Sexist, Suggestive and Politically Incorrect Vintage Valentines From Days Gone By
Nothing Like a Valentine Threat
Who knew that back in the day, valentines were so full of veiled sexual innuendo and oddly violent entreaties? I had no idea until recently that it was commonplace to send valentines featuring guns in the 1930s, or that black-face valentines were considered cute?
Today, it's kind of the other way around. Valentines can very explicit and really funny when it comes to sex, but the overt racism, sexism and violence have been considerably toned down. Not sure what that says about society, but the valentines don't lie. They are full of bad puns and silly jokes,not to mention racism, sexism and some downright odd fetishes.
Back then, people traveled less, had no email or online dating services or chat rooms, and were lucky if they got to finish high school let alone go to college. People entered the workforce earlier and often took on adult responsibility by the age of 18, Finding a mate or just a romance was more difficult. There were restrictive rules and a limited pool of potential partners and Valentines reflected the social conditions of the time.
While "Bohemians" in Greenwich Village were indulging in what was referred to as " free love" at the turn of the 20th century, for ordinary folks out of wedlock sex was a scandal. Girls were expected to marry young and well, and men were expected to provide for their wives and families and whatever anybody did on the side was fine as along as they kept it quiet. An unmarried man with no prospects definitely did not get the girl. The idea of a couple living together without being married, let alone having casual sexual encounters, was unthinkable -- ditto same sex relationships. Women were in the kitchen and gays were in the closet. Minorities, particularly African Americans, were treated as figures of ridicule and nobody turned a hair at what today would be considered very offensive. Times were very different. As these vintage valentines show, the good old days were not always so good for everybody. .
What Is Up With All The Love Guns?
Nothing Like a Bulging Thermometer to Make a Girl Swoon
Very Odd Valentines
Racist and Sexist Valentines
Most of these old fashioned valentines run to bad puns and even worse euphemisms.They at first seem rather silly and charmingly "dated" today, but some of them are down right shocking and there is a hidden thread of sadistic violence running through some of them as well.
The outright racism is also breath-taking. It's hard to imagine how hard life was for minorities back then. They seem to be invisible in valentines except as caricatures. One can hardly believe that a Chinese man bending over an ironing board is meant to be a funny image and that Valentine messages delivered in minstrel-show black dialect could be anything but offensive.
Valentines make a rather interesting social comment on how things were and I, for one, would say that, for the most part, things were not better back in what many consider to be " the good old days" Happy Valentine's Day everybody. Let's be glad that humanity is moving( albeit at at a snail's pace) towards more equality and more compassion and more of what the day is supposed to be about -- LOVE.