More rom-coms are beginning to crop up in the Netflix ‘recently added’ section; the radio stations are beginning to play more love songs; This Morning’s real life segments are becoming increasingly romance related. Yes, that’s right, Valentine’s Day is here. Singletons all over the world have been preparing themselves for the annual bombardment of images and stories of idealised, fairy tale love. You’re not even safe on the weekly food shop; supermarkets tapered with oversized red hearts, crammed full of roses, cuddly toys and heart shaped chocolates to buy for “that special someone”. But if you don’t have that ‘special someone’ then Valentine’s Day can be a pretty lonely holiday.
It makes us all get very introspective doesn’t it? Wondering why exactly we don’t have someone to share the day with or buy us an oversized, stuffed teddy bear like Emily from your A Level biology class’ boyfriend bought her? (We know because she uploaded it to Instagram, obviously). Is there something wrong with us? So we turn to our favourite rom-coms to tell us where we’re going wrong, but they all follow near enough the same plot. Single girl finds gorgeous boyfriend and it is only then that she experiences true happiness. Even if she thought she was happy before, well apparently she wasn’t. So this becomes our understanding of what love is.
Boys are rarely at the centre of a misfit finding love rom-com plot and if they are the film is considered ‘feminist’ rather than just a ‘normal’ exploration of love
Personally, I feel it’s impossible to ignore gender in this. Boys are rarely at the centre of a misfit finding love rom-com plot and if they are the film is considered ‘feminist’ rather than just a ‘normal’ exploration of love. Women especially are taught to define their sense of self-worth based on how successful they’ve been in securing a romantic partner and this is exacerbated by Valentine’s Day.
Cultural theorist Angela McRobbie seems to agree with me offering a theory called ‘The Code of Romantic Individualism’. Her theory essentially argues that due to various media influences the main object of a young girl’s life is to get and keep a boyfriend. To do so she sacrifices all other personal relationships and focuses on said boyfriend, isolating herself and becoming an individual.
When my friends and I first came across this theory last year in our A-Level Sociology class it really resonated with us. On reflection, many of us had put our female friendships on the back-burner in order to focus our attention on our love lives. Instead of taking pride in our work achievements or spending time with one another, we were feeling sad around February 14th because someone didn’t fancy us.
love comes in countless shapes and sizes and no one form should be valued higher than the other
I don’t want to come across as bitter; I understand that romantic relationships when you find them can be a healthy source of comfort and companionship and love truly is a wonderful and beautiful thing and by all means it should be openly celebrated and enjoyed. Nor do I want to shame women who do find fulfilment from their relationship, that doesn’t make you any less strong or powerful… but love comes in countless shapes and sizes and no one form should be valued higher than the other. The mainstream media should positively explore a wider range of experiences concerning love: homosexuality, polyamory, asexuality and just feeling plain old happy being single for the time being. All of these experiences are valid and should be portrayed as equally worthy of celebration.
Perhaps the most important shape love comes in is self-love. An important part of that for girls is looking to the women who made you the incredible woman you are. Whether it’s the ladies you’ve known since you were in nappies, girls you met at school or sixth form, the girls you met at university, your mum, your sister, your aunties, your cousins – this year set aside what you’re doing for one day and spend time in each other’s company.
In a world where women are increasingly pitted against one another and encouraged to compete for men’s affections, stand up and rebel; celebrate your girl power
Which brings us to Galentine’s Day: “What’s Galentine’s Day?! Oh it’s only the best day of the year”. For those of you who haven’t binge watched Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day was created by superwoman Leslie Knope and is celebrated on February 13th. It’s a day for “ladies celebrating ladies”. So get all your girls together, share old stories, reminisce on old crushes, drink too much wine, dance around to the Spice Girls and take some killer group selfies. Whatever you do, just soak up the happiness of the moment and in that time you spend together, don’t worry or mope about the boyfriend or girlfriend that you have or haven’t got. Let it remind you that you and your friends are strong, independent women who don’t need a lover to make them whole.
In a world where women are increasingly pitted against one another and encouraged to compete for men’s affections, stand up and rebel; celebrate your girl power! And remember: “ovaries before brovaries”.