If you’ve ever hummed along to Christmas songs or delighted in holiday-themed movies (disclaimer: I still do), you’ve likely been exposed to major gender stereotypes without even realizing it. Lyrics that perpetuate gendered roles and expectations are sprinkled throughout classics like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “Santa Baby” (which we hear not just on the radio, but in TV shows and movies.) And we can’t forget “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a song so creepy it’s earned the moniker The Christmas Date Rape Song (and prompted a recent, much needed update).

Arguably, holiday sexism peaks with the unrelenting expectation that women bear the brunt of holiday preparations. You don’t need overtly sexist ads to know this (although they certainly exist)—often the evidence is within our own homes.

Growing up, I watched my mom do it all. She single-handedly decorated the Christmas tree, filled the house with holiday music, did the gift shopping and wrapping, and then spearheaded the entire cleanup. This was my understanding of a normal division of labor—women are primarily responsible for making the holiday experience enjoyable for their families.

This all changed, however, when I found myself married and with children. It didn’t take long for my husband and I to realize that if I was the sole person in charge of all-things holiday, our season wouldn’t be pleasant.

Today, my husband and I split holiday duties evenly. We both do the shopping and gift wrapping, he helps me cook Christmas dinner, and we make tree decorating a family affair. It’s a system I hope my kids will replicate as adults. I don’t necessarily see this as a feminist act, but one of fairness.

Outside the home, there are other small but meaningful ways to combat holiday sexism. For example, take we can all take a cue from the Obamas and reject gendered gifts. Better yet, shop at stores that don’t segregate toys based on gender and support organizations like Let Toys Be Toys. And if you’re watching holiday-themed movies or shows, don’t be afraid to start age-appropriate conversations about sexism or gender roles being shown on the big screen.

Our celebrations shouldn’t come with a side of sexism. It’s antithetical to the spirit of the holidays and it helps to institutionalize harmful precedents. The best gift we can give future generations isn’t one we can wrap and place under a tree; it’s a season free from stereotypes.

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