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From: News and Views | Opinion |
Saturday, February 12, 2000

Feminists Chase Valentine Out

by John Leo

Gloria Steinem says the familiar heart-shaped symbol of Valentine's Day is not really a symbol of the human heart. No, it's a symbol of female genitalia. "The shape we call a heart," she wrote, "resembles the vulva far more than the organ that shares its name. ... It was reduced from power to romance by centuries of male dominance."

Until Steinem announced it, no historian or archeologist seems to have known that the heart was a vaginal symbol before the heartless patriarchy corrupted it and placed it on Hallmark cards. It is depressing to learn at this late date that all the love-stricken males who send heart-shaped boxes of chocolates to their girlfriends are actually delivering randy messages in disguise.

The political implications of Steinem's discovery are enormous: The oppressive romantic trappings of Valentine's Day must be cleared away so the original genital power can shine through. That's why a feminist drive is under way to [brace yourselves] get rid of the silly romance and turn Valentine's Day into Vagina Day, or V-Day for short.

As Dave Barry likes to say, I am not making this up. Vagina Day, under its media-friendly name V-Day, is being celebrated on 154 U.S. campuses this year. One Ivy League college is so V-dedicated that February and March are entire V-months, with 10 days slopping over into a partial V-April.

V-Day is not a holiday intended to produce smiles on the faces of men. It replaces the Valentine's Day image of the attentive, adoring male with an image more familiar in modern feminist thinking: the male as rapist, child molester and perpetrator of domestic violence. (The V in V-Day is said to stand for violence and victory as well as vagina.)

The nine-point official mission statement of V-Day consists of eight complaints about how violent men are and a ninth that neglects to indict men but simply says, "V-Day is a fierce, wild, unstoppable movement and community."

The inspiration for V-Day is Eve Ensler's one-woman show, "The Vagina Monologues," a series of mostly comic and naughty vignettes about sex and the vagina, including speculation about what vaginas would say if they could talk. It has been a smash hit Off-Broadway and around the country, often performed by famous Hollywood women. Now it is the central ritual of V-Day, celebrating vaginal solidarity.

One character in "Monologues" talks about "the civilization of vaginas." At another point Ensler says, "You are your vagina." This sort of declaration was once regarded as the grossest of anti-female putdowns. Now it has emerged as a respectable, progressive feminist idea.

In this sense, V-Day is a tribal holiday, similar to what St. Patrick's Day is to the Irish or Steuben Day to the Germans. V-Day has already expanded to include March 8, International Women's Day, as a sort of V2-Day, also marked by the ritual of "Monologues" performances.

The gradual erasing of the word "valentine" would be on the agenda too, because it is associated with the old, romantic idea that the two sexes might want to get together sometime, thus blurring tribal identities.

Bobby Valentine, manager of the Mets, would have to change his name.

Crime historians would have to rewrite Chicago's famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

Chet Baker's moving rendition of "My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine" would have to be rerecorded and come out as ... oh, never mind.

One reviewer of "The Vagina Monologues" wrote: "Who knows what the future may bring 'Vagina! The Musical'? A vagina theme park?"

We hesitate to think. All things are possible to those who meditate on their sex organs long enough.

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