It all began when Santa arrived by boat.
“Let’s all give a hooray for Santa!”
As Mrs. Claus trailed behind, the crowd cheered for Santa.
It hit me. I am witnessing patriarchal conditioning. Does Mrs. Claus have an important role? She’s most often portrayed as an assistant. A silent admin. Does she deserve a cheer?
Then I think about the moms I know running themselves ragged trying to secretly create the magic of Christmas for absolutely no credit. We do the work that is then credited to an imaginary man, as we encourage our children to worship, cheer, and behave for him. The male role model who takes the credit for a woman’s work. Yes, men have stepped up and contribute more than they did before…but a true test…who created and sent the holiday cards at your house this year? Who purchased gifts for nieces, nephews, and in-laws? Who sent the money for the teacher’s gifts? Bought wrapping paper and scotch tape? The thankless jobs, the invisible work of women.
The other day I was listening to NPR (as usual as I drive my kids here and there all day) and they were speaking about how this year, for the first time, black Santa is readily available. On wrapping paper, pajamas, cards, figurines, and for photo opportunities. They were speaking about the importance of representation. They had a quote from a little black girl saying, “I’m so excited that Santa’s skin looks like mine.” It got me thinking. Yes, about how wrong it is that Santa has been white for so long. But also about representation.
Women can finally be super heroes, secret agents, and bosses in movies…holding positions of power historically portrayed as held by men. Women are finally beginning to be represented in history as playing a part beyond “support to a man who did great things.”
Now, think about holidays in the United States. Yes…traditionally religious holidays but really more commercial these days than religious. All magical beings that bring gifts to the children…men. Santa, Peter Rabbit, Cupid…women do the work in real life while a magical man takes credit and we encourage children to revere them. Where are the magical powerful women?
How can a girl imagine herself as a powerful being when we brainwash her to cheer for the man who we credit these wonderful holidays to? How can boys respect the work of a mother when we hide her effort behind an imaginary man?
I’m ready for a new holiday. A day when we cheer the feminine diverse powers of a multi-tasking woman, in all her glory, with curves and glitter and a flouncy dress somedays sweatpants on others, who cries when she’s happy, angry, frustrated, or sad, who is also a strong mama bear who protects the vulnerable, who runs in races, picks up heavy things, and has so much magic just in her very existence that amazing things happen when she sets her mind to them. She bleeds once a month, leaks life-giving milk from her breasts, and is sensual and sexy while also being a powerhouse of intelligence and kind wisdom.
I looked up if there was such a day in other cultures. “Navratri is a nine-day Hindu festival in which nine forms of the Goddess Durga are worshiped. It is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by Hindus all across India with great fervor.” Women are so multifaceted that it takes nine different sides of them to embrace all that they represent in one holiday.
I think it’s time that girls start to see themselves represented on the calendar of holidays. Maybe if we continue to find moments of patriarchal brainwashing to bring awareness and change to, pushing back against being seen as the helper and admin to celebrated men, we will finally change inherent sexist views enough to have our own sex, the majority, vote us into the role of President.