Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Throwback: Why Men Hate Valentine's Day
Before I get into the "why," I think it's important to talk about the origins of this day.
There are conflicting beliefs as to how Valentine's Day has become the holiday that we know it to be. What we know for sure is that a martyred Christian by the name of St. Valentine was stoned, clubbed and beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D. for refusing to denounce Christianity in ancient Rome. Legend has it that before he was killed, he wrote a love letter to a prison guard's daughter who had befriended him from jail. He supposedly signed the letter, "With love from your Valentine," thus spawning the catch phrase.
All of this took place the day before the annual Lupercalia (Latin for "wolf") festival, where young women put their names in jars to be drawn by young men. Once the names were drawn, the new couples were obligated to "date" each other for the day. Of course by "date" I mean predatory sex--hence the "wolf" chasing the prey.
Once Christianity became popular, the Lupercalia festival was replaced by a more wholesome festival designed to honor Christian Saints. The festival was renamed after St. Valentine to remember his sacrifice.
In short, the history of the holiday comprises beatings, torture, martyrdom and sexual enslavement.
In the early 1800's the holiday was revived and a new version, fusing the two festivals, was created complete with chocolate, flowers, cards and other arbitrary items designed to boost sales in the retail industry...
Sooooo... back to the point of this post. Why men hate Valentine's Day...
To a lot of men, Valentine's Day seems like a re-enactment of St. Valentine's death at the hands of our significant other, only it is our jobs to play Michael J. Fox's character in Back 2 the Future and prevent our/St. Valentine's death by bringing a suitable peace offering to our captor. If the gift is not acceptable, all Hell breaks loose.
Think about it... every man knows that if he comes home empty-handed, or if he brings home an inexpensive gift (I despise the word "cheap") to his lady, he's going to pay the price one way or another: whether it be through withheld sex, arguing, and if you are a drama-prone couple, probably a little domestic violence--with Ike eating the cake, not Tina...
On the flipside, the REAL downer is that if he does bring home an acceptable gift it is not fully appreciated because it is simply expected. Of course she will say "Thank You for the [generic] flowers and candy" and you may even get some that night; but in reality she's happy and thankful, not because of the romanctic gesture in itself and not because she is surprised by your thoughtfulness, sponteneity, and kindness. She is truly thankful because 1) She's happy that she's not one of the "losers" that didn't get ANYTHING and 2) she does not have to curse you out for forgetting. Peace is maintained... for the night.
...and for those women that didn't get a damn thing, it further widens the gap between the sexes to the point where some of those women are bitter at ALL men in general. They end up feeling undesirable, unwanted, and unsexy: all of which factor into their future interactions with men.
After hearing both sides of the disgust for this holiday by men and women alike, I came to see Valentine's Day for what it is: a third-rate marketing holiday (after Christmas and Halloween) — a cheap, commercial parody of romance designed to foster greed and disappointment (in women) and guilt and resentment (in men).
Partly, that's because of some basic differences between the sexes. Most women I know couldn't forget about the existence of February 14 even if they wanted to, regardless of whether they happen to be alone or in a couple.
Most dudes, on the other hand, wake up on February 14 thinking, "Oh Shit! I haven't gotten my girl a card yet!" In fact, I read some study that estimated that roughly 86% of men don't think ahead when it comes to Valentine's Day. Why? Because we think it's a stupid holiday... up until the day of--at which point we know that if we don't get her something, we'll get our asses handed to us come night time. So there we are after work standing in line at the florist, or Harris Teeter (depending on your budget), to buy some flowers...
Moreover, Valentine's Day creates required expectations of men for something that should be spontaneously romantic. I would much rather rub my lady's feet and bring home flowers and candy to her after she's had a rough week on a random day in April than to conform to the expectation of Valentine's Day. To me, being romantic on Valentine's Day is forced and not genuine. To me, and to a lot of men, it cheapens love.
Regardless, your boy WILL be standing in line to buy flowers on every February 14th for his wife after he's married. I'm rational... but I'm not stupid! I refuse to re-enact St. Valentine's death. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-it!