“Can’t you take a joke?” The immortal retort heard time and time again by women who have the audacity to call men out for their bad behaviour or their harmful words.
Go ahead, ask the nearest female. They’ll roll their eyes, and tell you yes; a man, somewhere, at some time, has reduced a conversation to ground zero with that semantic roadblock that leaves women unable to move forward because they (the fools) have failed to grasp the higher echelons of comedy that their male peers are operating at.
Now, once again, those exhausted women will feel the sting of ‘the joke’ as they gaze upon the work of two men, Connor Stephen and Charlie Ditchfield, who have created a range of ‘Post-Weinstein’ Valentine’s Day cards.
These two entrepreneurial geniuses decided to take their slice of the #MeToo pie and make it their own. Something, it seems, they’ve decided to do it without consulting any actual women.
On the ‘Save Valentine’s’ website, the creators pose the question: “In a post-Weinstein world, can we still have Valentine’s Day?” (Side note, would anyone apart from Hallmark actually care if we didn’t?) Their solution - a range of “thoughtful but funny” cards for “the more sensitive among us”.
The range of eye-roll-inducing cards have traditionally romantic statements on the front. And a ‘politically-correct’ disclaimer inside (because you can’t give the punchline away up front ladies).
Example A: Forever yours - or until such a time as you no longer welcome my affections, which is completely within your rights as an individual.
Example B: I’ll always be right by your side - not right by, obviously at a respectful distance. And when I say ‘always’ - only as long as you’re comfortable.
And (if your blood pressure isn’t already reaching critical levels) - Example C: You mean the world to me - It’s okay if you don’t feel the same way. Zero pressure.
The creators insist that the cards are directed for men who are concerned about approaching women in ‘the current climate’.
But for any woman reading that the cards are for the “more sensitive” among us, the message seems pretty clear. They are not laughing with us. They are laughing at us.
Even if this is just a PR stunt, this is the perfect example of male privilege.
Feeling that not only do women want you to speak on their behalf (no thank you) but that when men decide it is time to make a joke - or get publicity off the back of something women are cultivating - that we want to hear it.
For those women who had the bravery to speak out against their perpetrators, to call out the injustices women are afforded by men, they (and their activism) are being made a mockery of.
These cards minimise a situation that has ruined so many lives, and caused untold pain for women around the world.
And to add insult to injury, in a terrible pink font.
Quite frankly, if this is men’s idea of humour then we think women need to start posing the question: “Can’t you tell a joke?”
UPDATED. Connor Stephen told HuffPost UK: ”We realise it’s a sensitive area – and not one we are looking to trivialise. I expect you’ve read the ‘Why?’ section of the website and hopefully it makes our intention clearer, but essentially we are looking to encourage debate.
“Some dinosaurs are suggesting ‘things have gone too far’, that you can’t even pay a woman a compliment now. We think this is nonsense. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women are being very clear about what they will and will not tolerate, and it should be news to no one. We want to challenge those people who are worried for the state of romance – and do so with a dash of wit.”