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If movies are any indication, a typical scene on Feb. 14 consists of either a romantic candlelight dinner shared between lovers, or a middle-aged woman with too many cats diving into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and watching The Notebook.

While the theories about the origins of Valentine’s Day range from celebrations of a saint to a Pagan fertility festival, today it’s more commonly known as a day of flowers, candy hearts and jewelry.

All the extravagance and gift giving of  Valentine’s Day made the holiday more than a $13 billion industry in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

The monetary aspect and pressure to give are two of the main reasons why people are turned off by the holiday, said Helen Cothrel, a sophomore studying astrophysics.

“I hate Valentine’s Day because I see it as a celebration of needless consumerism,” she said. “People try to flaunt it as a day to celebrate love and appreciate those who are important to you, but I think you should do that every day. You don’t need a holiday to tell someone you love them.”

Cothrel is not alone in her beliefs. In a recent survey by Hunch.com, 60 percent of men and 37 percent of women said they were “bitter” about the holiday, and only 60 percent of people said they would celebrate Valentine’s Day — the lowest participation of any holiday besides St. Patrick’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation.

These feelings might be amplified for women because of the romantic expectations placed upon them at a young age, said Patty Stokes, a professor of women’s and gender studies at OU.

“Women have had romance marketed to them since they were old enough to have a Disney princess movie,” Stokes said. “When this kind of passionate romance proves to be hollow, they’ve lost more than men have. It’s natural to have a sense of betrayal.”

Though these romantic expectations might mean women have more to lose emotionally from Valentine’s Day, men in heterosexual relationships might lose more from their wallets.

Men plan to spend 75 percent more than women each year, with male respondents planning to spend an average of $84.39 and female respondents planning to spend an average of $48.13, according to a survey conducted by creditdonkey.com.

The emphasis on commercialism and expectations make the holiday sour for a lot of men, said Ross Dickerhoof, a freshman studying journalism.

“I really don’t like (Valentine’s Day),” he said. “I think that we as a culture have lost sight of the actual meaning of the holiday as a celebration of love in all its forms, and now it mostly just belongs to commercialism, not to mention the implied shaming of those who are single.”

Though the focus is mainly thrown on couples, Stokes said not even the happiest or longest-running couples are immune to the V-Day blues.

“Even if you’re married or in a relationship, it’s easy to feel like a lot is expected of you,” she said. “If you’re not in the throes of passionate romance or focusing on making the holiday special, it’s easy to feel lonely, even if you’ve sworn the holiday off.”

Despite its negative connotations, some men do enjoy the holiday, including Trevor Patton, a junior studying journalism and military history. He said he enjoys Valentine’s Day because of the many opportunities to show affection.

“I like Valentines Day,” he said. “Sure, it may be a ‘Hallmark gimmick,’ and yeah, I could do sweet things for my sweetheart any day, but let’s face it, some guys have a little trouble spitting out their true feelings, and this gives an excuse to get them out.”

While Patton might intend to spoil a significant other, he also believes in being sweet to himself.

“It also doesn’t hurt that they come out with some of the best candy of the year that’s on clearance a week later,” he said.

Mary Pyles, a sophomore studying psychology, said she also enjoys Valentine’s Day, even though she is single.

“I love Valentine’s Day and hate people who hate it,” she said. “I myself used to be one of those people. One day, I realized that Valentine’s Day, and life in general, is what you make of it. If you choose to be pessimistic and drown yourself in the sorrows of being single on Valentine’s Day, then of course you’re going to hate it.”

While some have taken a positive spin on being single for the holiday, Emma Wright, women’s affairs commissioner for Student Senate, said she is taking a more educational and empowering route on Valentine’s Day.

Wright and the Women’s Affairs Commission are hosting a “Anti-Valentine’s Day Party” to encourage sexual health and increased empowerment for women. Contrary to the event’s title, Wright said she doesn’t hate Valentine’s Day itself.

“I have decided to throw the Anti-Valentine’s Day Party, not as a protest to Valentine’s Day, but to provide a fun alternative for women who may not have plans that night,” she said.

The party will include a talk about sexual health hosted by Stokes and Sue Simon-Westendorf, a professor of biological science, and a screening of the movie Valentine’s Day.

Though Wright might be using disdain or apathy surrounding the holiday to spread awareness, local businesses are making a profit.

Each year, about 70 million Americans dine out on Valentine’s Day, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Many of these diners might be partaking in couple’s specials, but others will take solace by hitting bars and restaurants solo or with friends, said Elyse Salyer, an employee at Courtside Pizza, 85 N. Court St.

“I feel like a lot of people will probably go to the bars on Valentine’s Day this year, especially because it is on a Thursday,” she said. “And I’d say there are usually more single people, just because in college, I feel like there are more single people than there are couples.”

Because of the high number of single people on college campuses, Salyer said there is hope for a new definition of Valentine’s Day.

“I think since there are so many single people, this is becoming a time where friends can go out, have fun and celebrate with each other,” she said. “There’s no need to sit inside and be sad just because you’re single.”

ks574510@ohiou.edu

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