Volume 91, Issue 77

Friday, February 13, 1998

chumping for joy


V-Day is D-Day for some

©Graphic by Janice Olynich

By Amy Gibson
Gazette Writer

Every Valentine's Day brings elated feelings of warmth, togetherness and love for couples young and old. But what about the huge population of single people who are left in the cold when it comes to being in love? If anything, Valentine's Day is the one day out of 365 that singles love – to hate.

In a random on-campus survey of nearly 70 students, half of the participants did not have significant others. When asked about their reasons for being single, answers varied from "I have not met Ms. Right yet" or "there is no Mr. Right," to "not looking." Other single respondents explain that commitment and relationships are just not for them, citing bad experiences with relationships, unfaithful partners or fears of commitment as reasons and deterrents.

Look in any encyclopedia and the Western single students do not have much to cheer about. In Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary, a Valentine is described as a sweetheart chosen on St. Valentine's Day or a greeting card sent to someone of the opposite sex. Therefore someone who is single still appears to be left out.

Allan Gedalof, an English professor at Western who teaches a course on popular culture, says there is a kind of schooling where people are being trained in heterosexual behaviour and in what is socially acceptable.

"We get images of ideal romantic love everywhere," he explains. "All kinds of cultural attitudes have been constructed around [Valentine's Day]."

He adds that these cultural attitudes and societal norms and assumptions segregate a lot of people on Valentine's Day.

Pete Stemp, a Western sociology professor, who teaches a course on advertising and society, explains that "the construction of romantic love is unique to our culture and that we learn these ideals from family, friends, school, religion, music, as well as the media."

He feels the problem is that in the real world, few relationships are like the picture-perfect, happily-ever-after, fairy tale rendition of romance depicted and repeated by the mass media.

Stemp also agrees that advertising in media influences romantic love ideals. "It can't not have an impact," he says, despite his hesitation to blame the media because ideals of love are part of our culture.

"The romantic love ideal was borrowed by advertisers, not created by them. They just used something that was already there," he says.

"Medias tend to idealize things and they tend to construct models of behaviour and relationships," Gedalof says. "By establishing impossible or unattainable models, people end up with a sense of exclusion from what they see as the dominant practices in their culture, a sense of inadequacy and that leads to is a profound sense of disempowerment and depression."

Gedalof adds that advertisements try to convince people that there is something missing in their lives, which helps to explain why on Valentine's Day many singles feel like they are missing out on something.

But being single on Valentine's Day is not reason to spend it alone. One alternative, is an "Anti-Valentine's Day Party" hosted by Jim Bob Ray's on Feb. 15.

Jose Lacruz, promotions manager for Jim Bob Ray's, says this party is for singles or for people who want to be single that day. Its slogan describes it as a "No luggage allowed! No love! Purely Sexual" event. Lacruz says last year's Anti-Valentine's Day Party was a huge success that attracted over 400 people and he predicts even more will come this year.

Whatever your reason for being single this Valentine's Day, rejoice, be free, celebrate, cut some tile, smile and remember that the greatest love of all is still self-love. Besides, if you go out a proud single, you may return as a happy couple.

To Contact The Focus Department: gazfocus@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998