Hallmark greeting cards and related trinkets have long exemplified wholesome, up-tempo, Norman Rockwell-styled sentimentality, often packaged in clichéd verses and trite images of puppies, kittens, flowers, babies, sunsets and other references guaranteed to elicit a smile, a tear, or a warm glow. However, as rude humor has spread its influence, expressed most vividly and viciously in celebrity roasts and the Comedy Central show, Tosh .0, Hallmark was not to be left behind. A visit to the racks of cards, books, and novelties at your local card shop reveals a wide variety of snarky items offering cheap shots at a wide variety of groups, hobbies, and practices.
Among them are several items that attempt to poke fun at what are thought to be characteristics of women in some stage of the menstrual cycle, notably PMS or menopause. Setting aside the fact that the items perpetuate the common misuse of the term menopause when what is meant is perimenopause, consider a small book presently on sale titled, Not Guilty by Reason of Menopause.
It is comprised of more than 50 pages, organized in double-page spreads, each of which offers a completion to the phrase, “You might be menopausal if. . .”
A few examples will suffice:
“. . . you think about the ‘til death do us part line in your wedding vows a little too often.”
“. . . you tell all your children they’re not your favorite.”
“. . . when your husband proposes a romantic vacation, you suggest ice fishing.”
Collectively, it amounts to an anthology of mean-spirited nastiness with little redeeming humor. Women are depicted as crazy, stupid, vicious, obese, and every other negative stereotype imaginable.
And with each insult women are expected to smile sweetly at being the butt of a bad joke. Of course, to express outrage or even mild annoyance with these sorts of put-downs is to risk of being accused of lacking a sense of humor or, worse yet, of being “politically correct,” the favored dismissive term of those who demand that their repugnant values are somehow benign or lacking in impact or intent.
We’ve come a long way from the days of 1910 when Hallmark was founded and especially from 1944 when the company adopted the slogan that is still theirs today, “When you care enough to send the very best.” In this case one might ask, “The very best of what?”