Valentine's Duh: There's Nothing Funny About Stalking.

Valentine’s Day is next week—a time for Occupying VDay, celebrating Galentine’s Day, or, for the more traditional among us, spending lots of money on fancy cards and pink candy. While a polarizing event to be sure, Valentine’s Day is, in its purest form, about love (and candy). What it is not about, at all, is stalking.

You know who missed the “stalking is not romantic in any way and therefore should not be included in any Valentine’s Day paraphernalia” memo? LOTS OF PEOPLE.

red card reads: stalker is a harsh wordinside of card reads: I prefer Valentine
From Target

pink card has a photo of a white man with binoculars on the front. Text reads: somewhere there's someone who dreams of your smile, and finds in your presence that life is worthwhile. So when you are lonely remember it's true, somewhere a STALKER is thinking of you
One of MANY from Zazzle

Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction on a card that says Happy Valentines Day
One of MANY from Etsy

someecard that reads: Your stalker wishes you a Happy Valentine's Day
One of MANY from someecards

You get the idea.

Considering the very unfunny fact that 54% of femicide victims reported stalking to police before they were killed by their stalkers, and well over a million people are victims of stalking in the US each year, I don’t think my Cupid’s arrow is off the mark here when I say this is not something that should be made light of or associated with Valentine’s Day. AT ALL.

Why then, is this acceptable Valentine’s Day “humor”? Sure, many of the outlets selling stalker valentines are user-generated (someecards, zazzle, Etsy), but why are users generating them in the first place? Is holiday-themed violent crime that much of a chucklefest? Why not a line of Christmas murder cards, then? A set of assault-themed wedding invitations? (Please no one make those cards.) My guess is that, since the vast majority of stalking victims are women who know their stalker, some misogynist douchebags have decided that knowing someone who commits a crime against you is the same thing as loving them. And that it’s fine to make light of crimes that are typically perpetuated by men against women (see also: rape jokes). I mean, they’re just women, right?! Can’t they take a (stalker-themed, humorless) joke?

No matter how you feel about Valentine’s Day as an institution, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that stalking humor shouldn’t play a role in your celebration. But I’m telling you (and the purveyors and purchasers of these cards) anyway: Stalking isn’t funny, and it sure isn’t romantic. Stick to the sappy hearts and pink candy, people.

There’s a Care2 petition you can sign to ask Target to take the stalking card off their shelves before Tuesday.

Further reading: Hollaback!

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

Stalker Valentines

I agree, this is distasteful. I had a mentally compromised person stalking me for over a year. It is scary. After I found out I was expecting a baby, I contacted the police. I was afraid for my life. (It was not his baby, we had never had a dating or intimate relationship.) These valentines are not funny or acceptable to me at all.

First, I completely agree

First, I completely agree that stalking is unacceptable behavior and is in no way defensible, romantic, cute, charming, etc. But that's exactly why I think those cards are funny. Then again, I also joke about child molesting, bestiality, and any number of other things to which I am deeply morally opposed. I don't think joking about a thing, even a horrible thing, means that a person supports or condones that thing, even unconsciously.

This actually (and weirdly) brings to mind a conversation I had on an internet mailing list dedicated to the band XTC in the late 1990's. They have a song called "My Weapon" which is pretty clearly about a guy who is misogynistic, both hating and fearing women and their sexuality. The chorus is a suggestion that he is venting these feelings on her using "his weapon" during (possibly non-consensual -- it's never really stated) sex. Anyway, I always liked the song, because I clearly saw it as making fun of small-minded idiots who actually viewed women in that way. It boggled my mind that anyone could hear that song and interpret it as condoning or celebrating the behavior in any way. Yes, the song was written from the point of view of the guy in question, so the song didn't outright state that it was parody. But I liked the song because listening to it showed just how fucking ridiculous that way of thinking really was.

Anyway, I kind of feel the same way about some of the cards cited above. They are funny to me precisely because of how obviously inappropriate and wrong such behavior would be. Thus the humor is in juxtaposing that with the ostensibly romantic framework of a VD card.

I do get that some people probably see these and don't see them as ironic, they just take them at face value. But I really can't imagine anyone who otherwise wouldn't be a stalker being influenced by these cards. The sort of people who would send one and consider it a true endorsement of stalking is probably someone whose mindset was already pretty pro-stalking in the first place. Or that's how it seems to me anyway.

To be clear, I am totally opposed to stalking, and I do agree it is responsible for a great deal of sexual violence, I just don't see joking about it as being part of the problem. But I joke about pretty much anything. I can't really think of a topic that I consider off-limits for humor. The more potentially offensive a topic, the more it can be humorous, I think.

Honestly, Mitch Harding, the

SO Agreed!


LIGHTEN UP!!!!!!! Jeez...there's far more things to be upset about. You don't get it, don't buy the card. It's that simple.

I have to admit that I agree

I also agree

Shut up Mitch

A quote and alternative interpretation

One quote I heard recently that springs to mind after reading this conversation is "Gallows humor is for the person on the gallows, not the picnicking crowd." I use gallows humor to get through my own life, but do not welcome it from those who have not "been there" and nor would I ever try to apply it to some else's experiences.

However another way to interpret these cards might be by that they are pointing out that what is deemed romantic in fiction, is (rightfully) considered stalking in real life. This actually could be part of a brilliant commentary.

I'm probably over thinking it though.

A bitter medicine.

Hello ladies and men. My name is Kyle. These cards make me feel un-easy. Your posts make me feel uneasy too. I feel like you hate me before I say a word. Someone called me a stalker once. I didn't think it was funny. It upset me terribly. I didnt view any of my friends facebook pages for weeks. I think every good Parent is a stalker. So is every good friend. I think. Unfortunatly so is our worst enemy. I think that is what these cards are saying. At least, that is what they say to me in the best light.

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