By Tara Trevaskis Hoskin
Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) gave a whole new meaning to February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day, in the sixteenth episode of season 2 of Parks and Recreation, when she created “Galentine’s Day”. Now, more than 10 years on from the season airing, Galentine’s has become a very real holiday for lots of women around the planet. In the show, Leslie started the event to spend time away from the men in the office and, equally, to celebrate the women in her life. To do this, she took her lady friends to brunch, and in true Leslie style, wrote them each a 5,000-word essay about how wonderful they all were. And so, the Galentine’s tradition was born. A day to celebrate our platonic female friendships is something many people get behind, with women now honouring the day annually by going for a meal with their pals, buying them gifts or simply spending some quality time with women they love.
Valentine’s Day is often written off as a fad, now seen as a made-up day for consumerism, but even with this common attitude, the day still places a lot of unnecessary pressure on people. Now, Valentine’s Day reads like Christmas, in that when there is a holiday in which people are expected to be happy, it often has an adverse effect. The stress of proving to someone that you love them through a store-bought card or equally, the reminder that is indeed a mortal sin to be single, can be discouraging during this holiday. Not to mention the societal expectation that if you are in a relationship on Feb 14TH you should be happy, and if not, it is a day to sit in and cry. Galentine’s Day, on the other hand, doesn’t have this pressure; it is about relaxing with the friends that we too often don’t have time for in our busy lives. It also gives us an opportunity to celebrate our friendships, and thank our girls for being sources of support, laughter and of course love in our lives.
Unfortunately, romantic relationships are often deemed more important within our society and friendships are simply there to fill time while we are on the hunt for our “other half.” The tradition of Galentine’s Day disputes this notion and recognises people as full individuals within themselves, with many different types of relationships being crucial to a happy life. Love means lots of different things, but Valentine’s Day shrinks it into one romantic sense of the word, forgetting about how much we love our dogs, food, friends and even Parks and Recreation. Having more days that encourage celebrating more than just traditional romantic love can’t be a negative thing.
However, this day is about more than just chilling with the girls. The feminist undertones of Galentine’s Day simply cannot be ignored. So often in the media and even in everyday life, we see women pitted against each other and made to view each other as competition rather than as friends. We see it in our reality tv shows, where girls must prove they’re better than one another to win the perfect guy. We’re looking at you Love Island and The Bachelor. Award shows showcase voting columns over which woman was better dressed, and influencers tell us daily that we can look better if we buy some teeth whitening kit. There are constant messages from the media pitting us up against each other, but on Galentine’s Day, it’s about bringing us women together. It is about reminding us that we are stronger together, and even if our female friendships are not celebrated in a consumerist holiday or by the mainstream media, it does not deem them unworthy. So, this Galentine’s Day, tell your girls you love them, maybe even write them a 5,000-word essay and keep fighting the oppressive forces of competition and patriarchy. In the wise words of Leslie Knope “You know my code: hoes before bros. Uteruses before duderuses… Ovaries before brovaries.”