By Kali Nelson
I’m going to come right out and say it: I love my friends. They mean the world to me, but not in a romantic way. It’s more of a platonic love that I have for them. “I love you” has a lot going for it, it says so much, considering it’s only three words. The ancient Greeks were onto something here—they had six (yes, six) different words for love. But the one I would like to focus on is Philia.
I bring this up because Tuesday was Valentine’s Day—a day that focuses on romantic love or for the ancient Greeks, either Eros, a sexual love; Ludus, a young love; and Pragma, the kind of love you have after years together. But Philia is underrepresented. From a young age, children are teased about having a girlfriend or a boyfriend, but we forget that we can love people and still be just their friend.
On February 13, many people celebrated a holiday called Galentine’s Day. It was first brought to our attention by Leslie Knope from the TV show Parks and Recreation. She invited all her girlfriends out to brunch, shared stories from the year, and Leslie, true to her character, handed out gifts. This has become the basis of this pseudo-holiday.
Galentine’s Day has become one of my favorite examples of philia that I can think of. This is such a pure holiday; it’s only aim is to make our girlfriends feel loved. Our girlfriends are worth honoring and remembering and celebrating because without them, I know that I, at least, would not be who I am. This is a holiday that I can fully support, it isn’t commercialized, it isn’t hated on, yet and it is about telling my friends about how great I think they are. This holiday is about reminding your friends that you love them and that someone is always there for them. I celebrate Galentine’s Day because my friends deserve it. It can be a simple as telling them how much they mean to me or making them a card or as extravagant taking them out to dinner.
Did you know that depression occurs most frequently in women ages 25 to 44? Or that girls aged 14 to 18 are twice as likely to have depression than boys of the same age? These stats are alarming. I read a story about a boy who gave chocolates to every girl in his high school after learning these facts. I’m not against this at all, I’m all for it. I can get behind a boy being nice and spreading a little bit of love, but women can spread this love, too.
Women have been pitted against each other since we were born. We fight girls for “the attention of men” as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reports. We need to stop tearing each other down and build each other up. Women have been conditioned to see other women as threats, but that’s not the case. These women are our friends—they are there for us when no one else is, and they need to be recognized. Galentine’s Day is a great way to keep this up. Why not throw a party for all your girlfriends and let them know how much you love them?
Galentine’s Day does this for me. I see this as a way for us to remember that these are our friends. And if you really want to, why not make the day after Valentine’s Day the day you celebrate your guy friends, we can call it Broentine’s Day, because toxic masculinity hurts everyone. It creates a culture that says “men don’t cry,” which not only is stupid, because men are human, too, but wrong because it also can lead to depression. Everyone needs love now, both our girlfriends and our boyfriends. So go forth and spread the philia, my friends.