Christa Ackroyd: '˜Mrs' Christmas debate is political correctness gone mad and not what the suffragettes fought for

At first I thought of ignoring it altogether. It was simply too ludicrous to give it credibility.

But the more I contemplated it the more I thought no, it’s exactly the kind of stupidity that gives the fight for gender equality, the very bedrock of feminism, a bad name. And I wear my badge of feminism with pride.

So here goes. Almost a third of people in a recent survey thought that Father Christmas should be portrayed either as a woman or at least as gender-neutral.

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And that sadly is what we have come to in the fight for women’s rights. So let’s cancel Christmas altogether or, at the very least, banish the Three Wise Men and re-christen baby Jesus baby Jo(e).

One hundred years ago last Friday, eight-and-a-half million women voted in a general election for the first time. They had demonstrated, denied themselves food, and yes, died for the cause.

And, under the Representation of the People’s Act, five-and-a-half million more men were eligible to cast their votes too.

A win-win in my book. But the campaign which led to this historic event was ‘Votes for Women’, or shall we airbrush that out also? Well I know one thing, this latest manifestation of political correctness is not what they fought so hard for.

In the great scheme of things a debate about Father/Mrs/Person Christmas is hardly worth venting my spleen on. Only it is. Because it is so far removed from the cause of sisterhood as to make us a laughing stock. And that, my friends, is what we have been fighting for ever since the Suffragettes chained themselves to the railings. To be taken seriously.

First a spoiler alert. Father Christmas is not real. He does not come down the chimney on Christmas Eve to bring presents to good little girls and boys. He does not own a string of reindeer, or live at the North Pole.

So shall we go the whole festive hog (apologies to vegetarians and vegans ) and just tell our children and grandchildren the truth as soon as they are old enough to speak?

Of course not. Because it’s wonderful on Christmas Eve to watch children hang up their stockings, or in our case a pillowcase, having left a mince pie for him (yes him) and a carrot for Rudolph in anticipation.

It’s joyous seeing their excitement on Christmas morning when they discover he has been. And, no, don’t save the presents until after Christmas dinner, let them rip them open as soon as they open their eyes, no matter what time it is. Discipline can wait for another day.

Let the magic unfold in a sea of wrapping paper and, if desired, chocolate for breakfast. As the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I can still remember my pillowcase, once flat and lifeless, bulging with presents on Christmas morning including a selection box, an apple and an orange and a few shiny pennies.

I remember the devastation when reality dawned on me all might not be as it seemed. I also remember my mum telling me “Well if you want to think that way don’t come running to me if Father Christmas hasn’t been on Christmas morning.”

That bought me at least another couple of years of childhood, After all, as we know, reality comes soon enough and Father Christmas is the ultimate suspension of disbelief, the definition of which is the sacrifice of logic for the sake of enjoyment.

Anyway what’s wrong with an advert for fatherhood at Christmas? Or are we writing Joseph out of the Nativity as well? Fathers play a pretty important role, or should do, in the upbringing of children.

I said at the start the whole idea is simply too much humbug to be taken seriously.

In the meantime let’s have some merriment. Let’s rewrite Dickens’ Christmas Carol to include Tiny Tina. Andy/Andi of Green Gables sounds like fun. Little Women becomes Little People. Cinderella is transformed into Cinderfella and Mrs Tiggiwinkle should at least be addressed as Ms. Well thank goodness for George in the Famous Five.

At least she’s gender-neutral. Though I do worry that lashings and lashings of ginger beer is a nod to the upper classes.

But that’s a whole new debate. Merry Christmas to you all, young, old, male, female, gay, straight, transgender et al.

And as Dickens wrote, may God, who ever your God is, bless us, everyone.