Christmas Controversies

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The War on Christmas

Tis the season for arguing with family members at the dinner table on Christmas night! Yes we all have those relatives who watch Fox News and will give you an earful about the latest news, or fake news…

You’ll find that Christmas is a most imaginative time, where we hear songs and stories about things that aren’t real; Santa Claus, flying reindeer, elves, oh and the war on Christmas.

That’s right, I said it! There is no war on Christmas. Christmas gets the most attention out of any holiday. People adore it, even many who are non-religious.

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, Christmas swoops in and steals all the glory. You can’t escape it, even if you don’t celebrate it. It’s in your face everywhere you go.

The radio stations are bombarded by carols. Many of those carols are religious in theme, and these are played even on secular radio stations.

It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year.” But there are people that take the joy away. The ones who give rise to internet debates and outrage. The ones who perpetuate the “war on christmas.” Some of the things these people have gotten mad about are as follows:

  1. Starbucks’ cups not being festive enough
  2. People saying “Happy Holidays”
  3. The term “X-mas”
  4. People of other religions thinking their religion should also be represented on government property

These are things that have made many Christians feel like there is an attack on Christmas. In reality, “Happy Holidays” is an umbrella term that includes Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Years, and any other holiday that falls around that time. It’s called being inclusive.

As for the term “X-mas”, some might respond with “Put Christ back in Christmas!” but the ‘X’ actually represents the Greek word ‘khristos’, meaning Christ. They might want to remove that bumper sticker from their car….

I recently received an email from the ACLJ, a conservative christian group, saying the following:

“It’s an outrageous attack on Christmas.

Satanists demanded that Satanic displays be erected in the Illinois and Michigan State Capitols, alongside traditional Christian and Jewish holiday displays – and both states caved.”

They don’t seem to understand the notion of separation between church and state. The first amendment says,”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” By erecting a statue of a cross on government property they are violating the first amendment. The Satanists are making a decent point. Christians don’t like the idea of someone else’s religion being displayed on government property, likewise, people of other religions don’t appreciate Christian symbols on government property.

Those were just a few examples of issues you will hear about during the holiday season. There are several new hot topics this year! You’ve likely heard about them.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” debate

We all know the song, and have probably sung along to it. In fact, I’ve already got it stuck in my head just from typing the title of it. We’ve heard it on the radio, we’ve heard it in Elf, but some stations are refusing to play it now.

The song is about a man and a woman, presumably a couple, who are together on a cold snowy night. The woman says she should leave, and the man insistently tells her to stay. She’s tempted to stay but she explains that her family will worry and that people will talk.

During that time it was not appropriate for a young unmarried woman to spend the night with a man, so the woman in the song says “there’s bound to be talk tomorrow,” meaning she’ll have been labeled as a “loose” woman. The man would have no consequences though. Despite her reputation on the line, the man persists.

Eventually she even flat out says “the answer is no.” But that doesn’t do it for him. He even uses his pride as an excuse at one point, saying “What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?”

Some of the lyrics of the song promote coercion and manipulation. Even in the context that the woman does want to stay, I still find it inexcusable that the man would try to guilt her into staying.

Then there’s the part of the song where the woman is handed a drink and she goes “say, what’s in this drink?” This has people claiming the song is about date rape.

Wikipedia defines it as :
Date rape is a form of acquaintance rape in which there is a potential romantic or sexual relationship between the two partners in the moment the sexual assault occurs. The perpetrator uses physical or psychological intimidation to force a victim to have sex against their will, or when the perpetrator has sex with a victim who is incapable of giving consent because they have been incapacitated by drugs or alcohol”

Now I doubt that the writers of the song would have the male drug the woman, so I don’t agree that the line implies roofies. It could imply alcohol though. However I have read that “What’s in this drink” was a joke people used to make that actually meant there was no alcohol in the drink. I’m not so sure about that, as I couldn’t find any reputable sources to confirm this was a joke back in the forties.

It’s clear to me why many are uncomfortable hearing the song, especially those who have been in a situation where someone tried forcing them to stay somewhere against their will. The rhetoric of the song could remind them of an unpleasant experience they had.

I understand there is a whole other side to the song. That it was written in the 1940’s, when it would be scandalous for an unwed woman to sleep over her boyfriends house. Supposedly, the song is very progressive in origin. It advocates for sexual liberation for women, one might say. The woman demonstrates her own agency in disregarding societal standards.

Knowing all that, I still don’t have particularly good feelings about the song. In present day context many of the lyrics are problematic and normalize pressuring someone to stay when they’ve repeatedly said they can’t. Children aren’t going to hear the song and think about what it meant in the forties. They will just hear a man trying to convince a woman not to leave, and think that is okay, even though she consistently says no. The song does not teach children that “no means no,” which is an important lesson. The song teaches that no means maybe, which is dangerous for young girls and boys to hear.

I’ve seen a lot of posts saying things like “Why are you offended by a song? You should be offended by poverty and crime and war etc”

Here’s a thought, you can be offended by all of those things! Its not that complicated. Just because you speak out against a song, doesn’t mean you don’t care about other important issues.

The same people saying that are actually super offended that some stations won’t be playing a song they like, even though they could just listen to on their phone whenever they want…but tell me again how we’re the snowflakes.

Female/Gender neutral Santa

Recently a news article came out that sparked a lot of conflict. Many people were outraged and complained about the “liberals” and “feminists” being ridiculous. Many liberals and feminists spoke up to say they didn’t care what gender Santa was and that the headlines were inflammatory and click-baity.

Headlines read “One third of people think Santa should be female or gender neutral.” This can be very misleading. The truth is that one out of three people in a particular survey about re-branding Santa thought Santa should be re-branded as female or gender neutral.

The company GraphicSprings conducted the survey on approximately 4000 people from the US and UK. The survey was on ways to re-brand Santa for modern society, and included options such as giving Santa tattoos, making wear skinny jeans, putting him on a diet, changing his gender, and having him ride a hover board.

The survey wasn’t done with the intentions of actually changing Santa, and it is likely that the results aren’t even accurate, but it concluded that one third of the surveyors believed Santa should be made to be female or gender neutral. However, no one is actually fighting to make this a reality.

Now there is serious backlash coming from both the left and the right. Mostly the right, enraged that anyone would suggest such a thing, especially when Santa is based off of an actual man who lived long ago.

Here’s how I feel. I don’t really care if Santa is a man, like most other feminists. Although I don’t see it as an atrocity to suggest he be changed to female or gender neutral. Yes, Santa is based on Saint Nicholas, but very loosely based on him. Saint Nicholas didn’t have a flying sleigh pulled by magical reindeer. He certainly couldn’t fit down any chimney, and deliver presents to the world in one night. He didn’t have elves who worked all year round making toys, and he didn’t have a naughty and nice list with every child included. Santa is a character.

While I don’t think it is necessary to change Santa, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give Mrs Claus a bigger role in the Christmas story.

What bothers me about this story is that it’s pretty much actual fake news. The news stories made it seem like there was a serious debate over Santa’s gender, but most people don’t care. I’m pretty sure it was barely even thought about until the survey was conducted. Now people are acting like we’re out there protesting over Santa’s gender, when really it’s just a discussion we’re suddenly having.

It’s healthy to discuss things, but don’t let online debates bring you down! These issues aren’t what Christmas is about. Just try to enjoy the holidays everyone!

2 thoughts on “Christmas Controversies”

  1. Really enjoyed this post, Liv. You are spot on. Christmas is pretty much the holiday of the year that gets the most attention, and you don’t have to be of a certain religion or faith to celebrate it. Yet it’s probably the holiday that gets the worst hate and brings out the worst in some of us. Over the years here in Australia, I’ve heard some people are very cautious about wishing others ‘Merry Christmas’ and instead say ‘Happy Holidays’. Just like how anyone can celebrate Christmas, not everyone celebrates it. Some people seem to be very caught up with the whole idea Christmas is associated with one religion, and some would rather flit around the word ‘Christmas’ and replace it with ‘Holidays’ instead.

    The ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ song debate is an interesting one. Like you, I agree the song was written in a different era but I wouldn’t want kids to hear it and think it’s okay for a man to exert dominance over a woman. And as you mentioned, the song could be used as a reminder to stay strong and be empowered through standing up for one’s self. It really is a matter of perspective.

    The other day I heard in the news something about backlash against gendered neutral gingerbread men – and they should not be called gingerbread men but just gingerbread or gingerbread person. I’ve actually never seen the gingerbread as gingerbread men, more like a character and something nice to eat. It’s already hard enough for me to decide to bite off the head first or the legs 😀

    Like

    1. Thanks Mabel! Its interesting that people in Australia are hesitant to say “merry christmas.” And as for gingerbread men I dont really think its important what they are called since they are just cookies and dont actually a gender. Its also kind of like how humans have been called “mankind.” I dont find that offensive either.

      Liked by 1 person

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