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Mrs. Claus is the feminist we need to celebrate today, who is much more than the ‘ideal’ housewife: someone who would cook, clean, and not have a mind of her own.
Behind every successful man, there is a woman.
Santa Claus is no different.
Good-natured, kind, and generous, Mrs.Claus is often unfortunately typecasted to be a contented stay-at-home wife, who exists in the same realm as Santa; but only to attend to his needs and nothing else. A stereotype best suited to the imagination of misogynistic men, a conjuring of their‘ideal’ housewife: someone who would cook, clean, and not have a mind of her own.
Mrs.Claus, however, is anything but.
One of the earliest feminist icons there was, Mrs.Claus stepped out of Santa’s shadow as early as 1889, in Katherine Lee Bates’ ‘Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride.’Dropping the coat of meekness and docility she had been wrongfully associated with, Bates’ impression of Mrs.Claus took it upon herself to casually eliminate her counterpart’s attempts at reinforcing gender roles, and established her own prowess in all the activities that were to be performed by Santa: from fetching and tending the tall Christmas trees, to getting his toys and trinkets ready; from taking care of the elves, to taking care of Santa himself. The very same activities that she felt he received undue credit for, being the frontman of Christmas.
Mrs.Claus does not beat around the bush, either. Expressing her desire to personally witness what she had carefully made possible, she argues with a sullen Santa, who reluctantly acknowledges her contribution to the magic of the festival. Her feisty, no-nonsense attitude, combined with her quick wit, forces Santa to concede to her reasonable demand, and he takes her along on his sleigh ride.
While the battle was won, the war was still raging. Santa would not let Goody go down the chimney and deliver any gifts, in spite of her hearty assurances, and she continued to tend to the reindeer all night. In spite of her arguments, Mr.Claus remains obstinate in his belief that she was better suited at home: until he finds himself in a tricky situation, with no solution ostensibly available.
For, in the last house, the stocking that held Santa’s line of vision was dotted with holes. Numerous holes that would make it an impossible task to leave behind the tiniest of gifts. Unsurprisingly, it’s Mrs.Claus who managed to devise a solution, and Santa unwillingly relents. Mending the stocking with utmost care, Mrs.Claus finally gets her wish as she fills it with a gift, and she leaves the scene joyfullyafter pressing a motherly kiss on the recipient.
Bates put down a Mrs.Claus, who did not conform to societal expectations, nor failed in anything she touched. Goody chose not to abide by the status quo, and rather excelled at it, making her a force to reckon with – then and now. She was a believer in women’s rights, a companion in the fight against patriarchy. Blazing a bright trail for the women to come, Goody Mrs.Claus proved that anything a man can do, a woman can, too; but, most importantly, she defied the stereotype of a ‘Victorian’ lady, and annihilated the concept of women belonging only in the confines of their house.
“Home to womankind is suited? Nonsense, Goodman!”
The poem could be read here
Image via Wikipedia
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