Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Rant: Under Pressure!

Picture this: a thirty-something mum is rushing around at Christmas time, trailing three kids around the supermarket on a seemingly endless list of errands. While busily making up the guest bedroom, she's holding a baby in one hand and hoovering with the other. Children run around the house, leaving a trail of destruction as the woman goes from one Christmas disaster to the next: the wrapping paper is too small, the lights don't work and they've run out of spare sheets.
On Christmas day she is woken up at the crack of dawn, exhausted, and after the ritual of presents, the pristine living-room resembles a paper-sorting plant, but she doesn't notice because she is up to her eyeballs in Christmas dinner. When it's finally ready, she proudly presents her turkey to an extended family rivalling a football team, to take her place on the only seat left -a bean bag. Not ONE member of the family moves to help her, or let her rest her weary legs.
After packing the dishwasher on her tod, she re-enters the living room to see her family, relaxed, smiling, enjoying Christmas. And the strapline of the advert says:
"Behind every Christmas there's a mum"
The tale finishes with the pleased, yet exhausted mum, sinking into the armchair to enjoy Christmas. This lasts 3 seconds as no sooner is she sat in the chair, then her husband asks: "What's for dinner, love?"
This is just ONE of the Christmas adverts this year on my television which encourages the stereotype that mums must do EVERYTHING at Christmas. What bothers me is not that women are presented as homemakers, perfectionists, or hard-working or nurturing. Of course we are all of those things, and rightly so. What bothers me most is the PRESSURE that it places on women to be solely responsible for the PERFECT Christmas.
As a child, my mum did absolutely all of the shopping, present wrapping, cooking and cleaning. My dad did as he was told, which amounted to staying out of the way and untangling the lights. But when it came to Christmas day, we all had our own little roles to play. We children set the table for dinner, collected the rubbish and helped with the drying up (way before we had a dishwasher). My dad would wash up, carve the meat, make the coffee and supervise us while 'playing' with our toys. When my grandmother visited, she would help with all of these tasks and more, often giving my mum a hand in the cooking.
The selfishness of the family in these promotions is extraordinary to me. Who can rightly sit there while their wife or mother works themselves into a state of collapse and not do ANYTHING? What's more, what are children learning from these messages? That normal mums don't receive any help over Christmas, that they should be 'served' wholly by someone for their own happiness?
It may seem odd that I am having this rant. I'm a woman,yes, albeit childless, yet these adverts bother me. I am at that stage where I am going to start making traditions of my own, especially now while I build my future with my boyfriend. Yet, I found myself having a rather petulant conversation with him the other day because I needed Christmas to be perfect. I wanted the postcard decorations, spotless house, epic presents, music, glitter, candles, log fire (discounting I have no fire), Christmas jumper, perfectly stocked fridge, champagne spectacular of a holiday.
Now I'm not claiming to be brain-washed by these ads, yet somewhere along the way the notion of a perfect Christmas has wormed its way into my psyche. It doesn't affect my brother in the slightest. In fact, he's upended the entire day in order to have the morning with his girlfriend. Nor does it stress out the boy, who has the more laid-back and simple view that being together is worth more than all of the pomp and ceremony. (This might have been where I got a bit grumpy...)
Having thought about it, I agree with him. Will that stop me trying to make it as comfortable, cosy and Christmassy as possible? Well no, but it might make me chillax enough to enjoy myself and prevent myself becoming another stereotype.
Do you have any ads that just grate on you this time of year? Fed up of fighting Christmas crowds? More Humbug than holly? Then join in the rant over at Anja's - trust me, it's cathartic.
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PJ @ Planned in Pencil said...

Oh good, Im not the only one irked by this OBSESSION with the perfect Christmas! I prefer a quiet day with my family, a few really meaningful gifts, and lots of laughter!

Paige said...

What strange advertisements...I recall that you live somewhere in the UK, right? I guess I'm not used to seeing things like that.

I had the perfect Christmas planned. Hubs and I were going to wake up, make biscuits and gravy, open presents and spend some relaxing/cooking time together before going to my mom's where we were going to have Christmas dinner.

Then the rest of my family got involved and messed it all up! I give up on perfect christmases lol

Natasha V said...

That stereotype is very common in my family. If I'm not a house wife, don't expect me to act like one.

Chelsea Lennox said...

what a dumb commercial. my mom and dad split the work pretty even

Lieke said...

Hmmm well there are 2 ways to interpret the ad... 1) good that they address this, it might change some people's views (especially those of men and children) and on the other hand I agree with you! Why not make an ad showing a family where everybody participates in making Christmas special.... At your home my father always makes the Christmas dinners, we (the children) help set the table.... So there is a good balance. Thanks for sharing this!!!

Cocalores said...

You're right - it bothers me too. Even though I think that this ad might not promote the opinion that women should do all of that alone, reality shows that in many families, they do. Find some traditions that you feel comfortable with (both of you, that is) and that don't require you to stress out. Being stressed doesn't really help to get into the spirit of Christmas. And be careful about those traditions, because once they're set, they're set!
Sorry, I have been too busy yesterday for the link-up, I hope you still had a good rant without me! =) xo

Alyx said...

I think the world just expects women to be superheroes.


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