Opinion: Mother of Christ(mas)

 

Santa should be a woman, or gender neutral — say headlines cluttering your newsfeed these days. The point behind these eyebrow-raising headlines is to undermine everything marginalized groups are fighting for these days: equality.

Roughly 15 months ago, the #MeToo movement began and ignited a wave of noise and change. The noise? Voices finally being heard from millions of victims of sexual assault across all walks of life. The change? Various programs are being scrutinized and reformed as a result of this movement.

There is an opposition eager to silence victims and return the movement to its rightful place under the rug. Outright attacks would make these silence-seekers appear villainous, so instead they fabricate ridiculous stories claiming the (already marginalized) groups making all of the noise have taken their plight too far by infringing on things near and dear to our hearts. In this case, Christmas.

Women don’t need Santa Claus to be a woman in order to feel empowered and continue their fight to take down sexual abusers, but by including the suggestion of gender-neutral Santa, this becomes a story that can be used to demean the plight of women and the LGBTQ community. The tactic here is to create more negative noise so as to stifle the positive messages earnestly trying to be heard. Women and members of the LGBTQ community want equal rights, freedom of expression, and the ability to report (sexual) crimes without retaliation (among other things), but if a story comes out that we also want to wage war on Christmas by making Santa Claus a woman, or gender neutral, suddenly the only stories in your newsfeed are making us look like our wants are so ridiculous and absurd that we can’t be taken seriously. As people share the story and perpetuate the negativity, our voices are silenced, again, and it looks like we did it to ourselves.

This countermovement tells me we’re making progress and starting to scare those who oppose us. Let’s keep the positive energy and momentum going by having open conversations with our friends and loved ones rather than believing everything we read and feeding into the virtual black hole of negativity. This Christmas season, remember the spirit of the season: Be kind to one another and keep your minds open. After all, Santa’s making his list.

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