WASHINGTON — We have to face it, bravely and forthrightly, like serious men and women who recognize a sobering sexual crisis when they see it. There is no use fighting it anymore.
Valentine’s Day should be abolished this year.
In an era like this one, it’s best to forget the idea of celebrating romantic love, with its heightened exhilaration and expectation of nirvanic perfection, not to speak of all those brain chemicals gone berserk with desire. If you haven’t already figured out why, take a moment to consider our present situation.
First, if you’re not careful, your romantic Valentine dreams will be swept away by the veritable tsunami of famous men being destroyed by revelations that have doomed them to the moral charnel houses of history. The Harvey Weinsteins, the Bill Cosbys, the Louis C.K.s; surely you know the lineup.
But these humiliations are also being unjustly heaped upon younger men who are now suffering from the malefactions of the few. How else to explain the sudden, sad popularity of the book “12 Rules for Life,” by Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, who writes of young men feeling fatherless and inferior, filled with self-contempt and unable to act assertively.
This saga of humiliation is backed up by the Greek chorus of raging women, inspired by social media and shouting figuratively, “#MeToo, #MeToo, #MeToo,” while they search for new males to expose (perhaps an inappropriate word, I admit).
Second, you face the danger of being bored out of your wits, supposing you have any left, by popular discussions like the one I just witnessed on television.
An ever-so-erudite and serious group was talking about first getting “explicit consent” from a woman for you-know-what; about the importance of sensing and acting upon “nonverbal clues” before you even THINK of you-know-what; and about how “communication” is the answer (everyone smiling here) to the problem of, well, you know by now.
Can’t you just see it?
HE: Will you kindly please do me the favor, since I am asking in words that are EXPLICIT, of allowing me first to hold your hand?
SHE: Actually, I thought that was IMPLICIT in my going out with you, but we really haven’t COMMUNICATED enough about it, so let me think it over for an hour or two before we actually hook up.
“Hook up”? There are two inspiring Valentine’s words for our era. Seems to me the phrase used to mean hooking a horse to a wagon, but it’s probably better not to bring that up. I’m already in enough trouble.
Now, I have to admit there are many things I do not understand.
I do not understand how so many of the worst male malefactors seem to think that waving their embarrassingly common naked private parts before women excites them, when it is more likely to utterly disgust them. I do not understand why some women seem to be making up stories about men, probably to get even for some real or presumed insult.
And I do not, of course, understand the basic question of, “Where did all the old hearts and flowers go?” Valentine’s Day was such a lovely day.
But wait just a little minute! When I looked into it, I discovered that Valentine’s Day — SAINT Valentine’s Day, if you will — was not always about hearts and flowers. In fact, its history can be traced back to ancient Rome, where those bad pagans beat the women and then drew names from a jar for, well, you-know-what.
And we must never forget Socrates who, in Plato’s “Symposium,” posited two types of love: Vulgar Eros or earthly love and Divine Eros or divine love. Mankind has always alternated between these two types of love, and we are no different from the rest of them. History always consoles, helping us to know that we are not alone.
So, at least for this year, let’s all step back, take a deep breath and focus on other kinds of love, particularly something I call “romantic friendship” — a female/male friendship with a hint of flirtation but based primarily on affinity and intellect.
I won’t celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, but I WILL think more profoundly about true love between all kinds of human beings and not only one man and woman, as lovely as that was — and will be again.
(Georgie Anne Geyer has been a foreign correspondent and commentator on international affairs for more than 40 years. She can be reached at gigi_geyer(at)juno.com.)