If you’re reading this because you’re now questioning the bag of Dove chocolates or the gold-dipped red rose you bought your lady lover for Valentine’s Day, good on you. First of all, treats and botanicals can make fine gifts. What’s more is you’re curious about what could be better.
And I’m going to tell you.
Well, actually seven of my pals are going to tell you, because below is a 2021 Valentine’s Day gift guide made by and for the gals. These powerhouses are professionals at serving and advocating on behalf of women, and together they have created a list of ways you can help women get what they really want: equity — the gift that literally keeps on giving.
Now, I’m going to share some sobering statistics about the state of women’s inequity and lack of autonomy, and you’re not going to roll your eyes and say the feminist is ruining a perfectly good commercial holiday. You won’t, because that would mean you value your romance over the plight of over half the population. And you’re too compassionate for that (so gently caress that golden rose and curiously read on).
Quick but important note: With each of my feminine descriptors, I mean any and all female-identified humans.
• The pandemic’s economic impact, now being referred to by some as the “she-cession,” has disproportionately affected women, and particularly women of color. According to the Center for American Progress, women have lost almost 1 million more jobs than men.
• The Center for American Progress also notes that on average, women in the U.S. earn $0.82 for every dollar a man makes, with Hispanic/Latina women earning $0.54, American Indian or Alaskan Native women earning $0.57, and Black women earning $0.62 to every dollar a man earns.
• The U.S. Department of Justice reported that roughly 1 in 6 women in America has experienced sexual violence in their life.
• The Center for Women and Politics reports that women hold only 26.5% of all seats in Congress and 30.6% of statewide elective executive offices, and 30.8% of all state legislators are women.
I could go on, but I don’t need to. Just one of these statistics would be ample reason to take meaningful action immediately. And doing that is romantic as heck!
So, without further ado, I present suggestions from some brilliant women.
Adrienne Andrews, assistant vice president for diversity and chief diversity officer, Weber State University
“Love someone enough to help them grow and educate themselves and those whose lives they touch! Consider a donation in honor of your loved one that contributes to a scholarship fund for women seeking educational support/opportunities. My first job at Weber State University was in Services for Women Students, where I worked with women returning to college or seeking a first time college opportunity. I know the difference a just-in-time resource can make toward student success! For more information, contact Melina Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Shireen Ghorbani, former Salt Lake County councilwoman
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the gift of deeper and more meaningful communication and the notion of grace. I come from a communications background and know it’s not always easy or graceful. Asking your partner how you can better support them, their goals, how they find joy or access pleasure — all of it — helps create an opportunity to deepen a relationship and have more fun. Grace is the exercise of courteous goodwill. We could all use a little more of that these days. It’s simple and it’s radical. Talk to each other more, listen to each other more, believe your partner when they tell you what they need, tell your partner what you need and want.”
Deidre Henderson, Utah’s lieutenant governor
Flowers are nice, but the color of those flowers matters.
“Red roses are actually banned for me,” Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson joked in a phone interview. “And I’ll tell you why.”
While doing research about Utah’s contributions to the national suffrage movement that ultimately led to voting rights for millions of women, she read about how activists from all over the nation had descended on Nashville as Tennessee was about to become the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment. On that day, those against women’s suffrage wore red rose boutonnieres, while those supporting it wore yellow. One representative, Harry T. Burn, wore a red rose, but ended up voting for suffrage because of a letter from his mother. His vote tipped the balance.
Fast forward to 2018, when Sen. Todd Weiler was sponsoring a bill to get a statue of the first elected female state senator in the country, Martha Hughes Cannon, in the U.S. Capitol. Henderson was surprised at how difficult it was to pass the legislation, but had an epiphany the day before the vote. By the next morning, each senator’s desk had a yellow rose with the story from 1920. The statue now stands tall and is on its way to Washington.
And because Utah’s Seraph Young, the first woman in the nation to cast a vote under an equal suffrage law, did so on Feb. 14, 1870, Henderson’s husband always gets her yellow roses for Valentine’s Day in honor of women’s suffrage.
Karrie Galloway, CEO, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah
“Join The Birds and The Beehive to become an ambassador with Planned Parenthood of Utah where you’ll join the fight for reproductive freedom in Utah and stay in the know on our work at the Legislature, our upcoming events, and beyond! Now, more than ever, it’s important that our hive works together to create buzz — in our local communities, on Capitol Hill, nationally and globally.”
Kimberly Peeler-Allen, chair, ERA Coalition
“Codification of the ERA would enshrine equal rights as a core value in our Constitution, finally providing an explicit guarantee of protection against discrimination on the basis of sex. It is baffling that in the United States in 2021, women, transgender and nonbinary individuals do not have equal rights under the law. The Equal Rights Amendment needs help getting over the final hurdle to codification. When it was passed in Congress there was a deadline for ratification by the states placed on the bill, the only [amendment] in U.S. history to have such a deadline. When the deadline expired in 1982, the bill was three states short of being fully ratified. As of January 2020, the three final states ratified and if the ERA had been treated the same as every other amendment to the Constitution it would now be the law of the land. But since that is not the case, we need everyone’s help. Here are 4 things that can be done to help bring equality to everyone:
1) Help us get the 28th Amendment with a contribution of $28 or more to the ERA Coalition.
2) Take the ERA Coalition’s pledge to support the work to bring equality to the constitution.
3) Use our Elect Equality map to see where your elected officials stand on the issue.
Sue Robbins, community co-host of “Everyday People,” KRCL
“Valentine’s Day is a day when we express our love for the person we choose to spend our life with, the person we choose to be intimate with. If you have a female-identified partner, she may be cisgender or transgender; lesbian, bi-sexual, or straight; able bodied or having differing abilities. When I look at love, I look at that person and embrace all they are.
“As a transgender and intersex woman and activist, my thoughts for a proper gift to that someone in your life who is of any marginalized community, is that if you have not already learned all you can and if you are not advocating for their well being, make the gift a renewed commitment to learn, support, and always speak on their behalf. And then live it every day it is needed. I love my whole self authentically and wholly. I will do the same for the person I love too.”
Liz Owens, CEO, YWCA of Utah
“Give the gift of membership to the YWCA Utah, which is dedicated to advocating for equity and autonomy of Utah women, whether in our community or at Capitol Hill. Help support our policy work to improve the well-being of Utah women through health and safety, economic empowerment and advancement, and racial and juvenile justice. Or visit our online store where you’re not only getting a shirt, mug or yard sign, you’re helping us continue to provide life-changing and life-saving services and opportunities for women and their families in Utah.”
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at email@example.com.