Like so many Christmas classics, A Charlie Brown Christmas is wonderful but all about
a male protagonist. Image source: sentrawoods
Given how the holidays (and in my case, Phd application deadlines) have thrown off our recent post schedule, this week might just act as our question for the next couple weeks. But it's a question I've had in my mind for some time.
Awhile ago, I was thinking over how much I enjoy Christmas movies. From It's A Wonderful Life, to Elf, to Nightmare Before Christmas, to all the claymation classics, I just love Christmas movies. Well, aside from A Christmas Story - I watched that one during one very sad childhood Christmas which involved the whole family catching the stomach flu, and I haven't been able to bear it since. But as I was thinking over all those Christmas movies I love, I realized something:
None of the Christmas classics I could think of featured women as protagonists.
Sure, there were prominent female characters in most, but by and large, the stories were about men and boys. The few Christmas-themed I could think of with female protagonists usually featured them as co-protagonists or as children (Little Women; Meet Me in St. Louis; Yes, Virginia; Frosty) - not to mention, I was stretching by calling some of those movies Christmas Movies, since the holiday wasn't necessarily the main focus.
I recognize that a few readers might feel like rolling their eyes at me and telling me that I'm focusing on the wrong things by noticing the lack of women in the most popular Christmas movies, but it got me thinking about the role of women in Christmas celebrations and in holidays in general.
When I look at the Christian celebration of Christmas for what it's intended to center on - the birth of Jesus Christ as the savior of humanity - it seems obvious that women should be recognized too in the celebrations. After all, Mary is treated with reverence in the biblical story of the savior's birth and is at the center of the nativity story. She is the main protagonist - she's the one who gets pregnant and is visited by angels and nearly has her life destroyed by a fiance who wants to end the engagement, and she is the one who ponders on what the angel tells her and who visits her pregnant cousin to share stories about their miraculous conceptions. And during Jesus Christ's life, he treated women with great respect and took the time to listen to them and interact with them and teach them.
I realize that not all our readers are Christian, and some of our readers may not celebrate any religious holidays in December. But for those who get involved in the holiday season at all - be it through Hanukkah or Christmas or New Years , my question is open-ended. Essentially, I want to know how you experience gender and feminism in the holiday season.
Do you have a holiday movie you love, which you feel tells the story of a woman's experience of the season?
Do you have family traditions that relate to gender?
How do you experience gender during holiday food preparation and family gatherings?
What irks you, and what inspires you?
And what spiritual insights do you have on how women and gender factor into the holidays you celebrate?