It’s amazing what Google throws out when you put the word “problematic” into a search. The word “problematic” gets wheeled out by leftists whenever they don’t like something, usually shortly followed by a denunciation of whatever it is as “sexist” or “ableist” or whatever other buzzword they’re peddling that week.
In this year’s festive season, there are plenty of articles in which third-wave feminists summon up self-righteous fury at Christmassy things people had innocently enjoyed for years in ignorance before our brave cultural superiors came to our rescue, to put us straight about ways in which our cultural traditions are ruining the lives of women everywhere.
This year has seen psychodramas ranging from Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti’s reimagining of twenty-first century women as pitiful, enslaved worker elves wrapping presents on a conveyor belt, to the bizarre ruminations of the New Statesman’s Glosswitch on gendered gift catalogues (where it’s bubble baths for women and booze for men) and the pernicious effects this might have on gender roles in general, reaching the conclusion that everyone should spend inordinate amounts of time creating impossibly personalised presents. (Such as, in the piece, a cross-stitched map of Cheshire. That’s not too much to ask everyone to do for all their family and friends, surely?)
The main thing to have our Winterval Scrooges reaching for their earmuffs, year on year, are Christmas songs, the most egregious of which is, apparently, “date rape anthem” Baby It’s Cold Outside. Apparently unaware of the saying, “the past is a foreign country,” third-wave feminists have set upon the lyric sheet with a red pen.
With the same wild-eyed zeal for dismissing history as the puritans who are intent on airbrushing cigars from Churchill’s mouth, they seem obsessed with judging the words as if the song’s protagonists were fresh from six months in a feminist re-education camp of the future, rather than a courting couple in the early mid-twentieth century, before feminists decided that “consent” meant drawing up a legal contract and drafting in witnesses before a smooch under the mistletoe can be safely embarked upon.
Im 1936, when the song was written, there was a trope in films of the era where asking, “What’s in this drink?”–one of the allegedly “rapey” lyrics–was the setup for a joke, wherein the imbiber would do something daring or out of character, the joke being that there was nothing in the drink.
But no, this explanation won’t do for our modern seekers of social justice, as no justice has been done unless crime scene tape can be plastered around the scene, a woman has been reduced to tears by professional feminists designating her a Certified Victim™ and a man has been led to the stocks to be pelted with rotten tomatoes.
Witness the absurd sensationalism in the article of pondering, “We’ll never truly know if she wants to stay or if it’s just the roofie talking,” as if the husband and wife-penned love song is some heinous case belonging to one of those “unsolved murder” TV shows.
The other sure signifier that the female part in the duet is a rape victim is apparently that she declines to stay the night several times. Maybe she just hadn’t seen the “no means no” posters plastered around university campuses back in the 1930s, but more realistically and considering her reasons for declining–her mother will worry, her father will be pacing, her maiden aunt’s mind is vicious–it’s quite clear that set in the time it was written her reluctance was due to societal pressures.
Feminists who fought for women’s freedoms would have taken home the message that she should have been able to stay out however late she liked; today’s third-wavers aren’t happy unless they’ve brainwashed a woman into thinking she’s traumatised, and mounted a man’s head on a spike.
Another jolly Christmas song to engender outrage is Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You, this time from “disingenuous, divisive, sociopathic opportunist” internet feminist Anita Sarkeesian. Ripping up and setting on fire the very idea of Christmas spirit to instead wield the microscope of sought offence, Carey’s joyful seasonal song is said to contain the “nasty” and “disturbing” message that “all women need is a man”. Except for the fact it’s a cheesy love song, and the operative word is “want”, not “need”. It’s in the title, Ms Sarkeesian.
Then in a spectacular display of heads feminists win, tails men lose, she tells us the song would also be creepy if sung by a man because “the lyrics could be interpreted as bordering on stalker territory.” The final problem seems to be that Mariah “expresses no desires other than being given a man for Christmas.” Yet, also in Sarkeesian’s hit-list is Santa Baby, because the woman’s requests for a yacht and ring etc fall under the “problematic” trope of “gold digger.” It must be tiring doing the mental gymnastics required to pronounce women victims in every scenario, but brave social justice warriors like Anita soldier on.
Even on the rare occasion that feminists actually like something at Christmas, drama’s still not far behind. Third wavers are usually all for the removal of things that apparently make people uncomfortable, from pop songs to ‘pick up artists’ to television programmes.
Though not, it seems, when it’s something they like. When a Christmas tree was erected in an upmarket Milan street, adorned with “100 pink vibrators, dildos and various other sex toys” many locals were perturbed and asked the council to have the “decorations” removed. The council obliged and the ordinance reported that their removal was due to the decorations causing “discomfort”. Feminists at Jezebel urged readers to use, on social media, the hashtag #savethesexytree and to sign a petition to reinstate the sex toys. Because feelings are very important to ban-happy feminists… unless it’s feelings they disapprove of.
It’s not just third wave feminists who are frowning and tutting at Christmas time. The Reverend Giles Fraser, in the Guardian, has a bee in his bonnet about Operation Christmas Child, which I remember from my primary school days as “time to go to Woolworths, buy some cheap-ish but bright toys and summer clothes and then draw some nice pictures, pop them all in a shoebox and feel confident in the fact they’ll be sent to a needy child in a developing country for Christmas to slightly brighten what would otherwise be a joyless day of hardship.” How wrong I was.
Apparently, the shoeboxes are dispatched with a comic book that contains a “sinister” message: “’There is only one way to be friends with God.” In many places these boxes are distributed, this is thinly disguised code for: “Islam is wrong.” Well, I can say with one hundred per cent certainty that I would rather have this particular sort of proselytiser come, bearing food and shoeboxes filled with toys and clothes, than I would the Islamist sort who comes bearing a Glock, some C4 or hangman’s noose.
Considering that the latter scenario is a very real prospect in large swathes of the developing world, I think the author’s priorities are slightly askew. With clergymen like the Rev Fraser as “friends”, I’m not sure the Church of England needs enemies.
Most of us don’t want to enter this brave new world where everything is framed in terms of potential offence caused, and how many victims can be created. With social justice warriors, nothing can be innocent any more and everything is fuel for some wrong-headed war against men and Western culture.
It undermines the bonds that tie society together, fuelling only mistrust, division and resentment–the opposite of the Christmas spirit–a far worse effect, in my view, than that of the supposed misdemeanours of things like Christmas songs.