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Happy Valentine’s Day
Have you kissed your Sooterkin* this morning? Held them a little bit closer as the love fills your heart that little bit more, in recognition of this day set aside for the lovers? Have you bought that special bit of card which makes profit for big business and glue for relationships? Perhaps flowers, chocolates, silly little gifts or a massive declaration of your love through money has been made?
Or not. For so many of us loneliness is magnified today, as at all special dates on our calendars, because of the emphasis of togetherness, of coupledom (for seldom seen are the polyamory-celebrating cards and presents), of the status quo of marriage and eventually, presumably, procreation.
Valentine’s Day was not intended to be for romance. It was intended to celebrate St Valentine on a saint’s day set down by the Christian church (yet to become Catholic) in 496 CE by Pope Galesuis. St Valentine was martyred according to the church in 269 for enabling persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire to marry. Other origin myths do exist, but it was only with the celebrated English writer Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century that love became associated with the day with the ideals of courtly love first practised in France and adopted by England. It was only in the 18th century when gifts to loved ones became popularised. It was globalised by the ‘helpful’ intervention of the British Empire.
It’s a new story, but who can argue with a celebration of love. I certainly don’t intend to. I want to expand it! Not by buying more and more gifts to physically maintain the ideal of status through belongings, and to imply or infer a monetary value to the love one gives to another. No, I want to expand it by expressions of love to all.
- To the lonely person who feels all the more lonely today – I love you.
- To the disabled person whose body is seen as a battleground, not a ground for love – I love you.
- To the prisoner who is punished, not rehabilitated, and whose future is made harder because of this – I love you.
- To the person whose love is not seen as ‘normal’ in our hetero-normative society – I love you.
- To the person whose gender identity is more often the butt of jokes rather than the love interest in our media – I love you.
- To the person who does not want a relationship nor feels the need for one – I love you.
- To the victim of domestic abuse fighting so hard to become a survivor – I love you.
- To the oppressed who are struggling every day to be seen, heard and enfranchised – I love you.
- To the oppressor who knows what pain they cause but is too scared, too entitled or to cruel to realise the damage they do – I love you.
- To the people who hurt others deliberately and have an inability to feel empathy – I love you.
- To the person struggling with mental health issues – I love you.
- To those who feel unworthy, you are not. No-one is. I love you.
- To all those I have not listed specifically, I include you too and I love you.
It is harder by far to love those who hurt others, who offend you, who refuse to recognise their privilege and who maintain the normative standards in societies to the detriment, pain and suppression of others. I still try to love them, to empathise with them, but will not agree with them or placate them. That is not love; that is acquiescence. It is a struggle, always. Opposition is an expression of love and care, when tempered with empathy and self-honesty.
I hope that my love does not hurt others. I strive to ensure my love will heal, or at the very least (for that is quite an arrogant thought!) will support. I hope that my love will enable me to listen and to truly comprehend the struggles of those around the globe. I hope that my love will do good, although in reality I know my privilege will sometimes restrict that. I hope that my love will allow me the humility and pain to see through the consequences of my privilege and help me to work against it.
Most of all, I hope that we all have a Happy Valentine’s Day. Let the tradition of sharing love be for more than the profit of gift companies and the entitlement of the privileged.
*olde English for sweetheart and my name for my partner in life and love. Met at aged 31; beforehand I was very, very single for my entire life, through choice. I am his ‘Angel’ although I like to think a very fallen one!