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half enough

Hopeless romantic semi-feminism: A follow-up on Valentine’s Day

I must reaffirm that being a hopeless romantic does not take away from me being anti-chauvinist. The fact that I demand to be treated like a lady when I’m on a date or in a relationship should not compromise how I am to be treated at all other times.

Some friends emailed me in response to the “Cross-culturing Valentine’s” piece I wrote last week. One friend said that I contradict myself as a semi-feminist anti-chauvinist because I believe that men should offer to pay for dinners, drinks, etc. Another friend (who’s currently living and working in Japan) said that what I wrote about Valentine’s Day in Japan is “sooooo true!” and that she fell victim to the holiday’s commercialism. Another friend said that what I wrote was very revealing about myself, and that he’s learned to ignore Valentine’s Day altogether. I also received a public comment from a reader who reminded me to consider the other side of male chauvinism, female chauvinism. All very different and thought-provoking responses. I appreciate them.

In response to the friend who said I contradict myself for considering myself a semi-feminist anti-chauvinist: you’re absolutely right. But what is life without contradictions? In terms of how I believe a woman should be treated in a male-female relationship, equality does not mean 50/50 down the middle. To me, that makes for a pointless relationship. Who is going to keep tabs on how many times he or she opened the door every month? (Though, technically, neither he nor she would open any door for the other in a 50/50 relationship.)

Every human being has a distinct personality, which makes his or her relationships with others distinctly unique. I believe in fair and equal treatment between male and female, but that doesn’t mean they always pay their own way when going out for meals. Equal treatment, to me, means a healthy balance of “give and take.” Everyone likes to feel special from time to time (if not all the time). I don’t know anyone, even the modest, who would completely disagree with me. The point I want to get across is that the theory of equality, of 50/50, is only a theory, and theories usually don’t play out in real life as they do on paper.

A successful relationship to me is one in which two individuals can independently be themselves, theoretically 100/100, where generosity, appreciation and care need not be expected or initiated from neither partner. Where the guy doesn’t have a problem with taking his girlfriend to dinner once in a while and picking up the bill. The girl would do the same. There’s the equality right there. And it doesn’t have to be expected.

To my friend who agreed with what I wrote about the holiday’s commercialism in Japan but was also victim to it: Thanks. In your case, you baked a cake from scratch to give to your Valentine. You weren’t victim to the money hungry holiday companies. You decided to participate in the festivities without spending lots of money on manufactured chocolate candies.

To my friend who’s learned to ignore Valentine’s Day altogether, I don’t believe you.

And to the reader who posted a comment telling me to consider female chauvinism, well, what can I say, the male chauvinists started it.

I take back what I previously wrote about being “on my way to loudly declaring myself a feminist.” Now that I think about it, I’m probably only halfway there. And I prefer to stay there. Call me a hopeless romantic semi-feminist.

For those who are curious, I had a pleasantly eventful Valentine’s Day. I worked a full day throughout which I received several combined Valentine’s Day and birthday electronic greeting cards (my birthday falls on the 15th). After work, I drove through traffic to get to a meeting, went to the gym (which was considerably empty compared to other weeknights), went home and baked chocolate chip cookies for my roommate and friends. The next day, I received post-Valentine birthday flowers from a guy who seems to like my hopeless romantic semi-feminist personality. I gave him chocolate chip cookies in pink Valentine’s Day cupcake holders.

© 2007 Victoria Kraus

feminism romance Valentine's Day

About this series

"Half Enough" is Victoria's first regular column series. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Discover Nikkei.