What does it mean to be anti-Valentine’s Day?
Every year, many people collectively participate in the hate of February 14th, whether it’s because they are anti-capitalism, anti-relationship, or both. So, being at the Speakfree open mic, I expected to hear poems about how being single on this one particular day sucks and about how we continue to let love be commercialized.
Despite my expectations, here are some real reasons why poets on the Williams College campus are ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’:
People might hate Valentine’s Day because it reminds them of those who they loved whom had taken their trust, their dignity, and their voice. One girl’s poem particularly striked me because while the first half was about driving in the car with her lover, the second half was reconstructing that same scene with the fear she felt after he assaulted her. It is a reminder that for some, Valentine’s Day is a knife in the gut that reignites the pain from past scars; it is not merely a day to be petty and jealous of others.
Being anti-Valentine’s Day also does not mean one is necessarily against romantic love but that one wants other forms of love to be recognized. One poet spoke on how he felt love was absent every other day of the year and how true love was the love his God has for him, love grand enough that he sacrificed his own life for humanity. My friend read a poem about all the men she has loved and what they have taken from her, including her father, showing familial love is a love to be emphasized as well on February 14th. Being away from home, I think college students are truly missing out on that specific type of love.
Valentine’s Day, even though it is all about romance, ironically seems to exclude many different types of couples: couples of color, interracial couples, gay couples, lesbian couples, etc. People may not want to celebrate if they do not see themselves celebrated in all the promotion and marketing that comes with the holiday. For a day devoted entirely to love, there is not of love for individuals who are not white or do not adhere to heteronormative standards.
In light of recent events on campus, this last reason as to why someone may be anti-Valentine’s Day is particularly important to me: how can one love in the face of such tension between different racial, cultural, political groups? For me, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to love one’s culture and one’s community. On a campus in the middle of the mountains, this is especially important. Without that love for each part of our intersecting identities, Valentine’s Day is a tough day to face.
All in all, the anti-Valentine’s Day Speakfree open mic opened my eyes to a lot of new ideas, and each poet spoke their truth in such powerful prose. So, thank you to Speakfree for hosting such a wonderful event.
Happy late anti-Valentine’s Day!