Valentine’s Day in Latin America and the Caribbean is known by different names and is even celebrated on different dates. Despite this, a common trait in all countries is the fact that in commemorating this day they perpetuate and reinforce gender roles.

The love portrayed by adverts for Valentine’s Day follows traditional stereotypes of men, women and relationships. In that sense, the celebration of love involves only heterosexual couples. Same-sex relationships are ignored as they don’t fit the ‘true love’ model.

The celebration consists of men giving gifts to demonstrate their affection, while women are excited and anxious to receive their so greatly anticipated signs of love. On this day men have to be more sensitive and less rational and women can expect to fulfill their romantic dreams. All this reinforces the male breadwinner/rational stereotype and female’s sentimental and passive nature.

Moreover, rooted in the idea that women need men to guarantee a future and a family and that women are emotionally needy, the prospect of being single is taken by many as a nightmare and a statement of failure. This generates a strong feeling of frustration and an avalanche of services and advice on how to find your perfect partner.

The way this holiday is represented ignores the foundation of a sustainable and healthy relationship. It disregards the knowledge that love consists of sharing and exchanging feelings or that love is about mutual respect and companionship.

As a result, let’s use this day to think about gender relationships and ways to promote transformative changes. One option for the day is to participate and support the campaign ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE that demands an end to violence against women and girls. You can go to V-Day’s website and find out where and at what time events are happening in your city.