Recently several people have asked me something that strikes fear into my cold and icy heart. The question is innocuous. The question is well-intended. The question makes me want to pull out my big librarian rubber stamp and do some smiting.
“Have you decorated your home for the holidays?”
No, this isn’t a war-on-Christmas screed, nor is it a rant against bland conversation.* This is about feminism. Specifically, this is about a brand of feminism I subscribe to, the kind of feminism that thinks being a woman really doesn’t require me to do extra crap around the house.
I’ve got nothing against decorating for the holidays. I’ve got nothing against talking about decorating for the holidays. I’ve got nothing against the holidays.** What I don’t like is that the lads seem to be exempt.
I have the good fortune to work in I.T., which means my co-workers are mostly male.*** I took an informal survey of these guys to see how they responded to this particular social pressure. Donning my best “we’re all girls together” face (you know the one) I sidled up and asked innocently “Have you decorated your home for the holidays”
The result? Derisive snorts, awkward this-chick-has-gone-nuts pauses, glassy stares, and one guy actually did a spit-take. Finally one gentleman described his holiday decorations. His wife, it seemed, had done a great job this year.
Fine, maybe it’s the nesting hormones. Maybe women really do love to decorate. Maybe we’re all a bunch of scented-candle-chugging tinsel-hangers. But still, I get all gitchy when somebody just assumes I subscribe to this apparently gender-specific hobby. I mean, hell. I’ve got some garlands and shit, but I don’t enjoy feeling like it’s my venereal duty to start shooting holiday cookies out my oven just because every other woman on the earth seems to be.
I would love to sum it all up for you and present a nice, clear solution to all this damned gender inequity, but I can’t think of one. Just, maybe, the next time you ask someone about their hobbies, try to stay away from the race, gender, and sexual orientation-related ones. Don’t ask the gay man if he enjoys flower arrangement Just Because He’s Gay. He might love flowers but that still doesn’t make it cool. Don’t ask the black woman if she likes collard greens Just Because She’s Black. She may love them (how could you not?), but that doesn’t make you less of an asshole. And dangit, don’t ask me about my dang holiday decorations. Ask me about my Star Wars Battlefront score. I conquered the galaxy yesterday.
*Sure, the world needs conversational crutches. But lately, the holiday decoration thing seems to be as important to office social lubrication as “what are your vacation plans?” and “can you believe how cold it is?” Hopefully, it will never be as important as “here, have another drink.”
**I’ve even got nothing against Martha Stewart. Hell, I dumpster-dive Living from the Borders’ recycling bin regularly.***The inequities of this are so obvious they don’t need to be stated right? Right?