By Acacia Rodgers
America takes pride in her capitalistic holidays. In fact, almost all of our holidays are tinged with capitalism, even Christmas. But holidays such as Halloween, Black Friday, and Valentine’s Day are nothing but capitalistic. As a child I hated Valentine’s Day, and I never really understood why. I believed that it was because of how early and viciously people celebrated it. I tried to look deep within myself; maybe I was lonely: I’d only had one “boyfriend” and that was at the tail end of eighth grade. He didn’t even last six months. Perhaps I was jealous of my friends? They were all in relationships and receiving nice things. All I ever got was candy from my parents and those terrible cards that the schools forced you to give your classmates. In the end, I settled for capitalism. I hated how every holiday was about money, so why should my special hatred of Valentine’s Day be any different? Afterall, everyone has a holiday that they thoroughly hate.
I went through middle school hating Valentine’s Day, and all of the promotion, decoration, and hopelessness that went with it. I consoled my friends who did not have a significant other, and one friend whose boyfriend broke up with her on Valentine’s Day. Then I reached high school and I realized something else. It was not just the capitalistic mentality that I hated, but the fact that even at such a young age we were conditioned to want someone to share this holiday with. I clearly remember my friends thinking they were not good enough because they had never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day (never mind the fact they had a boyfriend almost every other month of the year). American dating culture is open, dramatic, and once you are indoctrinated, you cannot leave. You mix this with a holiday that celebrates said dating culture, and you get a whole host of children with self esteem issues.
I remember being a child, in elementary school to be precise, and having family members think it was cute that one of my friends had a little kid crush on me. I mean, I guess it’s cute, but why do adults basically “ship” two five year olds? It’s unnecessary and unnerving. Once I came to this realization I understood why I hated Valentine’s Day. I hated the holiday because it is society telling us that we have to love. You are not normal if you do not love at least once in your life. I’m not talking love thy family. Fall in love. Get married, have kids, die of old age together in conjoined coffins. The whole shebang. This. This right here is why I hate Valentine’s Day. I never once felt the urge to have kids with someone, marry them, or die of old age. I was never interested in the fanfare of Valentine’s Day. This messed me up. I thought something was wrong with me. In a society where you have to fall in love and have kids, I never felt or wanted that. I had strong feelings for people, but nothing that I would constitute as love.
I went through high school, loneliness hitting me for the first time on my 10th grade Valentine’s Day. I had one friend I was really close with. I wanted it to be an emotion other than deep emotional respect and love. But it wasn’t. I did not love them as society told me I should. My mom thought I was agonizing over a boy who did not have a crush on me. Here’s the catcher, Mom. I didn’t have a crush on him either. Eventually I came to terms with this. I got on with my life by pushing this to the back of my mind. I picked up music again as well as theatre. Everything was hunky dory. Then I graduated and went to college where I was introduced to the world of asexuality and aromanticism.
The first time I had heard the word “asexuality” was when my friend, Peter, said he was asexual. I heard the word, nodded, and thought nothing more of it. Then I get to Mary Baldwin and suddenly my life becomes nothing but sexuality, gender, and social justice. I figure out early on that I am asexual. It was not that hard. I read a few definitions that all said the same thing (someone who does not experience sexual attraction), watched a few documentaries, had a few conversations, hit up AVEN, and I was good to go. It was my romantic identity that had me confused, or in denial. Aromanticism kept popping up in all of my ace haunts and it seemed to fit, I liked it, gravitated towards it, but I was concerned with saying “yes, this is me.”
One night this past Christmas break I was floating around on the internet, watching a documentary when it came to me, “yup, aro ace. That’s me.” I immediately told my two closest friends on campus who were nothing but supportive. We cracked a few jokes, and moved on. That was that. I never really thought about it again. Until February 1, 2016 that is.
Here we are. Just a week shy of my least favorite holiday and I finally understand why I hate Valentine’s Day so much. It’s not just because of the capitalism, or because of the socialized dating culture, or even the heteronormativity that surrounds the holiday. I also hate Valentine’s Day because I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how someone can put so much stock in a holiday that most of the world cannot be bothered to even think about. How can someone say that this is the day to show love. Now, relationships are not my area of expertise, but shouldn’t you be showing people you love them without a designated holiday? But the main reason I hate Valentine’s Day? It made me and so many others feel inadequate at such a young age.