When it comes to feminist holidays, you probably think of International Women's Day, Women's History Month, or Women's Equality Day — but Valentine's Day? Despite what you may think, and despite the traditional celebration of the holiday, there are ways to have a feminist Valentine's Day, whether you're celebrating with your partner, friends, or by yourself.
I know, I know, Valentine's Day is a flawed and commercial holiday that often seems to promote a noninclusive, heteronormative, and sexist agenda. Walk through any store at the beginning of February, and you'll see gifts that are clearly designated for "him" and "her," greeting cards that only cater to a certain kind of couple, and sexist ads about women. It's hard to get excited about a holiday when it comes with that much negativity, but your Valentine's Day doesn't have to be that way.
Gather the ones you care about — your partner, your friends, your family, and especially yourself — and create a Valentine's Day that truly celebrates the things you love, equality included. You can turn February 14 into a day that means more than stuffed teddy bears and heart-shaped balloons.
Call up your girl gang, break out your picket signs, and walk away from the greeting card aisle, because here are 12 ways you can celebrate Valentine's Day, the feminist way.
1. Celebrate VDay With 1 Billion Rising
VDay isn't just short hand for Valentine's Day anymore. VDay, which happens every February 14, is a global movement that seeks to end violence against women around the world. Find an event near you, and spend your Valentine's Day fighting for women's rights instead of fighting for the corner table at a crowded restaurant.
2. Stand Up For Marriage Equality
Though 2015 was a landmark year for LGBTQ rights, the battle isn't over. Valentine's Day is supposed to be a holiday about love, so celebrate it loud and proud by learning about the next big challenges facing LGBTQ rights, or getting involved in a local activist group — because you know that, no matter who you are, love is love, and everyone deserves the right to share theirs.
3. Gather Your Galentines
Leslie Knope, fictional feminist goddess, knows how to celebrate Valentine's Day: with your girlfriends. Make a date with all the women who love and inspire you, and create a day that celebrates your priceless friendships. Girl gangs, assemble!
4. Exchange Feminist Gifts
Gift giving on Valentine's Day can feel... icky. The oversized stuffed animals, the over-priced boxes of chocolates — forget them all, and instead, exchange feminist Valentine's Day gifts that are much more meaningful.
5. Watch A Movie That Passes The Bechdel Test
Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to cuddle up to your loved one on the couch, and watch a romantic movie. Just make sure that movie passes the Bechdel test, because otherwise, is it really worth watching at all?
6. Indulge In A Day Of Self-Love
You know the old mantra: before you can love anyone else, you have to learn to love yourself. It might sound corny, but it's true, so maybe use this Valentine's Day to indulge in some self love, whether that means treating yourself to shopping or a nice dinner, or just pampering yourself at home.
7. Attend The Planned Parenthood Benefit Concert
If you live in the New York City area, there's no better (and no more feminist) way to spend Valentine's Day than by going to the Planned Parenthood benefit concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The lineup includes Mac DeMarco, Kevin Morby, Kid Congo, and so many more. It's a fun way to celebrate the holiday, and give back to an important women's organization.
8. Write A Love Letter To Yourself
From your parents to your friends to your partner, you probably tell the people you care about that you love them all the time, but how often do you say it to yourself? While you're filling out your Valentines this year, make sure to make one out to yourself. It's a great way to celebrate the parts of yourself you're proud of, and embrace the wonderful human being you are.
9. Talk Intersectionality To Each Other
It's no secret that Valentine's Day can be a noninclusive holiday, but instead of letting that get you down, use it as an opportunity to talk about inclusion and intersectionality in women's rights. It might not be the sexiest way to spend the holiday, but it could be the most important.
10. Plan Your Holiday Celebration Together
Valentine's Day tends to promote gender roles — i.e., the "man" in the relationship is supposed to plan the celebration, and the "woman" is supposed to show up and look nice for it. This year, break the gender molds and plan a special day with your partner instead of for them. Trust me, you'll both have more fun.
Whether you're single or in a relationship, why not love yourself a little bit on Valentine's Day? Masturbation is a feminist act that makes you feel more body positive, more creative and focused, and hey, it just feels good. This Valentine's Day, you do you girl — literally.
12. Celebrate National Condom Day
Let's be real for a second here: everyone hopes to get lucky on Valentine's Day. If that includes you, be smart, be safe, and celebrate National Condom Day, which falls on Valentine's Day every year, by using some or handing them out as (adult, not at work) Valentines. Protect yourself, your partner, and the ones you love, because everyone deserves a happy, healthy sex life, especially on Cupid's holiday.
Want more on women's issues? Check out Bustle on YouTube.
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