Almost every movie or television show I’ve ever seen gives women who are alone on Valentine’s Day a sad trombone. Wah-wah. We’ve seen the working woman who is alone on Valentine’s Day because she’s such a bitch; the sad woman who has been dumped because she’s so dopey; the woman too mousy and frumpy to even turn the losers’ heads. Valentine’s Day is the perfect framework for punishing single women on-screen.
Single women are certainly punished in society, and there’s no day worse to be a single woman on Valentine’s Day. She is pities herself in movies, usually sobbing into her wine in her pajamas—think, Bridget Jones’ Diaries—or is pitied by all of those around her. Apparently, 15% of American women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day, probably so they don’t have to endure the sad puppy eyes from smug, married co-workers.
I don’t know that married people treat single people that badly, but movies certainly would tell us that they do. Real people can’t think that singledom can be that bad; married people are in the minority in this country. In romantic comedies, however, couples are always setting up the single gal with nasty, un-dateable men, so secure are they in their coupledom and its superiority.
And that’s what Valentine’s Day and romantic comedies are all about, really. They extol the virtues of couplehood: people in couples get flowers and candies and nice dinners, and single people get flannel pajamas and vats of ice cream and eyes swollen from crying. Both institutions are supposed to be universally beloved by women, but why? Both are sort of like the television shows on television back in 1945 that demonstrated a woman’s proper place as part of a family of four, plus dog and dishwasher. Haven’t we moved on?
We already know that a woman can buy flowers for herself, but also chocolates and nice dinners. Alone, she can eat the whole thing and spill on herself, and not feel desperate and pathetic like the girls in the rom coms. She should feel more relaxed. She should be glad she’s single because she doesn’t want to wear lingerie anyway, particularly gaudy and mis-sized lingerie picked out by her boyfriend.
More persuasive than Valentine’s Day or rom coms to the grabbing of a mate is when single people have to take out the trash every time in the middle of a frigid winter. But then again, that could just take a roommate.