If you’re wondering if you can send a Valentine’s Day card to someone who’s not your girlfriend or wife without committing sexual harassment or getting written up in a tabloid 20 years from now, on this first occurrence of the romance-laden holiday after #MeToo began, join the club.
More than 20 percent of millennial men in the US, for example, think asking a co-worker out for a drink constitutes sexual harassment.
But fear no more. Lots of students around the country are offering advice about what is and is not acceptable on Valentine’s Day.
- Neha Konjeti at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Illinois, tells us “What Not to Say on Valentine’s Day”
- Vicki Zhang at Catonsville High School in Maryland shares some recipes in “Easy Valentine’s Treats to Make”
- Lauren Wols and Samia Douedari at Hinsdale Central High School, also in Illinois, provide a “Valentine’s Day Gift Guide”
- Hana Leftridge at Bel Air High School, also in Maryland, shows us how to “Spread the Love” through the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
- But Claire Tetro at Broomfield High School in Colorado seems to think that “Valentine’s Day Is for Suckers”
What we can learn from this is the following: Go ahead and share a friendly word with a friend or make a new friend. Go ahead and bake your treats or buy a moderately-priced or expensive gift. But remember, part of the #MeToo movement has accepted the fact that innocent men will be tried and found guilty on Twitter before being given a chance to defend themselves in court or make their case for innocence. They consider this collateral damage and the breakdown of due process to be worth the loss if we can bring down the patriarchy.
Valentine’s Day is a chance to show that courtship is still alive and vibrant but also that we can feel affection for people around us without pushing that in a romantic direction, that we can love our neighbors—even those of the opposite sex, even children in hospital beds in Ohio—without exerting power, asserting male superiority, or assuming consent.