24.12.09

Want To See Women Do The Ho-Ho-Ho?

He looks like he has given birth several times, nursed babies at his bosom and been a good mother. But Santa Claus is not a woman. Is this just feminist tripe? Can’t one accept the jolly good fellow that millions do and gender be damned?

I did. At school, a starchy convent where the most important thing we learned was how to cross our legs, Santa towered over us and made us go weak in the knees – with the weight of the books, toys, sweets, whatever.

Later we discovered that Santa was all fiction and it was the neighbouring school’s padre doing the honours. But older and wiser though we became, the fictitious bit was even more exciting. It was like a genie coming out of thin air to satisfy our needs.

All this has changed. Now when I see models wearing red caps and nothing else with just a banner covering their bodies that say, ‘Down with fur’, I know it is time for the fur to fly in more ways. All right, anybody can dress up as Santa, but will he be complete without a beard, without being a man?

I have thought of a few reasons why society cannot imagine a woman in his place.

Santa as wish fulfiller:

This is the most potent image. We have someone who comes quietly, and answers all our prayers and desires for little things. We would not dare give women that kind of power.

Santa as man comfortable with his girth:

No one would dream of showing a woman as huge, simply because it goes against male aesthetic sensibilities, besides being insulting to many a woman who has gone along with the corseted image for centuries. Here we have a man completely comfortable with his obesity, a kind of fertile god, pregnant with possibilities.

Santa as epitome of cheerfulness:

Have you seen Santa cry? Have you seen him complain and crib? Have you seen him lose his temper? Have you seen him throw a tantrum? Have you seen him get hysterical? Have you seen him being partial? Now fancy a woman not doing any of these!

Santa as representative of generosity:

Imagine this man sitting somewhere far away, patiently opening hundreds of letters from all over the world and planning out how to give, give, and give. And then he arrives, bearing a sack, togged up in red - a gratifying blood-life-giving colour, with trimmings in white, soothing and pure. If Santa were a woman, the first thing they’d want to know is: where did she get all that money?

Santa as no-questions-asked man:

A woman would want to know why, how, where, right? The male Santa does not. For him your wish is his command. He does not want to know your antecedents, your present status, and your future. He is only concerned with being there for you when you need him most.

And this is what I have begun to object to. It is a nice industry. Harmless fiction is nearly always lethal. Here in one figure we have been learning lessons in patriarchy, upholding of traditions as perpetuated by the male and of course the financial wherewithal and the emotional compulsions of the masculine gender to be the provider.

It is a questionable theory, but has remained unquestioned even in progressive societies where there is a large female workforce and it is many a woman who has filled her child’s stockings after saving up enough from her salary.

The strange thing is we cannot even mentally picture a female Santa Claus because the one that has been dinned into our heads is a guy who looks so nurturing, his cheeks rosy, cottonwooled against inclement weather. He goes through his selfless work year after year.

Being a ‘character’, he does not even need the burden of history. Who the hell is his mother? Do we care? We are caught in the web of Father Christmas as Power Mom. But, heck, aren’t we the ones who ask, why can’t a man be more like a woman?

So, Merry Christmas to all and a little lesson here: While teaching Eliza Doolittle, it was Professor Higgins who learned the more important lesson.

PS: What woman wouldn’t like a little Rhine in her spine?
- - -

Part of this was used in an article long ago.

4 comments:

  1. This is not to dampen the spirit. As I wrote to a few friends, here's wishing all those who like a few goodies and have the power to do without them.

    Happiness...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Farzana,
    How about Tabassum as Santa ? :-)
    Cheers,
    Mahesh.
    p.s.: Personally nothing against our existing Santa . Just pulling legs.
    BTW, Merry Christmas. I had hoped Mumbai to be chillier this christmas - but, alas.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is how I explained difference between Christmas and Diwali to my 4 yr old daughter
    On diwali, we pray to Laxmi, she brings us Cash , so you can buy any toy you like .
    On Christmas, Santa is sent by jesus to deliver those gifts to you , we pray and we get gifts.

    She wasnt too convinced and went on to ask .
    so why we have fire sparkles and crackers on Diwali and not on Christmas . I said Santa doesnt like noise, he likes carols.

    She still wasnt convinced , I will look for a better answer next year .

    Merry Christmas, I had divine intervention last night (Redbull and Vodka) followed by Zaleel food. I am so given in to divine contemplation....might fall for it tonight again :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mahesh:

    I think people would prefer Santa to be THE gift, so someone sleeker! With Tabassum you'd get lots of jhoomte hue flowers...phool khile hai gulshan-gulshan.

    Oh, I have nothing against the existing Santa, too. In fact, some of the Santas I my best friends :)

    PS: Yup, no nip in the air, but that should not stop anyone from warming up their intestines...so loads of good wishes to you.

    Manish:

    If you have not yet started on your divine contemplation/intervention etc, how many times have you been on the wagon and quit smoking? I have lost track..and you say it here so I am not hallucinating.

    I liked your attempt to teach your daughter, but do specify what carols you are referring to.

    Btw, I am truly glad to have made her acquaintance, albeit by proxy. She sounds like an upcoming cynic :)

    A Merry Christmas to the Red Bull family...

    - - -

    Heck, I am angry at myself. Where was the need for the first comment/note? I have taken a similar questioning stand for Eid, Muharram, Eid again.

    I guess that bloke Santa owes me a few.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.