Feb 132014
 

strawberryAround this time of year, nearly all the episodes of my favorite podcasts are bookended with advertisements for Valentine’s Day gifts. I’ve heard them so often I can recite portions of the Shari’s Berries and ProFlowers scripts from memory.

The ad copies are mostly prescriptive, with one or two “blanks” where the host is expected to ad lib, offering their own experiences with the products or otherwise tailoring the advertisement to their audience.

On more than one podcast, on more than one occasion, this year I’ve heard both male and female hosts fill in the blanks with the suggestion that even when a woman explicitly says she doesn’t want a gift, her husband or boyfriend* should get her one anyway.

valentines gifts

Ignore what she says because she doesn’t really mean it? Ugh.

According to the reasoning, although a woman might say she doesn’t want a gift, she really does (which means she’s either lying or she doesn’t know what she wants). For that reason, a man should buy her a gift even if it completely disregards her stated wishes because ultimately, it’s in her best interest to avoid hurting her feelings and it’s in his best interest to avoid making her angry.

I fucking hate this… in part because it’s often true.

In my very limited experience and observation, sometimes women say they don’t want a gift because they want to be low-maintenance (or at least be perceived as low-maintenance) and because they expect their husbands or boyfriends are going to get them a gift anyway.

My feeling is that sometimes women honestly believe they don’t want a gift. But when V Day arrives and they see a coworker receiving a delivery of flowers to the office, or hear a friend bragging about romantic weekend plans, or see a saccharine rom-com on television, they’re some combination of hurt/jealous/angry that they didn’t get a gift… even though they said (and believed) they didn’t want one.

So, yeah. Sometimes it’s true, so that perception is founded.

I hate that. Please change it. Please?

If you want a gift, say so. If you expect to get a gift, tell your partner. Be honest about it.

If you don’t want a gift, say so… but you’d better mean it.

Anything else perpetuates the notion that women don’t mean what they say or don’t know what they want. Ultimately, that bolsters the idea that men should ignore what women say, that men know better, and that men know what women want even when we explicitly say otherwise.

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Off topic but tangentially related, here’s Bill Burr on the Monday Morning Podcast losing his shit trying to read the Shari’s Berries ad copy.

I have no idea why he finds it so ridiculous, but it makes me laugh every time I hear it. :)


*Occasionally podcast hosts use more inclusive language, but it’s still largely heteronormative.
image: “chocolate covered strawberry” (2007) by Joits. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License (CC BY-NC 2.0)

  9 Responses to “if she says she doesn’t want a gift…”

  1. One part of the various “holidays” that I’ve never liked is that those are the times when society tells you you’re “supposed” to present gifts. It’s the “expected” thing to do in order to be regarded as a “good” husband, boyfriend, or whatever, and It didn’t matter whether you wanted to or not or if the potential recipient really wanted one or not. This has always stuck me as a sort of Pavlovian response with no real spontaneity at all.

    I always found it to be a lot more fun to surprise her with random gifts at unexpected times and places. It was the romantic cards given “just because”, or having her follow a trail of chocolate covered cherries (her favorite) down the hallway, to a series of notes that would be clues to where her gift was hidden, that was the most fun and made her the happiest.

    Of course, I did the Valentines Day thing because I was supposed to, but really, it was those random and unexpected surprises, done for no apparent reason, that were my way of showing her that she was special to me.

    • It’s the “expected” thing to do in order to be regarded as a “good” husband, boyfriend, or whatever, and It didn’t matter whether you wanted to or not or if the potential recipient really wanted one or not.

      I know — I kinda hate this too. I don’t want anyone to do things because they’re supposed to. I like doing things (and having things done) because there’s some want involved.

      having her follow a trail of chocolate covered cherries (her favorite) down the hallway, to a series of notes that would be clues to where her gift was hidden, that was the most fun and made her the happiest.

      So sweet! D’awww :)

  2. I always operate on the theory that Molly deserves a V Day gift, even if she suggests otherwise. Better safe than sorry!

    Mick

  3. So you want a gift or you don’t want a gift?! I’m so confused! *cries* Just kidding. This is the thing I tell my partner when I am with her. I WANT to give you a gift. I will respect your wishes if you absolutely don’t want one but I will specifically make sure they understand that regardless of holiday or not *I want* to give you a gift, from me, from my heart because I want to not because society dictates it. Yes, I give them on holidays but I also give them on just because I wanted too days.

    Respectfully,
    Mysticlez

    • So you want a gift or you don’t want a gift?! I’m so confused! *cries* Just kidding.

      I don’t not want gifts, but I don’t want a gift on V Day. Gift giving shall be deemed acceptable any time up until 11:59pm on 2/13 and will resume promptly at 12:01am on 2/15. Management reserves the right to amend these rules at any time. Ha!

      No gift for V Day, but of course, J already knows this. :)

      This is the thing I tell my partner when I am with her. I WANT to give you a gift. I will respect your wishes if you absolutely don’t want one but I will specifically make sure they understand that regardless of holiday or not *I want* to give you a gift, from me, from my heart because I want to not because society dictates it.

      This! This is freaking perfect. Love it. :) It’s sweet, thoughtful, and respects her wishes. Yay!

  4. Of course I love this post, but then I would. Possibly because I hate the idea that women by default don’t communicate directly. But also because gifts are funny things. I’ve had people violently insisting on giving gifts and getting offended when I refused. For me, gifts are tokens of power. I might be getting it completely wrong, and hey, it goes against the whole “spoiled goddess” trope, but I feel that giving gifts is a very dominant thing to do. Even if, no, especially if nothing is expected in return. I can’t really explain it rationally at all. Just a feeling.

    • But also because gifts are funny things. I’ve had people violently insisting on giving gifts and getting offended when I refused. For me, gifts are tokens of power. I might be getting it completely wrong, and hey, it goes against the whole “spoiled goddess” trope, but I feel that giving gifts is a very dominant thing to do.

      Yes to this! Yes, yes, yes. I’ve never quite associated it with dominance, but now that you say it, I can certainly see it. I’m generally uncomfortable with gifts for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I never want to owe anybody anything. I prefer to pay, to buy, to gift (if there is gifting to be done — organically, I hope).

      That’s not to say I haven’t wanted something gifted here or there, but I prefer it to be, well, organic.

      I certainly don’t embody the “spoiled goddess” trope, nor do I want to. I’m independent and self-sufficient and if I want something, I’ll buy it for myself. I don’t want to be “spoiled” with items — I want to be spoiled with kindness, words, affection, and attention (I guess that’s a different sort of spoiled entirely, though I do aspire to deserve those things).

      Anyway, I hear you on all of it. Strange, yes. Irrational, perhaps. But I feel it all the same.

      • “I’m independent and self-sufficient and if I want something, I’ll buy it for myself. ”

        WELL EXACTLY!!! If you look outside the sexual/relationship realm, it’s the ones in position of power that give material, money-costing gifts: from parents to children, to monarchs to subjects, I am glad I am not the only one who feels the ability to give gifts is a top position to be in.

        All that takes me into a Very Dodgy Area of ”true findom”. I am NOT knocking anybody’s kink here, I really am not… but I do wonder how the power flows in many of these exchanges with supposed ”worthless losers”. After all, one of the most humiliating things one could say to a person who measures their worth by their money/stuff is ”you don’t really think I have any NEED of your money, do you?”

        I can actually even imagine enjoying a findommey thing (in a particularly mean mood anyway), but it would not be me luxuriating in the money received, it would be getting them to buy useless or ugly things that would be discarded (or even better: spectacularly destroyed). Or give it to a political party or another organisation they hate. Or just drop notes in the streets…I have never seen anything like that. I wonder if it exists.

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