How to Have a Feminist Valentine’s Day

The incessant marketing would lead you to believe that Valentine’s Day is about romance and love. But it creates more anxiety for couples and singles alike than any other holiday. So, here’s a refresher on how to survive V-Day, feminism (and self-esteem) in tact:

Don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, celebrate the love in your life. This could mean the person you’re with, of course, but it could also mean your best friend, your mom, or your dog. Those who give you support, kindness, an always-there shoulder to cry on, and even tail-wagging every time you enter the room deserve to know how much you care for them more often than one day a year. And that goes double for the person with whom you’re partnered.

Reject all forms of consumerism tied into this holiday. Not only does no one even need chocolate, roses or jewelry, but supporting these industries this time of year further propogates the idea that coupled love is the only kind of love that matters—and that women should be the ones receiving these trinkets for their service as lovers to men.

Stop watching The Bachelor. Reality television that casts women as desperate for love and willing to do anything to “win” a man—as if it were the ultimate accomplishment a woman could ever make in her lifetime—are bad for feminism and also just bad.

Support the real V-day. It began as a play about vaginas and has turned into one of the biggest social movements to end violence against women through education and political activism. More than a billion women experience violence every day around the world. Doing something about that—even something as simple as signing the petition here, or joining the Twitter conversation, here—is an act of love even Cupid couldn’t conjure.

Feminist Dating Resolutions for the New Year

Look, we’re not going to tell you how to date, who to date or that you even need to date. But if you’re looking for love, it’s worth looking for it in the right places—and going about it the right way. Here are some  ideas to consider for the New Year.

By Kristin Tschannen

Listen for Real Compliments. Start paying attention to what a potential love interest is really saying. There is a significant difference between a pick up line and an authentic compliment or question. Any lover you are considering bringing into your life should want to know the real you. He or she will admire your zest for life or your passion for travel; your family and the things that are important to you and make you smile.

Don’t Male Bash. Straight women, say it with us: Men are not the enemy! Leave your past disappointments and negative, preconceived notions about men and dating in 2012. It’s not only counterproductive to your efforts, but its downright unfeminist. We need men on our sides—in the board room and the bedroom—to make the kind of progress we still need to make. Start the New Year with a positive outlook in love.

Set Standards that Matter. Throw tall, dark, and handsome out the window and call in smart, funny, and spontaneous or any qualities you deem important in a potential love interest. Seek fit and a chemistry that keeps you buzzing. Date men who understand what it means to be a feminist woman and one who isn’t afraid of letting you know he’s a feminist man. Date men who have no problem talking to you about sex and are mature enough to have open communication and want an equal partnership. Then hold up a mirror and make sure you’re following the same standards.

Stay Single If You Want to Stay Single. Tons of alone time, a schedule beholden to no one, and the freedom to be as selfish as you want to be doesn’t exactly suck—especially if a little “me” time is what you really need right now. The New Year is a great time to start focusing on your relationship with You. You can surround yourself with people who really stoke your fire and who you can focus on having fun with. This is the time in your life to travel and have adventures and meet new people (see how non-sucky this is?). Don’t put expectations on your relationships with people; let them unfold naturally and enjoy it!

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