I don’t do Valentine’s Day. There are two big reasons. First, my wedding anniversary is later in the week which is like a Get Out Of Valentine’s day Free card for LIFE. Second, when I was about 14, I decided that everything mainstream and commercial was stupid and I, I, was a sensitive artist who was above such conventions and would not participate. Somehow, I’ve never been fully able to shake that notion, which is why I’m hard pressed to get in on the act of things like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and don’t even get me started on St. Patrick’s day. I’m certainly not going to celebrate the life of a person who was into a “convert or DIE!” ethos of religion, especially when said celebration involves dying already nasty, cheap beer green. Ew and ew.
So, anyway, I don’t like Valentine’s Day. The modern incarnation of the holiday seems to involve a lot of either whining or bragging. There are the people who shout their love of their partner from the rooftops and gush about lavish gifts and fancy dinners. (I’m sure there are people who celebrate Valentine’s Day discreetly and romantically and PRIVATELY and those people are just fine by me). Then there are the people who are lamenting not having a romantic partner or, even worse, are lamenting having a romantic partner who fails to live up to whatever expectation they’ve placed on them and causes heretofore unplumbed depths of disappointment. I’m sure there is also post-Valentine’s day whining from the disappointers who are now subject to 364 days of nagging about how to do it better next time.
I got news for you kids: if you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, alone or with others, in a warm, safe home with enough food on the table and you know you have a job to go to in the morning, you’re doing pretty damn good and your cup should runneth over with love for your comfortable circumstances. You should be grateful that you are a person who is loved, by a partner, a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend. You should be grateful that you are not in danger of abuse from a partner.
According to the UN, one in three women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime. Not abused like “I only got 6 roses instead of a dozen!”. Abused like beaten black and blue. There are women in your town who being being battered by their partners, who watch as those partners batter or threaten or emotionally abuse their children. There are women whose partners don’t accept “Not tonight dear” and back off when they want sex and instead rape their wives and girlfriends. There are women who are going to face assault at the hands of a stranger.
I am choosing to use Valentine’s Day to help some of those women in my community. I will be making a donation to My Sister’s Place, a local shelter for abused women and children, today. That is my gift from the heart. Because I know that I am safe and loved and I wish that for everyone. If you have room in your heart, and some extra money in your wallet, you can do the same.
The idea for using this day to help abused women came from Eve Ensler’s V-Day project to raise awareness of violence against women and girls globally. I salute Ms. Ensler for starting the conversation and inspiring me to help.