Tracy Zhang

Every year in February, St. Mary’s leadership invites boys from schools around Memphis to compete in a Bachelorette-inspired event. They do funny talents, crack jokes and try to win the affections of the entire St. Mary’s high school and ultimately get voted as the next Mr. Valentine. This year, Mr. Valentine is Feb. 13. 

Yay or nay to Mr. Valentine

Editor-in-Chief Cam Hart and Deputy Editor Brennan Seltzer share their opposing views

February 7, 2023

Objectification is not gender-specific

When Mr. Valentine starts in the coming weeks, go ahead, enjoy it. Laugh with your friends. Cast your vote. But, remember that when you do, you are playing into the very same system that objectifies you as a woman. 

A woman feels pressure from society to wax her legs, whiten her teeth, pluck her eyebrows, paint her nails, maybe even starve herself, all to satisfy the male gaze. That, we as women have decided, is wrong. 

Women have to be funny but not idiotic; beautiful but not fake; smart but not nerdy; classy but not boring; flirty but not sexual. Our personalities are also always being judged. By each other, by social media, by men, by ourselves. 

We know it isn’t okay, and that’s why we call out sexism when we see it. We call out that judgment because it’s wrong. 

If I were to walk into Memphis University School (MUS) and be judged as “Ms. Valentine,” we would, without hesitation, call that out as wrong. 

That can’t be a double standard. We must fairly apply this thinking to everyone. 

When boys that come to St. Mary’s to be judged as Mr. Valentine, it’s meant to be funny (and, I admit, I do find a lot of it funny), but the undertones of engendered judgment remain. We can’t say it’s wrong to judge women by their personalities, looks, and charm, and then do the same to the men. 

Objectification in any form and applied to any kind of person is wrong. 

I’m not saying that Mr. Valentine is meant to be a game of objectification. I don’t think that is anyone’s intention. But, that’s what it is. We need to at least recognize the inherent judgment that Mr. Valentine is built on. 

We can laugh at the jokes all we want, but at the end of the day, when we vote on the next “Mr. Valentine,” we’re applying the very same judgements and standards that have been used to oppress women.

So, pot meet kettle.

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All in good fun

Every year, the St. Mary’s calendar is filled to the brim with traditions and ceremonies. Springfest, Black Friday, White Thursday, Victory Ranch, graduation, flower girls, Christmas Pageants, Class Day, Derby Day and Light-a-Candle, to name a few. 

I have never been one for ceremonies, and when I first came to St. Mary’s freshman year I was totally freaked out. Why are all of these people wearing wedding dresses for graduation? Why was chocolate syrup massaged into my scalp on Derby Day? Why are the seniors so dramatic on Black Friday? 

Over time, I have come to appreciate these days. Knowing that girls for decades before me have been in the same situation is a really grounding experience. 

I understand that Mr. Valentine does not hold the same amount of importance as, say, the Christmas Pageant, but, at least for me, it is still one of those important traditions that St. Mary’s keeps. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of person that keeps traditions solely for the sake of keeping them, and I can usually understand when it is time to let things go, but I do not believe that Mr. Valentine should leave our calendar just yet. 

The tradition is definitely odd–that is not debatable–but it’s also just a solid, good time. The guys that choose to compete are glad for the experience, and the St. Mary’s folks are glad to be an audience for such a hilarious event. The real-time gameshow is a fantastic de-stresser from the insanely busy third quarter, and I am a big fan of some healthy competition. 

“But what if the roles were reversed?”, you ask.

 Well, if the roles were reversed, then it would still be odd. However, the girls that, again, chose to compete would be glad for the experience, and the other school would be glad to be an audience.

Of course, it is only an acceptable tradition as long as the competitors are there of their own free will, they feel comfortable participating and so on. But we have no reason to believe that’s not the case, and lots of reasons to think this is good, clean fun.

And if someone wants Mr. Valentine to become more equitable for all people, not only males, then I welcome the opportunity for leadership to elect me. I would gladly dominate the stage and become the new Ms. Valentine.

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