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Santa - It's festive sexism

(60 Posts)
MrsTerryPratchett Wed 23-Dec-15 01:16:20

I have been mulling this one over and read this article about race and Santa and come to this conclusion... There is no boring, hard, expensive thing done mostly by men where the credit is given to an imaginary woman. Or is there?

In my childhood home, my DF did the stocking buying and Santa took credit for only the stocking. But there seem to be lots of houses where women buy all the presents and they ALL come from an imaginary man. And those women seem to be the most vehement about the 'magic' and not taking credit and being selfless and never telling the kids.

It's festive sexism. fangry

pingoose Wed 23-Dec-15 01:36:41

When I was growing up, all our presents had "From Mother Christmas" on the tags. I never really thought to question it - Santa did the deliveries but the gifts were from Mrs Claus. I'll be doing the same - I can't stand the thought of an imaginary man taking credit for all my hard work!

7Days Wed 23-Dec-15 01:45:03

Interesting. Never thought about it from that perspective before. And yes, I do all the thinking, planning, buying (but not earning) and I am vehemently pro Santa

howtorebuild Wed 23-Dec-15 01:56:49

It's weird that there is a mass conspiracy to gaslight small children there is a Man like Santa anagram Satan when there isn't.

Traditionally it's always been the Mother selecting and wrapping the gifts. hmm

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 23-Dec-15 02:31:54

I am not a poor black woman, have never been poor but I am perfectly capable of understanding what is problematic about the idea of Santa bringing presents. The issues she describes do not affect black families exclusively. Clearly Santa does not indiscriminately reward allgood children. Santa is a concept I've never been comfortable with.

With my son we went along with the hanging your stocking up but Santa never brought my son anything more than token presents, bought by both of us. The main presents were always from us. I can't recall exactly when we stopped bothering, probably quite early.

I don't see this as a sexist issue. If women want to invest so much time and effort, it's up to them. It is another "wife work " thing- if you do it, then why are you complaining about it? Why not just don't do it?

My objection to Santa was definitely not that an imaginary man would take credit for my efforts but the sheer bloody nastiness of an imaginary man who gives better and more expensive presents to children whose parents can themselves provide better and more expensive presents.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 23-Dec-15 02:32:03

Now you mention the gaslighting... what about having children sit on a random man's lap for presents?

When I asked DD if a women could take over from Santa, she was quite shocked. She didn't think one could, although she couldn't quite articulate why. Possibly not wanting me to mess with the system.

Although since one of her little classmates found her mum red-handed with gifts, she keeps saying that Veronica's mum is Santa. fhmm

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 23-Dec-15 02:38:59

I don't see this as a sexist issue. If women want to invest so much time and effort, it's up to them. It is another "wife work " thing- if you do it, then why are you complaining about it? Why not just don't do it? I'm not sure that the weight of cultural, historical and capitalist power is as easy to deal with as 'just don't'. It might be for me but women are pressured to conform.

There poster after poster on here telling people not to destroy the 'magic' and telling them not to take credit for Santa because it's selfish. Seriously.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 23-Dec-15 02:55:52

Well , as you can see I am seriously underwhelmed by the "magic" of Santa.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 23-Dec-15 03:07:33

This woman could not comprehend that more black children live in poverty than children of any other race. Would she get that my child needed to understand that many of his peers were not receiving a visit from the jolly fat man and would wake up with nothing under the tree?

Yes I can understand. I also understand this affects poor white children too. If the writer is American she might have considered that proportionally the number of children of Native American /American Indian families (other than the few benefiting from casinos on tribal land) who live in povery is probably greater.

So Santa, no not "magic" at all.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Wed 23-Dec-15 08:49:42

to grow up to compete in the world of STEM where brilliant black boys like him are underrepresented and undervalued, I cannot muddy his logic and critical thinking by telling him it’s possible for one man to fly around the world to every single home in one night

Oh bollocks to this line.

You need an imagination, to feel wonder at the world, and all around.

AuntieStella Wed 23-Dec-15 08:56:50

Gina Yashere did a piece on this on "Mock The Week" a while back - how they never had Father Christmas because there was no way her Nigerian mother was going to let a fat white man take credit for any part of the Christmas she'd arranged.

vestandknickers Wed 23-Dec-15 09:04:57

The tooth Fairy is definitely a woman so that evens things out. grin

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Wed 23-Dec-15 09:32:49

You could say the same thing about God. My mum taught me more than anyone about empathy, compassion and doing unto others...

Yet we give the credit to an imaginary male and seem to think without his teachings we'd all descend into jungle like chaos.

NeededANameChangeAnyway Wed 23-Dec-15 09:48:31

Isn't it a bit of fun and magic for small children though? I totally get that there will be millions of children who will have no presents because of their particular circumstances but would their parents be pushing the whole santa idea in the first place? You would have to be a serious shit to tell a young child that if they were good they'd get a gift from santa knowing you as the parent aren't buying them anything.

I just can't get on board santa being a feminist issue - yes Christmas in the west is predominantly arranged by women who are probably under appreciated and do feel pressureto pproduce the perfect day etc but is this a sexist issue or a capitalist commercial issue where we are all driven to spend our way to perfection?

I'm not trying to stir things, but am genuinely curious to understand where sexist behaviour and commercially induced panic start and stop.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Wed 23-Dec-15 10:05:55

Needed, I think it's probably a case of patriarchy meets capitalism..smile

Christmas has big commercial fest with more pressure on someone to arrange, cook, buy, wrap, etc etc. Thanks to the gender roles inherited by our patriarchal legacy that someone is usually, as evidenced by the numerous threads at the moment, a woman.

TheVermiciousKnid Wed 23-Dec-15 10:19:53

Just turn it on its head ... can you imagine a huge, special, 'magical' event involving lots of presents and excitement for children etc for which men do the majority of preparation - and then some jolly woman in a red suit gets all the credit?

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 23-Dec-15 10:27:05

but would their parents be pushing the whole santa idea in the first place?

Well they don't really need to given how much it will be promoted elsewhere.

to grow up to compete in the world of STEM where brilliant black boys like him are underrepresented and undervalued, I cannot muddy his logic and critical thinking by telling him it’s possible for one man to fly around the world to every single home
in one night*

Yes, I thought that was bollocks too. For someone who was criticising another woman for having no imagination and empathy the writer had little herself.

Noneedforasitter Wed 23-Dec-15 10:29:27

I could only think of three imaginary helpers: Santa, tooth-fairies and the Easter bunny. That seems close to sexual equality. Better than real life anyway.

Kacie123 Wed 23-Dec-15 10:41:13

I've never quite "got" the magic of Santa really (although I remember him writing to us on most Christmasses explaining that we couldn't have X present but here was Y instead, so we must have "believed") smile -

Rationally I think of the character was shaped to control kids behaviour, in an echo of authority figures like God - and perhaps to make God/religion more accessible to kids too (you know, he sees you while you're sleeping and you can get rewarded for good behaviour and punished for bad etc etc).

But yes it's definitely a form of sexism - I don't know how you'd get away from it really.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 23-Dec-15 10:53:17

I agree with NeedaNameChange I don't see this as a sexist issue but a commercially induced panic spending spree. Goodness knows I enjoy shopping as much as anyone (well probably considerably more than most posters on this part of the forum) but when I want to.

So far as using Santa to control children's behaviour - does anyone really do that?

PlaysWellWithOthers Wed 23-Dec-15 10:58:51

Santa as behaviour control while women do all the actual work of creating Christmas magic is a fair assessment. I'd agree with the idea of him being a form of god-totem as well... omniscence of children's behaviour.

The really interesting one out of the 3 magical beings is the tooth fairy though. Money changing hands for protecting children's teeth from their use in witchcraft. Fascinating stuff!

Always makes me laugh slightly when the Easter Bunny is depicted as male though.

NeededANameChangeAnyway Wed 23-Dec-15 11:04:29

Derailing slightly but aren't the elves who toil away unpaid and unseen considered to be male?

totally agree with the post above that the pressure is on the create a perfect day and due to societal conventions the pressure disproportionalty falls on women to produce the goods.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Wed 23-Dec-15 11:10:33

Yes about the elves but think that just reinforces it. With the exception of the wife figure females are really nowhere to be seen.

I don't see the point of Santa anyway. Kids don't need silly lies. DS doesn't really care where his chocolate is coming from as long as it's coming!

VestalVirgin Wed 23-Dec-15 11:37:01

I always wondered how children are supposed to believe that just because they are poor, this fictional figure will bring them fewer and cheaper presents.

The Santa-belief on Mumsnet took me by surprise - I cannot remember a time when I actually believed in such a figure. (Though where I am from, presents are brought by the more or less genderless Christ child, who is only very loosely related to Jesus and sometimes portrayed by women, and St. Nikolaus comes on the 6th of December to bring some token presents.)

It was always clear that my parents were behind it all, and my mother always was the one to give us a tiny present that "The Christ child has left on the doorstep" in advance, or show us where the Easter bunny had hidden some chocolate eggs.

It always was a big game of play pretend. My parents never explicitly told us, but they also didn't go to great lengths to hide it.

Back to topic: I think there are sexist reasons why both Santa and the Easter Bunny are depicted as male.
I have no problem with the original legend of St. Nikolaus, but Santa has zero to do with that.
And the Easter Bunny ... is completely fictional, for all I know, so there's no reason it should be male.

Interestingly, in Sweden, where there is a big celebration of Santa Lucia, like St. Nikolaus a historical Saint who probably existed somewhen, the fact that Lucia is always played by a girl is considered sexist and some allow boys to be casted for the role. confused

PlaysWellWithOthers Wed 23-Dec-15 12:32:20

The Easter Bunny should absolutely NOT be male. Unless male bunnies somehow produce baby bunnies. It's all Pagan anyway and about fecundity stories.

I'm not sure that there was the need to believe in Santa in Britain either, it was a nice story that we had, and he only ever filled stockings with little stuff, nuts and satsumas and stationery. The Santa as the only source of presents seems to be quite a new phenomenon. The Christingle/Christ-child filling your shoes with chocolate/money seems quite separate as well, even if he came on the Fest of St Nicholas.

Different societies had different rites associated with different celebrations, it seems to be becoming more homogeneous now, and more concentrated on a fat man delivering all the presents only to good children. Sad really.

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