They say a photo is worth a thousand words. Especially these disturbing holiday portraits—if only these gals could speak.
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What better way to evoke the holiday spirit this year than to trumpet your desire to your nearest and dearest to bind and gag the females in your family? After all, they’re so shrill and loud, and dammit to hell, you just want a silent night to eat your beef Wellington and watch the game, amirite? Ho, ho, ho! I mean, Jesus H. Christ!
There is apparently a new trend in holiday family photography—aside from arming everyone with semis (how adorbz!): Duct-taping shut the mouths of wives and daughters, and binding them in Christmas lights, while Dad and the boys rejoice! And the punch line? Dad holding up a sign that reads “Peace on Earth” or “Silent Night.”
Aw, c’mon guys, it’s a joke! Sheesh, why does everyone have to be so friggin’ serious all the time? It’s not like there’s a war on women or anything.
One image, taken by the Louisiana-based photographer, Hannah Hawkes, went viral soon after it posted, and naturally, she got an eyeload of angry messages. She issued a not-quite-an-apology that read: “I would like to say that as a female I do NOT and have never promoted violence to women! I do not support abuse, or the degradation of women. My controversial photo was taken by request by the family, and was in no way meant to promote abuse. This photo was taken with humor in mind, and was meant as a comical Christmas photo. I personally know this family, and have known them for many years. They are not abusive to their children in any shape or form. Also, I would like to add that no one was harmed during the process! So everyone have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and MAY GOD BLESS you and yours!”
So, in short, she was just following orders by a real nice family, and it was all done in good fun. Everyone is so uptight—Gah!
Those girls don’t look very happy, though, and why would they. Mom, really, you signed off on that? Dad, why do you look so smug? What a cynical message for parents to send their kids: Your sons’ voices matter, but your wife’s and daughters’ have to just shut it? Well, we saw how well that played out with the Duggar family this year, didn’t we. And how about the countless women who summoned the courage over the years to come forward with their painful stories about the times Bill Cosby assaulted them? It wasn’t until a male comedian named Hannibal Buress made a joke in passing during his standup act, about Cosby’s rapey ways, that people started to listen, to take these women’s allegations seriously. Now there are over 50 women—and still counting—who’ve filed claims. (Of course Bill’s countersuing seven of them, alleging defamation.)
These are dark, regressive times we’re living in, where every small civil-rights advancement we’ve made in this country is being or has already been torpedoed. We are fighting for the basic right to have autonomy over our own bodies, battling for our rights and access to affordable health care and to a safe and legal abortion, as we watch the GOP-led House and Senate knowingly use doctored-up “sting” videos to shut down Planned Parenthood clinics—which in addition to providing abortions, also offer birth control, physical exams, screenings for diabetes and cancer, among other general health services. Women and girls who have been sexually assaulted are almost always having their testimonies second- (and third- and fourth- etc.) guessed, even put on trial—often outright dismissed. It was actually shocking last week—not to mention a tremendous relief—that an all-White, mostly male jury convicted former Oklahoma City police officer and serial rapist Daniel Holtzclaw of five counts of rape and 13 counts of sexual assault, by the way the defense had interrogated the 13 Black women he’d assaulted. The fact that justice being served in such an obvious case was a surprise tells you all you need to know about where we are as a society right now.
So, Dad and Mom, consider this the next time you pose for your family photo. Dad, if you love your family, think about the message you’re sending to all of your kids. Whatever weird shit you have with your wife, well, that’s between you two. But it has always been my understanding as a parent that we have a responsibility to our kids to make them feel safe, to feel loved, to make them feel like they matter—equally. Pops, do you really want your daughters to think they’re worthless? That you don’t have her back if she comes home to tell you a teacher told her to shut up? Or some guy pushed her a little too far at a party? Don’t you want your sons to respect their sisters? Their mother? Other women? And, Mom, I’m talking to you, too, because you’re complicit in this for green-lighting this hideous display, and for participating in it, for signaling to your son that you think it’s funny, too, that it’s OK to think his voice should be louder and more important than yours and your daughters’. For telling your daughters to just capitulate to the demands and egos of the men in the room. To think that no one will ever listen or take them seriously, that they will take abuse because no one cares. But, c’mon, It’s just a joke—play along, be sporting, don’t be such a bitch. It’s the holidays, after all, be merry, give your guys some peace on Earth, and have a silenced night.
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