Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Some sexist Christmas cheer

nia.pike's picture

Well, Thanksgiving is over, time to bring out the Christmas tree, snowflake lights, and the Christmas music Pandora station. Even of you don't celebrate, I'm sure you get swept up in this time of the year. The moment Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas music comes out. The usual "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night" that we hear every year. Among these annual favorites are a few that caught my eye - ones that enforce the media's view on women. For example "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carrey, a contemporary song embedded with the message that all women need is a man and their Christmas (life in general) will be perfect. Or how about "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas" which continues to reinforce gendered stereotypes in children's toys - "A pair of hop along boots and a pistol that shoots, Is the wish of Barney and Ben. Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk, Is the hope of Janice and Jen.” Or "Baby it's Cold Outside" in which the traditionally male part of the song pressures the traditionally female part of the song into staying for the night even when she has said "I really can’t stay, I’ve must go away, my mother will worry” yet the man persists “I simply must go / but Baby, it’s cold outside. The answer is no / but baby, it’s cold outside” She says the first part of each of those sentences, she says no, but he pressures her to stay. Songs like this one normalize the problematic male behavior, which contributes to and perpetuates rape culture in our society.

Many of these songs were written decades ago, but are still played today, and played 24/7 around this time of the year. If you can't beat them, then join them. So this holiday season, let's use the appearance of these songs to initiate conversations about sexism in our society with our family and friends?



zehhrrrraaaaaa's picture

I agree with all of this

I agree with all of this EXCEPT All I Want For Christmas is You. There is no evidence that this song is about a man, and to assume so is pretty sexist to begin with.

EP's picture

I'm glad that you took a look

I'm glad that you took a look at some of the songs we sing around the winter season and how they perpetuate certain gender roles. It's easy for people to slip into the idea of being "sentimental" about a time where gender roles were stricter around this time of year. The romanticization of sexist ideas by these songs makes it difficult to discuss why they are problematic with family and friends because people love these songs so much. On top of that, there may be family and friends who aren't open to discuss sexism in popular media at all. Hopefully, when we hear these songs, we will listen to them a little more critically, remembering that there is nothing "fun" or "cheerful" about the stereotypes they perpetuate.