Teleflora suggests you buy flowers based on a girl’s virginity and also broadcasts that 16 is the age of consent in most states. For all you predators who want to get a head start on minors, Teleflora’s got a “sweet” bouquet just for you.
Has anyone purchased Sweet Sixteen flowers recently? I hadn’t and an Instagram post blasting the Teleflora website marketing warned me that I might want to be cautious in doing so. I don’t know who Teleflora’s marketing execs are, but I strongly suspect that Don Draper has done some time traveling and now creates ad campaigns for Teleflora in 2022, with his 1952 mindset.
On its Sweet Sixteen page, Teleflora begins by explaining:
Sweet 16 Flowers
For most girls, turning Sweet Sixteen is an important part of her transition into adulthood. Send a florist-delivered Sweet 16 bouquet to a teenager celebrating her milestone birthday.
For most girls, turning Sweet Sixteen is an important part of her transition into adulthood. Send a florist-delivered Sweet 16 bouquet to a teenager celebrating her milestone birthday.Teleflora Website
Then, Teleflora goes into more detail:
Celebrate her Sweet 16th birthday with a bouquet
A sweet sixteen is a coming of age party celebrating a girl’s sixteenth birthday, primarily in the United States and Canada. The term “sweet” is indicative of the innocence and virginity of the girl before she becomes a woman. It is the age of consent in many states, hence it is viewed by many adolescents as an important milestone.Teleflora website
Whoa, Teleflora is horny on main. I thought “sweet” meant pleasant, like sugar and honey is pleasant. I didn’t realize the term suggested “You should celebrate her virginity while you still can!” Now, I’m wondering. What about the NCAA playoffs? Are all those basketball players virgins too? Is that why it’s called March Madness, because they’re angry. No, that would be silly because in America no one bothers to celebrate a man’s virginity, let alone expect and demand it. No one develops their language and customs around male chastity. No one judges a man’s worth and morality by his sexual experience — well, if they do, it’s to condemn him for his lack of experience. If men had hymens, they would never be mentioned in the same sentence as “intact.”
While other brands are promoting equality and striving to change age old perceptions of women in our society, Teleflora is still pushing the madonna-whore dichotomy and suggesting you make floral purchases based on the polarized view of women as either “sweet,” chaste, and pure “madonnas” or as “bad,” promiscuous, and seductive “whores”. Teleflora is saying you aren’t a woman or adult until you’ve had sex, an opinion that has historically led unmarried women to be patronized, treated as pariahs or accused of witchcraft. Furthermore, once you have had sex, you can no longer be considered “sweet.”
Then, Teleflora compounds the sheer awfulness of this message by also letting everyone know that 16 is the age of consent in most states. What now? When I’ve bought roses, I never noticed that language on the “instructions for care” card, before. It’s usually place in a vase with luke warm water and flower food. Trim the stems. Not, “Good news! You can’t be charged with statutory rape, if she’s over 16 in Montana!”
It’s one thing to link a product to the age of adulthood, like 18, 21 or even 13 for bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, but why tie your brand to the age of sexual consent? Well, why tie your brand to the age of sexual consent if you’re Teleflora Flowers and not Trojan condoms. Marking the age of sexual consent seems like the one time you don’t want to “say it with flowers.”
Maybe the Teleflora social media manager has not reviewed the website language in a long while, but I’m trying to think back to a time in the last 25 years when these words would have been acceptable. Even before the #metoo movement, people weren’t on the hunt for fair maidens any longer. Not openly.
Abstinence is great, if you’re pushing it to everyone, male and female alike. Fire the vestal virgin marketing team, Teleflora.