As I write this article, I realise that I am a textbook cliche. I am sitting alone, at home, watching Netflix with a bar of chocolate and swiping my way through Tinder one squatting-with-induced-animal-whilst-travelling picture at a time, crying (nay, weeping), whilst on my period. There’s nothing worth watching that I haven’t already seen and I can’t even have a glass of wine to calm me down because I am on antibiotics. I am angry and frustrated at the world and, for the first time in weeks, the root of that anger and frustration isn’t Donald Trump or the Brexit debate but the £3.20 fee I paid this afternoon for my overdue library book. It was unjust and highly upsetting.
I’m not even a good cliche. And just as I think my poor, entitled, millennial, ‘I’m-in-a-secure-job-earning-decent-money-but-it’s-not-the-dream’ life can’t get any worse, I realise what day it is on Tuesday: Valentine’s Day. Great.
Once again, for what feels like the billionth time in my twenty-five year old life, I find myself single on Valentine’s Day. Tinder certainly isn’t helping my current situation. I stare at the 200+ matches waiting idly on my phone. It’s like watching paint dry, except it’s worse because in this allegory, paint is my love life and it’s drying up pretty quickly.
I know, Valentine’s Day is a consumerist holiday, personified by patriarchal and heteronormative traditions which reinforces sexist stereotypes. And I know, I’m a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man. However, I still continue to feel sorry for myself because, as much as I try to overcome the pressures attached to 14th February every year, society tells me not to and I let it get to me. I have received several emails every day to this effect from generic, above-average chain restaurants offering me deals for two at their establishment. At this stage, I think I’m more upset that I can’t claim my discounted bottle of Prosecco and send an awkward emotionally repressed Valentine’s card, than I am about not having somebody to wake up next to in the morning. But it’s pretty much tantamount to the same problem at the end of the day. I am single and I am being punished for it.
However, whilst 14th February is most known for red hearts and flowers, Tuesday is also V-Day: a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day “generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), and sex slavery.” Violence against women and girls is pervasive, universal and cannot be ignored.
This year’s theme is Solidarity to End the Exploitation of Women and the facts on why we should be supporting such campaigns speak for themselves: an estimated 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting in 30 countries, according to new estimates published on the United Nations’ International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in 2016. To get involved, check out the One Billion Rising campaign. A political resistance campaign to end violence against women and girls worldwide is definitely worth loving.
In honour of one of my heroines, Leslie Knope, I will also be celebrating Galentine’s Day. What’s Galentine’s Day, you ask? In the words of Leslie Knope herself, “Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” As the saying goes, “Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.” That’s surely something to celebrate.
For what it’s worth, I’m not against Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is ultimately about love and affection and I think we could all agree that the world could use a lot more love right now. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be realised in the form of a partner, although of course it can be. But today, for one of the few times (if not only time) in my adult life, I will quote Justin Bieber: “You should go and love yourself” because, after all, love fights hate. Love wins.