Hey, ladies, how are you planning to spend March 14th, 2012? Won’t you join me in being repulsed by misogyny’s latest invention, Manentine’s Day? Manentine’s Day is the latest in a long line of ordinary words that have been reclaimed by men (I’m thinking of guyliner, mantyhose, and mansplaining as only some of the examples that cause me to wretch) and essentially stands as a Take Back the Night, or in this case Valentine’s Day, for men. As opposed to Valentine’s Day, where men are required to treat the women in their lives with some sort of exalted praise vis-à-vis stereotypically romantic claptrap that may or may not appeal to the lady in question, Manentine’s Day is men’s turn to play princess and get what they truly desire.
And what do men truly desire? You might think that answering this question requires talking to actual men, or at least one man, perhaps the one that you will be taking to a ‘manly’ restaurant (rule #5 of the ‘Official’ Manentine’s Day top ten list). However, you’d be wrong. The men and/or advertising agency who created Manentine’s Day believe that they can solve your romantic problems without you having to so much as open your mouth. If you do plan to talk on this all-hallowed day, for heaven’s sake, stop being such a sniveling harpy. Stroke his big ego, enthuses rule #9. This lame middle-school double entendre actually means that March 14th is the one day of the year that you should compliment your man, really listen to him (as opposed to all that pretend listening you’ve been doing for the last 364 days), and believe in his infallibility. For on March 14th your man is like the Pope, which means that you shouldn’t correct his grammatical errors (actual advice!) or nitpick when he makes mistakes in relating unimportant information. You know how you’re always recounting frame-by-frame recaps of last night’s episode of “Gossip Girl” and then you get all mad when he can’t remember whether Blair was wearing Chanel or Dior at the masquerade ball? Well, cut that out for one day.
I’d share more of the official rules, but frankly the whole concept really sickens and discourages me. At the root of all of this misogynistic, patriarchal, and heterosexist advice is an idea that is beneficial to everyone with regard to romantic relationships, which is to be a responsive partner. If your partner likes to eat, then maybe it would be nice to go out for a meal or cook one at home. Perhaps you don’t need to do both in the same day, as is suggested by the Manentine’s Day masterminds, because you don’t have that much time on your hands, nor are you dating Fred Flintstone. And if you are, how is life in Technicolor cartoon land? Also, what’s Betty’s number? She always seemed like fun. However, this egalitarian relational ideal gets disguised and buried under mountains of sexist nonsense, and as with all sexist drivel ceases to make any functional sense. If women are so terrible and awful, what with their talking and never feeding you enough or being athletic (rule# 4 – Do Something Sporty), then why date them? Also, what about the man to whom none of these rules apply?
This is how patriarchy hurts men as well: by subjecting them to false standards of masculinity that are so stringent that it’s hard to carve out a space just to be an individual. I know plenty of men who are as uninterested in sports as they are in being presented with a beef jerky bouquet (rule #3 – Present a Man Bouquet). These men are in bands, write for television, are former Marines, and one is a pretty bad-ass carpenter. These dudes know plenty of useless trivia, all of which makes them pretty interesting to those of us who have never seen the floral possibilities of dried meat. Not to mention, what happens in gay relationships? Which person plays the put-upon partner? Who gets to be the wretched ball and chain?
Being a responsive partner requires communication, grounded in the knowledge that all parties are valuable and worthy of both love and understanding. These lofty goals are at the core of feminism and healthy relationships and can’t be attained by excessive displays of consumerism (which is essentially the point of Manentine’s Day) or by false victimization. Men, snap out of it. As a wise person once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Women, don’t believe this nonsense for a second. Real romantic connection relies heavily on communication and respect, neither of which is likely to be found in a beer bouquet (unless that’s what your partner really wants).
Patrice Rankine is a healthcare professional who has long been a member of NOW and the NYC Dyke March. She sporadically blogs at This Lobster Loves You and tumbles only in the privacy of her own home.