While traditionally Santa is a male, it seems in this day and age many would prefer it if ‘he’ were not a he or a she. Have you ever considered what it would be like if Santa were gender-neutral?
A survey carried out by GraphicSprings actually found that 17.15 percent of people would prefer a gender-neutral Santa and 10.6 percent would opt for a female Santa over a male one. Basically, about 28 percent of those surveyed would not want Santa to be a male if they could have a say in things.
Those who took part in this survey ranged in age from 18 to over 65. They were for based in both the UK and the US and over 4000 people ended up participating in whole. It is also interesting to note that 14.74 percent of those who took part in this survey also noted that Santa should travel in a flying car rather than his traditional sleigh with reindeer.
When you think of Santa chances are you picture an elderly white man with a long white beard and maybe even glasses, right? What would a female Santa look like? Would a gender-neutral Santa look similar to the one we’re used to or how different would they end up being?
Claudia Carvell from the LGBT Foundation told UNILAD the following and noted that whether Santa ends up being gender-fluid or not gender-neutrality/fluidity needs to be represented more properly:
Gender fluidity is an important issue for everyone, regardless of their gender identity.
We have a restrictive idea of what a man or woman is and it assumes women have to be feminine and men masculine – and there’s no room for people who feel they’re both or neither.
Everyone experiences these gender pressures, whether they’re LGBT or not, so gender fluidity is something we all need to be discussing as part of our everyday lives – whether it’s rejecting a damaging stereotype, using ‘they’ pronouns as well as ‘he’ and ‘she’, or simply not assuming someone’s gender identity based on their appearance.
The conversation just starts with gender-neutral clothing lines or gender-fluid imagery – we need to be hearing more of the voices and experiences of gender-fluid and non-binary people and genuinely start moving away from binary gender representations and fixed gender roles.
The survey mentioned above shows that at least 1 in 6 people would prefer it if Santa were not necessarily a male. That being said, whether you’re for or against a gender-neutral or female Santa the concept of rebranding him would be quite complicated, right? Considering how very much Christmas oriented the US is in itself, could you imagine?
So what if Santa is a woman? Wouldn’t it be an empowering symbol for our daughters and a lesson in gender equity for our sons? Besides, these days, who wants their kids sitting on some strange man’s knee at the mall? If we’re going to tease our children with fantasy, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more female superheroes to tell them about? I say, who better than Santa?
Of course, it would be even nicer if Santa was gender neutral. Like those children being raised by New Age enlightened types that never tell their child his/her/its gender. Sadly, I’m just not sure we’re there yet. The world is not equal. We found that out this past year in sordid detail, from people who are supposed to inspire us in the creative arts. We saw our politicians fail us and turn into sexual predators. Even pedophiles. It would be nice to give our children, especially our daughters, someone they can look up to. Mommy Santa ticks a whole lot of boxes.
I propose we redefine Santa. Let’s look beyond the gendered stereotypes. Let’s, for a moment, ignore the presents and see instead the generosity. Let’s see Santa as a celebration of character strengths, such as perseverance, empathy, emotional attunement, thoughtfulness, courage, organizational skills, problem-solving, and kindness. The list is long. Around my house, the person that embodies these values most at this time of year is my partner. And so the Santa suit is hers. She is the one making the season bright. I may wish I were up to the task, but my conditioning is too set. Or maybe I’m too lazy? It can be hard to tell most days which excuse is the better one.
While it is clear Ungar has a point, most would not be willing to see things that way. No matter what, this will always be a topic people are divided on. How do you feel about this concept? Is Santa fine as is or could he use some improvements? Could the current representation of Santa be somewhat oppressive?
Image via Tron Theatre