Today in particular, one such as myself feels compelled to speak on the subject of the "holy day of obligation" among people in personal relationships. Yes, I am naturally speaking of Valentine's Day.
One such as myself, you ask? As a relatively embittered and cynical person who would love to believe that people and their motives are inherently good (but keeps being presented evidence by the cosmos that they are the exact opposite), I also am in the delicate position of having a majority of my friends involved in relationships, either marital or otherwise.
Should this limit what I can and cannot say? Of course not.
So, indeed, what could I say (I am not saying that I will) about this hallowed day?
First, I could indeed make the practical and historical argument that the personality of St. Valentine is not on sure ground at all. It could have been one of three martyrs or simply (according to the ancient Romans), the day on which birds seemed to begin to mate. So there is that that I could, but may not, say.
I could also point out that this is another commercialized holiday where the feelings of people (the basest of these, I might add) are played upon by countless industries to fetishize these emotions, commodify them and make them just another part of our consumer society. That, however, would be too easy and not totally consonant with my beliefs. I think that if you are clever enough, within the law, to create demand out of nowhere and bilk idiots of their disposable income, you deserve every penny you earn and I only wish that I was as clever as you.
I could, it seems, extend that argument to the nature of personal relationships themselves. I could say that the exchange of gifts and, euphamistically, physical expression of emotion are part and parcel of the same process of exchange. Gifts are given, and in return, acts are performed. One might counter by saying that these certain salacious acts are done of will and for genuine feeling for the person. It cannot be argued, however, that it is natural for human beings to reciprocate when given something of value. What form that reciprocation takes, I would maintain, is not as important as the fact that it takes place. I could even go as far to invoke the crass desigantion of this day as "National Steak and a Blowjob Day." That is to say, that is something I could say.
Taking this argument even further, how can one argue that directly exchanging goods of value for services, be they "romantic" or otherwise is wrong? I am, naturally, speaking of prostitution. What laws that prohibit prostitution basically say is that you can yield temporary sovereignty over your body and its functions for free but not for a price.
How, then, is this consistant with a view that someone should be compensated for their exertions? Well, I guess they are, but why be indirect about it? It is when the exchange of money and the exchange of "emotion" come into direct contango that the problems seem to arise. Set this dichotomy in a society that has its moral basis (and, rightly or wrongly, many of its legal strictures) and very foundation in a group of Protestant English religious fanatics, and you are bound to get some interesting notions of marriage, relationships, prostitution and sexual morality in general. One could argue that.
We could take another path, and I could argue that only a fool or a slave willingly surrenders freedom for security and it is no different in a personal relationship than in society as a whole. At the end of the day, one should at least have dominion over one's person and mind. To not have this is slavery. When in a relationship, it seems that this freedom is abrogated time and again for the purpose of compromise and security, knowing that to render such freedom might serve to protect the basis of the relationship, whatever it may be. Interpersonal relatioships should be for the mutual betterment of the minds and souls of those involved and this condition cannot occur amongst unfree actors. What results is a dangerous mix of freedom and domination wherein neither party seems completely at ease with the results at any given time. That is, for example, another thing I could assert.
In closing, I realize that a lot of what I said above is hypothetical. It may not seem to apply to your situation. Remember, of course, that this is what I COULD say, not what I am indeed saying. Because someone would have to be a really horrible human being to believe those things I said, right?
"Check the Box Sunday"
5 weeks ago