Sisterhood Blog

The Feminist's Valentine's Day

By Sarah Seltzer

Getty Images
Actress Thandie Newton (left), author/activist Eve Ensler (center), and actress Glenn Close (right) attend V-DAY’s Viva Vevolution! fundraiser in NYC.

In some ways, pop culture is the ultimate change agent. While there still remains a tricky gauntlet of normative Valentine’s Day expectations to run each February — with ads literally demanding “buy her stuff or she won’t sleep with you” — some recent alternative traditions have done an effective job of muddying the pink overload. These are the very serious V-Day and the deliciously absurd “Galentine’s day.”

Much of the contemporary shift in Valentine’s Day tradition is due to Eve Ensler, the activist and playwright (with Jewish heritage) whose “Vagina Monologues” went from subversive art project to expected staple of the college theater calendar. And the play’s parent institution, VDay, during which we’re reminded that love and violence shouldn’t be conflated and that gender-based violence is a worldwide scourge, gets so much media attention that at least in activist-minded circles, it’s become almost as big a deal as that other day for which it is named. I know that every February 14th I will read and think about gendered violence as well as about “ten classic songs poems” or “six things to give her this Valentine’s Day.”

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