Take the ‘Gal’ out of Valentine’s Day

An exploration of how “Parks & Recreation” Galentine’s Day leaves out men, non-binary and transgender folks

The beginnings of Galentine’s Day can be traced back to 2010 in Greg Daniels and Michael Schur’s second and sixth season of “Parks and Recreation.” Protagonist Leslie Knope introduces the holiday’s main focus, which is celebrating female friendships and relationships on the day before Valentine’s Day. After the television series aired, the concept of Galentine’s Day has gained a large following and become an established holiday trend.

 

 Publications like Bustle, The Atlantic and Buzzfeed have covered Galentine’s Day as a holiday multiple times. On Instagram, the hashtag #galentinesday has approximately 230,000 tagged posts that variate between Galentine’s Day gifts, Galentine’s Day inspiration posts and actual women celebrating the fictional celebration.

 

Although celebrating women’s friendships and relationships is a positive activity, the problem with this fictitious holiday becoming an established holiday and trend is that it excludes individuals on the basis of gender. Female connections are important, but are they more important than men’s connections? Where do people who identify as non-binary and transgender find themselves in the spectrum of this idea?

The Statistic Brain Research Institutegla conducted research of Valentine’s Day based on online and direct response mail in Sept. 2017. The research found that 73 percent of all flowers bought were purchased by men. It also discovered that 85 percent of Valentine’s Day cards were paid for by women.

From the research the Statistic Brain Research Institute acquired, it can be assumed that both women and men play an integral part of Valentine’s Day. Thus, women and men should both be able to participate equally in celebrations of friendship like Galentine’s Day. Men’s relationships with other men and with members of other genders are equally as important and integral in a celebration of friendship and love.   

GLAAD, a LGBTQ acceptance media monitoring organization in the United States explains in its Valentine’s Day media resource kit that LGBT couples and individuals often find themselves excluded from media coverage and representation on Valentine’s Day. Following a gender based holiday like Galentine’s Day further excludes individuals in the LGBTQ community from being able to participate.

I understand the gist of Galentine’s Day as a movement of inclusion for women as a time for them to reflect on their friendships with other great and strong women. It is admirable that women are using a show like Parks and Recreation to create a feminist holiday that represents the multi-dimensionalities of women.

However, the hypocrisy of Galentine’s Day as an inclusionary holiday is that it excludes other people that do not fall within its constraints of gender, proving to not be intersectional whatsoever. Perhaps changing Galentine’s Day into another National Friendship Day would remove the negative and exclusionary connotations that it presently contains.

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