Valentine’s Day 2017 has come and gone, another day, another year. Far from the idea of pagan feasts, the holiday has been overly commercialized. Whom does the holiday benefit? In recent years, valentines spending have increased substantially. USA Today accredits the 8% increase since 2016; to women buying gifts for their significant others. No longer is the holiday a one-way street for men to show love and admiration to their women. Is society moving away from the hetero-normative corporate idea of February 14th?
Maybe individuals have and the corporations need to play catch-up. In February, there are two types of ads we can see back to back. A chocolate ad or Kay jewelers commercial will play, adhering to the obligation for men to make the day special; a reminder for them to buy only the nicest of gifts. Immediately after, an ad for lingerie or beauty supplies plays; it is a reminder for women to look nice for their men. This creates a social currency expected from both sides.
Men spend money on gifts and in exchange, they are expecting a flawlessly waxed and dressed woman at the end of the night. The expectation of women is usually one day of worship, to feel like a goddess. This comes from the 364 days the rest of the year they “work all year round to essentially mother men.” Ana from Boulder commented. Does this include sexually pleasing their counterparts? Love is the idea, and sex is a form of love expression.
We see this expectation in all sorts of media: on theme movies, ads and the increasing number of online writings about What Men Really Want for V-Day. It heightens both sides’ expectations about this essentially futile night. When the average spending, according to a New York Times article, moves to $146.84 on gifts, it creates an obligation to look at how each side of the equation spends their money.
The Herald recognizes the spending choice men make are on flower, jewelry and meals, while women buy sweets and cards (and as stated before, increasingly growing in gift size). What they are missing is the time and money spent by men to find the gifts and the perfect dinner place; and women’s time and money spent on grooming.
If a dinner-for-two sets you back $60, flowers are $20, and chocolates are $15: men can spend upward of $95. While this is well below the average of the New York Times assessment, it is a starting point. Women may buy a $5 card, $10 treat and then add on the $60 wax, the $30 hairstyle or nail appointment and finally, the $30 lingerie for the evening. Without adding in either sex’s outfit price, women can spend upward of $135 (a much closer estimate to the average).
Valentine’s Day has become an equation. Each party has to put in their additive in order to get the correct outcome, a formulated and inauthentic version of showing affection. At the end of the night, whether you appreciate these acts or not; the winner is always corporate America who created a need for you to spend all your money on a random day.
With the increase in shifting away from norms lately in the younger culture, there are a new subsection of celebrations for the day of love. The Huffington Post this year had an entire section for unique valentines festivities this year, with adventurous activities being the focal point.
Whether it be next year’s Valentine’s Day or another celebration: adventurous activities, experiences and shying away from corporate spending are becoming the new trend.