Against Flowers

One of my deepest, oldest, most cherished and firmly-held feminist beliefs is that flowers are fucking bullshit.

Flowers are a tool of the patriarchy, to render men bumbling, useless fools and women placid receivers of meaningless tokens. Consider the transaction in its standard societal narrative: a man has need of giving a gift to his female romantic partner; usually either because he behaved badly or because some trite Hallmark holiday has arrived, though sometimes “just because.” What does this man get his partner? Flowers. This is a function that takes two people (a man and a woman) and ignores both of them! There is no thought. There is no generosity of spirit. There is no investment of time, or consideration, or even finding a fucking “this season’s hottest anodyne gifts” blog post. Flowers. He buys flowers.

Next what happens: The woman receives the flowers. She is very pleased that, after forgetting to pick the kids up from soccer for 6 hours, or whatever, her partner has decided to apologize via a boring script that requires her to, firstly, accept the apology, and, secondly, take these dead plants, put them in a vase, fill it with water, and find a nice decorative place to put them. Now, after giving this “gift” that cost the man $15 and the woman a bunch of labour she didn’t ask for, she gets to stare at the limp token of apology with no true remorse or culpability until it dies a few days or weeks later. Who got the better end of this deal? The man who is allowed to follow a socially-ordained script to get out of anything, or the woman who has to keep these things in her home, because throwing out these unasked-for tokens of a previous row before they rot in her living room would surely lead to yet another?

I admit, sometimes a man buys a woman flowers merely because it is Mother’s Day, or Valentine’s Day, or whatever. In those cases, you can elide the various narratives about remembered pain of the previous paragraph: and yet, the woman here has not received any affirmation of who she is, or what she wants, beyond “women like pretty things, and flowers are female-coded, so here’s some dead plants, make our house prettier for me, won’t you?” This idea that women — all women — should adopt the standard of “flowers are an acceptable gift for nearly all occasions” is an affront to the infinite varieties of women, and of womanhood, and of fucking people in general.

It is, in fact, also an affront to men! The idea that men are so stupid, so bumbling, as to be incapable of actual thoughtful gift-giving, is offensive! Men can be perfectly good at giving gifts and apologizing (and picking up the kids when they were supposed to!) as anyone else. Or, perhaps I should say, they could be, if we didn’t have this fanciful, delusional narrative permeating our culture, and our rom-coms, and — well, to say it’s “permeating” Hallmark would be generous. Presumably you know something more about your partner than “she is female.” Buy her a book! Buy her movie tickets! Buy her some sweet new shoes! Buy her some flowers if and only if she, herself, personally, specifically and actively likes flowers, goddammit!

And if you must stoop to giving flowers for all occasions, at least put them in the vase yourself. It’s the least you can do.

This entry was posted in dating. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s