Stupid Cupid Interviews a Women’s Studies Minor

Valentine’s day. A day where the sale of alcohol spikes up right alongside chocolates and flowers. No matter if you have a partner and a lovely day planned out, or if you have no one and are preparing to drown your sorrows, this interview will give you a helpful insight into what a Women’s Studies minor thinks about the holiday. Liv Johnson is a senior History major. She loves discussing feminist theory, chitt-chatting, and playing with her dog Taffy. Here is our interview concerning Valentine’s day:

Stupid Cupid: Have you celebrated Valentine’s day with a special someone before?

Johnson: Mhmm. 100%. Last year was my favorite Valentine’s day. We created a whole schedule of Valentine’s day activities. We started with pink pancakes and ended with a movie–a war movie; we actually watched Pearl Harbor… didn’t make it all the way through (both laugh). We went hour by hour. Breakfast, then church, then lunch, then a romantic walk, but my favorite part was our new tradition of going to Presidio park and playing soccer.

What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day in general, as a holiday? 

Valentine’s day is a lot more than just spending time with a significant other. I think people look down on the holiday because they think “Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend; I don’t have a girlfriend; I don’t have a partner,” and I think bull—-. You have people around you that care for you.

Okay, so that goes into my next question of Galentine’s Day.

Palentine’s Day. Palentines/Galentines. Don’t subject it just to Gal’s.

Okay. Palentine’s/Galentine’s Day. How does that factor into the way you celebrate the holiday?

Well I think Valentine’s, first off, is a pretty pagan holiday. It started with Cupid, blah blah blah. Whatever. French Revolution. I don’t know (laughs). Don’t include that. Anyways, last year we had a Palentine’s party where boys and girls were invited. Boys were encouraged to wear pink, which is typically a feminine color. We’re deconstructing gender norms around the colors and rethinking the social constructs of those ideas. With Palentine’s, I think you’re supposed to include everyone. You are not supposed to just say, “Oh this is just for me and my partner,” cause it’s a day of love, and you love a lot more people than just your partner. And I don’t believe that it should just be for that one person cause that’s selfish.

How do you think your Women’s Study Minor affects your feelings towards this Valentine’s holiday?

I think we always view Valentine’s day as a feminine focused holiday. The male has to buy roses and chocolates and it’s always a very “We’re doing this for the female” type thing, when in fact I don’t think it should be like that. And through my women’s studies perspective, it doesn’t have to be super one sided. It can be a holiday where all people are enjoying it; all people are celebrating it. It’s not a whole gender, color, who buys flowers for who thing. You can celebrate in any way you want to. It doesn’t have to include the typical items of flowers and chocolates. I just want everyone to make sure they share the love to everyone who is in the room. 

You said it shouldn’t be one person’s job to plan Valentine’s day plans. It shouldn’t be just the man or the woman making the plans. How does this idea play into the logistical aspect of planning a meaningful Valentine’s day?

I think it should be a joint operation. It’s important to communicate before-hand and say, “How about you plan dinner and I’ll plan the activity.”

You touched upon how Valentine’s day is more about love for all humankind than it is for one specific person. When you do have a partner, how should you balance the “humankind love” and the “romantic/partner love?”

I think that’s an individual thing. For example, my partner has graduated and the Palentine’s party that I’m having this weekend is very much a college activity. So I told him, “You know what, you can decide if you want to come for a little bit; you don’t have to come for the whole time if you want to do something with your post-grad friends.” Palentine’s is the Pals. It’s not the significant others. They can come and tag along, or they don’t have to at all. I’m also hosting a Galentine’s brunch and my partner is not invited to that.

So you think there should be a distinction not only between your partner and your friends, but also between pals and gals? Why separate friends that are girls and friends that are boys? 

When we were little kids, the huge deal was to get a Valentine’s card that said, “I like you. I think you’re cute.” That was a huge deal. Even today, it’s still a really big deal. I think a lot of women struggle with low self-esteem surrounding their relationships with men or lack thereof. Since some women are indeed struggling with certain things pertaining to relationships, I think it’s fun to celebrate Galentine’s day and show girls, “Hey, we don’t have to just think about today is the day I’m lonely because I don’t have X, Y, or Z.” Instead we’re celebrating each other and loving one another. We are doing fun stuff like an underwear exchange where we buy and gift different types of underwear to each other and lift each other up. 

It seems like you’ve got a delicate balance between uplifting and supporting other women, while also having this partner who you care about and want to spend time with. 

I don’t think I have any right to tell my friends, “It’s okay that you’re single,” because I’m just simply not single. You’re right, there’s a delicate balance to that, and I don’t think I’m always the right person to lift others up. I don’t think I have the right to say, “Hey my friends who are single, I’m sorry that you can’t celebrate Valentine’s day with someone that you love.” That’s not what I want to do. I want to open a space for them. For Galentine’s, it’s the space of my home. I want to have a place for these girls to do a fun activity. Give them the chance to wear a fun, furry pink dress–or blue, it doesn’t matter–and encourage them to celebrate the love we have for each other by doing something fun. We don’t have to compare the state of our love lives. We can just have a meaningful time, loving each other through a party. 

Last question, how is a person supposed to make their own meaning out of Valentine’s day when in reality it’s a day–like any other American holiday–that has nothing to do with love and is solely concerned with how much money the bourgeoisie can make off of the general public? Sorry, I may be projecting a bit from my literature theory class.

First of all, I want to say something really quick: F— you (laughs a little too hard). Here’s the thing. I’m not going to sit here and say, “This needs to be your new favorite holiday. You need to throw a Palentine’s party and a Galentine’s brunch and make pink pancakes.” No. That’s just how I do it. I don’t ever want to make it sound like Valentine’s day needs to be prescriptive and you need to go by certain guidelines. You are allowed to celebrate it however you want to. If you have a partner, spend the day with them. If you aren’t dating anyone, go get dinner with some friends. I say, hold both.

It’s a day of love. Eros and Philia.

Exactly. Love in the general sense of the term. And everyone has their own style of how they show that love, and ain’t nobody, myself included, is going to tell you how to do that. For me, it looks like throwing an underwear exchange party. That’s my own way of making girls feel sexy and loved. That’s how I want to do it. But you probably have your own way. Everyone has their own way, and that’s fine. I’m just saying on the day February 14th, remember: L-O-V-E. How do you want to express that? 

Written By: Brennan Ernst