Another Valentine’s Day has come and gone and some of us, both single and otherwise, survived with a trail of candy G-strings, burnt out vibrator batteries, and wrinkled sex coupons. Others, not so much.
Valentine’s Day often feels redundant because it calls for a celebration of something we should be doing every day: love, sex and chocolate. In its redundancy, it perverses the very thing it’s about. The pressure to find the perfect gift, if you’re in a relationship, provokes so much anxiety there’s hardly any affection left when it’s given. If you’re single, it’s difficult to find a date that weekend without the other person thinking it means more than drinks and a good time. Now add the fact that Valentine’s Day is so closely tied to the Roman’s Feast of Lupercalia, a celebration where men whipped women with the hides of the animals they sacrificed for the occasion. A good time for some of us today, yes, but unlike the women who would line up for the whipping, the practice is no longer for fertility. Then again, given the level of sex education this day and age, it might be for some.
The same celebration included a matchmaking component, where men would draw women’s names from a jar and the pair would commence to fornicate until the end of the festivities. While this may be an extremely organized way to work out the logistics to your orgy, we can’t fool ourselves into thinking it’s particularly romantic, or even sensual considering there’s a chance you won’t be attracted to the person you’re arbitrally matched up with. You have a chance if you believe in love-at-first-sight-from-across-a-square-full-of-naked-bodies, but that might be a long shot.
If my Valentine you won’t be / I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.
Valentine’s Day has as many problems today as it did in the past. It’s heavily heteronormative and almost mocking of the single, coming together as a force that says you need to be matched up in the most fertile combination in order to celebrate love.
And most likely not what Saint Valentine, the priest from the year 270’s Rome, would’ve wanted if he was alive today (religion aside). When the emperor, Claudius II, banned all marriages and engagements in Rome because he believed families were the reasons men weren’t joining the army, Valentine continued to perform marriages in secret. Valentine stood up for love, regardless of its unlawfulness at the time. That translates into the 21st century perfectly. Love is love, whether you’re in love with a person of the opposite or same sex, or just with yourself, but our mass market Valentine’s Day barely recognizes that.
Valentine’s Day is the poet’s holiday.
So what do we do about it? If Valentine’s Day takes one day to perverse everything about love and sex, then we must take all the days of the year to celebrate Valentine’s Day until we mold it into what it should be: a celebration of all kinds of love and sex. Make every sexual encounter worthy of the perfect Valentine’s Day date. These encounters can even be with yourself and your imagination. Arm yourself with hands, tongues, whips, lube, toys and videos. It’s a year-long battle.
Gem Blackthorn is Queen Mob's Sex Columnist