What if Santa is gender-queer?

My fondness for Santa goes way back. In the days when I used to buy into the patriarchal God paradigm (touted at the Catholic school I attended), I thought of Santa as similar to God, or perhaps, maybe even God in disguise. After all, both were depicted as white bearded males…

After Catholic school put me off organized religion for life (which it achieved by the time I was in 4th grade), I didn’t give up my love for Santa even though I ultimately rejected the idea of the big white dude in the sky.

Santa has so many traits I love:

Santa wears red. My favorite color of all time.

Santa loves cookies. So do I.

Santa wants people to be good to each other, and Santa’s naughty list seems a lot more fair than that of god’s or GW Bush’s.

Santa lives by a Dionysian spirit – good food, good drink, celebration, and merriment are an important part of existence according to the Santa paradigm. I agree.

Notice that above I at no time refer to Santa as “he.” That is because I refuse to believe Santa is only male!

I think of Santa as a cross dresser, as transgender, or genderless. Like any deity worth their salt, I see Santa as beyond the gender binary – rather, Santa understands that we mortals view the world through tiny gendered boxes and would have a hard time accepting a gender-queer icon.

Well, Santa, I would like to inform you the time is ripe for you to reveal that the beard is false, that you sometimes wear a dress, that you have only been cross-dressing all these years so as not to freak out the parents (kids, or course, would accept a gender-queer Santa – it’s the closed minded parents that would need help accepting Santa’s ‘otherness.’)

On that note, you might as well admit that you have been passing as white all these years in fear your color would work against you. Heck, these past several years you have probably been afraid that your color might label you a terrorist or enemy combatant… You would come down the chimney to find ICE or FBI ready to haul your red-clad butt to Gitmo. (OK, so I know some out there will argue that as Santa comes from snow-zone, he would be white, but Eskimos are not white and they come from the land of snow. Plus, Santa’s whole give, give, give mantra is not in keeping with take, take, take white history…)

So, Santa, I can see why you might have deemed it necessary to PRETEND to be a “traditional male” of the white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy variety for all these years- but don’t you think it is high time to force society to realize that not all icons need be male or white or cis or heterosexual or able-bodied? And, what is up with the person known as “Mrs. Claus” – when does the s/he get to share the limelight?

Think of the mind expansion you could bring about by revealing that you (as well as “Mrs. C” and the elves) have been forced into normative boxes – that you, like god(s) have been limited by the small-mindedness of humans who refuse to see beyond gender/race/class binaries and INSIST on referring to deities in male terms (for a good post on this subject, go here).

Santa, if you came forward about your identity, perhaps people might begin to question the father/god set up of most religions and question why our belief systems are male-centric.  Perhaps they might begin to shed the blinders of gender essentialism, cis privilege, and the Heteronormativity/marriage/family matrix.

Come on Santa – you know it’s time to give up the patriarchal shtick. When you visit my house this year, I hope you come sans the white hetero male drag… But please, keep the belly! I do not want to see “Hunky Santa” with six pack abs anywhere near my stocking…

18 thoughts on “What if Santa is gender-queer?”

  1. Sorry, but this is a little pretentious for my taste. The whole thing about “take, take, take white history” would be much more relevant if it wasn’t coming from a pretentious white hipster. I’m a liberal myself, but I can smell a scarf-wearing Starbucks regular from a mile away. Take off the Ché Guevara backpack and formulate some ideas of your own. You make all of us liberals look like checker-pattern-wearing, American Spirit-smoking beatnik wannabes.

    And my opinion on all this? We need to stop being quite so politically correct. That’s not to say that I condone any kind of racism, sexism or homophobia — quite the contrary, in fact. But to act like Santa doesn’t deserve to be male because men have been historically dominant in Western society is a little ridiculous. In allegedly fighting for women’s rights recently, pretentious feminists like yourself have perhaps inadvertently started sounding more and more sexist towards men. Santa may not be real, but if he was, he would most certainly be male. Not because all mythical beings have to be male, and not because of a male-dominated society. Because he was based on St. Nicholas, a real person who gave gifts to the poor. This actual person was warped into a legend for kids to believe in something magical at Christmastime. Why feel the need to change his gender?

    Speaking of gender, you need to admit that only 2 exist. While I realize that someone can have a different biological sex than the gender in their mind, you can still only choose from male and female. I probably sound ignorant to you but I’m just being realistic. This world has gotten so PC that anyone’s personal opinion can be silenced if even one person would be offended by it. I like political correctness to an extent, because I really don’t like intolerance. The only groups of people I sincerely hate are hate groups themselves, funnily enough.

    But seriously, get a grip with this whole “tiny gendered boxes” BS. You do realize you are the archetype of a pretentious Starbucks-frequenting hipster, right? Santa Claus is male because he has always been male. I know you feel that women are still heavily oppressed in society, and I’m not gonna bother arguing about that because I agree to an extent. But can’t men have something too? Do you have to make every male icon into a female or a “gender-queer” figure? Why not just leave Santa the way he is?

    I also hate how you compare hiding a gender-queer identity to “passing” in terms of race. Come on, that’s not cool. Why do you pretentious ultra-liberals always have to compare the struggle of LGBT people to that of black people? Can’t you understand that black people have had it so much harder? Why even act like the two are comparable; why can’t they just be thought of as entirely different struggles?

    I really didn’t write this comment to seem insulting or anything. I don’t really know or care what your gender/sex/sexuality is, either. The thing that annoyed me about this article was the predictable air of pretentiousness that you had when you wrote it. This is the first article of yours that I’ve read, but from the sidebar it seems like your skin is WAYYY too thin. Lighten up and stop focusing on race/gender/etc. so much. People who focus and talk about this type of stuff more are just encouraging people to notice such differences. I probably can’t change your opinion on this, but I’m hoping you’ll write the next article in a way that doesn’t make you seem like a run-of-the-mill college student from Western Mass who wears checker patterns on their clothes, perhaps a scarf, smokes cigarettes (which is still disgusting, by the way), and discusses the difference between crustpunk and grindcore. It’s really wearing thin on us all.

    1. Frank,
      Wow, way to load on the assumptions. It is hilarious how you load the whole reply with insults, slurs, and unwarranted generalizations -“scarf-wearing Starbucks regular” being a classic (and so unique that you had to REPEAT it, with a slight variation – can’t you at least aim for less redundancy?)– and THEN close with ” I really didn’t write this comment to seem insulting or anything.” Too much.

      As for the insinuation that I am someone who needs to “formulate some ideas of your own,” well I might say the same to you in regards to the “only two genders” line. Far from original, that one.

      As for the claim I collide gender/sex and race oppression or insinuate they are the same, I do not. The post, if you hadn’t noticed, is not meant to be taken in ULTRA SERIOUSNESS form — ie, lose the anal retentiveness for a moment and look at it in terms of the wider argument — in short, that it is problematic that all our cultural icons tend to be white male hetero’s.

      And, how utterly typical you tell me to “lighten up.” Don’t suppose you happen to notice how troll-esque that sounds (not to mention the racist implications of the phrase).

      I won’t change my tone for you and if you don’t like it, don’t read the blog for fuck’s sake.

  2. How typical of someone I just described in the last post to say that “lighten up” is a racial term. Are you serious? You and I both know that I didn’t mean it that way, but of course you pretentious ultra-left wingers have to turn everything into an offensive comment. Come on, “lighten up”? I wasn’t even aware you were a person of color, and I certainly hope you are after accusing me of using such a phrase in a racist manner. Either way, whether or not you really believe I meant that to be racist, you need to chill with the accusations. You are exactly the type of person who would accuse someone else of being racist just to hide your own prejudice. It’s so easy to point the finger at someone else in order to feel better about yourself. You might not even be a person of color at this point, in fact I’m overwhelmingly sure that you’re still a pretentious white college student. So please, spare me the accusations. That is all for now.

  3. Why the hostility Frank? Is your privilege being challenged? Is the idea of a non-male, non-straight Santa so threatening? (It looks like it is, which speaks to the strength of your gender-binary views.)

    As for the “oppression olympics”, this sort of attitude does nothing but divide and conquer. Sure, people experience oppression (and privilege) in a variety of ways, but to suggest one type of oppression trumps all ignores the ways in which racism, sexism, heterosexism, homo/bi/transphobia, classism, ageism, ableism and fatphobia all work together, reinforcing each other.

    You also mention that you hate intolerance in the same paragraph where you tell the professor that she NEEDS to accept that there are only two sexes.

    I suggest you stop trolling and trying to make up for your exclusivity and intolerance with ridiculous stereotypes. They are not only offensive but boring.

  4. Looks like we have someone else who didn’t read my entire comment, first or second. Someone looking to accuse another of being intolerant simply to feel like the “good guy”. Come on, really? Please just stop.

  5. Frank claims to be a liberal himself, but I don’t believe it. Everything about his post screams of someone who feels that their right-wing social conservative privilege is being challenged. Frank probably took lessons in ridicule from listening to talk radio trash.

  6. Don’t you guys get it? The more you just accuse me of being intolerant, right-wing, etc. it just shows that you yourselves love to point fingers! We all do it! You probably think I’m some rich, capitalist pig who doesn’t want to lose my “white privilege”. I’ll be honest with you: I hate this government too and I am most certainly not benefiting from the past 8 years. Do not accuse me of being a conservative. I just don’t understand why you guys want so much change that the ENTIRE social order will be replaced. Yes, I agree that we need more icons that are not white men, but why should we change an icon that already exists? Why not just create newer icons for certain occasions?

    Look, I realize I’ve dug myself in deep on here because you guys don’t even want to listen to my points. You just keep labeling me as a conservative and essentially a “white oppressor” (even though most people who vocally make such claims are über-white themselves, and hardly know any people of color) without actually knowing what my views are. I am not homophobic and I do not hate people who are gender-queer. I have no problem with that; your identity is your identity, and that’s fine. But realistically, there is still male and female. You could be male in your mind while being anatomically female, but that’s still just 2 different genders.

    I think this whole thing got blown out of proportion, and I realize that I came on here sounding like a hater. I do apologize about that, because I said some things that were pretty immature. But what you guys need to realize is how many Starbucks-frequenting college kids I know who vocalize similar points that you have. The type of people who talk about the “white oppressor” and how people of color are being kept down, while not realizing the irony of the fact that they themselves are white. It’s a lot more relevant coming from someone who actually knows about it, yet a lot of these hipster kids think they have to protect black people from “the Man”. It almost makes them seem like they don’t think black people can protect themselves; like they need to be the “white superheroes” that protect the “little people” in this country. I think these kids have a serious issue with themselves and their own whiteness.

    But my original point was just that Santa Claus should remain a male, since that’s the entire history of the mythical (and originally real) person. That’s all! It was never even explicit that Santa had to be white, to be honest, but he’s always been depicted as a male. And despite what many people who read this blog may think, the word “male” is in the dictionary and is a very real thing. I know some of you would want all gender-related terms to be done away with entirely, but where’s the sense in that? I’m not hating on your identity or life choices, I just don’t think they need to be applied to something as basic like Santa Claus. Believe it or not, most people are not “gender-queer”, so why should an icon be changed for a small minority that is barely even visible? I’m just saying, some things are made to change, like the parts of the Constitution that originally allowed slavery. I’m glad all of that has changed, because slavery will never be right and neither will racism. But as far as Santa goes, can’t he just remain a “he”?

    Please try to answer this one without vocally labeling me, as I tried to give you all the same courtesy in this post.

  7. There is only male and female? What about persons who are Intersex? Our definitions of what constitutes a person’s sex are socially constructed and there are many people who don’t fit within the “criteria” of female/male hormones, genitalia and the other constructions society has developed within (and to perpetuate) gender binarism.

    As for the ongoing “starbucks” comments, if you must know, I prefer my coffee shade-grown, organic, fair trade and from non-chains. And I prefer to associate with people who don’t go to starbucks.

  8. Please try to answer this one without vocally labeling me, as I tried to give you all the same courtesy in this post.

    Ha! don’t you know that some of the most intolerant people are those who claim to be progressives? Most of those who complain about privilege are quite privileged themselves. I don’t see any of them selling all they have and following that mean patriarchal Jesus. I would so like to see some of these posters visit some real countries where PATRIARCHY is not only practiced but violently defended. After all how many gay/lesbian/transexual parades have they attended in Damascus Syria.
    And, professor you should know that santa claus is not a black cultural icon-though the Dutch Sinter Klaas did have a black servant. Oh, the shame of it all!
    Anyway, I will gladly give up some of my heterosexual, white male privilege if some of the more outspoken posters on this board move or show some concern of some of your black/brown brothers and sisters in Africa, India, Pakistan, Mexico and all those other places where patriarchy is the real deal and where women had better act like women!

  9. SV,
    Thanks for the support. Your comment “They are not only offensive but boring” is a great way to describe trolls! I hope you are currently enjoying some shade grown, fair trade coffee. Perhaps you have on your hipster scarf as well?🙂

    Joy,
    Ooh, maybe I could learn about “real countries” and “PATRIARCHY” on talk radio — according to Henry, I am mistaken in my belief that the US is patriarchal society. Could Rush or Howard set me straight?

    Frank,
    I think others would be more willing to listen/dialogue if you considered some of the following:
    1. Making your comments less hostile and more analytical
    2. Being more careful with language. Using terms with racial/gender bias conflict with your claims of tolerance, etc. Also, repeated use of “you guys” when writing to women is something I personally find offensive — and yes, I just flipped my hipster checkered scarf as I wrote that – NOT! (Also, your indication that I would have to be a POC to make my dislike of the phrase “lighten up” legit is not in keeping with an anti-racist viewpoint — it is not only poc that need to fight racism!)
    3. Taking an intersectional approach that is cognizant of how race/class/gender/sexuality etc mutually inform one another – (maybe consider a WMST course)
    4. Nixing the phrase “Starbuck’s Hipster” from your vocabulary

    As for your question, I do think Santa can remain a he. The point was rather that almost all cultural icons are (white) males — THIS is the problem, not Santa per se.

    Henry,
    Can you please enlighten me as to what you mean by “real countries”?
    And, of course I know Santa is white and male — that is the point of the post! This, by the way, shows that patriarchy is also “the real deal” right here in the US.
    Are you actually serious in your comments that claim the US is not patriarchal?

  10. “Can you please enlighten me as to what you mean by “real countries”?

    Actually I was being sarcastic. But it’s interesting to note that most-if not all-the countries which I consider to be truly patriarchal (Yemen, India, Burma. Pakistan, Syria and others) have little in common with the weak patriarchy in this country. An interesting topic of study would be this: “what is the correlation between people of color and their adoption of patriarchy?” Is it geography, habit, religion, the level of real and/or potential environmental violence? Of course that would be considered a {racist} study!

    “And, of course I know Santa is white and male — that is the point of the post! This, by the way, shows that patriarchy is also “the real deal” right here in the US.” Well, if he is a patriarch he is certainly a feminine one. He supposedly loves children, loves his wife, has a kind heart toward animals and believes that one must give to obtain happiness and inner peace.

    From an online site I copied the following:

    A society where women are dominated by men. S. Walby (1990) has distinguished six locations of patriarchal relations: sexuality, the household, male-on-female violence, paid employment, cultural institutions, and the state.
    Using the above examples, and from my own experiences, I would not consider this country as a true patriarchy. Most of the above are generalities which ignore specifics and deny factors which have nothing to do with sexism or any of the other isms so popular these days. We are moving toward a more egalitarean society but true equality is not within our grasp.

  11. Henry,
    Hmmm, I think a more interesting study would be as follows: What is the correlation between colonization/imperialism and patriarchy? How did, for example, the British Empire spread patriarchy (both patriarchal religion and patriarchal rule) to India/Africa/North America? Were not these people of color LESS patriarchal and more egalitarian pre-colonization? Thus, couldn’t the spread of patriarchy be linked to empire? Or, the big white daddy decided he needed to rule the rest of the world?
    That being said though, patriarchy need not be inherently bad, just as matriarchy wouldn’t necessarily be inherently good. Rather, patriarchy as it has been practiced for the past several hundred years has been combined with other systems of power and privilege – such as white privilege, Judeo-Christian privilege, hetero privilege… This has made it a multi-faceted patriarchy which in not solely based on male rule…
    This coincides with your argument that Santa is “feminine” — according to gender essentialism, yes, you could see it in that way. But, Santa can also be seen as a ‘non-traditional male’ or one that does not buy into the patriarchal white hetero hypermasculinity paradigm…
    As per the “six locations of patriarchal relations” – well, it is not clear exactly how Walby uses the locations or for what perhaps. However, I am assuming the six factors are looked at to asses how patriarchal a country is. While the US is certainly more egalitarian than some places, it is less so than others. And, in those six categories, it is particularly bad in terms of violence against women, unequal pay/job opportunity, cultural institutions, and the state. Even the first two, sexuality and the household, are far from egalitarian across lines of gender, race, and class.
    And, I agree, true equality is not withing our grasp at this point– and this is in large part BECAUSE our society is PATRIARCHAL.

  12. Hmmm, I think a more interesting study would be as follows: What is the correlation between colonization/imperialism and patriarchy? How did, for example, the British Empire spread patriarchy (both patriarchal religion and patriarchal rule) to India/Africa/North America? Were not these people of color LESS patriarchal and more egalitarian pre-colonization? Thus, couldn’t the spread of patriarchy be linked to empire?
    Some,

    Hmmm-yah think? but, if you read your Bible there were patriarchies before the Brits were even an ethnic group. I doubt if the Hittites or the Assyrians wern’t a bit patriarchal? I doubt if ancient Africa, India or Arabia were anything but patriarchal. You may recall that Muslims armies invaded India around 900 A.D with their primary goal of showing the Indians that the Muslim patriarchal God (Allah) was superior to Hinduism. It’s my opinion that one reason that Islam grew so fast during that era was because both Christianity and Judaism were considered to be to feminine. Remember that St.Paul praised women for their work in the early church. I doubt if Mohammad would have praised women in the same way.
    But lets continue our world trip: from the little I have read of 13th to 17th century China, Japan or Korea; none of those societies were anything but patriarchal. During this time the larger societies in America-the Aztecs, Incas, Toltecs and a few others were quite warlike and patriarchal. Some like the Pueblos, Hopi’s and the Indians of the Eastern U.S were more matrifocal but, even then, this did not mean that women ran the show. Such groups as the Apaches and Comanches made sure that women did most of the heavy labor while the men hunted and made war!

    “I am assuming the six factors are looked at to asses how patriarchal a country is. While the US is certainly more egalitarian than some places, it is less so than others. And, in those six categories, it is particularly bad in terms of violence against women, unequal pay/job opportunity, cultural institutions, and the state. Even the first two, sexuality and the household, are far from egalitarian across lines of gender, race, and class.”

    Yes, those six are quite general but useful as well since they open up areas of discussion. For instance, to me, if people actually practiced the Judeo-Christian faith (patriarchal or not) there would be little violence against women (or men for that matter). However, I also think that our Western European nations are the most egaliterean while their religious faith (church going) is rather poor.

    “such as white privilege, Judeo-Christian privilege, hetero privilege… This has made it a multi-faceted patriarchy which in not solely based on male rule”

    Ah, privilege! can’t live with it can’t live without it! Most every person, family, gender, ethnic group, culture has privileges of one sort or another, mingled with levels of responsibility and ability. To me this concept of privilege is morally neutral to phrase otherwise opens up a multitude of destructive human emotions-aka known as sinning!

  13. ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house
    I was making my plans to look more like my spouse
    I carefully laid out my very best clothes
    My bra and my panties, my skirt and my hose

    My stockings weren’t hung by the chimney that night
    They were on me instead, feeling sensually tight
    My dress was of velvet, a burgundy red
    And on my long nails a new polish was spread

    With make-up and jewellery, high heels on my feet
    I was looking so sexy and feeling so sweet
    When out in the yard there arose such a noise
    That I sprang from my bedroom, forgetting my poise

    The moon on the snow with its brilliant white glitter
    Reminiscent of lace set my heart all a-twitter
    When what to my long-lashed eyes should appear
    But a person in red with a sleigh and reindeer

    But I could not tell if a ‘he’ or a ‘she’
    The one on the sled was dressed somewhat like me
    There in the sleigh was this gentle old flirt
    With a white wig and make-up, a red blouse and skirt

    The reindeer were sparkling, with rhinestones and pearls
    With their antlers in ribbons, they all looked like girls
    When (s)he stepped from the sleigh, to my eyes were revealed
    Some knee-high black boots with their seven-inch heels

    Santa just blushed, but I stood there and smiled
    And said, “Hello, my dear, can you stay for a while?”
    “Well you finally caught me”, (s)he said with a pout
    “At this time on Christmas, folks are seldom about.”

    “I don’t go en femme very often at home,
    “Mrs Claus doesn’t like it, so I do it alone.
    “And when I give goodies to make others smile
    “I like to feel pretty and femme for a while.”

    “So I ride off dressed up, from my high heels to wig,
    “On Christmas Eve night while I’m doing my gig.”
    I said, “Don’t worry Santa, your secret is safe
    “Why don’t you come in and just freshen your face?”

    We sat and we talked and we vented our passion
    For feminine frills and the latest new fashions
    We finally parted with a hug and a kiss
    (S)he said, “I must go now, or some children I’ll miss”

    I went to my party and had a great time
    With music and laughter and good food and wine
    But when I returned and looked under my tree
    I found some new pretties from sweet Santa to me

    Lacy panties, a bra and a soft satin blouse
    Perfume and candles to light up my house
    But it wasn’t the goodies that lifted my blues
    It was knowing that Santa was a cross-dresser too

    So next time don’t judge all the people you meet
    By what they are wearing when out on the street
    For in being oneself, there is no ‘wrong or right’
    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

    http://www.xpressions.org/

    http://www.mf2fm.com/vicky/index.php

    1. Love it!!! Would you like this put up as a guest post? If so, send me your bio info and I would be happy to post it!

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