More than one in four people in the US and UK want Santa to be female or gender neutral, according to a new survey.
More than 4,000 people were asked what gender Saint Nick would be if they could rebrand the mystical present-giver for modern society. 10.6 percent would opt for a female Santa, the poll results show.
And 17.15 percent would prefer a gender neutral Santa, meaning that overall, nearly 28 percent of people would ditch the traditional male version of Santa if given the choice, according to the survey by GraphicSprings.
Female Santa is a hot-button issue
The issue of what gender Santa should be has taken on a new significance in recent times.
Despite existing on a level of reality with the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Pikachu, many are convinced that Santa cannot be seen as anything other than an old, white man.
Arun Chandran, a Labour Party councillor for Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, England, moved to ban female Santa Claus impersonators from taking part in an annual winter parade last month.
“I think the kids would be confused if they got to see Father Christmas and it was a woman”
— Linda Robson
He said that the concept of a female Santa Claus was “a form of political correctness,” adding that it was “a male role.”
The issue was the focus of a debate on ITV’s Loose Women on November 28, with panellist Linda Robson arguing: “Father Christmas is a man as we all know, and I think the kids would be confused if they got to see Father Christmas and it was a woman, so I think we should keep it as it is.”
In contrast, Stacey Solomon said that so long as the costume resembles Santa Claus, it didn’t matter who was wearing it, arguing: “Is this female Santa wearing a beard and hat? So what does it matter what’s underneath?”
The issue was also discussed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, with host Piers Morgan opposing the idea of a gender neutral Santa or female Santa, insisting that Father Christmas is “male.”
The haters can’t keep female Santa or gender neutral Santa down
This opposition hasn’t stopped a host of individuals and companies deciding that Santa can be anything anyone wants them to be.
Last week, New Zealand’s Ponsonby Central shopping complex unveiled a gender neutral Santa Claus as its Christmas display, with the jolly giant—who was modelled on Mary Poppins—wearing knickers and fishnet stockings.
The display had reportedly been planned since August, but was coincidentally unveiled in the same week that the country’s leader of the opposition Simon Bridges cited Santa and Poppins as examples of gender norms.
Bridges, who heads the centre-right New Zealand National Party, told Three’s radio programme The AM Show that he was against a female Santa because “Mary Poppins is a woman, Santa Claus is a man. That’s how it should be.”
He continued: “I think it’s just PC gone—I don’t know if it’s mad, but too far. You guys this morning are telling me that man didn’t walk on the moon, now you’re telling me Santa’s a woman.
“I just want a few things I can believe in.”