When you think of peace on earth does your mind immediately go to women should be seen and not heard? Do you think the above photo can be construed as funny? I don’t. I find it offensive that a family would request this sort of photo that makes light of such a serious topic as sexism and condones domestic violence. How can a photo of your wife and daughters bound and gagged ( even with Christmas lights) with your toddler son giving a thumbs up be found anything but disgusting? But I’m not mad so much as I am saddened that anyone would think this is okay.
I can take a joke just as much as the next person. Hell, I’ve written some pretty off the cuff pieces, dare I say maybe even bordering on offensive, humor pieces about lady bits and I’m no stranger to controversy but as someone who has experienced abuse and spent my childhood being told that I should be seen and not heard, sometimes even threatened by physical injury and other times being on the receiving end of a good slap for speaking up, I don’t find this funny.at.all. In fact, I find that it makes a mockery of domestic violence and women’s rights in general.
I’m not sure why this picture was taken or whose idea it was. The mom’s? The dad’s? Either way, why did the other one go along with it? What kind of message is it sending to their daughters? What kind of message is it sending to their son? What kind of message is it sending to the people they know that they might send these cards to?
There is nothing funny about this photo. I know people push the envelope to get these awkward, funny to some, creepy to others holiday photos. I get that but this photo offends me on every level. This photo clearly sends the message that women should be forced into submission and seen but never heard. It objectifies women and dehumanizes us.
I’ve spent my life speaking up when I was told to shut up. It wasn’t easy and it was even dangerous. It took bravery to break that cycle. Do you know what it feels like to be afraid of your own voice? Do you know what it feels like to be punished for voicing your thoughts? It is a misogynistic way of breaking one’s spirit by humiliating them at their very core. The message is clear, to be seen and not heard means that you are invisible and your thoughts, your existence, do not matter. You do not matter and your very existence is only allowed by someone else’s permission.
I can’t even be irate by this photo because I am too busy being so saddened that this is the message these parents want to instill in their children. This one photo, that speaks volumes, is telling their children that women should be silent or suffer the consequences and that men only get peace through violence against women. This photo is telling their children that women don’t matter.
I’m sure these parents thought this would be a funny gag but maybe, as parents, they should consider the ramifications and lasting impressions they are making on their children. This one small moment has ripples and if they took this picture, as anyone who has ever told a joke knows, there is always some truth to the joke so if they thought it was funny, somewhere inside they believe that this is how peace on earth is achieved.
Women bound with Christmas lights with duct tape over their mouths, with a young boy giving a thumbs up and a grown man holding a sign that says “Peace on Earth” is not my idea of funny. It’s sexist and wrong. Simply put this photo condones the subjugation of women, in fact, it celebrates it. I want a better world for my daughters and I hope the family in this photo, want more for theirs.
Dear Peace on Earth Family,
I hope this was a failed attempt at being funny and there is nothing more nefarious or, indeed, true about the logic behind this photo. As a mother, a woman and someone who has been told that she was to be seen and not heard at threat of violence for her entire childhood, I implore you to please consider the message you are sending your children, all of them.