I snapped this pic in the Valentine’s aisle at my local Walgreens when I ran in for some cold medicine. Among the candy filled hearts were these, a heart packaged in fake corrugated sheet metal (with stenciled lettering) and a pro-football themed heart. Very manly.
We can take as a given that Valentine’s Day is a cutesy holiday marked by fuzzy baby animals, the color pink, and other effeminate symbols. Its also, above all, a holiday focused on buying things. So what’s the deal with these manly hearts? It has everything to do with the packaging, because you know all those hearts have the same chocolates in them. Its just the trappings that change.
The heart as icon is stereotyped as feminine so it has to be qualified for men somehow in order for them to accept them (and still retain their manliness). One blogger identifies this as femmephobia or, “the devaluation, fear and hatred of the feminine: of softness, nurturance, dependence, emotions, passivity, sensitivity, grace, innocence and the color pink.”
To see femmephobia in our society, it’s only necessary to look at the differences between how we treat masculine girls and feminine boys. A masculine girl is a “tomboy,” likely to be approved of by her parents; there are many programs to encourage girls in sports and in the sciences, stereotypically male fields. A feminine boy is a “sissy,” likely to be bullied by other boys and by girls; there are no programs to encourage boys in dance and in the humanities, stereotypically female fields.
Femmephobia can also be seen in marketing. We have diet soda, and we have diet soda FOR MEN; we have loofahs, and we have loofahs FOR MEN; we have canned soup, and we have canned soup FOR MEN. Men cannot be expected to consume feminine things like body care items or diet food or soup in cans (!?) unless it is specifically marked out as Not Girly, and therefore Not Bad. With a few obnoxious exceptions, such as tools for girls (they’re pink) or video games for girls (they’re pink and have Barbie), women who like traditionally masculine hobbies get to have the same fishing poles, golf clubs and bad Trekkie novels as the boys– because, since masculinity is valued, it doesn’t matter if a woman tries to become masculine.
You might think femmephonbia is something that only applies to men, but you’d be wrong. Consider that these manly candy hearts are intended to be bought by women in order to give to their men.