I don’t do Valentine’s Day. No, sorry St. Valentine, your life was a little too ambiguous for me to celebrate. You can count on capitalism to exploit the shit out of a name like that and your questionable link to the tradition of courtly love. (What does that even mean?) And as far as love goes, let me be the one millionth person to say:
Lastly, as much as I love chocolate, seeing aisle after aisle of Valentine’s Day candy only leads to a painful reflection that the majority of the world’s chocolate is produced via child slave labor on the Ivory Coast. So why am I even writing a post on this horrid day? Because today is not just Valentine’s Day, it is also V-Day – aka Vagina Day – aka the day I realized just how important it is to fight for women’s rights, and just how far we are from gender equality.
As I sat in the audience of the Vagina Monologues my freshman year of college, I was more than a little horrified at the nonchalance of throwing around the v-word and talking about women’s sexuality like it was no big deal. I was uncomfortable, I was cringing in my seat, I was a total prude, I was embarrassed, I still am. That’s a problem. Dick. Penis. Wang. Whatever. Those are all funny words, right? Normal words. Guys talk about their junk all the time, their sexual activity ALL. THE. TIME. It’s totally acceptable, expected. But women? Cue long, awkward silence… or disapproving and disgusted sidelong glances. Women are told to keep quiet, cover up; we are told to be innocent and pure, but are constantly portrayed in the media as sexual objects; we are told to wear conservative clothing, but we sure as hell better workout and shave and have some Victoria’s Secret lingerie on underneath. Which woman do you want me to be? Either way I will be reduced to a body… so does it even matter? I know you know about this, double standards, it sucks, it’s old news. But I don’t care how many times I have to start this conversation because it never seems to stick. The scariest part is that I have internalized society’s expectations. I am my own biggest critic, I compare myself to these unrealistic standards. No matter how intelligent, successful, compassionate, hilarious, and talented I may be, I will measure myself by how physically attractive I am – because society has made it clear that that’s what matters most. This is sexism. It is in everything. I’m gonna step off my soap box now because I’m at work and should probably get some more work done.
Anyways, in addition to bringing awareness to the stigma surrounding women’s sexuality, V-Day’s mission is to end violence towards women. It is an artistic and powerful response to rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation and sexual slavery. It is about freedom and empowerment, and we have a very, very long ways to go. If you have the chance to see the Vagina Monologues tonight or this weekend, go. GO! Take your girlfriends, take your guy friends, shoot, take some (fair-trade) chocolate and sit by yourself!
HAPPY V-DAY! I LOVE YOU ALL!