Hey Readers As I am sure you know Sunday was Valentine’s Day and I am certain that more people bought chocolates, flowers, and heart shaped cards were sold than on any other day of the year.
What you may not know however, was that Saturday was Galentine’s Day Yes you did read that right and it wasn’t a spelling mistake I really did say Galentine’s Day.
For those who have never heard of Galentine’s Day and until a few days before it I was actually one of them I should perhaps explain that it is an American tradition where us girls celebrate the women in our lives and the power of female friendship. Speaking personally I have never been one for importing American traditions in to Scotland or the UK, so that could explain my reluctance to show any interest on days such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Superbowl Sunday. This however is one transatlantic tradition I do approve of.
You see to me the traditional Valentine’s Day is far too heterosexual in its outlook and puts the emphasis on male-female relationships whether we like it or not. This places women under an enormous social pressure at this time and not getting a Valentine from boy you liked during your formative years could send negative messages to a girl with regards to how attractive society perceives her to be. Also if the girl has lesbian feelings this type of attitude could pressure her into denying them and this could play havoc with her emotions and lead her to deny her natural self causing a sense of worthlessness as she is told by a very patriarchal society that her love is a lesser love.
This emphasis on heterosexuality also has a negative impact on the trans community many of whom and I speak from experience on this attempt to be square pegs in round holes and adapt to a lifestyle and in my case a gender which isn’t naturally ours. I remember only too well my teenage years when boys at my school and particularly those in my class would tease me for not getting a valentine from a girl without ever realising that I was far more interested in them. Believe me those years were not easy years and it’s fair to say that without a few close girlfriends I would have found them even harder than I did.
This assumed rejection of anyone who didn’t or doesn’t fit the so-called social norms has had and continues to have consequences for some women particularly those who may be shy and lack the confidence of their peers and could have a dramatically negative impact on both their body image and self esteem.
In contrast to this patriarchal view of love in the 21st century, Galentine’s Day gives women and girls the opportunity to celebrate the importance of our female friendship’s and the women who make our lives better simply by being part of them. As a trans woman I know and cherish the value of the strong women I am lucky enough have in my life . You see whilst there is and always will be room for what is viewed as the most romantic day of the year Hallmark and Inter Flora will make sure of that, Galentine’s Day offers us girls a different way to look at love.
This day allows women and girls to view love not from the dominant male viewpoint which puts the emphasis on the physical and sexual urges of the male but from the perspective of the more emotional love from which the strongest female friendship’s are formed.
I must admit to being lucky with my female friendship’s I am blessed to have a number of intelligent, talented women in my life whom I have met due my wide variety of interests. From church to comedy, from poetry to politics, from traditional music to theatre and trade unionism, from women’s groups to writing groups I have been fortunate in gaining the friendship and respect of truly inspirational women who have contributed more to my life than they will ever know and Galentine’s Day is the perfect day to let them know how much I cherish each and every one of them.
As you can see I haven’t named any names because I know that if I did, I could and would forget someone who has given me valuable support when I’ve needed it. This would I think be very unfair and the woman concerned may take it as a personal slight against her where none was intended. This could cause hurt to whoever was left out even if it was by accident and that is the last thing I would want.
So how did I manage to avoid such a minefield? Well I did it by thinking of all those brilliant female friends who accepted me for the woman I am and made me glad not only to acknowledge that this day exists but to embrace it. I did this not by telling the world my story well shouting from the rooftops was never my style but privately admitting to myself that on Galentine’s Day I cherished my girls and the power of being a woman. You see, I know that it is by being a woman I am able to enjoy real friendships which are made from the rocks of love, trust and acceptance and I couldn’t ask for better foundations on which to build something that lasts.
Love And Best Wishes