It’s been said that the trouble with feminists is that they find sexism in everything. As a feminist myself, I’d rephrase it: the trouble with everything is that it’s usually sexist.
There are few exceptions to this rule, not even at this time of year. Take the Christmas advert. Many’s the time I find myself plonked in front of the telly, trying to celebrate capitalism in peace, and along comes sexism to spoil it.
It’s not that I don’t understand the problem. Creating a Christmas advert that doesn’t rely on gender stereotypes is tricky. After all, almost everything associated with the festive season – cooking, caring, family ties, sparkly things, giving birth in great discomfort in an inadequate setting – is associated with women (the whole patriarchal Son of God thing notwithstanding).
The options for advertisers are either to present Christmas as it is for most women (depressing) or to show them what it should be like i.e. by having David Gandy do the washing up (patronising, if appealing). If all else fails, there’s always the option of focussing on children, animals and root vegetables instead.
Most advertisers tend to do the latter. This is wise. My favourite of this year’s crop has been the Heathrow Airport bears finding their way home, at least until the shock twist at the end when they turn into humans, suddenly reminding you that actually, it wouldn’t be remotely delightful to have your in-laws turn up uninvited.
I am also a fan of Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot, mainly because my three-year-old son adores him. I’m convinced that thoughts of Kevin defeating Pascal the Parsnip are getting my little one through the long, lonely days when I’ve abandoned him in nursery due to my inability to freeze time and be a Proper Mum, like the one in this year’s BBC Christmas ad.