Lovelocks are a defacement of public property. There, I said it. I hate them.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. In the past five years padlocks, bike locks and handcuffs have been popping up on bridges around the world. Some say these Cadenas d’Amour originated in Paris, the city of lovers. While standing on iconic French bridges like the Pont de Arts, or the Pont de l’Archevede, couples write their names on a lock, hook it to the bridge and then throw the key into the River Seine. Others say the lovelock tradition started in China, where padlocks blanket every metal pole and fence around Mount Huang, The Yellow Mountain in Huangshan. Here enamored couples symbolically lock their souls together and throw the key into the Valley of Mists. All around the world, from the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, to the Ha’Penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland, these symbols of devotion have been springing up as lovers affix their permanent public displays of affection to bridges everywhere.
Wow. How romantic.
Except, not really. Take the rose tinted glasses off and think about it for a minute. First and foremost, what is love without the freedom to walk away?
As the New York Times so elegantly put it, “To love truly is to want the other free… Love is not about possession or property. Love is no prison where two people are each other’s slaves.”
Love is inherently fragile. It’s hazardous, it hurts, it’s incredibly rewarding and it’s also devastating. The constant, everlasting love of fairytales that the locks on bridges everywhere dare to symbolize simply does not exist. Not only that, but if you truly love someone wouldn’t you want them to be free to walk away, which makes their choice to stay with you instead all the more powerful?
Lovelocks are also physically destroying historical monuments. In their efforts to consecrate their eternal love, couples have dared to damage bridges and statues all around Europe. Last February the French government removed five damaged grates on The Pont de Arts in France, replacing them temporarily with plywood planks. Each grate bears the weight of about 330 pounds worth of locks and they are simply breaking down under the pressure. Additionally, it’s easier for metal re-sellers to remove the padlocks by cutting the grates themselves than to cut through the heavy metal of the locks. Not to mention the damage to the River Seine! Imagine hundreds of people every week throwing metal keys into the river to lie there and rust for years to come.
On a superficial level, yes, lovelocks are romantic with their overt symbolism of everlasting love and romance. But if you look a little bit closer, think about it a bit harder, there’s really nothing romantic about them.
So please, BU Students, stop attaching padlocks to the St Mary’s bridge in South. Love isn’t in a cold, metal padlock. Throwing a key onto a 6-lane highway is less of a romantic gesture and more of hazard to oncoming traffic. All I ask, even if you disagree with me, is to think about it and to please, just stop with the lovelocks.
If you’re interested in reading more about lovelocks and about an artist’s attempt to interpret them check out this fascinating article.