February 14: just one more day among the birthdays and anniversaries that makes our boyfriends squirm with panic. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to think that girls are pretty easy to shop for. Keep it traditional with flowers and chocolates; keep it simple with a home-cooked meal and a night spent together, or spoil us with jewelry. See? Easy.
What’s not easy, though, is buying a nice Valentine’s Day gift for the men in our lives. You may think that we have everything perfectly planned out, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. We don’t. Guys are pretty much the hardest to shop for because, well, you can’t really give a guy flowers and jewelry, can you?
Concordia graduate student Cheryl MacDonald is writing her thesis on masculinity and young men. According to her, flowers may not exactly be the perfect gift, depending on the guy. “Men will typically feel less masculine if given traditionally feminine gifts because our historical patterns of socialization have taught them to feel emasculated in these instances. We’re taught by our families, friends and others that certain gifts are meant for certain genders,” said MacDonald. She added that this is becoming less common, though.
MacDonald went on to explain that if it were not for the gendered pattern of socialization, more men would be comfortable receiving gifts typically given to women. “In fact, we’re currently seeing an increase in the number of men who are willing to break the gender barrier and reveal that they would love typically feminine gifts such as plants, flowers or spa treatments. This is not to say that all men feel this way, but there is evidence of men falling closer to the median on the gender continuum regarding this subject,” she said.
A great tip MacDonald has for seeking out the perfect gift is to focus on interests more than on gender associations. “It’s important to pay attention to a man’s likes and dislikes and show that you’ve taken the time to tune into them. When you view the gift-buying process this way, gender sometimes becomes less of a priority,” she added.
First-year English literature student Vicky Walling had similar things to say about Valentine’s Day gift-giving. “I usually try to get something for my boyfriend that I know he’ll enjoy. I think Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating love between two individuals, so I really want to spoil my man and get him something he might not get for himself.”
She said that she wouldn’t shy away from getting him more girly gifts, either. “I don’t particularly believe in gender roles. Besides, who doesn’t like jewelry or flowers? Guys are a lot more mushy than girls think,” she said. Vicky added that guys just want to know that their lovers really care for them and have made an effort to do something fun and personal. There’s no need to get a dozen roses, but maybe one simple flower will do the trick. Most importantly, Vicky says, is to just do what you’re comfortable with.
So we’ve heard what the girls have to say, but what about the guys? Concordia business student Steven Santillo said that he definitely wouldn’t expect a bouquet of flowers because “women usually get the flowers,” but he wouldn’t be bothered by it either. And he doesn’t mind jewelry. “Jewelry is great. It isn’t just an awesome gift for women, men like that stuff too.” The best gift he ever received for Valentine’s Day was a collage of photos of him and his girlfriend, with his favourite sweet treat, Ferrero Rocher, on the side.
The key to Valentine’s Day is to keep things simple. Sometimes all you need is a cute card with a heartfelt message written inside. The common thread is clear: focus on what your significant other is really interested in, and personalize the gift to show that you put a lot of thought into it. So although it may be a Hallmark holiday, there’s no harm in having a little fun on Valentine’s Day with some thoughtful and unique gift-giving to win your loved one’s heart.