One day early last fall, I returned from work and discovered my son in a dress. And not just any dress. A Snow White dress. I can’t say it was a complete shock. Luke had been telling my wife and me for more than a week that he wanted to be Snow White for Halloween. Whenever Melanie or I gently suggested an alternate costume, he would calmly respond, “No, I think I have to be Snow White. I dropped my bag and made what I hoped was a suitable fuss over the costume. My face still taut with manufactured glee.
It’s that time of year again—Halloween!–when corporate America encourages girls and women to celebrate our inner sluts.
I took my 11-year-old son to a newly opened “Halloween City” in the small southern town where I live. After wading through all the wonderfully gory zombies, steam- spewing skeletons and catapulting ghouls, we came to the costumes.
From past experience, I generally know what to expect, but even I was surprised at what I saw. All along the back wall in Halloween City were pictures of hundreds of costumes for females displayed under a sign that read “Hot! Hot! Hot!”
I’m amazed at the ability of Halloween marketers to turn any kind of cartoon character, profession or sport into a sexpot costume for women and girls. The sexed-up witch, nurse or cheerleader is predictable, but here’s what I also found:
Police officers: “Officer Naughty,” “Your Busted,” “Handcuff Hottie,” “Dirty Cop” and “Sexy Border Control Costume.”
Fire fighters: “Fire Fox” and “Smokin’ Firewoman.”
Sports: “Tackle Me,” “Boxer Babe” and “Fastball Fox.”
Fairytale characters: “Seductive Snow White” and “Racy Red Riding Hood,” and “Dorothy Diva” (as in the Wizard of Oz).
Pirates: “Pirates Treasure” (yes, she IS the treasure), “Pirate Wench” and “Sex Swash Buckler” for adults, and “Pirate Cutie” for girls, complete with very short, off-the-shoulder dress, hip wrap, fishnet tights and fishnet elbow-length gloves.
Students: To fulfill men’s sexual harassment fantasies, there’s “Teacher’s Pet Sexy.”
At this small-town Georgia store, hypersexualized costumes far outnumbered other costumes for women (by 10 to 1, easily). And there were no sexualized costumes for men, except for pervert costumes like “Banana Flasher” and “Dr. Howie Feltersnatch, M.D. Gynecologist.”
For little girls, there was “Indian Babe” and “Geisha” (sexualizing and exoticizing the non-white other), while for the boys you had the “MacDaddy” pimp costume, complete with hundred-dollar bills.
Many of these costumes come from Dreamgirls. Their Dreamgirl Junior page includes “Robyn da Hood,” complete with corset, lace-up gauntlets and money bag.
After all this, I finally came upon the costume that clearly wins the Most Sexist Award: “Anita Waxin.’” Designed to be worn by men, it includes a long blond wig, artificial breasts, pale flesh-colored stockings and a red lifeguard bathing suit with black hair protruding out of both sides of the crotch. All for $30–a steal!
The costume’s contempt for the female body is palpable. It oozes scorn for women who don’t wax and says that natural women are disgusting and a joke. Can you imagine a world in which comparable scorn for the male body existed to the degree that it ended up in Halloween costumes?
In sum, the costumes I saw at Halloween City are all about women as objects of men’s sexual pleasure, abuse or scorn.
How about you? What Halloween costume have you seen this year that should get the award for most sexist?
Reposted with permission from the Ms. Magazine Blog.