Whether you are in a wonderful relationship, a miserable one, happily single, or begrudgingly so, we can all agree that the best part of Valentine’s Day is actually the day after, not when we have to witness insufferable acts of affection by clueless couples blocking access to the gin smashes. February 15 is the day all that candy, some of which is only easily found this time of year, goes on sale.
Passing the time on a day like Valentine’s day can be tricky. It is hard to escape the constant messages of love and affection and blah blah blah. Instead of browsing Facebook and watching your sickeningly adorable couple friends declare undying and everlasting ownership over one another, try these other ways to kill time.
Call Your Reps
There is a lot wrong with the world right now. A lot. We could start with problems at the White House, where domestic abusers are being defended by the president, who opted to reverse the trans bathroom bill, forcing students into dangerous situations without recourse. Or you could start on a more local level. Is your Member of Parliament the kind of person who votes against adding housing to human rights and then fails to provide an adequate explanation as to why? Are the judges in your town valuing the perceived and unlikely hockey careers and privileged internships of sexual assailants over the very real impact of their crimes? These are all issues that should be infuriating – so do something about it. Spend some time today calling, emailing, faxing, or writing to your representatives.
Watch a Romantic Comedy Through a Feminist Lens
There is nothing wrong with being a feminist and having a few less-than-feminist interests, including romantic comedies. Most of the time, you need to take your feminist hat off and put in your “this is fun entertainment” hat on to enjoy these types of movies. They present a completely unrealistic view of love, people, relationships, and the world. Take some time today and watch a few of these movies with your feminist hat on. If you’re single, it may give you new appreciation for being alone. I mean, who actually wants a dude who has practically never spoken to you showing up at your door, after you married his bestie, with creepy signs swearing his undying love for you, after finding out that he’s gone a VHS tape of nothing but shots of you at your wedding — to his bestie! And who actually falls in love with a guy who sexually harassers her at work, lets his staff call her fat, and then fucks with her career? Is it really all that romantic to agree to marry someone you’ve literally never had a conversation with? These are all from just one movie!
Examining this type of media and asking yourself “what kind of messages is this actually sending?” can do a lot of good. For starters, it helps alert you to the promotion of unhealthy and toxic relationship patterns by depicting them as symbols of love instead of actions driven by entitlement. This knowledge gives you the tools you need to identify these patterns in your own relationships, and to help friends out with theirs.
It does not mean you have to give up your annual tradition of watching Love Actually alone and screaming at Harry for buying that god awful necklace for his assistant instead of Karen.
Make a Commitment…to Volunteer
For many couples, Valentine’s Day is about commitment, so show how committed you are by signing up to volunteer at a local organization whose cause is something you are passionate about. Bonus points if you and your partner sign up together. If you’re single, Valentine’s Day is either about wanting commitment or wanting to avoid commitment – either way, set romance aside, find a cause that inspires that same level of passion and action, and contact the agency’s volunteer coordinator. Volunteering usually involves going through a training class as well as submitting police checks, so it isn’t going to be an instant thing. Take today to start the process, and be sure you follow through.
Read a Book
Visit your local library or independent bookstore and pick up a new book or (if you’re like me) seven. Reading is a great way to expand your mind, develop empathy, and learn new things. If you are looking for recommendations, follow Maris Kreizman on Twitter. She’s absolutely hilarious, a wonderful writer in her own right, has the cutest dog in the world, and frequently posts threads recommending books.
Those who want to learn more about social causes should pick up Ijeoma Oluo’s amazing book So You Want to Talk About Race. Hunger and Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay are also two favourite reads. If you’re looking for something short, or something with a title that will 100% make horrible men mansplain mansplaining to you, pick up Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.
For starters, you and I both know that despite any intentions to ration that candy out, we are going to eat it all in one week. Start getting yourself in the habit of working out now, to help prevent the addition of candy-related pounds. Regular exercise also helps keep you healthier, improves your mood, and gets you in shape to properly smash the patriarchy.
Making it through a day filled with overpriced flowers and packed restaurants is easy when you follow the tips above. Next thing you know, you’ll be at home surrounded by all the delicious candy you can stomach. And you have my permission to gently nudge the overly affection couple out of the way so you can enjoy those snacks with a healthy supply of gin.