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Yes, you can celebrate Valentine's Day without losing your feminist card

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine,,...

Valentine's Day is not anti-feminist ... if you do it right

With all the pink and hearts and pushing to prove your love, it's easy to see why some might say Valentine's Day is the "most anti-feminist holiday ever." But does it have to be?

I've never been a Valentine's gal. I've never pinned a bunch of hopes and wishes on one day that really doesn't mean anything. To be honest, I'd rather my husband skip the flowers and jewelry and expensive dinners (chocolate is totally fine, though — I never need an excuse to be given more chocolate).

But I understand the allure the "holiday" has for many. I also understand the many "anti-feminist" issues folks have with it: that it supports a heteronormative, patriarchal idea of love; that it allows men this "out" of a day to step up as if they don't need to the rest of the year; that it's a super classist "holiday"; and more.

More: I'm a woman voting for Bernie Sanders — and yes, I'm still a feminist

I agree with all of that. One of the biggest downfalls of Valentine's Day is it conflates showing your love with commercialism, as if the only way to visibly prove how much you love someone or are loved is with gifts and cards. However, I see no problem with celebrating love. You can do that without falling into all the trappings of Hallmark and the gift-giving industry. In fact, why not go the extra mile and create a Valentine's Day fit for a feminist?

1. Make homemade cards: Who doesn't love receiving a handmade Valentine's card? But instead of the usual syrupy sonnets, why not include a quote or two by some kickass feminists? These kinds of cards are good for everyone, not just your sweetie.

More: 10 Inspiring quotes from women of color

2. Make a mix tape:  Everyone loves a fab mix tape! Okay, I guess in today's terms, it would be a Spotify station or an iTunes playlist, but the same rules apply. Pick songs that make your heart sing. And while you're at it, include some fabulous feminist artists, as well, like Erykah Badu, Grimes, Pussy Riot and a little "Formation" by Beyoncé.

3. Cocktail hour: Show your sweetheart or besties you care by setting up a little cocktail hour in your home. You can make non-alcoholic drinks for those who abstain and add a little hooch for those who don't. Get creative and name the drinks in honor of some of history's most fabulous feminists. Or you can make some feminist cocktails that everyone will love — just make sure to stock up on male tears beforehand.

4. Treat yourself: Use Valentine's Day as an excuse to pamper yourself (not that you should ever need an excuse). Book a massage or facial, or create a spa day in your own home. Light some candles, fill a tub, play some sweet tunes or catch up on your favorite Netflix series while relaxing.

5. Chocolate: Seriously, you can never go wrong with chocolate. Just, you know, make sure it's the fair-trade, organic kind (which usually tastes better than the waxy stuff they try to pass off as chocolate in those heart-shaped boxes).

In the end, the Valentine's Day that's being marketed to us today isn't super feminist-y, it's true. But that doesn't mean you can't make the holiday your own. Find your own way to put a feminist spin on it. As long as you're celebrating love, in all its various incarnations, you're doing it right.

More: Ahem … This is how people can tell you're a feminist

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