Ah Valentine’s Day. The sweet smell of overpriced roses. The whiff of panicked chocolate buying. The pressure joy of semi-forced romance.
Beyond a single eyebrow raise indicating mild scepticism at the industry of it all, I don’t have a huge problem with Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating love for a day, even if it comes at an inflated cost. There’s even something quite nice about taking a day to celebrate each other and the utter improbability of finding love with a particular, single human entity in a chaotic world that extends both backwards and forwards in time and space beyond our timeline of insignificant existence.
But what I have noticed in even the briefest search for a card, is that in amongst the genuinely funny, the sweet, the shmultzy, the weird, the modern, the parodies, the gross (in saccharine levels and in referencing bodily functions far too graphically), the basic, the rude, the quoting of TV shows I haven’t seen and therefore don’t get is that there are still a bunch of really unpleasant sometimes sexist, sometimes just nasty cards out there masquerading as humour.
So here are my worst Valentine’s Day cards seen in 2019:
First up we have the category of pressure to have sex! It’s the woman’s place to “put out” and “do anal” for a bit of extra affection because isn’t that what real love is based on? Nothing like a bit of insidious rape culture to make anyone feel sexy on this day of lurve.
No, you may not have any feelings or expectations of how to be treated! And how dare you get upset if I, the man, do not make you feel as valued as you would like. So don’t get in a mood love, I did some bare minimum twitter and got you this card to pre-empt you and your godawful endless feelings. And even though it’s actually quite mean and really passive aggressive, you’re not allowed to complain about it because I got you something for Valentine’s Day didn’t I and isn’t that what you wanted? Urgh, bitches be crazy.
And the Valentine’s Day award for loving body shaming goes to… Because obviously anyone over a size (insert acceptable number here – I literally don’t even know what it is anymore) doesn’t deserve to have love and if someone is attracted to them or they do create a connection with another person then frankly we should get Sherlock Holmes on this because there must be some kind of mystery force at play.
Continuing on the body shaming theme, let’s talk about hair and autonomy. In 2019, does anyone really have full autonomy over their bodies? Like, seriously guys, don’t we all control someone else’s decisions in a way? Gotta love the guilt that comes with not complying to someone else’s idealised hairless wonder, infantilised image of you. Because you know who doesn’t have body hair? Children. That’s who.
Speaking of ageing, women just aren’t allowed to do that are they? Well, not if they want to be seen as attractive they’re not. And if they do manage to survive to over 45 and not be decrepit and disgusting, you better be damn sure to value them only on their physical attributes. Don’t even think about their intelligence or wit, that way madness lies. Older women are allowed to be a power-mad fetish or a harmless biddy and NOTHING IN BETWEEN.
And then there’s this gem which sort of captures them all. Want to make someone feel old, ugly and belittled for having feelings all in one fell swoop? THIS IS THE ONE TO GET GUYS.
Life achievements can be measured in lots of ways, but for women the most important things are being consistently, impossibly beautiful and finding a husband. And for men marrying women, the most important thing is her beauty. You can’t show off a munter down at the club can you? So if a woman’s greatest achievement is finally getting her old arse off the shelf and into the arms of whatever man will take her, a man’s greatest achievement is being able to rank said woman in the top (shelf) tier of stereotyped beauty standards!
This final card gets an honourable mention because it’s kind of disturbing, not because it’s telling anyone how to be but because it seems to be the kind of card you’d send to a friend telling them to get out of an abusive relationship. But it is genuinely listed in the category of Valentine’s Day cards and it did come up in my search results so here it is for your disturbed viewing pleasure.
I find it kind of baffling that these things are still considered jokes. Because that’s the defence isn’t it?
“Oh come on where’s your sense of humour? It’s just a joke, they’re kind of funny, why are you ruining it?”
Because ultimately, the recipient of said “joke” is also the tired butt of it. Because women have taken enough crap about our emotions, our bodies, our status, our age, our presence in the world. Because if you’re going to get your partner a card and you want it to be light hearted and funny, make sure it actually is. Because I’m a proud feminist and I love comedy and it does women, jokes and yes even Valentine’s Day a disservice to keep perpetuating these horrible tropes.
So Happy Valentine’s Day from your friendly neighbourhood feminist killjoy. May you share your love and humour with mindful kindness and may we continue to smash the damaging patriarchy one stupid stereotype at a time.