Feminist Gift-Buying Guide

Being Black Friday, inevitably, thousands of frenzied shoppers nationwide are spending this morning swooping up amazing deals on generic, shitty gifts, many of which will go on to be neglected and forgotten by their recipients, if not deliberately discarded. I know because I too have a growing collection of shitty gifts I’ve received over the years and never touched, that I feel too guilty to get rid of, so they sit collecting dust.

Gifts I hated from my ex or casual acquaintances have long since found their way onto the racks and shelves of local secondhand shops, or the closets of my friends. But it’s the gifts that I hate from the people I love that are hardest for me to part with, because those gifts, as shitty as they are, are gestures of love, and I’m fucking sentimental. Sue me.

Also, it doesn’t help that I’m a hoarder. But if the shitty gifts in question are so bad that it pains me, a hoarder, to possess them, then that’s a fucking problem. How are such good people capable of purchasing such shitty gifts? I feel like we’re going about giving all wrong, and it’s become some kind of blind consumer race to cross the names of loved ones off our shopping lists.

I realize when I say “shitty gifts,” you’re probably wondering what specifically makes them so shitty. So when I say shitty gifts, here’s what I mean: a gift that is so arbitrary and generic that the person who gave it to me might as well have never met me in their life. (Money, of course, being the exception. Money is always an awesome gift.)

For instance, this year has marked the start of an unfortunate and unexpected trend—a pandemic of purses. Anyone who knows me has only ever seen me in possession of one bag. Note the distinction. Bag, not purse. In my vocabulary, purse is a dirty word. I expect this to be somewhat understood among my family and friends. The only other accessory I use to contain my shit is a black Jansport backpack I found on the ground. You’ll sooner see me hauling my shit in a shopping bag than swinging a purse.

The purses were chosen, presumably, because I am a woman, and women like purses. This is, of course, a universal fact. As a female, my compulsory fondness of purses has been predetermined by my vagina, or some arbitrary chromosome or something. But stubbornly, I’ve failed to comply, and so the purses are a curse that I will carry all my life.

But for someone who loves me so much to show me they know me so little that they had to fall back on my gender to select an “appropriate” gift is, frankly, a little insulting. Between a shitty gift and no gift, I’d take prefer no gift at all. Shitty, arbitrary gifts defeat the purpose of giving. So take extra care not to purchase generic, gendered gifts this season. Think about the individual, and what makes that person unique, instead of reducing them to a present prescribed to them based solely on their sex.

This summer, Target took great lengths to stop prescribing toys to kids based on their gender, by integrating ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys into one combined department. Target, despite being a giant consumer-driven corporation, which in some ways stands for everything I hate, has earned a few gold stars this year for gender-neutralizing the children’s toy department, giving individuals the option to choose based on their personal interests and preferences and not their sex. Take extra care to follow their example. Try to eliminate gendered presents from the gifts you give this year. Purchase responsibly.