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Hoo boy: There’s no ‘counternarrative’ for Santa Claus’s ‘cisnormative construction’

Author’s note: Several commenters both here and on our Facebook page claimed Lott’s piece is obvious satire. Yours truly certainly considered the possibility; however, the column wasn’t labeled as satire, and after having read many similar pieces — and actual research papers — akin to Lott’s article that were dead serious (not to mention that Lott appears in The Guardian), I believed he was on the level. After an inquiry, however, Lott confirmed that his column “was a total piss take,” and he was “glad it fooled some people.” Well done, Mr. Lott.

In his Guardian “Family” column yesterday, writer Tim Lott hails a three-year-old op-ed by a McMaster University (Canada) professor which stated Christmas is “filled with one patriarchal construct after another.”

Communication and cultural studies prof Latham Hunter asked for pity in her 2014 piece because she “doesn’t particularly want to put the Christ back in Christmas,” nor does she desire to “reinforce the notion that men are the foundation of the most important things in the world.”

Lott contends Hunter’s piece was “groundbreaking” and notes he was “shocked” by some of it — like, for instance, that most of Santa’s work is done by women.

He contends Christmas has become “considerably more problematic as a discourse” since the article:

“For instance – and this had never occurred to me – it is always ‘Father Christmas,” he writes. “My 11-year-old daughter has speculated about a ‘Mrs’ Claus, or ‘Mary’ Christmas, which, as Mr Claus is posited as a cisnormative construction, is understandable. But no such counternarrative exists.”

From the column:

[Hunter] fails to make any mention of intersectional concerns. Surely reindeer deserve better than being forced to haul an impossibly heavy sleigh full of “gifts” built by forced labour into the polar wastes, rather than remaining in the forgiving tundra to which they are more adapted? As for the stigmatisation of one of the reindeer, Rudolph, for his facial disfigurement, this is both ableist and speciesist. You might argue that these creatures are purely “imaginary”, but this is to fall prey to literalism. The messages generated are the same whatever the nominal status in terms of reality of the groups represented.

Likewise, there is a marginalisation of the debate about the “elves” – as they are pejoratively characterised. It is as if, politically, they are invisible. But what are they, essentially? A slave army. A signifier for sweatshops and the exploitation of globalisation. What are they paid? What are their conditions? And what do they do the rest of the year? Mr Claus remains tight-lipped. Why? Can it have anything to do with the huge oil deposits discovered under the ice and the need for cheap labour to extract it?

Lott goes on to lament the Christmas “cracker” (“obviously phallocentric”) and wreaths (“represent the male projection of the vagina”), and says he’s “disgusted by the uniform whiteness of snow.”

“Together, men and women can and must do better,” he concludes. “Together, we can end Christmas in its current form once and for all. In the end, we have nothing to lose but our paperchains, our archaic and regressive preconceptions and, of course, our minds.”

I think I lost my mind about halfway through Lott’s column.

Read the full piece.

MORE: Christmas: the embodiment of patriarchal dominance

MORE: Have a Merry Christmas … in spite of progressive academics

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About the Author
Assistant Editor
Dave Huber is assistant editor of The College Fix. He has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over a decade, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. Dave is a retired educator with over 25 years of service who holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Delaware, as well as graduate student membership in the National Association of Scholars.

Add to the Discussion

  • Julesagain ✓ it’s me

    The original 2014 article is a masterful troll job.
    Isn’t it? It’s surely meant to be a joke.

    Good heavens, when will they wake up and see they have no clothes on.

    • Funny … a commenter on our FB page insists Lott’s (reaction) piece is satire. It certainly may be; however, considering the # of similar-sounding articles — and actual *research papers* we’ve read — not to mention that it’s in the *Guardian*, well, the “obvious” factor is rather low.

    • matt10023

      It has to be satire. The whole reindeer paragraph is hilarious. To me it was a send-up of the usual inter-sectional conspiracy theories.

  • KeenIncite

    “My 11-year-old daughter has speculated about a ‘Mrs’ Claus, or ‘Mary’ Christmas, which, as Mr Claus is posited as a cisnormative construction, is understandable. But no such counternarrative exists.”

    And thank God no counternarrrative exists. This is the epitome of a Marxist construct, and therefore, invalid.

  • farkennel

    Lotts article was written as a pisstake on the feminist who wrote that silly nonsense.It surprises me that Huber didn`t pick up on that glaringly obvious fact.Just read the last line,he was suggesting that the feminist is leading the way in a mind being lost.

    • I addressed just this on our FB page and on these comments already. Reading the *entire* last paragraph doesn’t make it “glaringly obvious,” and as previously stated “considering the # of similar-sounding articles — and actual *research
      papers* we’ve read — not to mention that it’s in the *Guardian*, well,
      the ‘obvious’ factor is rather low.”

      • farkennel

        In the end we have nothing to lose but our paperchains,our archaic and regressive preconceptions,and of course,our minds.And I feel that on this issue Professor Hunter is,once again,well ahead of the rest of us.
        That last sentence didn`t make it obvious for you?Saying someone has lost their mind should have been a dead giveaway.

        • IMO the entirety of the paragraph could have been what he meant as attributed to Hunter. Nevertheless, I contacted Lott and he responded. You were right. 🙂

          • farkennel

            Cool.I would have looked a complete plonker if he was serious.I understand your scepticism,the Guardian is not exactly known for it`s impartial critiques of feminism.Valenti still having her job after her celebrated “I bathe in male tears” shirt tells us all we need to know about a publication that would continue her employment.

          • Added an “author’s note” to the article.

          • farkennel

            I read your authors note.Did the author Lott say the words “piss take” or has he plagiarised my earlier comment on his work? If he didn`t…..I DEMAND ROYALTIES! If not…I shall slink off to my obscurity.

          • Lol … he actually used “piss take”!

          • farkennel

            Damn….I thought I might have cadged a quid ….oh well…back to obscurity…and the salt mines….my life sucks……

  • Larry Moran

    Not to worry. Global warming will take care of all this North Pole stuff…Santa is as dead as a polar bear.