Occupy Valentine's Day! Taking on the Romance Industry

by JoHarrington

Tumblr users are shouting, 'Down with couple-talism!' They are protesting the commercialization of love and the persecution of friendship.

Why should we only celebrate love and romance on a day of Hallmark's choosing?

A growing wave of people are fighting back against the consumerism of Valentine's Day. They are individuals who really do believe that money can't buy you love; and that love should not be for sale!

For these people, corporations are just too busy making profit out of what should be a wonderful time of life, while ostracizing those who are single, thus making money for no-one!

Love isn't Only for February 14th and it's Not For Sale

While Hallmark and other companies get rich on the proceeds of consumer romance, some people just say no.

Who are the real winners, when you purchase your card and gifts for Valentine's Day?

A Tumblr community microblog has been set up for those asking very pertinent questions about that day. The contributions are pouring in thick and fast.

The members of Occupy Valentine's Day are a mixed bunch. Some are unattached individuals vowing not to give in to feeling inadequate, on a day when society and stores combine to demand a love match.

There is a poignant addition from a young woman, who bought herself an engagement ring. She wished to use it as a shield, so that men didn't keep hitting on her.

Others are married couples refusing to be told that they can't show affection for the remaining 364 days in a year. One husband and wife declared that they will donate to charity the money saved on propping up the romance industry. 'Can't buy me love' is a recurring theme running through the gallery, under declarations that love should be free.

For many, the most appalling aspect of Valentine's Day is how it homes in on a specific kind of love, to the exclusion of all else. Store posters and advertisements focus on heterosexuality, leaving some consumers out in the cold. There is no mention of the depth of feeling afforded to the rest of the family, friends, pets or the wider world.

This emphasis on romantic relationships is one target of protesters. Mothers have posted that they will spend the day with their children, because that is a very worthy kind of love. Sisters are pictured hugging each other, their eyes sparkling above with broad beams. Friendships are lauded throughout, with contributors urging even those in partnerships to spend February 14th with their whole peer group.

Yet for the microblog owner, Occupy Valentine's Day has a deeper message than simply kicking back at a highly restrictive holiday. It can be used to highlight serious consequences caused by society's pressure to purchase and be loved on this day.

Occupy Valentine's Day Links

Tumblr: Occupy Valentine's Day
This is the archive, where everyone's photographs, videos, statements and manifestos are being posted.

Tumblr: Occupy Valentine's Day Information
Samhita Mukhopadhyay explains what the protest is all about.

'Occupy Valentine's Day' Tumblr Protests the Romantic Industrial Complex
Article on Mashable all about the movement.

What are the Aims of Occupy Valentine's Day?

It is a call to arms for all those who reject a holiday based on exclusion. It shines a spotlight on those sinking into depression under it.

'Occupy Valentine’s Day is about changing the culture of romance,' is the stark message given in the information about the campaign.

It is not anti-romantic feeling nor does it seek to ostracise monogamous couples. It merely wants to open up the definition of accepted love and to remove the whole consumer aspect of it.

What those involved wish to see is a frank and open discussion about what this holiday is really about. That is elevating heterosexual, committed couples above the rest of society. It perpetuates the myth that only those in a romantic relationship are worthy of consideration. The emotions of single people, or anyone else in the vicinity, must be put on a back-burner.

Therefore, another way to view the day is in the context of an official mandate to vilify anyone who isn't conforming to the proposed norm of being married with 2.4 children. Many people suffer depression or reduced self-esteem, as a result of being locked out of such a highly publicised day.

Several sources, including a suicide prevention website in Jakarta and the Love Institute in Manila, have reported that failed romance is the number one cause of people taking their own lives.

In a wider context, Valentine's Day is also being used as a focal point to raise awareness of all that can go wrong within relationships, such as domestic abuse, gender inequality or sexual power games. These are not issues which are awarded their own popular holiday to balance that given to the idealised vision of perfect love.

Nothing to buy for Valentine's Day?

Spend your money on the Anti-Romance Industry instead, if you really wanted to get something.

A Campaign Checklist for Marking St Valentine's Day

Occupy Valentine's Day microblog owner Samhita Mukhopadhyay put together these suggestions for an alternative use of the holiday.
  • Blog about how traditional ideas of romance perpetuate gender inequalities and hurt people of all genders
  • Share statistics about the growing majority of singles
  • Raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault like others have
  • Not be that douche-y couple on Valentine’s Day—maybe hang out with your best friends, single and otherwise 
  • Shout about the lack of queer visibility in sexual rights politics
  • Have a sexy conversation by candlelight with your partner about structural inequity
  • Make a commitment to have fulfilling, accountable and loving relationships in all parts of your life
  • Commit to never settling for anyone that is not good enough for you just because you are afraid to spend another Valentine’s Day alone

Who is Samhita Mukhopadhyay?

Occupy Valentine's Day is the brain-child of an American author.

Tumblr's anti-Valentine's Day protest has been orchestrated by Samhita Mukhopadhyay. A feminist writer and public speaker, she has long been a champion of women's rights.

Based in New York City, she is one of the directors of Sakhi. This is an organization targeting domestic violence against women, particularly those of South Asian origin.

Ms Mukhopadhyay has written for multiple journals and magazines; and she was named Champion of Sexual Literacy 2007 by the USA's National Sexuality Resource Center.

Her day job is working as the Executive Editor of Feministing.com. She is the author of Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining your Love Life.

Read More from OVD's Founder

Anti-Valentine's Day Articles

If only romance leads to 'true love', then are other relationships 'false'? Occupy Valentine's Day asks us to think about our messages.
Sick to death of all the romantic fuss over Valentine's Day, or has it just come at the wrong time for you this year? Work out your frustrations with a hearty whack at a piñata!

Will you be supporting Occupy Valentine's Day?

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Updated: 04/23/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 01/27/2013

They resurrect it every year, so your chance is coming right up. Everything seems to be about money these days.

cazort on 01/27/2013

I really like the idea of fighting against the commercialization of Valentine's day (as well as other holidays--the commercialization of Christmas is another pet peeve of mine).

I think it's really important both to address the negative messages about love, romance, dating, and sex in our society, that can fuel unhealthy behaviors as well as mental disorders like depression, and also to address the issue of commercialization and the unhealthy messages, things like spending money is necessary as a way of expressing love.

This sounds like a movement I could get behind!

JoHarrington on 09/02/2012

Hear, hear, I'm with you on this one. :)

Tiggered on 09/02/2012

Love the way you like, anytime you like, don't pay money for it :) I don't much care about 'sharing statistics about the growing majority of singles' because I find it rather sad, but I wholeheartedly agree with the 'keep business out of love' attitude

JoHarrington on 08/27/2012

Thank you very much. :)

Pinkchic18 on 08/27/2012

Nice post here!

JoHarrington on 02/15/2012

Hear, hear, brlamc!

brlamc on 02/15/2012

Love is 365 days a year not on one commercial day.

JoHarrington on 02/08/2012

That sounds about right to me, WordCustard.

I do love your name by the way!

WordCustard on 02/08/2012

It's about time people started answering back on this topic! I can't help but think each Valentine's Day of how many people it is making feel inadequate and unloved. I know some people love having a day designated for romance, but if you love someone you love them all year long, right?

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