So here’s the thing about the holidays: it doesn’t matter what you celebrate, whether it be Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or the birth of L. Ron Hubbard, they’re all supposed to send out messages of positivity, warmth, family, and love. Now that’s really cute and sentimental and all, but then riddle me this - why have they become so hyper sexualized? What do slutty Santa outfit inspired lingerie that make their way onto the mannequins in the display windows of every Victoria’s Secret from every November through December, have anything to do with the “Christmas spirit”? I don’t think the idea of “giving” refers to amateur lap dances. How does mistletoe promote the birth of Jesus? I guess making out with strangers under a little plant is how Mary got a place in that stable, huh?
Especially sexualized is the holiday music we have all learned to love and play on loop starting the day after Thanksgiving. We sing these carols walking around in the sleeting weather clutching our mittens and chorus books, knocking on people’s doors and invading their personal space by showering them with our own beliefs and holiday “cheer.” Not every Grinch or Scrooge wants to be entranced into a Prozac induced Christmas coma, where their natural goodness and glee about the festive season overshadow the fact that they’re actually bitter, cynical, and alone (side note: did anyone ever realize that this incessant spreading of one’s own personal customs already happened? The Crusades, anyone?).
So let’s start with some of the classics. Dean Martin crooned “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” for years before anyone really knew what the clinical term “date rape” meant (yes, this song was released around the same time as other promiscuity endorsing holiday songs such as “Santa Baby” - which by the way is SO creepy - or the classic sexualized twist on the myth of Santa coming down your chimney with instead your mom being the one going down in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause”). The song serves as a holiday anthem to the sketchy, persistent man who does not take “no” for an answer. In the track, the female singer spends the entirety of the song trying to leave the male singer’s home - an act that he won’t let her do, whether it be by physically stopping her or playing mental games to trick her to stay. She comes up with a million reasons of why she can’t stay and has to leave, but rather than responding to her concerns, he simply continues to take off her jacket and ensure that she has no way of leaving.
“Say, what’s in this drink?” she asks, as she tastes something funny in the cup she most likely did not watch him pour her. Do you really want to know what that is, sweetheart? That’s a little pill that’s going to make you black out and wake up by the yule log with only your underwear around your ankles as a way of triggering the little memory you have of the night before. “At least I’m going to say that I tried,” she continues to sing, as the drugs start to kick in and she realizes she’s going to be staying overnight. This way when she presses charges, she can truthfully say she said “no.”
On top of that, our chauvinistic male protagonist doesn’t understand rejection, as he asks the age old question: “what’s the sense in hurting my pride?” Well with that argument, how can anyone resist that sultrily delicious eggnog with the crushed, little, dissolving white chunks on the bottom of the glass? This is an actual Christmas carol! It’s literally a song about a woman saying no and a man ignoring that to try to get his way with her, despite her clear refusal. Personally, I know that nothing says “Happy Birthday Jesus” to me like some good, old fashioned, date rape.
Then there’s that new holiday classic that seems to be everyone and their mother’s favorite Christmas song of all time – Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” The song is everywhere – from being on loop at Macy’s to being performed nearly flawlessly by that incredibly talented eleven-year-old girl at the end of Love Actually. While yes, I will admit that the song is ridiculously catchy, and is probably as intelligent of a career choice for Carey as Glitter was not, but has anybody ever actually listened to the actual lyrics?
First of all, the setting of the song is the materialization of Christmas. It has nothing to do with the holiday itself, but rather with the idea of it being an excuse to give and receive gifts amongst the privileged. All you want for Christmas, Mariah? How sweet. You cut back on your list of diva demands this year. People can’t afford food or homes all over the world, but you only want one thing this year, so that makes you a good and charitable person. But wait, what is this material good that you so strongly desire? A human? Oh okay. I get it. By objectifying someone into a gift that can be received on Christmas, it’s like they’re devoid of any humanity and instead are just your playthings and objects. Wow, fuck my Tickle-Me-Elmo, I want a real human doll I can make do whatever I want too! Thanks for the idea, Mimi.
As a heterosexual woman who has just one “thing” she needs, Mariah is using her song as a way of saying that men are objects that can be used however she pleases – something that the lyrics equating a man to a material good don’t even attempt to veil. I’m so glad that you’re using your celebrity status to send such a positive holiday message, Mariah: Who needs inanimate objects as gifts, when you can own one that literally moves and can “hold you tight”? It’s like slavery all over again! I’ll totally trade you my ex-boyfriend for that guy you hooked up with at Rachel’s party last weekend. He wasn’t the one I asked for for Chirstmas anyway, lolz. Gag me.
Then there’s the new wave of “contemporary” Christmas songs. Lady GaGa’s “Christmas Tree,” for instance, is literally about having sex underneath a Christmas tree. “Light me up, put me on top, fa la la la la la, la la la la,” she sings, while you as the listener, can’t help but wonder how all that garland doesn’t somehow get in the way by furling around her, unless of course, she’s celebrating an auto-erotic asphyxiation themed holiday this year – which in hindsight would actually not be that surprising. This theme reoccurs on “Under My Tree,” a track off of NSYNC’s holiday album, except the catch is that that this time, not only is the couple having sex underneath the Christmas tree – but Santa is sitting there watching. That old, bearded pervert! No wonder he’s so jolly. You would be too if you were saving money on porn subscriptions and Viagra prescriptions by watching people who decide to rock around their Christmas tree and offer you their cookies and milk for free.
I’m not saying I agree with the objectification and the severity of the situations in the aforementioned songs, but people need to be aware of what they’re singing about. So next time you knock on someone’s door, instead of singing a little festive ditty, just go all out – deck your halls, jingle your bells, take off your pants and go inside. And always remember to pull out before you come, all ye faithful.