It’s that time of year again: Valentine’s Day. On sale racks everywhere, consumers will see cards, chocolate and … lingerie? Every February, women have come to expect this, as well as magazine headings such as “50 ways to please your man this Valentine’s Day” and a lot of edible objects that, well, really shouldn’t be edible. The pressure to “up the ante” sexually on this day especially plagues women on college campuses. The day is associated with romance, but somehow that has become synonymous with sex and sexual favors as “gifts.” I’ll never forget the day a friend of mine told me she had sex with her boyfriend for the first time “as a Valentine’s Day present.”
As a liberal arts state school, Geneseo students’ views tend to lean far to the left, especially with social issues such as women’s rights. The feminism found on college campuses frequently ties in easily with sex––the focus is often on the right to wear revealing clothes and have sex without judgment.
But with all the focus on “okay-ing” the sex that people are having, those who choose not to participate can often feel left out, especially on this holiday. Friends talking about the lingerie they bought or the move they are going to try can make you feel like your relationship is wrong or “prude.”
But the fact of the matter is that sexual acts as Valentine’s Day presents are overrated and the overselling of this idea has reached a disturbing level. Like any day with a partner you care about, Valentine’s Day should be about making each other happy in every way without sacrificing your own comfort. The idea of sexual favors as Valentine’s Day gifts is sold exclusively to women in heterosexual relationships, another red flag that maybe the $30 red thong can be bypassed this year.
Instead of giving sexual favors, you can please your partner by cooking their favorite meal, getting them tickets to their favorite team or band or staying in for a movie and game night. If they really have sex on the mind, a fun—or potentially really awkward––date might be attending a screening of 50 Shades of Grey.
The most important takeaway is that Valentine’s Day is not an excuse to add any pressure or expectations to a sexual relationship. If your partner’s desires start to sound more like demands, it might be time to try out this holiday by yourself.