Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mrs. Claus - Was Mrs. Claus an Early Feminist Icon?

Was Mrs. Claus an early feminist icon?

The wife of Santa Claus first entered pop culture consciousness in 1889. That's the year "America the Beautiful" author Katharine Lee Bates created and introduced her in the poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride*.

Although modern-day depictions of Mrs. Claus show us a contented stay-at-home wife, Bates' Goody Claus is anything but. Instead, the original wife of Santa pushes the envelope on women's rights and presses for acknowledgment of her hard work and significant role in making Christmas possible.

An Unexpected Feminist

The first-person narrative -- told from Goody Claus' perspective -- centers on her clever and persistent attempts to prove that the gender roles her husband insists on are arbitrary. Throughout the poem, she gradually convinces us that she can do many things just as well as he does, and some things even better.

From the opening line, Goody Santa Claus makes her desires clear. She tells her husband that she wants to accompany him on his annual sleigh ride:

Santa, must I tease in vain, dear? Let me go and hold the reindeer,
While you clamber down the chimneys. Don't look savage as a Turk!
Why should you have all the glory of the joyous Christmas story,
And poor little Goody Santa Claus have nothing but the work?

Despite his apparent unwillingness to have her come along (as we gather from his "savage" look), Goody Claus pleads her case through the first ten stanzas of the poem. She chides him, "You just sit here and grow chubby off the goodies in my cubby," and points out that though he's a woodsman, she's actually the one who tends the fir trees that -- instead of bearing pine cones -- produce the "toys and trinkets" that fill Santa's gift bags each year. Since Santa's lazy and too busy toasting his toes by the fire, he never steps outside to witness how carefully she nurtures the trees to reap the harvest of gifts; but as she indicates, someone else knows how hard she works:

Yet ask young Jack Frost, our neighbor, who but Goody has the labor,
Feeding roots with milk and honey that the bonbons may be sweet!
Who but Goody knows the reason why the playthings bloom in season
And the ripened toys and trinkets rattle gaily to her feet!

As we learn, Christmas isn't the only holiday Goody Claus has a hand in. She's also responsible for the most prominent elements of two other major holidays. In asking Santa for a ride in the sleigh, she reminds him of her efforts year round:

Santa, wouldn't it be pleasant to surprise me with a present?
And this ride behind the reindeer is the boon your Goody begs;
Think how hard my extra work is, tending the Thanksgiving turkeys
And our flocks of rainbow chickens — those that lay the Easter eggs.

In the next two lines, Mrs. Santa Claus reveals herself as a staunch believer in women's rights as she argues against the commonly-held belief that women should stay at home:

Home to womankind is suited? Nonsense, Goodman! Let our fruited Orchards answer for the value of a woman out-of-doors.

When he finally agrees, she goes along and holds the reindeer on the roof while he makes his down-the-chimney runs. But once again she pushes the envelope when she makes another request of her husband:

Bend your cold ear, Sweetheart Santa, down to catch my whisper faint:
Would it be so very shocking if your Goody filled a stocking
Just for once? Oh, dear! Forgive me. Frowns do not become a Saint.

He scowls and they continue on, but she keeps pressing for her chance, even as they near the end of their long winter flight:

Now the pack is fairly rifled, and poor Santa's well-nigh stifled;
Yet you would not let your Goody fill a single baby-sock;
Yes, I know the task takes brain, Dear. I can only hold the reindeer,
And so see me climb down chimney — it would give your nerves a shock.

As she wryly notes, Santa doesn't believe a woman's capable of doing a man's job.

But at the last house, when Santa finds a stocking too riddled with holes to hold the last small gift, he finally relents when his wife offers a solution:

But I'll mend that sock so nearly it shall hold your gifts completely.
Take the reins and let me show you what a woman's wit can do.

Using an icicle for a needle and a moonbeam for thread, she darns the stocking, tucks in an extra box of paints, and kisses this last recipient goodnight.

An Unconventional Victorian

Why has this charming portrait of a feminist-leaning Mrs. Santa Claus been lost to time? Why was this smart feisty helpmate and strong-willed spouse later supplanted by a pudgy, acquiescent, non-descript version? Could it be because Goody Santa Claus was ahead of her time?

In many ways, Goody Santa Claus reflects the sentiments of her creator, author and poet Katharine Lee Bates. Born in Falmouth Massachusetts in 1859, Bates made a name for herself writing children's poetry yet her interests were far broader. She also penned poems featuring anti-war and women's issues themes.

According to Mary Sicchio, archivist of the Falmouth Historical Society, "Bates definitely pushed for the rights of women. She wasn't docile at all. She was feisty and a lot more worldly than people would expect of a Victorian woman."

A Strong Woman "For All Times"

The world Bates lived in was a world that would not have been comfortable with a strong female figure like Goody Claus. Back in 1889, a woman who proved that she could do anything a man could do might have been seen as a threat or an oddball. It would be another 30 years before Congress would pass the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.

Yet Bates created a character that touches women today just as effectively as it did 120 years ago by asking the age old question, "Why can't a woman be given the chance to do the same work as a man?"

In a season dominated by iconic male figures, Goody Santa Claus reminds us not to settle for the status quo. With wit, cleverness, and determination, she made a place for herself in a traditionally 'male profession' and in the end proved her worth. Like her creator Katharine Lee Bates, "she was a woman of her times and for all times. "

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Few Suggestions In Avoiding Yeast Infection

Yeast is a type of fungus that, upon coming to contact with your body and finding favorable conditions, grows quite easily. In fact yeast can grow anywhere on the body, even on the genitals. In such cases where the yeast infection has spread to the bloodstream, the disease becomes moderately fatal. So, it is very important that one try to avoid such a disease to prevent any possible complications. After all, it is said that prevention is better than the cure.
So, let's delve right into it. This article is going to show you a few tips in protecting yourself from a yeast infection.
  • Keeping yourself clean: Being clean is the biggest deterrent to a fungal infection, and yeast is no different. By showering and washing, you can reduce or eliminate the favorable conditions for the fungus to settle and grow in, thus nipping the evil right in the bud before it has a chance to grow. Following good hygiene habits can go a long way in reducing your infection chances.
  • Keeping your environment clean: It is imperative that you also keep your own environment clean along with your body. Fungi grow in moist and humid environment and to avoid giving them that comfortable atmosphere to come in, you should keep the area around yourself clean.
  • Having a good diet: This is important in keeping your immune system in a tip-top shape. A healthy and strong immune system can stop an infection right in it's tracks. In fact, the fatal infections of yeast we talked about earlier? They occur because of a suppressed immune system. So, having a healthy diet can not only reduce the chances and the actual drudgery of a yeast infection, but it might also save your life. So, load up on nutrient rich foods to give yourself a healthy and fighting immune system.
  • Staying away from the infectious environment: You can avoid a lot of hassle if you just stay away from the sort of environment, that has a high probability of giving you infection. Let's say, a swamp. But if you are an adventurous type and really must go there, then make sure your body is well covered to avoid possible contamination.
So, combine all these things into one and you have a great shot of avoiding this illness, or of lowering your risk, at least. Note that in case you do get ill, don't just rely on some home remedies or hope that it will get better on it's own. If that is the case, don't wait any longer and get yourself checked out by a doctor. As written before, server progression of a fungal infection can result in a fatality. Stay safe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Women's Health Issues - Menopause Headaches

The "Change of Life" or menopause can be an extremely difficult time in a women's life. This marks the end of the child-bearing years and can cause severe emotional problems for some women and also physical problems as well. One such problem is the menopause headache which can be as annoying as a simple headache to as severe as migraines several times a week. While the exact cause of these headaches may be different in each case, they seem to be caused by the changes in the hormonal levels in the body during this time.

Relief can come in many forms and each woman's treatment may be different. One woman may respond well to over the counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen while another may get no relief from these. If you have tried these over the counter medicines and they don't take away the headaches, you may need to work with your doctor to find something that will. In some cases it may require a prescription medication for pain, while in others, hormone replacement therapy may be needed to help balance the hormones in the body.

Some alternative therapies include yoga, meditation, and exercise. Some women also get relief from aromatherapy or homeopathic remedies. Still others find natural remedies give them relief. No matter the treatment, the best course of action is to not give up. With menopause, your health can change from day to day. This is why it is called the "change of life." You will experience changes, some positive, some negative. But your body is an amazing machine designed for healing. Keep a positive attitude and work through the problems and you will experience a positive outcome.

This article mentions alternative therapies and techniques, however, this is not medical advice. You should always seek the guidance of a medical professional before embarking on any therapy.