A feminist Valentine’s Day

Article by Diana Patchett
St Margaret's College, New Zealand / 14 February 2019

As the leader of a girls’ school, Valentine’s Day presents a challenge. I am committed to empowering girls and freeing them from unhelpful gender stereotypes so that they can step into the world with the confidence to follow their passion and play to their strengths. So, you can imagine the difficulty I have in navigating the traditional ‘boy woos girl with flowers’ behaviour and expectations of Valentine’s Day.

Thankfully, our girls are unencumbered by these established conventions and have rebranded Valentine’s Day to a day of equal opportunity — first by showing kindness to each other, with our seniors spreading chocolate joy around the school and messages of affection dotted throughout the campus. And, while generations past may have waited demurely for the boys to arrive with cards and flowers, our girls were out before dawn leaving Christ’s College a red and white Valentine’s Day message on their school gate. It is fabulous to see our young women living these feminist ideals so naturally.

As adults, perhaps this does not come quite so naturally, yet I hope we would all support the advocacy of women’s rights and equality of the sexes. Being a girls’ school offers us a tremendous opportunity to provide an environment free from gender expectations, enabling our girls to step into any space to which they aspire and allowing them to admire the incredible diversity of talents among their female peers. Here we celebrate girls who are good with technology, girls who write poetry, girls who are fierce on the sports field, girls who bring you to tears with their musical prowess and girls who are a lovely mix of everything!

In doing so, we are empowering girls to stand side-by-side with the boys, as it should be, for in the words of a modern heroine, Malala Yousafzai, ‘We cannot all succeed, when half of us are held back.’
So, may our SMC community feel the love today, may you show gratitude for those you care about and, most of all, may you enjoy a day full of kindness.