The Self-Destructive Capitalist Culture of Valentine’s Day: A Cycle of Consumerism and Harmful Gender Stereotypes

Valentine’s Day, like many other Western holidays, has become a tradition that people celebrate without questioning its origins or purpose. However, as we dig deeper, we realize that Valentine’s Day is not just a simple celebration of love but is instead a self-destructive habit created by capitalist society.

The Self-Destructive Capitalist Culture of Valentine’s Day: A Cycle of Consumerism and Harmful Gender Stereotypesby Maxwell Alexander, MA, BFA, EIC, Hudson valley Style Magazine

The origins of Valentine’s Day are not entirely clear, but one popular story is that it originated in the 3rd century AD when Emperor Claudius II banned marriages because he believed single men made better soldiers. Saint Valentine, a Christian priest, defied the emperor’s orders and continued to perform marriages in secret. When he was caught, he was executed on February 14th, and since then, the day has been celebrated as a day of love and romance.

While the origins of Valentine’s Day are debatable, the way it is celebrated today is not. It has become a holiday that is fueled by consumerism and the capitalist agenda. Retailers push the idea that the more expensive the gift, the more you love your partner, and people buy into this idea, leading to a culture of excessive spending and wastefulness.

Valentine’s Day has become a way for businesses to make money by convincing people that they need to spend money to show their love. Flowers, chocolates, and (mostly plastic) gifts have become symbols of love, and people are expected to spend more money every year to show how much they care. This consumerist culture creates a cycle of expectations and pressure to outdo previous years, leading to a financial burden for many people.

The capitalist culture surrounding Valentine’s Day also perpetuates harmful gender norms and stereotypes. Women are expected to receive gifts and flowers, while men are expected to provide them. This reinforces the idea that men are the providers and women are the receivers, perpetuating gender inequality and stereotypical roles in relationships.

Moreover, the emphasis on Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romantic love can be hurtful for those who are single, widowed, or divorced. It creates a culture of exclusion, making them feel left out and lonely, reinforcing the idea that they are incomplete without a partner. This mindset is not only harmful but also perpetuates the patriarchal notion that being in a relationship is a measure of success and happiness.

In conclusion, Valentine’s Day has become a self-destructive habit created by capitalist society. It reinforces harmful gender norms and stereotypes, perpetuates consumerism and wastefulness, and creates a culture of exclusion and loneliness. We need to break away from this mindset and redefine our relationship with Valentine’s Day, and any other Western holiday, to make it a celebration of love, respect, and inclusivity, without the pressure to spend money or conform to gender roles.