Why is Christmas a feminist issue?
From buying the gifts and RSVPing to the parties to wrapping the presents and putting up the tree, from choosing the decorations to organizing the lunch, and from laying the table to making the food. Oh and don’t forget the dishes. It’s not unusual for all of the unpaid labor of Christmas to fall on women (fellas, do you have an allergy to Sellotape or something?!) which might explain why 51% of women feel stressed about Christmas, compared to just 31% of men. And it doesn’t end with stress. A YouGov poll in 2019 found that over a third of women also say they’ve felt anxious, whereas less than a quarter of men say the same.
Well, this Christmas we’re saying no to gendered expectations that are facilitating what is essentially unpaid labor. Christmas is about family time, so it’s about time that family made a team effort.
If anyone tries to tell you that you’re responsible for something at Christmas because it’s ‘tradition’ then you have our official permission to scold them. It’s not the 1950’s anymore. And it’s time for some new traditions. So if someone (ahem, usually a man), tells you that you should be doing the cooking, because ‘mom always does the cooking’, it might be time to educate them on the idea of modernity.
Flattery should get them nowhere
If they tell you that they rely on you because you’re ‘more organized’, a ‘natural’, or ‘just better at this stuff than me’, tell them where to shove their compliments. While our natural tendency to get sh** done doesn’t seem to extend to men, just because we might be better at something, doesn’t mean we should do it. And ask yourself this, are you just better at it because you’ve had years of practice that you never even asked for? The answer is probably yes. So basically, the sooner they start practicing, the better.
How to lighten your load
It’s simple in theory, difficult in practice. Learn. To. Say. No. At the beginning of the holidays, make a note of all of the things that you have on your to-do list and split it out among your family members. If there are two of you, split it right down the middle. If you have older children, make sure they pull their weight, too. Allocate all the tasks based on who you think will do the best job of each and you’ll be amazed at how much more time you have on your hands to watch Love Actually.
But I love Christmas jobs
Hey, we’re not here to judge. If you love wrapping presents, making the house look nice, and cooking the turkey, then you do you. But you should never feel like you have to do it because you’re a woman. You should do it because you like it. Don’t assume a role because of old-fashioned mindsets but do it because you want to.
Closing the gender effort-gap
If Christmas fills you with a feeling of dread, then it’s probably the case that you’ve taken on too much. So spread the load. Ask for help from your partner and from other family members. Talk about it with your girlfriends, mention it to male colleagues at work, and definitely don’t let your dad get away with letting your mom do all the work. The louder we talk about it, the less we’ll have to do come next December.