A Feminist’s Guide to Valentine’s Day


It’s that time of year again and love is in the air.

But as an Ottawa feminist facing Valentine’s Day, Kayla Spagnoli, 26, says it’s time to clear the air.

“It’s a day filled with consumerism, exclusion and heteronormative agendas,” she says. “And that needs to be talked about.”

Check out some of the ways a feminist can confront the day without compromising ideals.


1) Don’t feel pressured.

“It’s not that I’m anti-Valentine’s Day,” Spagnoli says. “I just don’t like the expectation that is put on people to buy stuff or have sex. It’s garbage and gross and that conversation needs to happen.”

Her and her twin sister, Jenna, have a feminist blog on Tumblr called feministtwins, where often these conversations start. They promote and plan events in the Ottawa area related to feminism and human rights.

2) Do it your way.

Spagnoli, a self-described hard-core activist, is planning a mixer for all local feminists on Feb. 12 at Pink Triangle Services from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event will take shape as a DIY Valentine’s Day Card Mixer.

“Not everyone can find the perfect card,” she said. “Maybe you’re queer or trans and Hallmark messages don’t exactly fit your idea of romance. Making them yourself is a great way to feel included on a day made to exclude people.”

3) Enjoy alternatives.

There’s no reason that Valentine’s Day needs to be spent reserving a spot at the fanciest restaurant. Instead of planning the usual date night, volunteer at the local shelter or support a cause.

As a team, Planned Parenthood Ottawa and Girls Action Foundation are hosting a Feminist History Walking Tour of Ottawa on Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. The walk will start at the corner of Bank and Sparks Street and continue for eight stops while the guides talk about the local activists that have fought for and secured rights for women and girls.

“It’s an alternative to the norm,” says Spagnoli. “Everybody is different and I think it’s good to think outside the box.”