Valentine’s Day And Double Standards

Tomorrow (February 14) is a made up holiday. I know, I know–they all are, to some extent. But Valentine’s Day is different. Hallmark and other card and candy companies have created this day so people will buy their products. The only love they have on February 14 is for the Almighty Dollar. And that’s fine. Capitalism is based on profit motivation. Just like Red Lobster is in a perpetual “Lobster Fest,” and every mattress store is constantly going out of business, Hallmark can create a marketing plan that highlights their products.

But Valentine’s Day is not your average marketing gimmick holiday: it’s a test. Here is the only question on the Valentine’s Day test: Will the guy get the girl something “special” on Valentine’s Day? That’s what the whole day is about. Women are off the hook. They can get their boyfriend literally anything (or nothing) and nobody will care. She has no pressure or expectations. All of her friends will ask on February 15, “What did (insert boyfriend’s or husband’s name) get you yesterday?” and giggle. The guy is under the Romance Microscope. He has to perform. And if he doesn’t perform to her expectations–even if that means he wasn’t able to read her mind about what she wants–she is allowed to complain, roll her eyes, or basically object to the gift any way she wants. A girl might be reading this (I’m doubtful that anybody is reading this) and say, “Oh, I’m not like that. I love him. He can get me anything he wants. I’m not materialistic.” Uh, you’re lying. Plain and simple. You might be good at hiding your disgust. You might say all the right things. You might even wear the hideous sweater he got you or put on a fake smile when he gets you the wrong sized, wrong shaped, and wrong priced ring, but inside you are thinking, “This is not what I wanted. Why didn’t he get me what I wanted?” Then some day–maybe years from now–you will finally tell him about that Valentine’s Day when he got you that terrible gift and how it hurt your feelings. If you are a female human being in a relationship with a male human being on February 14, this is exactly how you feel about Valentine’s Day. This is indisputable.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not anti-gift-giving. I am not opposed to expressions of love. Love should be shown every day by people who love each other. What I am opposed to are double standards. Ladies, ask yourself these questions, and try–if at all possible–to answer them honestly:

  1. Do you expect to be treated a certain way by your husband or boyfriend?
  2. Have you told him how you expect to be treated?
  3. Do you get irritated if he does not treat you that way?

If you have answered “yes” to all three questions, good. It means you are a fully functioning American female. But let’s continue.

  1. Does your husband or boyfriend expect you to treat him a certain way?
  2. Has he given you a detailed list of expectations (verbally or otherwise)?
  3. When he told you, did you try to honor those requests, or did you think he was being selfish?

Here is where the separation occurs. Some women would answer, “I honored the requests to the best of my ability” to question three, but others–if they were truly being honest–would answer, “Who does he think he is telling me what to do?” to question three. Therein lies the double standard. Women, for whatever reason, are allowed to expect and/or demand certain treatment, while men are told to go along to get along. That’s why we have phrases like, “If momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy.” That’s why you never hear about a wife having to sleep on the couch. That’s why women are never “in the dog house.” That’s why it’s okay for women to have a “headache” and refuse sex, and the husband is supposed to nod his head, say something sweet, and roll over…or face the wrath. I come to these conclusions honestly. I have counseled dozens of couples over the years, and these themes are repeated time and again. The husband is constantly irritated that he is always trying to hit a moving target on how he can please his wife. She, in turn, is frustrated that he is not smarter, more compassionate, more thoughtful, more…everything. If he’s quiet, he should talk more. If he talks too much, he should be quiet. And so on. But if the roles were reversed, he would be seen as an inconsiderate, demanding jerk, and in some cases–considering the culture we live in today–emotionally abusive.

So, Valentine’s Day feeds the beast of female double standards. Watch the commercials. Notice how many are focused on what the guy will get the girl on Valentine’s Day. Some are about what the couple will do on Valentine’s Day. Very few will focus on what the girl will get the guy, which is strange considering that this holiday is supposed to be about love and not about the servicing of women.

Valentine’s Day is a lot of things. But first and foremost, it’s about a hollow, artificial, materialistic, double standard version of love. And sadly, we’ve all bought into it.

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