I was just reading the first Narnia book to Moomin, somewhat against my better judgment, when we got to the scene with Father Christmas. The children are on the run, along with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, from the White Witch, when Father Christmas comes, gives Peter a sword and shield. He gives Susan a bow and arrow and horn, with instructions not to use them in battle, and then a diamond bottle of healing stuff to Lucy. Lucy says she’s not quite sure, but she thinks she can be brave enough for the battle; Father Christmas replies, “That is not the point… battles are ugly when women fight.”
“Oh my god!” Moomin yelled. “SANTA’S A SEXIST!!!” and started shrieking with laughter.
We laughed for a while, he made me show Rook that part in the book and how funny it was, and then we continued. On the very next page Mrs. Beaver starts telling everyone to drink their tea. “Don’t stand talking there till the tea gets cold. Just like men.” Moomin went “OMG! MRS. BEAVER’S A SEXIST! You know what, Mom, I think a lot of people in books are sexists!” I agreed, but we didn’t go into the reasons why. It was bedtime.
I can hear him laughing to himself in bed and I think I know why. The outrage! Santa! A sexist!
What could Mr. Lewis have been thinking!
As I lie here in my bed listening to Moomin giggling in outrage I am thinking of all the ways Santa, of course, is amazingly sexist — I think he shops at Toys R Us where the aisles are all pink on one side and soldier-in-training on the other!
But more than that, I think of the deeper sexism in the Narnia books, the way everyone “just knows” the Witch is bad, for one thing. Witches, moons, nights, shadows.