A link to a post on WKYC came up on my Twitter feed asking: What do women really want for Valentine's Day? I got to thinking.
What, exactly, is this question asking? While I'm at it, what is it not asking? The question is very broad and the answers WYKC featured left me feeling disappointed. Adding "really" implies that the answers will be atypical, and to be fair there were a few answers that went a little beyond chocolate, flowers, and stuffed animals, but all in all, there was not much to be moved by. In my opinion, the last woman had the most unique answer out of those presented.
I thought some more. What is this question really asking? It implies that women want something different than men, that there is something inherently different about what we do (should?) want, that the sexes are somehow driven by different needs and wants. It implies that what men want on this day is unimportant, because surely men don't care about romance or, Heaven forbid, emotions and feelings because those are icky and not manly. It is asking what women want because it assumes that women expect something in the first place.
What is it not asking? It is not asking what men want. Does that then mean that men do not (should not?) want something too? Surely men would never care about love and affection, because that means they lose Man Points, and we all know the sky would fall and the Earth would split in half if a male were to lose Man Points.
Maybe some would think my annoyance is frivolous, but I don't care. I am annoyed because I am sick of people assuming every single woman cares about chocolates and flowers and pink hearts on Valentine's Day, and that every single woman expects something in the first place, because women are obsessed with Feelings and Emotions and Romantic Love. Not only that, but that we want Romantic Love from a heterosexual, cis-gendered Man with many Man Points.
I am annoyed because it assumes a man is clueless about what to give a woman to show affection. I am annoyed because it neglects same-sex couples by the nature of its question due to the unsaid "What we mean is, what should a straight cis-man buy a straight cis-woman for Valentine's Day?" Should a male-male couple not worry at all about this? Should a female-female couple worry too? What about the gender queers? Transexuals? Polyamorous? Asexuals? Aromantics? Single people?
I am annoyed because it implies women do all the expecting and wanting, and therefore are not burdened with buying anything for a man because men don't want anything on Valentine's Day because the fate of the entire universe rests on their vast collection of Man Points.
Why do they care what women "really" want on Valentine's Day? Because I assure you, men are not inherently unable to grasp romance, and that failure to grasp is not limited to their sex or gender either. Anyone is capable of this, and it's perfectly acceptable not to care about romance, or to understand it, and it's okay not to want it. It doesn't matter what your sex or gender is. Plus, if you're going to ask what "women really want" then you better provide answers that aren't the usual ones.
A better question would be: What do you want for Valentine's Day?