What Else, But Christmas Joy, and Parental Bondage?

For some reason I hated myself this morning and turned on Good Morning America. The woman from the holiday card that is being passed around was on the TV talking about how it was originally her idea to do the photo. I hate talking about things everyone else is talking about because it becomes super redundant, but I thought this was important.
 
Just because a hostile or patriarchal idea is a woman’s doesn’t make it any less hostile or patriarchal. Women perpetuate violence or violent ideas against women ALL THE TIME.
  • Laughing that women are too bossy or loud
  • Joking about or seriously calling other women sluts
  • Making judgements on who should or shouldn’t be having children
  • Questioning the relationship statuses of women who are single
 
Whether or not it was her idea to tie up her mouth and her daughters mouths and have her son thumbs up the photo doesn’t matter. I said this somewhere else but if she was really going for a humorous “silent night / peace on earth” kind of photo card, they could have sat down and found an idea that did not perpetuate violence against women. How about the parents sitting in the living room, clanking wine glasses, with an image of their children in bed. Caption: Silent Night. 
You can see in contrast that this joke wasn’t about their kids being crazy loud. It was about women being too loud. It wasn’t a mistake. That was the point they wanted to make. (See also: “Women are too busy!” “Women gossip too much!” “Women are superficial!” “Women are whiney!”)  
 
That doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. It just means that we have to take a step back and realize that we all have a lot of ideas about women that are weaved so deeply into our minds that we continue to perpetuate that violence without even noticing its happening.
 
People are making a big deal about it not because they want to bum you out or ruin your Christmas or be craAAZZZy feminists. They’re making a big deal about it because it is a big deal that we get Christmas laughs from a man and son tying up and gagging their female family members. It’s a big deal that their mother can sit aside and say “it’s funny, though!” It’s a big deal that their daughters are being sent those specific messages about what women are like.
Why do we cling onto these examples?
Why does everyone talk about it for a week before giving up and moving onto something else that pisses them off?
Because for whatever reason they had the bad luck of their experience going viral.
It doesn’t mean this is the one singular example of this happening right now.
There are probably tons of cards committing violence against men and women! The point is that when these things do go viral, they go viral because they made us feel something emotional. They made us feel something emotional because they’re important. And because they’re important, we should have the uncomfortable conversations about them.
(Much to my chagrin, 99% of the time.)
If you did laugh, find it funny, or react with a rather resounding “so fucking what?” take a second to contemplate why other people do think its a big deal. How many times do we let things like this slide in an attempt to not make a fuss? To be the cool girl? 
Is it possible to both not want women to be bound and gagged literally and also snicker at the cultural humor of women being blabber mouths? Sure, I’m not here to tell you how to be a feminist. But if that is how you feel, make a real concerted effort to read the above and understand what it means, and why people don’t feel the same way you do. We’ll all be better off.
This post brought to you by compassion and trying to understand how other people think. Remember to have a sense of humor, eat your vegetables,  and finish listening to someone else before you say what you’re thinking.

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