Valentine’s Day is sexist. Now, everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday, but this commercialism seems to be aimed at women. All the commercials that I have seen during Valentine’s Day show women wanting something material from men. I’m going to argue that this isn’t women being powerful and asserting their dominance over men. It actually places women in a negative light; upholding the stereotype that women only care about material possessions (which they will only received by pleasing men).
With much of the Internet acknowledging the rampant sexism of the ridiculous commercials for Kay Jewelers with their annoying jingle, “Every kiss begins with Kay,” it seems safe to assume that people are finally realizing how sexist Valentine’s Day is. Sadly, this is not the case. Just like most forms of sexism in America, the realization that sexism exists allows for passive-aggressive sexist marketing. This trend can be seen through false female empowerment during Valentine’s Day, where women are encouraged to either be the sexy “bad girl” to please her man, or, if they are single, to buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, watch one of the silly Valentine’s Day movies Hollywood cranks out every year, and cry themselves to sleep while holding the giant, pink teddy bear that their ex-boyfriend gave them the year before. This is what female empowerment is marketing as during Valentine’s Day.
While procrastinating writing this article, I came across an article by the Daily Mail Reporter about a radio interview that reality star and entrepreneur Lauren Conrad did a year ago. In the interview, a guy called in asking, “what’s your favorite position,” to which Conrad cleverly answered, “CEO.” Now, besides the fact that a guy thought asking her such a personal, sexually charged question was okay, I wasn’t sure why this interview bothered me so much. The reason hit me when I was once again on the Internet and came across this year’s Valentine’s Day addition of Cosmopolitan magazine. The title is, ‘The Bad Girl’s Guide to Valentine’s Day,” with the supposedly “progressive” explanation, “screw the cheesy love songs and candy hearts. This year we show you how to break a few rules and blow your man’s mind on February 14. (Cupid: You’re fired.).” At first it may not seem that Conrad’s radio interview and “The Bad Girl’s Guide to Valentine’s Day” have much in common, but they show the commercialized obsession with women’s sexuality. A women is only supposed to be a “bad girl” when it benefits men.
In this issue of Cosmopolitan (a women’s magazine) there is a section titled, “12 Dirty Moves to Try Tonight.” As I read this section, not ONCE did it mention women receiving physical pleasure from these moves. This reminded me of Conrad’s interview, where the guy asked her about her bedroom activities with sick, demeaning, voyeuristic intent. His question was meant to present her as a “bad girl;” a women who is “wild” in the bedroom. My question is; why are women who are in control of their sexuality considered “wild?” Why can’t it be the norm, not something women only unleash after they have been given some cheesy necklace from Kay Jewelers? Why can’t “bad girls” be redefined as powerful women?