate it much less with romantic love or commercialism and much more with family togetherness. As an adult, I still like to celebrate it with those I love—sometimes with my partner, sometimes with my family, sometimes with friends. And I still get a card from my mom every year!
All of which I very much stand by, Fuck Capitalism! Fuck Yeah, Family! Valentine’s at its core is incredible and a wonderful reminder that “hey, you should show the people you care about that you do”.
Hannah, who is very anti establishment and is dating a man widely regarded as “aggressively handsome” says:
Valentine’s Day is a Capitalist Nightmare.
Love and money have always been entwined, even though on the surface, this feels like it shouldn’t be the case. Love is touchy feely and a small little beautiful flower that grows in your soul despite having so many reasons not to do so and money is used by terrible people to buy yachts whilst not caring that poor people die because the minimum wage isn’t enough to live on.
Marriage for women throughout history was an economic prospect. See revamped Amy’s speech in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women for a wrap up, but basically, if you didn’t marry for money in the 1800s, you were fucked. So what changed? Women entering the workplace post war and the invention of the contraceptive pill in the mid 20th Century, to boil a number of complicated things down to something very simplistic.
I saw an ad before a film the other day that mined a love story between childhood friends to sell…. a bank? I don’t know exactly what they were selling but I was torn between being pleased to see queer representation (With a proper kiss! that was romantic!) normalised to the point it is being used to sell a mainstream bank (Or maybe a car?) and being furious that something that has so recently been a political struggle that people spent their entire lives to fighting for being used to sell a car (pension fund?). Are the people that make money off that ad queer? Does that make it ok? Despite these reservations I still cried in the cinema.
Love and money are both about power and control. Or is that sex and money? Can we work to remove power dynamics from love or are they always a necessary part of them? But being single is expensive – its more expensive to go on holiday, to rent, to attend weddings of all your friends who don’t even provide hot single people for you to flirt with at the reception.
To opt out of Valentines day capitalist bollocks, I drew my boyfriend a card and printed it off on office supplies that I stole from my workplace. But we are starting to look for a place to live together, that neither of us could afford if we were single. Is love really not an economic decision anymore?
I mean, I agree with her in principle, but that bank/car/pension fund ad made me tear up. I literally cry at the end of Avengers: End Game everytime!
(Spoilers— he goes back in time for her )
Jenny Holzer, who is my muse and God, says “ROMANTIC LOVE WAS INVENTED TO MANIPULATE WOMEN” which I completely agree with. She also says, “GO ALL OUT IN ROMANCE AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY” which I also *completely agree with*.
And a lot of times being a woman attracted to men feels like being mentally ill. (Which makes it hard when I also have a mental illness.) I sent the breakup text I sent to the dude who was suddenly very busy to a group chat of gals I know that are also trying to find people to date/kiss on the regular, and I’m still so mad that I even had to do the breaking up??
My friend said, “why are all these dudes who are so overwhelmed by the basic tasks of life to text back, on Bumble in the first place?”. And I also completely agree! As Jenny Holzer would say, “MEN DON’T PROTECT YOU ANYMORE” and I’d be like, “damn Jenny, you’re right, but tbh when did they?” And in my mind she doesn’t say anything, just nods soulfully.
I’m not mad at this dude specifically so much as I’m peeved at the whole of dude-dom that have apparently established an unwavering rhetoric and rule book for fucking with my fragile feathered heart.
All of which forms itself into an openhanded palm to slap my dough cheeked face the one day a year I should be spending all heart eyed happy watching other people be in love and giving love and receiving it the way that I like to give and receive love: VERY FLAMBOYANTLY AND IN ALL CAPS.
So while I’m with Hannah that capitalism is one branch of the shit stick that makes Valentine’s yuck, another branch is the patriarchy. Which means if you’re a man who is attracted to women and reading this, it’s your social duty to Venmo a single female who is unfortunately attracted to men.
Mine’s @itsjoyo . Happy Valentines Day.