I don't know if you'd heard, but it's the holiday season. Things are festive and lit up and draped in tinsel everywhere you look. For the next two weeks, the world, my friends, is your disco ball. And while I love the holidays---being a fan of everything sparkly, gifts, and brown liquor, how could I not?---I can't help but spy feminist pitfalls everywhere I turn. The world suddenly seems littered with holly-draped, mistletoe-encrusted problematic situations. In celebration of the season, therefore, I humbly submit to you a grab bag of my feminist holiday dilemmas. Some of these I've come to terms with, some I'm still battling---where all are concerned, I'd love to hear what our lovely readers think, and what they do to cope, especially in these seven weeks of heightened sensitivity and exposure to less-than-perfect relatives. (Or whomever.)
His and Hers gift guides I know, I know. This doesn't seem like a real problem. And I guess it's pretty far down the hierarchy as far as problems go---let's call it, instead, a manifestation of a real problem. It's sometime in November when these types of guides start popping up in magazines and on blogs, and they drive me nuts. Invariably, the His side has something having to do with cocktails, whiskey, and wood, while Hers often features nail polish, cookware, and purses. (Stationery, to be fair, can usually be found in both the His and Hers columns, thank you notes being a universal post-holiday activity.)
The real issue here, of course, is that these routinely gendered guides represent and reinforce ridiculous standards. At the risk of stating the obvious: men like to cook. Women like whiskey and things that come in a burled finish. And sometimes, kids, the binary breaks down even further. Men wear clothes made for women, and women dare to buy tools and use them to fix things up around the house. I know---what will come next? The nationwide right to same-sex marriage? (We can only hope.) While I heartedly admit that most men and most women have different tastes, I'd argue that almost all of that difference comes from stuff like this---overt and insinuated guides to what we should want.
That said, I still totally want those pink J. Crew snowboots. Got it, Mom? (I told you I was still battling these things, right?)
The lyrics to Baby, It's Cold Outside I love Christmas music. I love carols, I love secular Christmas songs, I love the classical masses and oratorios. I. Love. It. All. One of my long-time favorites? Baby, It's Cold Outside, written by Frank Loesser back in 1944 and debuted, adorably, in duet with his wife at a housewarming party. It was sometime in college or just after when my friend Miles ruined my fun by pointing out that the song is, it must be said, a little rapey.
If you're not familiar, check out the song, then come back on over. Back? Okay then. Now you should go check out The Atlantic's recent discussion of how the song's problematic lyrics (most notably "Say, what's in this drink?" and "The answer is no!") might be addressed, and then you should pour yourself a cocktail (A Manhattan is really best for this.) and listen to the song again, appreciating how awesome it is despite the creeptastic undertones. As a matter of fact, those undertones (that tension) might be one of the reasons it's just so good.
Men who don't help with post-dinner cleanup This one is both the one that annoys me most, and the one we can actually do something about. Even with the advent of men to the holiday kitchen when it comes to meal prep, I've noticed something: they typically don't stick around afterward to clean up. After dinner on Thanksgiving or Christmas, it's still the women who are far more likely to be found performing the far less glamorous cleanup work while the men relax with a Scotch. Since we've already established that women like whiskey, too, I hope we can all agree to do one thing for our sisterhood this holiday season: confront the lazy men in our lives and make them clean up. Even if they cooked. Because they have quite a backlog to work off, as far as I'm concerned.
I hope you've enjoyed this tour of the little things that torture me during the holidays. I'll leave you now to go ogle some sparkly lights, drape myself in baubles, and order cookbooks for all the women I know. Because, let's face it: I, too, am a product of the patriarchy, and I can't fight it 24 hours a day. Especially when it's so pretty!