COLUMN: Single women should not fear Valentine’s Day

It’s okay if a woman doesn’t have a date for Valentine’s Day; she is capable of much more than love.

Sarah Rubinstein is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about politics and societal observations for The Maneater.

From a young age, women are taught that love is one of life's greatest successes. She is told that the most memorable moments of her life should be her first date, going to prom and her wedding. Weddings are treated as the final, most exciting chapter where the rest of her future will fall perfectly into place. If she cannot find someone, she should feel ashamed and embarrassed. This teaching has extreme effects on how a woman views her life, and sets her up for love to revolve around her worth.

It is difficult not to be force-fed this idea as a child, even if their parents didn't intentionally teach it. Some of the first films many young women watch are old-school Disney princess movies that conclude with everyone living happily ever after in love. Even if we may laugh at the cheesiness or casual sexism of those movies now, women are still being marketed a more modern package of the same fairy tale.

Movies popularized by teenage and young adult women throughout the last 20 years, such as "The Notebook," "Twilight" and "After," feature the same plot where the central storyline is for the female protagonist to find love with very little character development. Yet most movies starring a man focus on his career and ambition, like “Wolf of Wall Street” and “School of Rock”, and romance is often a small side-plot or absent from the movie. While nothing is wrong with enjoying romantic movies, our culture's emphasis on women being in a relationship is outdated.

“Little Women" (2019) points this out, when protagonist Jo March exclaims, “Women have minds and souls, as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition and talent as well as just beauty. And I’m sick of people saying love is all a woman is fit for.”

“Little Women” has been adapted to film six times from the original 1868 book for a reason: it continues to parallel modern society. Social media pressures women to attract and present themselves to their peers, and it makes them crumble inside.

Women should not have to face the constant worry to find a relationship in order for their lives to feel secure. At the same time, when a woman is single, for whatever private reason that may be, she is devalued. If a woman cannot find a partner, it is viewed as a doomed state that she must do anything to escape from.

Every Valentine’s Day, pop culture and advertising continue to shame single women. Women’s magazines hand them survival guides and they are characterized on TV as depressed and indulging in chocolates to bury the embarrassment. British financial technology brand Revolut doubled down on the joke a two years ago by displaying a mocking ad addressed: “To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day: You ok, hun?.”

The stigma of Valentine's Day loneliness continues to perpetuate that a woman’s value is only in love. Her relationship status is personal and should not be ridiculed or criticized. A woman who spends Valentine’s Day with a partner should not be viewed as any more successful as a woman who does not.

Despite what has been pushed on women their entire lives, they should not be hard on themselves if they do not have a Valentine's Day date. If she is looking for a romantic partner and has not found one yet, that should not reflect poorly on her. Being single on Valentine’s Day does not make a woman any less beautiful or put together. Her value should come from herself, above anyone else.

Women must be patient with themselves and their lives and not devalue their worth just because they do not have a partner for a holiday. It is also important to keep in mind that dating during a pandemic is not easy. If women do not feel safe going on dates because of COVID-19, that choice is completely valid.

Valentine’s Day should be a holiday for those in love to enjoy and for single women to not walk on eggshells around.

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Edited by Sofi Zeman | szeman@themaneater.com

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