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creepy domestic violence misogyny rape culture violence against women

26 creepy, threatening or otherwise completely inappropriate vintage Valentine’s Day cards

Today, a little trip back in time to Valentine’s Days past. Which turns out to be a lot weirder than you might have expected, at least if the Valentine’s Day cards our ancestors gave each other are any indication.

So let’s take a look at a little over two dozen vintage Valentine’s Day cards that are creepy, threatening, or otherwise completely inappropriate for any occasion.

Let’s start with some cards that bungle the relatively straightforward concept of consent.

And while we’re talking about people beating each other with clubs, here’s a card that portrays domestic violence as more cute than scary.

Well that accelerated quickly:

Some of these cards are just weirdly ominous.

And there are so many guns!

And knives:

And swords:

And ropes?

These give off a real stalkerish vibe.

For some reason there’s a lot of cannibalism going on.

Now, not all of the cards I found were as unnerving as the ones above. Some were just suggestive. Very weirdly suggestive.

And then there’s this card, designed specifically for Rudy Giuliani.

I hope I haven’t ruined anyone’s Valentine’s Day with that last one.

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Crip Dyke
11 days ago

Can I add a good one?

Last edited 11 days ago by Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
11 days ago

I would post the picture directly but I don’t know how.

Nikki the Bluth Wannabe
Nikki the Bluth Wannabe
11 days ago

I’m actually not sure the baseball-themed “you strike me right” card is meant to portray domestic violence. I think the girl hit the baseball, which then hit the boy in the eye and knocked him down when he tried to catch it. Even so, it still wasn’t a good idea to make a greeting card with that much ambiguity in it, especially a Valentine’s Day card.

Naglfar
Naglfar
11 days ago

The clubs in particular are a bit disconcerting. Maybe they got confused about what people meant when they talking about “bonking” on Valentine’s Day?

Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
Redsilkphoenix: Jetpack Vixen, Intergalactic Meani
11 days ago

On the other hand, the club is in character for the Pebbles and Bam-bam one (third one down for those not familiar with the original Flintstones show). Though I don’t recall Bam-bam ever using his club to threaten Pebbles to get his way on anything, so there’s at least that. Though it’s been ages since I saw that show, so my memory may be off on that point.

Speaking of Bam-bam, was there ever a storyline explaining who his bio parents were, and why they left him on Barney and Betty’s doorstep? Either in the original Flintstones series, or the Saturday morning sequel where he and Pebbles were teenagers going to high school? Just wondering if that ever got addressed in any official canon episode or something. (Presumably somewhere there’s a fanfic or two that addressed that plot point.)

Snowberry
Snowberry
11 days ago

I don’t see too much problem with a lot of these, in a vacuum. They’re just updates of metaphors which were old-timey even in their day and kind of dark-humorish looks at love. I do see the “I want to possess you, will you let me” subtext which most of these express to be too strong a message for some people, and would make them uncomfortable, but as many people actually like that subtext, I’m not sure there’s a good solution here.

Full Metal Ox
11 days ago

@Redsilkphoenix:

Speaking of Bam-bam, was there ever a storyline explaining who his bio parents were, and why they left him on Barney and Betty’s doorstep? Either in the original Flintstones series, or the Saturday morning sequel where he and Pebbles were teenagers going to high school? Just wondering if that ever got addressed in any official canon episode or something. (Presumably somewhere there’s a fanfic or two that addressed that plot point.)

Actually, I find it refreshing that an occasional fictional adoptee exists whose biological parentage isn’t a heaping pile of narrativium; the only other examples who come immediately to mind are Swee’Pea and Jinpei from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. (I also note that Bam-Bam’s super-strength apparently ceased to be an issue once he reached adolescence; perhaps he grew into it?)

Dave Bates
Dave Bates
11 days ago

We handed out Valentine cards similar to these when I was in school and never gave much of a thought about them, negatively or otherwise. They were just tokens. There was no agenda. Nobody suggested to us that they were improper or I suppose we would have stopped giving them.

numerobis
numerobis
11 days ago

I kinda like the ropes one, they seem to invite having fun together (though it’s not my kink). The rest seem way too pushy.

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
11 days ago

The ropes one is okay by me — anyone who’s old enough to understand it gets it, otherwise it’s just a cutesy Western pun. And the kid’s expression seems to hint “if you are a person of my preferred gender expression who’d like a little bondage, I’m your cowpoke. Yee-ha!”

But I’m creeped out by the suicidal ones — I mean, even kids young enough to have handed these around were liable to think “wow, way too much pressure from someone I don’t like!” (aka that icky boy in the back of the class that you gave the boringest Valentine too just because Mom told you you had to give him something) (who remained icky and is now mocked here).

That Wiki link made me snort. Sure, “they knew each other from childhood” but only “discovered” they were second cousins when Rudy wanted an annulment. I believe that about as much as I believe anything Rudy’s said since the election. You can see a line from there directly to the speech at the landscaper (between the crematorium and skeevy bookshop. I am not going to stop making that reference).

@Full Metal Ox: Yeah, nowadays nobody in a story can just be an orphan whose parent(s) couldn’t look after them and had them adopted by a nice family. It has to be a whole dramatic thing.

@Crip Dyke: hee!

tim gueguen
11 days ago

Nope, no backstory for Bamm Bamm in the original series. There would have been more than one if they bothered, as The Flintstones had horrible continuity. Take Mr. Slate. The tall, balding guy with the big nose was originally an entirely different character, called Mr. Rockhead or JJ Granite in his early appearances. Fred and Wilma’s house was given several addresses, how long they’d been married and how they met changed etc.

Sharl
Sharl
11 days ago

The ones with the ropes seem more kinky than threatening, but that’s just me XD

Viscaria
Viscaria
11 days ago

What’s going on with the eyes on the second gun one? Are those telescoping irises resting on some sort of film? I think you ought to be hunting for an ophthalmologist before a Valentine, kid.

My fav is definitely the pen on pants one because I can’t imagine a non-sexual reading of it.

Full Metal Ox
11 days ago

@Crip Dyke:

I’m not sure if this will work on the current iteration of the blog, but it used to be possible to post an image by lopping the security S off the image URL; let’s see what happens:

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/EuNRs4qVkAAOMJR.jpg

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
11 days ago

Maybe I’m just wearing pink glasses, but two of those kinda looked like they involved two women. I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to, though.

@Crip Dyke: Danny Trejo looks weirdly adorable in that image. Always a fan of his work in general.

SpecialFFrog
SpecialFFrog
11 days ago

The Royal Ontario Museum posted this amusing one: http://twitter.com/ROMtoronto/status/1361016111681142785?s=20

Alan Robertshaw
11 days ago

Er, what are that bloke’s intentions towards that bear?

I choose to interpret the picture that it’s a trap. The cute teddy bear lures him in; then all the big bears eat him for hunting.

Demonhype
Demonhype
11 days ago

@Full Metal Ox

I think Taran from the Chronicles of Prydain books was also a parentless founding whose parentage was never revealed. In fact, there was some part where he thought he’d found his father and was upset that it was a simple shepherd/farmer rather than the nobility or royalty he’d always hoped for, but it turned out the guy lied because he was old and needed help reviving the farmland that he needed to survive and told him before he died from accident injuries. But it was a major character arc, as Taran had even thought, when he saw the guy fall initially, to leave him and hoped it would bury his shame, and he did some major reassessing of his values and what kind of person he was because of that moment where he seriously considered leaving a man he believed was his father to die so he could escape the shame of being a commoners son. And in the end, the theme continues, that his bio parentage isn’t important, because nothing defines who he is except him and his own actions, and at the finale the wizard who raised him said he found him in the bushes near a battlefield where many men and women lay dead,noble and peasant, with nothing to connect him to any particular person, which really cemented that no, we aren’t going to find out his dad was secretly an emperor or anything else, and anything he gets in life is the result of his own actions and not as a gift of noble birth.

LollyPop
LollyPop
10 days ago

I nearly spit out my tea at the “baby, I love you” one. So sinister, yet so funny – if that was the artist intention then they are a design genius.

Speaking of Bam Bam, my cousins toddler has earnt that nickname after turning from the most mild mannered, sleepy baby imaginable to a cheerfully destructive whirlwind seemingly overnight. It’s very cute but his lack of any sense of personal safety is adding a few grey hairs to his parents, I think.

Surplus to Requirements
Surplus to Requirements
10 days ago

The one that appears to show a redheaded cavewoman assaulting a topless ballerina from behind?

Kimstu
Kimstu
10 days ago

The “wipe your pen upon my pants” one seems to have a piece of actual penwiper fabric forming the guy’s knickerbockers, so that at least makes some sense in a slightly bizarre take on the greeting-card-with-practical-use concept.

(Why in the ever-loving blue-eyed world that guy is standing in front of a doghouse with what looks like a shark-toothed leopard in it, though, I cannot imagine.)

Yeah, the weapons imagery is problematic but the whole classical Eros/Cupid mythology with the bow and arrows is partly to blame for it.

Kimstu
Kimstu
10 days ago

Also, the circus tent in the background of the “Let’s Come to the Point” card inclines me to think that the guy is supposed to be doing a sword swallowing act. Hard to tell in 2D, but it looks like the card has some kind of popup/cutout feature that you can manipulate to make it appear that he’s swallowing the little knife.

Still pretty weird as a valentine motif, but less skeevy than directly menacing your beloved with sharp weapons!

Tabby Lavalamp
Tabby Lavalamp
10 days ago

It’s nice to see they used to make cards specifically for Armie Hammer.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
10 days ago

I’ve never got why something being cute or lovable means you’d want to it it (or her/him/them), but somehow the one with the “sweet enough to eat” is at least… pretty? I like that the girl’s expression is less abject horror or weird delight and more “I did not sign up for this”.

The other cannibalism one is just weird. What is she doing with that giant spoon?? Is she going to boil the guy until he’s mushy enough to eat with a spoon? If it’s for stirring, she’d need a bigger pot.

Viscaria
Viscaria
10 days ago

@ Kimstu

The “wipe your pen upon my pants” one seems to have a piece of actual penwiper fabric forming the guy’s knickerbockers, so that at least makes some sense in a slightly bizarre take on the greeting-card-with-practical-use concept.

I didn’t know penwiper fabric was a thing! Huh. What an exceedingly weird Valentine. I love it.

Full Metal Ox
10 days ago

@Demonhype:

 …no, we aren’t going to find out his dad was secretly an emperor or anything else, and anything he gets in life is the result of his own actions and not as a gift of noble birth.

That was the message The Last Jedi implied about Rey, and I’m never going to forgive the way The Rise of Skywalker undid it: just kidding! She belonged to a Select Dynasty of the Special after all—just a different one.

Elaine The Witch
Elaine The Witch
10 days ago

What time period are these even from.

Naglfar
Naglfar
10 days ago

@Elaine

What time period are these even from.

If I had to guess, based on the art style I’d say most of these are from the first half of the 20th century. Maybe a few from the late 19th.

Moggie
Moggie
10 days ago

I was going to say that it’s weird to see Valentine cards infantilising romance, but then I recalled that the one time in my life I’ve sent a Valentine card was early in primary (elementary) school, where it was a class exercise. Gotta encourage conformity early, I guess.

Allandrel
Allandrel
10 days ago

@Masse_Mysteria
Guinea pigs have an “I’ll eat you up I love you so” effect on me.

Apparently this is a recognized response called “cuteness aggression.”

GSS ex-noob
GSS ex-noob
10 days ago

I honestly can’t see the “pants pen-wiping” one as anything but an enthusiastic invitation to anal sex. Possibly involving bestiality, or golf.

@SpecialFFrog: that made me laugh.

“That [animal] is so cute I want to nom on it” is said often around these here intarwebs. I may or may not have nommed sans teeth on a kitten in my time.

Alan Robertshaw
10 days ago

@ allandrel

There’s a Tagalog word for it, Gigil.

You have to admire a people who find they need a word for that. Or maybe there’s just some especially cute animals in the Philippines?

epitome of incomrepehensibility

@Dave Bates – The ones I remember were super cheesy, with lines like “sealed with a kiss” next to a picture of the animal kind of seal, and not “I want to kidnap you!” or “Love me or I’ll drown myself!”

But the mouse/cat bondage one amused me. Also “screwtinize” (probably not the double meaning the author intended…unless they did and were just trying to Get Crap Past the Radar, as TV Tropes says.)

Prith k'Dar
Prith k'Dar
8 days ago

Like the knife thrower and the girl with the bat, the one with the girl feeding the monkey has a grommet at the neck, so the head can move and the girl can shove the banana in its mouth. So even creepier than it first appears, what with the monkey looking like an old man.

Acid Kritana
7 days ago

Valentine’s Day already s.ucks, so this only made it better

Except cannibalism is gross

Wait, I’m agreeing with you on another thing