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I Always Disliked Valentine’s Day…

Here's why I'm not a huge fan
By Mayim Bialik     Published on 02/12/2016 at 12:01 PM EDT

Valentines Day.

A holiday I always really disliked, mostly – lets be honest – because I didnt have a boyfriend until I was 17. I really had no problem hating Valentines Day and I was good at hating it. Was I jealous of everyone who had a boyfriend? Of course I was.

As a not terribly feminine female, I also never really resonated with a lot of the imagery the consumer universe sold me about Valentines Day. Pink, first of all, turns me off and everything looks pink for Valentines Day. I dont really think chocolate says loveto me, at least not from someone else. I mean, I lovechocolate all by myself, so I dont really feel like I need someone else to give it to me to show me they love me.

As for jewelry, I didnt grow up in a family where my mom expected expensive jewelry or where we could have even afforded for that to be added to the family budget, honestly. There were no diamonds. My Dad of course got my mom other gifts and he was really creative and artistic. He made elaborate cards for my mom and sometimes for me. But as for expensive gifts, it didnt happen at my house and I didnt need it to.

I handed out Valentines in school as a child, but mostly I felt bad when I was left out of someones affection (ugh, that sucked), and I felt bad for kids who got left out. Like, the nerdiest and most unusual kids in class eventually didnt get Valentines when we were old enough for the teacher to not enforce that everyone make cards for everyone and it just felt sad all around.

I like sad music. I like dark cynical literature. I dont really have a fantasy romantic vision as part of my make-up. So honestly, Valentines Day just never did it for me.

The people who usually chastise me for this fall under one main category: women who like that stuff. And far be it for me to tell someone what they should want. The thing that upsets me and makes me sad and which is the basis for the reason GrokNation exists is so I can say this: I dont understand why we have a culture that has determined that – for the most part – men need to buy women expensive things on Valentines Day to show their love/affection/acknowledgment of the holiday. Period. I dont get it.

And I know that plenty of men make handmade cards and for a lot of people its not about the money and I love those men and the women who love them; I really do. But for the most part – again, I am generalizing – we have a culture of encouraging men to spend a lot of money on women and women expecting that. (And yes, for same-sex couples, I assume it exists and Id be curious to hear if both men in a gay relationship are expected to do that and what happens in lesbian relationships!?! Im sure it all gets figured out, but I do honestly wonder!)

I have spoken to a lot of reasonable smart successful women – many of whom have incomes themselves – who have told me straight-faced that they expect expensive jewelry and/or flowers X number of times a year and if they dont get it, there will be hell to pay. Sometimes these women are in families where resources are not super abundant, but they expect this above and beyond the practicalthings money could go towards.

I dont understand the emphasis on Valentines Day in this sense at all. If women want to expect that stuff, of course they can. Enjoy it! I am not judging. I am simply saying I dont understand it for me.

Because I am a total Scrooge, I feel the need to draw attention to the following Valentines-related issues.

  1. Blood diamonds. Many countries that mine the diamonds we use for jewelry use child labor and it causes great damage to the communities where mining is done. For more information, read here.
  2. Resources. As with the cloning article, I cant help thinking about how much we could achieve if the money we spent on, for example, Valentines Day jewelry went to feed children in the cities we live in. Or went to provide school supplies to children who have none. Or went towards building schools for children who need them all over the world. Or to providing clean drinking water for the millions of people on this planet who dont have access to that. And so on. Is there a better way to spend our money? I think there is, dont you?
  3. V-Day. Some have taken the phrase V Dayas an opportunity to call attention to the crimes against women and girls that go on all over the world, simultaneous with this season where we are flooded with images of love being in the air on every billboard, in every commercial, and in every shopping mall. V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls. Learn more here.
  4. Perspective. Maybe we can try to shift our perspective a little. Think hard about why we think  women needjewelry and gifts for this day. Find ways to celebrate with your honey that are maybe a tad old-fashioned but can still be meaningful. Make cards. Have a meal together or cook together or just be together and enjoy it without the pressure of gifts. Or – super nerd ball idea coming at you here – take the money you both would have spent on gifts and cards and all of that stuff and donate it to a charity you both like.
  5. Cliches. I know it sounds like a cliche to say that if youre loving someone, you have to love them every day and show them every day and Valentines Day is just a day that the card companies added to the calendar to make money, but honestlyif you think about it, its kind of true. Every day is an opportunity to be loving and supportive and happy to be with someone (if youre happy to be with them.) Its okay to buck the system a little bit every once in a while!

Grok with us:

  • What are your initial associations with Valentines Day?
  • When do you remember first associating it with expensive gifts, or what do you associate it with if not that?
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