First, let me get one thing straight: I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. It’s not in the ‘FEMINIST BYLAWS,’ if they were to exist and we could actually all agree on them which we couldn’t, that those of the pro-equality persuasion must hate this holiday of love. It’s just that the heteronormative nature of the thing, chock full of gender stereotypes – all women want and need to be happy is a big strapping man with a penchant for commitment and all men need to be happy is sex, sex, sex and they should just buy up all the flowers and chocolate in town to get it – makes my heart drop rather than swoon. (And I really, really could live my whole life without another jewelry commercial telling me that blood diamonds are a symbol of love.) (And I certainly could have done without Katy Perry dangling from a swing at the Grammy’s last night with photos from her wedding playing on a big wedding dress silhouette. But that’s probably because Katy Perry grates on my last feminist nerve anyway.)
Of course, many people can and do celebrate their love – heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous, or otherwise – without buying into the stereotypes or buying anything at all. Others choose to be more politically subversive with the holiday – Sarah at Champagne Candy is telling Nancy Pelosi she’s breaking feminist hearts by supporting the DCCC, which wants a $100,000 ‘Emergency Fund’ for women’s health but spent over $3 million to re-elect the 10 anti-choice Democratic sponsors of the “redefine rape and pretty much ban insurance coverage of abortion in the process” bill and the “kill pregnant people” bill. There’s also The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s For the Love of Birth Control Campaign, which asks that you sign a petition to tell HHS that birth control is prevention and should be completely covered by insurers – with no out of pocket cost – under the new health care law. Today is also the last day of Freedom to Marry Week, marked with a petition to Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. And of course, there’s V-Day, the global movement to stop violence against women and girls that’s often marked with performances of The Vagina Monologues at colleges and community theaters. And finally, today is the first day of National Condom Week!
But February 14th is also the birthday of one Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw, a leader of the US suffrage movement, one of the first female physicians in the United States, and the first woman to be ordained in the Methodist Church. She also served on the National Council of Defense and was the first woman to win a Distinguished Service Medal! Anna Howard Shaw Day is celebrated officially within the United Methodist Church on the Sunday before Valentine’s Day – so, yesterday. But, feminists and women’s history nerds like me often celebrate it on the actual day to signify that true love is really about justice and equality, whether it be on the global movement scale or in the bedroom. (And yes, 30 Rock did an episode on Anna Howard Shaw Day last year, hence the photo above. Here’s the required link – I never saw it, don’t watch 30 Rock, or Mad Men, and you can judge me and my feminist credentials on both however you like!)
How are you celebrating today? Let everyone know about your subversive traditions, events, or actions in the comments. As for me, I’m going to go actually get dressed and record a video for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is next week. Lots of love to you all!