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Your Fave is Problematic: Santa Claus


When people hear the name “Santa Claus,” an image comes to mind of a kind, jolly old man who flies around the world distributing presents to nice children each year in exchange for milk and cookies. Indeed, this has been the mainstream narrative surrounding Santa for decades—from representations in the media to the beliefs of ordinary citizens (namely the parents of young children), our society has portrayed old St. Nicholas as, well, a saint since the 19th century. However, this depiction is grossly and egregiously flawed: you may not enjoy hearing this, but that jolly childhood idol of yours, Father Christmas, is actually extremely problematic.

Santa Claus’s problematic behavior began the moment he arrived at the North Pole. Then a working class community, the North Pole was populated almost solely by naïve reindeer and wide-eyed elves. Ever the capitalist, Santa saw an opportunity to exploit the innocent native creatures of the Pole, and he took it. One little-known fact: Santa’s “workshop” had previously been located in America, but due to increasingly strict labor laws, he chose to outsource his toy operation to the Arctic, where he could demand longer hours for less pay. To this day, elves in his “workshop”—a polite, sugarcoated term for “sweatshop”—are paid far below the minimum wage averages of most developed countries, despite the fact that most of them work nearly three times the average American worker’s shift. Worse yet, in return for their arduous trek around the world each year, reindeer are paid next to nothing and receive no health care benefits of any kind. This amoral, shamelessly corrupt behavior was all done for the sake of individual profit—hardly in line with the idea of “Christmas spirit.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Claus’s deplorable acts extend even further than his business crimes. On multiple occasions, Claus has proven himself to be an unabashed chauvinist. Frequently cited using divisive sexist rhetoric, it would seem Claus really lacks the empathy to think about the interests of others at all. Even his most famous catchphrase,  “ho, ho, ho,” is but a glorified example of slut-shaming. With an equally deplorable track record on LGBT issues, Claus has also been a vehement proponent of the gender binary. Despite the repeated alleged protests of his wife, Mr. Claus continues to require his elves to make trucks for all biologically male children, and dolls for biologically female children, with no mind paid to their own expressed gender identities. As an influential figure in the lives of children all around the world, Claus has a duty to enforce healthy and inclusive ideologies, not hateful and outdated ones. In that task, he has surely failed.

With this information in mind, there is only one logical course of action: we must end the glorification of Santa Claus immediately. We know now that, in stark contrast to that cheery old man of the fairy tales, St. Nicholas is, in fact, an exploitative, dangerous figure who remains extremely problematic.