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Valentine’s Day growing more diverse, but still has room for improvement

Photo illustration by Adam Niemi | Assistant Photo Editor

Photo illustration by Adam Niemi | Assistant Photo Editor

Diversity is rarely a subject that comes up on Valentine’s Day.

Advertisements, media, main-stream pop culture, and society in general have in their minds one specific type of couple that celebrates Valentine’s Day – white, heterosexual, cisgender individuals.

Some find the lack of any other type of love or relationship being widely viewed in mainstream media is appalling. Everything about the holiday seems to be geared toward one specific demographic.

“Most commercials show a man giving a woman flowers or a ring,” said Krystal Diel, a Lake Orion sophomore and social work major. “Advertisements could depict gay or lesbian couples, too. A lot of stores have ‘for him’ and ‘for her’ gift sections. Instead, they could just have ‘for that special someone’ for their Valentine’s display. We need more images depicting all different kinds of love to show they are all valid and important.”

Other students, fed up with the singular feel of the holiday, are choosing to focus on what they can do on Central Michigan University’s campus to spread inclusion.

“One way CMU could be more inclusive is to take care not to feature only straight, cisgender, white, able-bodied couples when planning, promoting and talking about Valentine’s Day events,” said Kai Niezgoda, a sophomore from Royal Oak and a member of Students Advocating Gender Equality. “I think it’s important to treat your significant other with love, respect, kindness and consideration and equality every day of the year.”

Over the years, people have questioned the legitimacy of this holiday, saying it was created by card and candy companies to trick people in relationships into spending outrageous amounts of money on their significant others, instead of doing something actually meaningful.

Bowling Green Ohio senior Emma Tuthill, a SAGE member, said relationships might not have the most solid foundation if they are dependent on the scenario of making an effort in one’s relationship on one holiday.

“I really do feel that, as far as holidays go, Valentine’s Day relies on stereotypes,” Tuthill said. “If you want to celebrate because you enjoy holidays or flowers and chocolate, then go for it. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those things. The problem comes in when the stereotypes involved in holidays like this are made to feel obligatory.”

The best advice, as Tuthill said, is to do what’s best for your relationship, no matter what that might be.

The actual concept of the holiday – namely, setting aside a day to show your loved ones how much you appreciate them – is great, but the way it’s portrayed in society is not, said Brutus sophomore Alexis Achterhof.

“The way it’s advertised in media is predominantly geared toward cisgender heterosexual couples, which defeats the purpose and makes it seem to be about a very particular demographic,” Achterhof said. “Our culture is starting to take small steps away from that, like showing some gay couples in advertisements, but that’s a long way from portraying the total spectrum of love and relationships that are out there.”

There are others who believe, however, that this generation has progressed beyond this, and that the problem of Valentine’s Day isn’t really a problem at all.

“I don’t think Valentine’s Day is race or gender specific,” said Deanna Staton, a Grand Ledge senior. “In today’s society, I feel like people who do not appreciate interracial or homosexual love are the minority. Times are changing. I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to spend Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend out in public at a restaurant. Fifty years ago that never would have happened. And 50 years from now, I imagine people will look back and laugh upon how small-minded we have been.

“Yes, Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday, but it’s also a chance to recognize all the love that two humans can share. Love is love.”

5 Comments

  1. michmediaperson says:

    Why is it that every story CM LIFE writes these days, they somehow have to put RACE AND SEXUAL ORIENTATION into the story so to divide whites, blacks, hispanics, asians, native americans.

    Such a negative story.

    Couldn’t you interview some CMU employees and/or locals who have been married for 30-40-50-60 years about the meaning of the day.

    Why don’t you find a CMU employee who is taking care of their ill spouse, maybe they’ve got cancer and the love they’re showing for each other. Maybe, a CMU employee or local Mt. Pleasant person whose spouse or friend is in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I’m sure you’re being brainwashed by your politically correct journalism courses.

    Every story you seem to find a way to bring race and sexual orientation into it…..so to divide students, the CMU and Mt. Pleasant community.

    After reading this article, I guess every CMU alum and any CMU employee from the past 100 years are either racists and homophobes since we didn’t have “inclusion campus planning.” That’s what you’re basically saying in this article. Especially past CM LIFE advertising reps who didn’t put 2 males or 2 females into ads.

    Only the political correctness crowd can take a fun day like Valentine’s Day and turn it into a real downer!

    I guess in March, CM LIFE will write a negative article how St. Patrick’s Day has been only an Irish holiday and tradition.

    • Well, well, it’s a white, heterosexual, cisgender individual crying over his privilege being challenged rather than being treated as his birthright. Get over yourself, bigot.

  2. michmediaperson says:

    Of the six people in the picture, none are African-American. None are Asian. I don’t think any are Hispanic or Native American.

    The fact none are African-American.

    So, is CM LIFE being racist? And, CM LIFE doesn’t believe in diversity?

    Could the Editor respond.

  3. >cisgender
    >privilege

    good goyim, bring tumblr trash speak into the public realm, ehehehe, it’s working!

    • FYI: Cisgender is said on campus in many of our classrooms and organizations every day, and it has been around for years. Privilege is a word that has been in the public realm as a way to describe social hierarchies for decades. If you think these words only exist on tumblr, you are mistaken.

      But hey, by all means, go on insisting that key terms that bring about social change are “trash.” People who work hard to make life better for others might stop to reply to your silly comment every once in a while, but that’s the full extent to which your ignorance can slow us down. :)

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