FEMINIST FRIDAY: Celebrating Valentine’s Day Through The Female Gaze

Celeste ‘Love Is Back’. Image: Youtube

Welcome to another Feminist Friday column – the Valentine’s Day edition, 2021! And if you know anything about us, we of course have to make sure this celebration of love is through an intersectional feminist lens and the female gaze.

This week we wanted to share some videos that give a different, perhaps more realistic and nuanced view on love and relationships, steering away from the commercialism and capitalist notion of the celebration that seems to dominate Feb 14.

First up is a an “anti-love” story short film by Russian director Daria Geller. A modern interpretation of He & She, a short story consisting of letters between two lovers written by Anton Chekhov in the 19th century, Him & Her illustrates how the way we love hasn’t changed over the years. Him & Her questions the nature of love – an anti fairy tale offering a more realistic depiction of relationships. The short film explores toxic dynamics which, though they don’t fit into society’s expectations of romance, can form an intrinsic part of love.

There’s a true rawness to Him & Her. From the cast and cinematography to the sound and styling, there’s a constant battle between contrasting feelings, moods and qualities. Two people capable of being ugly and beautiful at the same time, that equally love and hate one another and can’t stand being in the same room, but would be left empty without each other.

The film is currently being screened at a range of international film festivals and has won Best Short Film and Best Actress at Cinalfama, Best Short and Best Cinematography at Indie Short Fest and has been nominated for Best Cinematography at ARFF Berlin International Awards. Watch Him & Her below:

The second video comes from Nashville-based singer/songwriter MEIA, whose new music video and song ‘Date Myself’ is a female empowerment anthem reminding us that we do not need to be beholden to heteronormative standards of love and relationships, and that we as individuals are whole human beings regardless of our relationship status. It’s also an acknowledgement of the movement for sex positivity, sexual autonomy, and breaking down stigma around women embracing their own sexuality on their own terms.

“Date Myself was written to empower women in hopes that​they start to care less about society’s standards and just embrace how they feel. I think the world has changed quite a bit and women are now, more than ever expressing their sexuality. Men aren’t the only ones who crave sex. Women have this whole time, just likely felt the need to be “ladylike” and quiet about it,” said the singer in a press release.

She went on to say the song came about after a studio session filled with talented creators and wine until 3 in the morning. There is also the unofficial nod to the groundbreaking Cardi B hit ‘WAP’, featuring Megan Thee Stallion, which unearthed some important cultural conversations around the empowering nature of female sexuality, much to the chagrin of conservatives, naturally.

“I think it’s extremely important to feel sexy and confident in yourself before others tell you so…Someone can hear this song and think it’s about self love but others could think it’s about WAP. I wanted this song to empower listeners in more ways than one. To me, this song means to love yourself, with or without anybody else. We live in a world where women are finally beginning to be bold and unafraid to say what they wish to,” said MEIA. Watch ‘Date Myself’ below:

The final Valentine’s Day celebratory video this week comes from British artist Celeste, who’s ‘Love Is Back’ music video features a star-studded cameo list including Spice Girl Mel C! Taken from her debut album ‘Not Your Muse’ which is out now, Celeste recently told NME.com in an interview that the video is a satirical look at love.

“It pinpoints the moment you see someone who you really fancy, the feeling is all new again, you get carried away with the idea of who you think they may be…You then think you are in love again… And then the reality comes to you that this person really isn’t right at all! Although now when I sing it the feeling is different because love really is back!”

Director Sammy King told NME the video is set in 1980’s London. “

“The women of a buzzing stock exchange office are working around the clock to help bring Love back to the top and to do so, they’ll have to work together to sell Love Stocks via the airwaves. Celeste takes it upon herself to educate an exclusively male board about Love and how to bring these numbers back up worldwide. This video is an homage to the limitless capacities of female empowerment, consequently transmitting the message that Love is our most valuable resource,” said the director.

Watch ‘Love is Back’ below, and here’s to an empowering, feminist Valentine’s Day today and every year.