Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas and the Patriarchy

God rest, ye merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay,
For we'll hear pastor Warren's words inauguration day,
To save us from those horrid gays,
Whom Satan's led astray,

Good tidings of comfort and joy...

That was me trying to be really clever. I'll stop now.

Given that most holidays are tools of the patriarchy (Valentine's Day, anyone?), it comes as no surprise that the system has it's fingerprints all over Christmas, too. Here are my thoughts on the subject, illustrated (musically?) by carols, for either your pleasure or disgust according to temperament.

(Disclaimer: I have a bit of a confession to make - I consider myself a christian, little 'c' intentional, although I most definitely hold substantially different beliefs from most so-called 'Christians'! My views on Christmas are thus informed by my religious beliefs.)

So - five reasons that Christmas is a tool of the patriarchy:

Reason 1 - Christmas is Christ - mas
("O come, O come Immanuel")

Most people aren't Christians. Why celebrate a holiday for a religion you don't believe in? And, if you do believe in it, I think you'll agree that our current celebrations have little to do with the event supposedly being celebrated. So, why the pressure to observe Christmas? It's simple uniformity. If we all do it, we all think a bit more the same, and we'll all be more inclined to not question the system, especially...

Reason 2 - The Virgin Obsession
("A Virgin Unspotted")

Yes, christians believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. Yes, it has a significant symbolic meaning. That should not, however, translate into a cultural obsession with virginity! Even the Bible doesn't dwell on the virgin birth at all. For that matter, the Bible only assigns the Christmas story a fraction of the importance that we assign it. (It's only mentioned in two of the four gospels!) In any case, once you have the virgin, and she is sacrificed to her husband, you have the traditional family, perfect for...

Reason 3 - Emotional Nostalgic Nonsense and 'Family Values'
("Children, Go Where I Send Thee")
As far as I can tell, we're all supposed to have these wonderful childhood memories of Christmas, of getting gifts from our family, etc., etc. Then, we spend half of our lives trying to recreate the same experiences for our children. Curiously enough (if you don't mind me dragging the conversation back to Jesus for a second), the 'Christmas family' was a bit of a mess. Mary was already pregnant when she married Joseph, they moved several times, the siblings didn't get along. Jesus told several people to leave their families and follow him! But the patriarchy wants us to maintain the belief that our biological family is the only one that really counts. Christmas traditions reinforce that. Also, what family would be complete without the patriarch himself...

Reason 4 - Masculinity
("The Boar's Head Carol")
Because even Christmas is about killing things! In modern times, of course, we hunt for boars at the mall...

Reason 5 - Commercialism
Enough said.

Interestingly enough, the gifts were originally supposed to be for the less fortunate:
("Good King Wenceslas", ignoring the annoying charity association...)

This Christmas, enjoy time with whomever you may call family, sing carols if they make you happy, make fun of them if you don't, and do something to help stop oppression. That's the true spirit - perhaps the spirit of Christmas, perhaps not - but certainly, the spirit of life.

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