So yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I’m usually pretty apathetic about this particular holiday. I think it’s great in theory – a day to show your affection for loved ones – but mostly what it does is build up a lot of unfair expectations for people in relationships, and causes a lot of resentment for those who are single.
I am in a relationship and have been for the past 5 years. We’re not big on gift giving or going on real “dates”, he never pays for my part of the bill and I like it this way. Our relationship is a friendship above all else, and I think that’s the way it should be. I don’t want to be treated differently or catered to just because I’m a girl.
That being said, yesterday I found myself getting angry at him because he didn’t get me anything for Valentines day – no flowers, no chocolate, no nothin’. I felt entitled and jealous of other girls who got flowers from their boyfriends. And then I stopped myself when I realized I didn’t do anything for him either. I didn’t get him a card or a gift and I didn’t even think twice about it. I didn’t feel like that was something that was expected of me, so why was I expecting it of him?
This is just another one of those gendered expectations that’s so engrained in our society that it’s rarely questioned. It’s just the way it is – guys are supposed to buy things for their girlfriends to win their hearts (or buy their hearts, I guess). And even people like me, who think most gender roles are socially constructed BS, get sucked into this Valentine’s trap of feeling shitty because a greeting card company told me I’m supposed to be showered with gifts in the middle of every February.
On a related note, here is a brief conversation I had tonight:
Guy: “I see both your ring fingers have rings on them.”
Me: “Yep. I bought them for myself.”
Guy: “Why would you want to by rings for yourself?”
Me: “I don’t know, why not?”
Guy: “No…that’s a man’s job to buy you rings.”
Me: “Well, the ‘man’ doesn’t have any money and I do so…”
I hate the idea of engagement rings. The tradition behind it is just so completely outdated. Essentially, a man spends a stupid amount of money on a piece of jewelry that signifies that his girlfriend is now “his”. I get that it’s more about commitment than ownership, but then why don’t men get engagement rings too (to be fair, sometimes they do. See: Cory Matthews)? And besides all that, the money that people spend on these things is ridiculous, not to mention the most popular/most expensive stone is fucking b o r i n g. It’s a clear rock. Have you guys never heard of turquoise? Or opal? Or literally any other gemstone that isn’t clear?
I guess this is my point, if I have one at all: there’s nothing inherently wrong about buying stuff for your significant other. There is a problem with girls expecting to be and paid for and given expensive rings just because they are girls. If you truly believe in equality for men and women, you cannot hold these kind of expectations.