It is Valentine season again. As usual, many Eves will be placing demands, directly or indirectly, on Adams for flowers, dinners, presents and other treats; and trust me, most of these demands are likely to be expensive. Personally I don’t give a hoot about Valentine’s day, and coming to think of it, neither do most of my friends (as they say, judge a person by the company they keep). While my mind does grasp a lot of stuff, both meaningful and meaningless, what I usually don’t get is why people should choose one day to be the day of ‘celebrating’ or ‘affirming’ their love. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to preach against Valentine Day; unlike the Kenyan politician, I believe in plurality of thought, cultures and beliefs, and my stand is that if you want to make Valentine’s Day sacred, you are entitled to it. What I want to question is why a sea of lovers should wake up one morning and they all feel that this is a special day in their love life. Why someone should choose to wear red, borrow money to buy flowers and take someone out on this day of all the days in a year. Why not do it the day before or after, or the month after etc.
My hypothesis in explaining this is our tendency to both conform and be manipulated by the forces of consumerism. We’ve allowed ‘love’ to be made a commodity to be ‘bought’, and something to be desired because someone else also has it. The same way we sulked when we were kids because the kids next door had been bought new Christmas attire and we hadn’t is the same way your Eve will be sulking on Tuesday the 14th February because you did not buy her flowers while all the girls in the office, or classroom, or wherever she spends her day, had flowers and talked about their impending evening dates. And these ‘little omissions’ have often led to relationship bust ups. At the risk of setting myself up for a luynch mob, I will (confidently) state that it is the Eves who mostly value this commodication of love and have been manipulated to believe that the only way to show love is to spend money.
Eves are generally more vulnerable to manipulation than Adams. Take a spot check on TV adverts and you will realize that most adverts target Eves. Majority of adverts are likely to be about beauty products, detergents and other household goods that generally would be purchased by Eves. Eves are more mindful about how they look (and how you look). Talking about looks, I was subtly, over time, transformed from a chap who went to work in t-shirts, jeans and open shoes to a more formally dressed chap because hers truly did not approve the image. Eves are likely to be more concerned about how others perceive their relationships than Adams. Eves will prioritize spending money (mostly Adams’ money) on beauty and love, and are more likely to go for cosmetic surgery. My take is that the beauty and love industry has successfully manipulated them over the years through millions of ads, romantic movies, soap operas, music etc. I am not saying Adams do not fall into this trap, some do and that is why the term metrosexual was invented.
So what should we as Adams do? I say let’s give it to them. If she wants flowers, buy her (and don’t get into a lecture about the dehumanizing and exploitative conditions under which flower farm workers – mostly women – work). If she wants to go to a movie, take her and don’t start yapping about cultural colonization. Take her out to a lavish dinner and buy her some expensive gifts, even though deep down you think it is all nonsense, and don’t relate this incident to your inability to pay some crucial bills the following day when being nagged! Why do I say this though I do not believe in Valentines? Because I think the element of self sacrifice is critical for a successful relationship. They say Jesus sacrificed his life for those He loved so what’s a couple of hundred shillings for flowers? To paraphrase something I once read:
those who want to become happy should not enter into a love relationship. The important thing is to make the other one happy. Those who want to be understood should not enter into a relationship. The important thing is to understand one’s partner.
In any event, we owe our Eves a Valentine simply for the amount of stuff they have to put up with from us!
By Otieno Hongo – Guest Writer
The guest writer’s blog: Reflections and Deflections