Cupid Vanquished. Part 2


V-Day enthusiasts do not respond well to criticism either, as Georgetown University student Robert Swope found out two years ago. Swope was removed as a columnist for the student paper, The Hoya, after protesting his editor’s decision to spike his column, which had been critical of Georgetown’s staging of the Monologues.

Less serious than feminists’ factual distortions, but equally disheartening in the long-term, is V-Day supporters’ attempts to supplant the sentiments associated with Valentine’s Day. The not-so-subtle message of V-Day is that romance and old-fashioned notions of courtship are bad for women. Yet one can only cringe at the updated “empowering” sentiments of V-Day. What would Valentine’s Day cards look like if the Vagina replaces the Valentine?

Perhaps it is fitting that feminists want to vulgarize this particular national holiday. It does have a somewhat murky past. Valentine’s Day purportedly began as a pagan holiday in ancient Rome to celebrate the feast of Lupercalia. (It later came to be called Valentine’s Day to commemorate a Christian martyr—St. Valentine—who legend says defied a Roman law prohibiting the marriage of young soldiers and secretly officiated at several weddings). The holiday has also lent its name to some bloody events, such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929, when the gangs affiliated with Al Capone and Bugs Moran played out their murderous rivalry on the streets of Chicago.

Still, most people view Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate romantic love. And celebrate we do. According to the Greeting Card Association, approximately one billion valentines are mailed each year—85 percent of which are purchased by women. Most people also recognize that the gestures of romance and courting—whether they be flowers, chocolates, or something more creative—are symbols of affection, not patriarchal oppression.

But aside from the factual errors and repressive aura of political correctness surrounding V-Day, its core assumptions are fundamentally misguided. Underlying much of the hype is the idea that possession of a particular female body part translates into a common identity. But this is simply not so. Women are a diverse group, too diverse for such simplistic labeling. Perhaps the female anatomy has become feminists’ rallying point because it is the only one available to them. After all, few women describe themselves as feminists. Fewer still uncritically accept feminists’ assessment of contemporary society as a hotbed of patriarchal oppression.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging young women and men on the nation’s college campuses to be more aware of violence as a social issue and to take action to prevent it in their communities. But publicizing false statistics and encouraging paeans to our private parts is no way to go about doing this. Ending violence is a serious and important cause. Inflated statistics and feminist hyperbole will do nothing to aid it. If anything, such questionable methods will deter people who might otherwise get involved.

If you care about ending violence, then volunteer at a local shelter or rape crisis center. Educate yourself about the causes and consequences of domestic violence. And make sure you have your facts straight. But don’t believe that you are aiding the cause by joining the V-Day vaudeville that will appear on many college campuses this year. Although the mission statement proclaims V-Day “is a fierce, wild, unstoppable movement and community,” in fact it is something far more ordinary. It is another example of contemporary feminist myth-making. Rather than perpetuate myths, why not strike a real blow for women’s empowerment by declaring your unwillingness to abandon common sense—and Cupid—this February.

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