Valentine's Day is Over-Genitalized

A post from Valentine's Day 2007:

The content of this post has largely to do with where I work: A college campus, where romance and dating are, well, of significant interest.

You may recall from Psychology 101 Freud’s stages of psychosocial development: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital. Well, as today is February 14 I’d just like to point out that I find Valentine’s Day over-genitalized. And I’d like your help in reversing the trend.

This post came to mind a few days ago when my wife brought home the class valentines for my sons to hand out to their respective Kindergarten and 3rd Grade classes. I love elementary school Valentine’s Day. Remember when everyone got a Valentine’s card? And it didn’t matter what gender you were? Boys gave valentines to boys and girls to girls. And so forth.

And then it dawned on me. My boys are in the latency stage (ages 6 to puberty). They don’t worry about homoeroticism (or heteroeroticism for that matter) when they exchange valentines. Their classrooms are not sexually charged.

But then puberty hits. And we enter Freud’s Genital Stage. And all of the sudden we become sexual creatures. For the rest of our lives. And Valentine’s Day gets ruined.

Remember Valentine’s Day in High School? Compare it to Valentine’s Day in elementary school. In elementary school, Valentine’s Day was about friendship and inclusion. Love was about philia.

But in High School Valentine’s Day becomes about boyfriends and girlfriends, about romance and hinted at sexuality. Love was about eros. And, thus, it became not about the many, but the few. The few lucky ones who had that special someone. Now, many people hate Valentine’s Day. It has become a reminder not of what you have—a host of friends who love you—but what you might not have (a date on February 14) or about what you have lost.

So I declare: Dr. Freud, your genital stage has ruined Valentine’s Day. I like the elementary school version better.

And I’m going to do what I can the change the trend. Valentine’s Day for all!

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6 thoughts on “Valentine's Day is Over-Genitalized”

  1. Well I recall Valentine's Day a tad less favorably, not having been in the popular in-crowd it was a popularity poll. Nonetheless your point stands. Valentine's Day as Agape then ?
    So what is love ? Following Heinlein I'd argue it's when another's wellfare means as much or more to you than your own; that is, you care about them as people. They are not an Other but a Somebody.
    Other than a fun and funny riff how would you propose to awaken a concern of Others as Somebodies ?
    Bearing in mind that we are sexual, social, socio-biological beings who past puberty will always face the imperatives of biology.

  2. As someone who suffers from the "disease" of being single, I always appreciate this view of Valentine's Day. Thank you for promoting this view.

    Happy Valentine's Day, Dr. Beck!

  3. I agree, Valentines was so much fun from about grades 1 through 3, but then it started going down hill after that. By grade 4, kids were already way into teasing any boy or girl they saw standing within a ruler's length of each other "ooooh, eww, they're in love" and then in junior high, you couldn't have friends who were the same gender because then they called you gay. I really think this whole collective notion people get about others is silly, worse than silly, and it has ruined the real meaning of Valentine's day in the adult world.

    But - being single isn't a disease, not if you're happily single. The disease only comes into things when you're single and desperately don't want to be.

    So, Valentines candy hearts all around, have a good one, the grade 1 through 3 way. :)

  4. Well, my Valentine's Day post was entitled, "Valentine's Day Sucks Arse". So I'm no help. I'm still in the anal stage :)

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