You do not need to celebrate Valentine's Day to feel the air that blows on 14th February. It's contagious. 'Love is in the air'. So the saying goes. Those who cannot feel it in the air, can at least see it from the over commercialization of love products in the media, the red decorations of most public centers and special gift items designed for this purpose.
I find the lingerie shops most attractive!
On this day people go to unimaginable lengths such as spending a lifetime savings or taking a loan to make the occasion a groundbreaking one for their special one. For example, it is estimated that about 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are sold each year around the globe, America alone spends $12.2 billion on chocolate, $359 million on cut flowers, and $2.4 billion on diamonds.
Do the arithmetic's for those who spoil with mansions and latest editions of vehicles.
Again, 14th February is a terrible time to be single. Whilst many people accept proposals without delay to be ready in time for the Valentine's celebration, those who are on the verge of break-up, defer it until after the month of Love. There are those who help their situation by partaking in blind dates. As for those who are still not lucky, stories abound about how single women and men, who for fear of stigmatization from their environment buy gifts and mail it to themselves during this season. At least they also had something.
Not only that, Valentine's also provides the opportunity for people to engage in sex orgies, particularly of the dangerous kind: anal, same-sex, group sex, including dangerous sex positions and the use of health threatening aphrodisiac. As if that is not enough, from office tables, private video rooms, beaches and nightclubs, to the back of cars, etc people ride themselves to orgasms-saying so many things which are not very audible.
Indeed it a season of sex for most. Virgins are shredded on this day and many married people and those in committed relationships cease the day as opportunity to escape from the boredom and over familiarization that long relations come with and engage in reckless sex with anybody who has been on the waiting list; boss, ex-lover, office colleague or 'the next available buss,' after all as the Akans put it literally, 'any dirty water can quench fire' The shortage of condoms during this season says it all.
Nevertheless, given the international hype that Valentine's Day enjoys, the heavy investments that corporate bodies place on it, and the great length that individuals go to pull all those surprises, which make their VALS smile larger than their faces, I ask simple. Exactly what do you mark when you celebrate 'Valentines' day? I mean you!
To be blunt, do you celebrate your success in sleeping with somebody's husband or wife or the innocent girl who believes you are going to marry her but you only know she is as good as a sex toy; a platform for sexual experiment? Is it the celebration of your new catch from the last conference, bus terminal, facebook, movies, shop, etc? Maybe it's a celebration of your new promotion, which gives you the opportunity to lay all the young women who work under you or those who come to you for help?
What next after the wild sex on Val's day? Where was your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend when you were busily panting for breath in the middle of another woman's thighs? What will be the future for you and the one you shared the Valentine's Day with or it does not matter since the sex, money, the social status, or the privileges, maybe good?
Lest I am misunderstood, I am not against Val's day. Far from that, I wish it were celebrated every day. My concern is that the motives should be realigned. That whilst it is not possible to celebrate love everyday because we have other genuine commitments, the opportunity that 14th February presents married couples and dating partners to celebrate their love once every year must not be lost on them.
To explain further, I relish the day when Valentine's Day is celebrated to reward the hardworking efforts of wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends. Vals day should be a moment to idolize your partner for his or her decency, sacrifice and dedication to make things work. Unlike others, he/she did not abandon you to start a new relationship when the going was tough. In our generation when the quest for material wealth, social recognition and independence is a matter of life and death, we need to reward those who still made marriage life a priority. A Person who suffered your foolishness gladly and did not find cheating attractive, at a time when decency and faithfulness to ones partner is branded as naivety deserves to be celebrated in the month of love.
Finally, we need to celebrate marriages and thriving relationships not because it been entirely a success story during the years under review, but because irrespective of those moments of anger, hurt, fatigue and financial difficulties, the partners found reason to stay together: reasons that were noble and foresighted, reasons which were too important to be destroyed by perhaps occasional moments of indiscretion on the part of your partner.
My interest in encouraging partners to work and achieve a healthy relationship despite their challenges is not selfish. In fact, the consequences of failed relationships or reckless sex lives do not only affect the individuals who are immediately associated with it. It has telling implications on the extended family and the country as a whole. An example will suffice.
During this 14th February, I am not sure of how many men will accept a Vals day 'one-night-stand' pregnancy but I am sure it will force many women to dropout from school, stop their work, or be banished from their dependants. Again it is possible some of these unprepared mothers can still make it in live and keep their dreams alive but my sympathy is really with those whose otherwise bright future will be distorted by this process. I don't want to even consider those who will die in the process or how to repair the crack this makes on the family reputation. I am most interested in the children born out of such 'moments of madness'.
Whilst there may be an exception to the rule, I am sure we cannot explain the history of street children, armed robbery, illiteracy, poverty and many of the challenges that government is confronting without understanding the consequences of reckless sex. On another platform, we can discuss sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, to prove that when private individuals decide to be reckless about sex and relationship, the punishment is shared by the whole nation.
We may also discuss the many that get psychologically affected in the process, those who vow never to marry again because of being taken for granted in a relationship, those who either seek revenge on all women or all men because of bad encounter with a woman or guy who mistreated them and hurt them severely. We may also trace the link between bad leaders in the country or bad bosses in the office and the bad state of their married life. It should also be interesting to demonstrate the causal relationship between ill-mannered and indiscipline people and the kind of family life they had growing up.
Indeed there is nothing as beautiful as sustaining a healthy relationship that leads to marriage, one that grows generational families that are prosperous and happy. After all, if the country is an aggregation of the nucleus family, then a happy and successful family makes a happy nation. What is the point in becoming a successful, politician, musician, etc without a happy family to celebrate your success with or standby you in moments when friends and associates are not there. We need a family to bequeath our legacies and care for us when we are old and unattractive.
In this season of love, remember it a great thing to be loved and even greater for another to feel loved by you.
Akyena Brantuo Benjamin
Executive Director, Next Generation Youth League (NGYL)
NB. This article is dedicated to that woman who shaped my understanding about love. It is also dedicated to Madam Grace Anku of Fountain Gate Chapel, Ofankor, she urged me to write.
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