It's almost February 14th so everywhere I look these days I see hearts. These symbols of love shout out from every store window, television commercial, and newspaper ad. Despite the commercialization, selling the notion of love isn't a bad thing in and of itself. I'm a firm believer that we could all use a little more love in our world. Over the years, we've seen the concept of love expand - as acceptance of LGBQ\T individuals has grown and as equal marriage and non-nuclear family structures have become increasingly common. When I think of anti-dotes to violence, love is high on the list.
So why do I still get anxious whenever Valentine's Day roles around?
Partly I am reminded of those awkward moments in elementary or high school nervously waiting to see if I was going to receive a card or how a card I sent was going to be received. The pressure was intense and real. So I worry about kids who may feel left out, unnoticed, unloved this week. I care about the emphasis on couples that can make people who are single feel left out. I remind myself that Valentine’s Day is not a loving time for everyone, as abuse doesn't take a holiday.
I also worry about the traditional messages around this holiday that reinforce old gender stereotypes and gender roles. Pro-feminist men like myself may want to shower the person we love with flowers or plan a special experience. But that doesn't mean we buy into or support a "knight-in-shining armor" narrative. And a simple phrase such as "Be mine" takes on a whole different meaning in the context of sexual or domestic violence or stalking.
|A few years back JDI designed Valentine's Day cards with a message that equates love with respect and equality. Check it out. One of JDI's member programs and White Ribbon Day Affiliate, Womanshelter/Compañeras, has also designed an "equality card."|
Think about what message you want to send this year and how you can talk to your kids, friends and loved ones about what Valentine's Day means to you. Share your thoughts on the White Ribbon Day Facebook page.