Valentine’s Day and college applications

I hate Valentine’s Day. Loathe it. Detest it. Revile it. Abhor it. Et cetera. This vitriol has been born of several years of external pressure to “have a valentine”, I suppose. Even if you aren’t “together” with someone on February 14, it seems like you’re expected to express your affection in other ways. My school ran a “Valentine Gram” thing and we were presented with various opportunities to send messages to our secret crushes. Folks ask other folks out. And of course all the established couples have to do the whole roses/chocolates/dinner ew stereotypical clichéd expensive sexist materialist version of romance thing. And I can’t stand the industry, and I resent the pressure that I need to be with someone or pursuing someone. It’s sort of like how in junior high and early high school, the reason I completely stopped hanging out with girls for a time was because they were always asking me, “Who do you like?” and I usually felt ashamed of my crushes, either because they were other girls or because they were unpopular or conventionally unattractive (male or female) kids, and I hated the invasion of privacy. It’s just the same on Valentine’s Day. We’re asked to publicly declare our love, make a holiday and an occasion out of it — that’s not so much my style.

I mentioned the materialism, and I guess that’s the easiest element of Valentine’s Day to pinpoint as unpleasant. One of my major annoyances in life, that I’m not nearly as vocal about as I’d like to be, is the popular assumption that maintaining a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone entails buying them off: with dinners, movies and other entertainment, tokens of affection like flowers or jewelry or other presents. I have never been able to understand the way that to so many of my peers, the people who they say “I love you” to become prostitutes: folks date people they don’t even like personally, trying to win them over with these material gifts just because they’re attractive, good in bed, etc. I know that it works this way slightly less in the real world, but in the world of not-quite-adults, this is what I see. This is how Valentine’s Day looks to my eyes: a passing period that’s an unusual sea of red and pink, heart-shaped balloons floating above the seething mass of teenagers and your risk of bumping into someone carrying a tray of cupcakes increased exponentially.

And don’t even get me started on the subjugation, theory terms. Sexism, of course, and heteronormativity. Valentine’s Day promotes everything that is “acceptable” to the mainstream. And I know that loads of “unacceptable” folks are expressing their love on Valentine’s Day — the event was touched on at the lesbian parenting blog Mombian, for example, and Valentine’s Day productions of The Vagina Monologues have happened across the country. But ask the proverbial, er, person on the street, and they’re hardly going to call Valentine’s Day a celebration of sex-positivism and love having no boundaries and all that good stuff. No, it’s candy hearts and pink paper decorations and mainstream, mainstream, mainstream.

So enough of that, and now we’ll transition neatly into another rant, also having to do with heteronormativity. In the process of figuring out what corner of North America I’ll be in come September, I also have to find some funds to get me there. Doing so requires filling out quite a few forms, such as the Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Board company’s CSS/Profile, in addition to various schools’ individual forms. Now, my family is of the one-mom, one-dad, still-married variety, but I’ve paid close attention to the wordings on the forms asking for copious details on every aspect of yours and your parents’ finances. Of everything I’ve filled out to date, only one form — the CSS/Profile — contains spaces for “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”, then asking you to further specify whether each parent is a mother, father, stepfather, stepmother, legal guardian, etc. You could conceivably complete the form with two mothers, two fathers, a mother and a stepmother, etc. However, no other form is so forgiving, restricting your options to just one mother and one father. It’s mind-boggling: I mean, I expect this sort of thing from the government, so wasn’t too surprised to see it on the FAFSA. But then you have these private universities who are supposedly so enlightened as to have gender identity listed in their non-discrimination statements, and can’t manage to account for families with LGBT parents. I wrote an email to one school, since they asked for feedback on their online financial aid application, protesting this set-up. Somewhat predictably, I didn’t receive a reply.

I also have to wonder how parents with any more complicated family configuration deal with the intricacies of the financial aid forms. I have friends whose parents (of the one mother-one father configuration) are divorced, and these require that the non-custodial parent fill out an independent form, in addition to the standard form being filed by the custodial parent and the child. But what about families where the parents live together, but one was unable to secure second-parent adoption? What about families where one parent is not the biological mother or father? There are also, I am sure, even less traditional parenting arrangements, not limited to sets of parents less than or equal to two, that sort of thing, though I don’t suppose anyone can expect them to be accounted for anytime soon.

Anyway. So I know we can pretty much expect discrimination everywhere, but I was honestly surprised by the situation of financial aid.

And that was your set of rants for this evening.

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