In Roman mythology, Cupid’s arrows pierced the hearts of unsuspecting mortals causing them to fall deeply in love. Today, cherubic Cupid is a common symbol of Valentine’s Day, a holiday celebrating romantic love. While most women still welcome Cupid’s attack–or at least a box of chocolates–some feminist groups seek to transform Valentine’s Day into V-Day, an occasion to raise awareness about violence against women.
V-Day originated from Eve Ensler’s controversial play, “The Vagina Monologues.” The play consists of vignettes describing the experiences of numerous women’s vaginas: from heterosexual and lesbian sex to child birth, with a focus on violence and rape. The V-Day website states that “V-Day’s mission is simple. It demands that the violence must end. It proclaims Valentine’s Day as V-Day until the violence stops.”
No matter what you think about the play, raising awareness about violence against women is a worthy goal. Ensler’s depiction of the horrors of a Bosnian rape camp highlights the appalling abuse too many women suffer in today’s world.
But why the assault on Valentine’s Day? The clear implication is that violence and male/female relations are somehow naturally linked. It’s part of a disturbing strategy by the women’s movement–and particularly by women’s-studies departments on college campuses–to convince women that traditional institutions like marriage are inherently patriarchal and oppressive.
A survey conducted by Christine Stolba for the Independent Women’s Forum of the most popular introductory women’s-studies textbooks revealed the use of misleading statistics that exaggerate the problems women face, from the pervasiveness of violence to the extent of workplace discrimination. Marriage is presented as a central mechanism for keeping women down. As one textbook states: “The institution of marriage and the role of ‘wife’ are intimately connected with the subordination of women in society in general.”
Efforts to offer an alternative vision on campuses are often met with resistance. Recently, IWF tried to place an advertisement in Dartmouth College’s student newspaper arguing that women’s groups have gone too far in portraying women as victims and men as the enemy. The ad depicts a forlorn Cupid handcuffed to a ball and chain outside a theater playing “Vagina Monologues.” The headline reads: “Free Cupid.” The Dartmouth declined to run the ad. Ironically, Dartmouth will host performances of the Vagina Monologues on February 11 and 12.
College-age women, many of whom are navigating their first romantic relationships, deserve more than one perspective about the role romance and men should play in their lives. According to an IWF survey, college women overwhelming see marriage as an important future goal. Women-studies programs may assert that the pursuit of marriage arises from invisible pressure applied by the patriarchy. But another novel hypothesis worth exploring is that these women see stable relationships built on love and mutual respect as the best foundation for future happiness.
Of course, marriage isn’t for everyone. One of the great achievements of early feminists was winning the right for each woman to pursue her own vision of happiness. Unfortunately, modern feminist leaders regularly abandon true independence for women in favor of a political agenda of expanded government dependency. In other words, they want women to reject traditional relationships with individual men in favor of a new provider named Uncle Sam.
Yet government is not a typical valentine. Relationships between people are voluntary; a relationship with government is not. When feminists prod politicians to promise child care, health care, welfare, and other forms of support, what they’re really saying is that they will force some other hardworking American to pay these costs.
Compelling others to pay your tab is not independence. True freedom entails not only having choices, but also bearing the consequences for those decisions.
Women deserve better than the one-side perspective presented by the dependency divas that currently dominate college campuses. They should be exposed to facts that show how women are prospering, how marriage makes men and women healthier, happier, and safer, and how limited government can lead to greater prosperity and freedom for everyone.
A modest first step would be for feminists to end the violence against Valentine’s Day. Yes, raising awareness about horrors of violence is a worthy goal, but so is celebrating the positive role that romance and men play in most women’s lives. V-Day organizers should choose another day, and leave Cupid alone.
–Carrie Lukas, director of policy at the Independent Women’s Forum is the author of “Dependency Divas: How the Feminist Big Government Agenda Betrays Women.”