Lessons from “Into the Woods” – an introduction

Last week I decided to take the girls to see a movie after church, which is something we very rarely do.  I checked the Canton Cinema first since that’s closest to church, but all that I could find there was Annie, and I just couldn’t sit through another rendition of The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow!, so I clicked over to the Emagine Theater and noticed they were showing Into the Woods.

First, a sidebar conversation – when did the Emagine Theater stop being kind of a dumpy old theater behind the Home Depot and become so Hollywood glitzy? When we got there and bought tickets, I was startled when the ticket clerk assigned us seats. I don’t think I’ve ever had assigned seats in a movie theater before.

It turns out they’ve ripped out all the old movie theater seats and installed large recliners in their place. You can lay back and extend the feet, and the screen is the huge, curved type so you can see it while reclining. It was exceedingly comfortable and I would have fallen asleep had the movie not been so interesting.

luxury-seats

There was also a very glittery silver lion with which the girls had to get their picture taken:

silver lion    Emagine Lion

Into the Woods is a musical film adaptation released last week by Disney of a 1986 musical by Stephen Sondheim, which “intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, as well as several others. The musical is tied together by an original story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, their interaction with a Witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.”

What is the purpose of fairy tales? According to Henry Suzzallo:

 While the fairy tales have no immediate purpose other than to amuse, they leave a substantial by-product which has a moral significance. In every reaction which the child has for distress or humor in the tale, he deposits another layer of vicarious experience which sets his character more firmly in the mould of right or wrong attitude. Every sympathy, every aversion helps to set the impulsive currents of his life, and to give direction to his personality.

In days past, before we lived in the electronic age, fairy tale stories evolved over time to reflect cultural mores and to impart these lessons to children.  Nowadays, most people get their stories from television and movies, but beware the modern fairy tales. Those who produce them are not relating organically-evolved stories that reflect the culture, but rather are often imposing their own narrative in a top-down fashion in an attempt to change and direct our culture. Be careful, mothers and fathers, whom you allow to tell stories to your children. The modern tell-a-vision is not telling tales of virtue like Grandfather told Peter to warn him about the Wolf…

That is why when you find a modern fairy tale that imparts good and realistic life lessons, it is wise to take note. Into the Woods demonstrates several beneficial lessons for young men and women, and I intended to explain those in a brief series of posts over the next week or so if I have time.

But that will have to wait a day or so; being New Year’s Eve, we’re going to see the Wings play hockey tonight!

Alas, not the Detroit Red Wings although we have gone to see the Red Wings play the Chicago Black Hawks in years gone by…

NYE 2000

Philip holding our 3-month-old daughter at the Red Wings vs Black Hawks game, NYE 2000

But this year we are going to see the Kalamazoo Wings play the Cincinnati Cyclones:

The K-Wings will ring in the New Year with special Tuxedo jerseys. Following the game, the K-Wings will host a postgame bash featuring a live DJ in Wings Stadium for the FREE public skate. Fans will be able to celebrate the New Year with the K-Wings players. There will be plenty of fun activities in the concourse and even Keg Curling in The Annex.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? I’ll report back and let the group know if this event is a good one for those of you who live in this area to consider for next year.

Happy New Year everyone!

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The decline of the gens and familia: we want to live together but we just can’t get along.

When my grandmother and grandfather got married after he returned from fighting in World War II, they lived in an apartment above the garage of my grandmother’s parents’ house until my mother was two years old, when they bought the little home they lived in for the rest of their lives.  After they moved, they had dinner at one or the other set of grandparents’ homes every Sunday, but interestingly, my grandfather only went to dinner at his own parents’ house and stayed home on the Sundays when the family gathered at my grandmother’s parents’ house. Obviously there must have been some kind of residual tension between my grandfather and great-grandparents after years of living in close contact with them.

We’ve gotten in the habit of thinking of the word “family” as meaning a husband, a wife, and several children, but this is a very narrow view of what family means and certainly isn’t what’s meant by the term “patriarchy”. A patriarchy has generally been a kin-based clan that is headed up by a senior male relative, with each man under him taking on successively smaller leadership roles. For example:

In Roman times, all citizens were divided by gens (clan) and familia (sept), determined on a purely patrilineal basis, in the same way as the modern inheritance of surnames…[t]he gens was the larger unit, and was divided into several familiae…

The idea of the nuclear family being an autonomous unit not embedded in a wider kin network seems to be fairly recent.

On Christmas Eve I sat by the tree with my mother-in-law after the children were in bed and we had finished playing Santa Claus and putting the gifts under the tree and in the stockings, and we got to talking about her childhood in Detroit from 1935 when she was born up until she got married around age 22.  Detroit was still considered the Paris of the west at that time and was not the “diversified” urban wasteland of crime and pawn shops that it is now, and she lived in a two-flat house owned by her grandparents. She lived in the upstairs flat with her mother, father, and brother, and her father’s parents lived in the downstairs flat.

I said, “Oh, that must have been really nice.”

She paused, “Well, yes.”  But something in her response made it clear that there was more to the story. It turns out that her mother didn’t get on well with her in-laws. They tended to be judgmental and gossipy and it hurt her mother’s feelings terribly and caused tension in her marriage. Eventually when the children were teenagers there was a particular incident in which my mother-in-law’s grandfather engaged in some particularly unkind gossip and her mother had had enough. I won’t share all the details, but the end result was that my mother-in-law’s parents moved out of the two-flat house and bought their own home in Dearborn, which is about a 20 minute drive from Detroit.  But my mother-in-law said her father was very angry about moving away from his parents. I can’t feel too sorry for him, though; he ought to have stood up to his parents at some point and insisted they treat his wife and children with more kindness.

I’ve been pondering a lot lately how much more connected and fulfilled I feel around extended family but also trying to understand how this can be so despite the various tensions and squabbles that have erupted over the years. There were times when I was at odds with either my mother, my mother-in-law, or both.  It seems that we want our extended families but they also drive us crazy, as we no doubt drive them crazy. In the past, for economic reasons people had no choice but to stay embedded in their extended families, but as we became more prosperous right around the 1950s, people decided the petty bickering, power plays, and factioning that occurs were just too much hassle and the gens broke apart into individual familiae.

And it hasn’t stopped there. After the extended family broke into individual nuclear families, the 1970s no-fault divorce revolution happened.  And then in the 1990s the single (never married) mother revolution really got going.  The nuclear family is now breaking apart into an even smaller unit of just a woman and sometimes her children if she has any, but increasingly, people are remaining both unmarried and childless.

Are we happier this way? Maybe in the short-term we are, but I am not convinced we are in the long run.  The decline in the size of our family units has nicely mirrored the decline in our mental health:

Studies show that rates of depression for Americans have risen dramatically in the past 50 years. Research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that major depression rates for American adults increased from 3.33 percent to 7.06 percent from 1991 through 2002.

It’s a real paradox here in this fallen shadow world; we want to be totally free and independent but the freer and more independent we become, the unhappier we are.   It’s tempting to blame feminism, but I think this is more a symptom of the larger problem of not being able to submit ourselves to the messy and sometimes even unpleasant or emotionally painful larger family unit. We don’t want to compromise any of our precious freedom, not realizing that with absolute freedom comes absolute isolation.

We want both to rebel and simultaneously to be constrained, so we end up acting out a game of how-low-can-you-go; how small can the family unit get before we are all just a bunch of lonely, irritable individuals inhabiting our own separate little boxes, unable to tolerate the messy, painful, satisfying love of our gens and familia?

 

 

 

Feminist New Year’s Resolutions – strangely they never include anything about caring for their families.

Despite a lingering migraine, I’ve promised to pack up a van-load full of kids and take them to the Toledo Zoo’s Lights Before Christmas, so I won’t have time to write up a real post again today.

But in the spirit of a bit of holiday humor, let us turn to feminist Twitter. There is no parody necessary as their tweets are hilarious in and of themselves if you just check out the hashtag . Let’s look at a few, shall we?

Remember how on another blog, I once claimed that liberals in general and feminists in particular tend toward emotional histrionics and violent imagery? Several of my feminist readers were baffled, ’cause gosh they just never ever noticed any violent tendencies among feminists at all. Hmm…

Yeah, yeah, it’s all good fun and jokey-jokey until a man tries to join in and make a joke about date-rape and bitch-slapping, innit?

Anyway.

Oh look, a feminist who agrees with me!

Yes, dear, I remind women not infrequently that they neither need feminism nor need to vote.

This girl, whom I believe is anti-feminism, gets it half right anyway:

A better idea: neither cry rape NOR have a shameful one-night stand.

Dunno about this one – seems to me they’re doing pretty well with this already:

This young woman speaks in a reasonable voice but good luck with that goal, sister:

…because most normal women don’t want to self-identify with a movement that turns women into this:

And I know I have a few fairly reasonable readers here who self-identify as feminists and sometimes claim the extreme voices are not typical of the movement but have a look at how many feminists favorited Miss Shoichet’s tweet. Her position is hardly on the fringe of the movement.

To the reasonable “feminists” reading here, I would say: why continue to ally with such a whacked-out group of women? OK, maybe you can’t identify with a Christian traditionalist such as I am, but why not create some other kind of group then, one that doesn’t seem to attract crazy people who can’t stand the idea of smiling, freak out at innocuous comments made by strangers, and indulge in violent fantasies as if they were normal reactions? Can’t you see that these women are on par with many of the whacko-misogynists in the manosphere? Sure, NAFALT (not all feminists are like that) but then again NAMALT (not all manospherians are like that), but enough feminists and manospherians are like that so that I certainly wouldn’t self-identify with either group.

Perhaps a better New Year’s resolution for all of us would be to find a reasonable, truthful, realistic alternative to the crazy shriekers on both sides. To that end, I leave you with this rather wise comment made recently by Mrs. Minter:

For all the trope that exists about what constitutes a real strong woman, the actual telltale is the ability to hold a civilized conversation. And that means sometimes not continuing a disagreement in favor of finding common ground. Real strong women build bridges; idiots yell at the river.

_________________________________________________________________________

Nota bene: Occasionally I will quote other bloggers or post tweets here from other people on Twitter. This does not imply that I either agree or disagree with those bloggers or tweeters nor that I support or endorse anything else they may have written. Quotes and tweets posted here are ones that I found thought-provoking.

The importance of placing kith and kin above buying and brands.

We just returned from seeing the movie “Into the Woods” and I had intended to write a post about some of the good lessons in this film right away, but alas a migraine headache hit on the way home so instead I am crawling into bed with a heating pad. The post will have to wait.

However, I saw this tweet and thought I’d share it:

Yes, this is true but it is not the whole truth. Rather, we are manipulated and misled by people who want to make money off us. They can do this by convincing us to place family and kin secondary to selfish pursuits. Careerism, materialism, mindless consumption, the abandoning of traditions…these things all make us prime targets for advertisers as we replace our identities that we used to find in our faith, families and wider kin networks with our identities as consumers.

But being an Apple products fanatic or a Nike devotee or a coffee snob or whatever product with which you choose to self-identify will never satisfy the longing in you that can only be filled by faith and family.

Christmas Conversations: horrifying scotch and industrial accidents edition.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve at one of Phil’s brother’s houses and then after opening gifts at home on Christmas morning, we drove to Grand Rapids to visit my family.

My brother bought my father a bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon and though I don’t usually like the hard stuff, I took a little thimbleful. Wow, it was delicious with sort of a coconutty flavor and even a few sips made me feel a bit giddy. And then my husband opened his gift from my brother – it was a bottle of Laphroaig scotch. Great, I thought, that bourbon was nice so I’ll have a little sip of this scotch, too!

Dear lord.

Horrifying.

Have you ever tasted Laphroaig, which is considered to be a very nice scotch – after all, Prince Charles spent his sixtieth birthday at their distillery?

HRHNosing

My brother poured glasses of it for us, and we all raised them to our lips and sipped. Shock registered on everyone’s faces, and I gasped, “It…it tastes like bandaids!”

“It’s more like Chloroseptic,” my brother remarked. “But…I kind of like it.”

“This can’t be right. It’s horrible. It must be like spoiled or something,” I insisted. “I’m looking it up on google to see what it’s supposed to taste like.” According to the company website, this is how it should taste:

  • COLOUR : Full sparkling gold
  • NOSE: Huge smoke, seaweedy, “medicinal”, with a hint of sweetness
  • BODY: Full bodied
  • PALATE: Suprising sweetness with hints of salt and layers of peatiness
  • FINISH: Lingering

Yeah, let me tell you about that lingering medicinal nose…Here are several examples that I found of Laphroaig’s own ads:

laphroaig-opinions-2014_4    laphroaig-opinions-2014_11

 

Tastes like burning hospital? The definition of medicinal? At $50-$60 per bottle?

I poured the rest of my glass into the sink while the menfolk manfully drained their glasses, declaring in a manly way that they sort of liked that medicinal band-aid booze. I ate a piece of Christmas fudge and shook my head in bafflement at the tastes of men.

Later, stretched out on the hotel sofa, I tweeted:

The responses, all from men, were entertaining:

17h17 hours ago  It’s an acquired taste. Very peaty.

17h17 hours ago  Disagree on both counts. Send it to me. That’s my drink.

Matthew 7:6

For those who don’t know, Matthew 7:6 says Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. In other words, I laughed to myself, I’m a hopeless plebe for not savoring that burning hospital beverage.

17h17 hours ago  What it tastes like, my friends, is mother’s milk.

I’m a fan. It’s more of a rubbery taste. Oddly, Roibos tea has some of the same flavors.

I tell people it tastes like old man feet.

But what makes a man like to drink something that tastes like old man feet? And what made my brother exclaim that he liked that Chloroseptic-flavored libation? And what made all the other men decide that they, too, liked it? Another tweeter explained:

Men like to drink painfully bad drinks. It’s some quirk in our brains.

Well, that does seem like the explanation that best fits the evidence.

Anyway, have I ever mentioned that I come from a blue collar sort of family? Well, I do. My father worked in factories my entire childhood and made a good living doing it, but when the recession of the early 1980s really took hold, many manufacturing jobs went south and my father lost his job and couldn’t find another. Those were lean, cold, dark years of government cheese (my parents never accepted government handouts, but my mother volunteered to distribute government surplus staples to poor senior citizens and was encouraged to take home any remaining leftover items, which thankfully she did because sometimes it was all we had to eat) and intermittent electricity. My father found work on one of the nearby dairy farms getting cows into the milking buildings and back into the barns or fields early in the morning in the bitter cold, but he was also accepted into a program that helped men get job training. He chose to go into tool and dye making and eventually earned his journeyman’s card and finally even completed a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

But he still works in a factory, just now he has a good job there. He designs and builds and maintains the machines that the factory workers operate and when those machines break, he makes the pieces to fix them. At least, I think this is what he does, but when he talks about his job, I don’t really understand exactly because it’s all very technical.

My brother, though he is the smartest person I know, never went to college and also works in a factory doing similar work as my father but in a less technical fashion – he sets up and keeps running the production line machines used at a factory that makes granola, breakfast cereal, and other snacks. It’s semi-skilled work.

It’s also incredibly dangerous. As is my father’s job. As is my brother-in-law’s job on an oil rig in the middle of the gulf.

As the men I hold dearest in this world sipped their revolting scotch on Christmas evening, they got to talking about their jobs, and oh how I wish, wish, wish I’d recorded that conversation. I’m going to relate it to you from memory as best I can (and since I was quite sober, with my drink gone down the drain, I remember it fairly well).

But first, let’s take a sidebar moment to discuss male privilege. Here is how the gods of the internet define male privilege:

Male privilege is a term for social, economic, and political advantages or rights that are made available to men solely on the basis of their sex. A man’s access to these benefits may also depend on other characteristics such as race, sexual orientation and social class.

Last year, a YouTube video by Stephen Parkhurst entitled “White Guys: We Suck and We’re Sorry” went viral; it’s since been removed but was described thus (highlighting mine):

The four white dudes featured apologize for their lack of empathy while insisting that it’s not really their fault. “If you knew how easy it is to be a straight white man in America, you’d get why we might be a bit resistant to change. Cut us some slack,” they beg.

Meanwhile, MIT’s Male Privilege Checklist includes this item:

If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

I find the use of the word “sacrifice” interesting here. It’s a sacrifice for the woman to stay home but it’s not a sacrifice for the man to go to work and earn money to support her and the baby?

So let’s talk about sacrifice. When I was six years old, my father worked in one of Grand Rapids’ many furniture factories (most of which no longer exist, but GR used to be known for its excellent quality furniture). One day I came home from school to find my father at the table with a bandaged hand. His middle finger had been severed at the distal joint; he counted himself lucky because he was able to pick the severed digit out of the machine, put it in a paper bag, and walk to hospital, where they sewed it back on. By some miracle, it didn’t turn gangrenous and so he doesn’t have a missing middle finger tip, but he has no motion or feeling in that joint or the tip of his finger.

Hey feminists, is having your finger whacked off in an industrial accident a privilege or a sacrifice?

But back to that Laphroaig-lubricated conversation:

My brother related how last year, a young man at his factory had been killed in a horrific accident. The factory has large (as in room-sized) poppers for making popcorn based snacks. These poppers keep the contents of the machine moving by using large blades that sweep around the inside; the young man climbed inside the machine while it was off to repair something and somehow the machine got turned back on.

My father then told a story about nearly losing his life a few years ago when he climbed inside a dye-making machine to check something and once again someone turned on the machine. According to my father, he had a weird sixth sense moment where he knew something was about to happen and he crouched back in the machine just as an enormous dye came shooting past at a high rate of speed; had it hit him, he would be dead.

And this conversation made me recall a story our pastor at NorthRidge Church, Brad Powell, told a few years ago during a sermon. Before he was a pastor, he was a college student with bills to pay, so he got an afternoon job in a Little Debbies factory. One evening at the end of his shift, he was hurrying to get out of work and he climbed inside one of the giant mixers to clean it but forgot to hit the electricity kill switch first. Somehow the machine got turned on; by God’s grace he was not killed as the giant mixing arms began moving.

According to the USA Bureau of Labor Statistics in its “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts 1992-2007”, men account for 92% of all industrial accident deaths.

Is this that male privilege we were talking about?

Here in Michigan, it seems that 2014 was a particularly bad year for deadly male privilege incidents:

May 10 – Man dies after getting trapped in Zeeland factory conveyer belt

June 27 – Wyoming man killed in accident at plastics plant

November 2 – West Michigan man, 54, killed in accident at loading dock of Continental Dairy in Coopersville

So what about the young man killed in the popper? Alas, my brother’s factory is owned by a company that is owned by a multi-billion dollar global conglomerate, and you better believe they have policies in place to cover their own butts. According to my brother, every job and every machine in the plant has written policies in place; if you accidentally get your hand caught in the machine, there’s a policy that explains exactly why it was your own fault and thus the company doesn’t owe you a thing.

Most women in the world have men in their lives whom they love, whether he is their husband, father, brother or son. Let us each acknowledge that it is not a privilege for a man to work to support his family; it is an expression of his love and his commitment to his familial duty. We women should not let feminists distract us with their bitter jealousy over imagined male privilege. If we want to be activists, let us be activists for improved workplace safety. Let us be activists to force greedy global companies to do their duty to hard-working blue collar men who are injured on the job. Let us raise money for the survivors of workplace accidents or the families of men who were killed on the job. Otherwise, let us honor and respect men for the sacrifices they make and stop with this male privilege nonsense.

Christmas: a time to remember the Nativity and celebrate our traditions.

Let’s start with a bit of (kind of serious) humor, shall we?

Brad Stine: “I remember when people said things like, ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other. EVERYBODY said, ‘Merry Christmas! Hey, Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Lohenstein. Do you know why? Because it wasn’t about a religion, it was about something as a culture that we thought was so valuable, even if I disagreed with the religion behind it, because it was good for ALL of us instead of just me.

But what do people say now? ‘Happy Holidays.’ ‘See, I just say, “Happy Holidays,” because I don’t want to say, “Merry Christmas,” because you don’t believe in Christmas, and I don’t want to offend you, and…*chipmunk noises*'”

Oh, yes, we want to say, ‘Happy Holidays’ because we don’t leave anybody out. Really? How come there’s a ton of holidays in February – nobody says, ‘Happy Holidays’ in February, do they? They say what it is, ‘Happy Valentines’ – OOOO, do you believe in love?

But nobody wants to say, ‘Christmas’! Everything else but ‘Christmas’. Why? I know why. You do, too. It’s because it’s got ‘Christ’ in it, and after 2,000 years He’s still intimidating people. You see, when a religious person says, ‘I am the way,’ people don’t want to hear it. They don’t!

I say you gotta say, ‘Merry Christmas’ because it IS! If you don’t believe in it, fine. But I’ve got a flash for you: Christianity happens to be the religious heritage of my country whether you like it or not…

So if you’re not a Christian, or you don’t like it, and you don’t want Christmas celebrated, God bless you! But let me tell you something: if you think you’re gonna stop me from saying it because it offends you, hey, I’ve got a flash for you: PUT A HELMET ON! It’s my country, too!”

Listening to the choir sing We Three Kings, tears welled up in my eyes and began to overflow. I love Christmas, with the colored lights and shiny ornaments and wrapped gifts, the celebrations and get-togethers and baking marathons, but one of my most favorite parts of Christmas is the music.

Christmas music has always been a tie that binds our people together; nearly everyone knows the lyrics to the traditional carols and songs and can sing them with a bit of nostalgia. I love that sense of shared tradition and culture and was reminded of it this past Monday when our family attended Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, as a large group of strangers squeezed together in a horse drawn wagon and sang Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and Jingle Bells; later everyone assembled outside the town hall where a small choir led us all in Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, The First Noel, and Joy to the World while fireworks exploded overhead.

My husband and I were just discussing how when we were children, our schools always put on an annual Christmas concert – not a “holiday” concert, mind you, but a Christmas concert. Phil told me that every grade in his school in Dearborn tried to sing their best on The Little Drummer Boy because his principal had once told them that it was his favorite Christmas song. When I was in high school, our ambitious choir director taught us to sing The Hallelujah Chorus and we performed it at Holy Family Catholic Church because our school had no auditorium. The church was lit with candles and filled with wreaths and poinsettias and looked simply magical and mystical, as a church should.

Even if they don’t perform in churches, we have lost something of value in our culture by allowing atheists and Muslim immigrants to say that we cannot have school children learn and sing the traditional Christmas songs. No one is forced to believe or accept anything and could simply view the songs as interesting historical and cultural artifacts if they don’t like the Christian themes in them.  Rather than enriching us, “diversity” in this way has made us poorer, robbing us of our traditions and culture and turning Christmas into nothing but mindless consumerism and glitz, devoid of our shared cultural heritage.

I don’t oppose gift-giving and Christmas glitziness – in fact I rather enjoy those parts of Christmas – but it is important to realize that those parts are just like icing on a cake. Without the cake, all you have is enjoyable but meaningless fluff that leaves you feeling vaguely unfulfilled. The truly meaningful parts of Christmas that will feed your heart and soul are the celebration of the story of Jesus’ birth (and even if you aren’t a Christian, it is a lovely story, but I must remind you that it is in fact actually a true story) and the celebration of shared cultural and family traditions.

Merry Christmas!

 

Feminist Grinches turn the holidays ugly.

How-the-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-dr-seuss-963113_1024_768

In The feminist version of King Midas: everything they touch turns ugly, I wrote:

…feminists turn everything they touch – be it paid work or home-keeping – into miserly ugliness.

But Mrs. Sn0rkmaiden retorted:

I don’t know a single feminist, or any woman for that matter in real life or online who begrudges nurturing their families

I grumbled to myself because I knew that I ought to find specific examples to support my rebuttal, but I was busy and tired and feeling lazy and so I didn’t.

Lo and behold, when I sat down to take a little coffee break just now, I found a link on Dalrock’s blog to a recent article by Jessica Valenti, who is arguably the face of modern feminism, and to whom I must now express my heartfelt thanks for providing me in such a timely manner with the perfect example to support the characterization of feminism as ugly, selfish, and just plain Grinchy.  In No, I will NOT wrap all the presents. Why are women still responsible for the holiday joy? Mrs. Valenti writes:

We all know that women do the majority of domestic work like child care, housework and cooking. But the holidays bring on a whole new set of gendered expectations that make the season less about simply enjoying fun and family and more about enduring consumerism, chores and resentment so that everyone else can enjoy rockin’ around the Christmas tree. (I bet even Mrs Claus gets upset that Santa works one night a year but she’s dealing with hungry elves 24/7. That would be almost enough to make you want to over-indulge in eggnog and hurl yourself in front of a reindeer-pulled sleigh.)

Being the holiday point-person can be drudgery. Making lists, wrapping presents, finding sales to indulge a particularly demanding relative’s requests to Santa … baby, let’s just say the brisk winter weather starts to feel bitter cold outside.

…And it’s not enough that women actually manage to finish all of these chores – we’re also expected to plaster Christmas grins on our faces the whole time, lest the masses think we’re not thrilled with all the wrapping-paper-inflicted paper cuts.

Last month, for example, former Growing Pains star and current evangelist pain in the ass Kirk Cameron posted a video telling women to make sure to show their “joy” when performing their womanly duties:

Let your children, your family, see your joy in the way that you decorate your home this Christmas, in the food that you cook, the songs you sing, the stories you tell, and the traditions you keep.

That was enough to make me want to sing The Most Offensive Christmas Song Ever. I hope Cameron gets nothing for Christmas this year – or better yet, a copy of The Feminine Mystique.

Dear me, we wouldn’t want women to find and express joy in serving our families, now would we! No doubt it is much better to be a sarcastic, complaining bitch.  Surely that will motivate our husbands to lend a hand.

Actually, gentle reader, what your husband wants is probably the same as what mine has expressed a preference for: to be asked.

That’s all most men want. To be asked politely to lend a hand when we are up to our elbows in powdered sugar and need someone to run around the corner to the neighbor’s farm (or to the grocery store) for more eggs.  They don’t want to hear another complaining rendition of Saints and Martyrs, Christmas Cookie Edition; they just want to be asked. Because they didn’t request that we make ten different kinds of cookies, but if we want to do so, they’ll usually happily lend a hand if only they are asked politely.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to “plaster a Christmas grin” on my face and go finish preparing for our Christmas party, but before I go, let us enjoy listening to my current favorite version of “Mary, Did You Know?”: