Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sexist Halloween Costumes

It's that time of year again! Changing leaves... the scent of pumpkin pie... and sexist Halloween costumes!

In the memorable words of Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, " In the real world, Halloween was a time for little kids to dress up in scary costumes. In Girl World it was the one night a year a girl could dress like a total slut and no other girls could say anything about it. The hardcore girls just wore lingerie and some form of animal ears."

When I was in high school, Halloween was definitely the day where my fellow students would come to school dressed like, well, hookers.
There was the "slutty" cop, the "slutty" nurse, the "slutty" barmaid, the "slutty" stewardess, the "slutty" Native American, the "slutty" angel/devil, the "slutty" golddigger (?!?!)... pretty much any combination of any nationality or profession you could ever think of. Worn by fifteen to seventeen year old girls. Yikes.

The sexist Halloween market is not going anywhere: go into any party store and you can find sexy costumes for almost any age group.
Under the "teens" category: "slutty" maid, "slutty" spongebob?!

Under the "girls" category: super-short skirts, tiny t-shirts.

In the "careers" section, careers that are stereotypically held by men are now held by women! Unfortunately, we women can't just be normal firefighters and construction workers. We have to be "slutty" fireman and "slutty" construction workers.

I do have to say, the most disgusting and deplorable costume I've seen in my search has been this one. Oh, that's just "Jane Doe," the unidentified cadaver. Check out her sexy bodybag costume! Look, it even comes with a "toe tag" and a Jane Doe necktag. What a steal for $34.95!
And you can't have a murdered anonymous cadaver without her male counterpart, Dr. Rigamortis! Your boyfriend can dress up as the Coroner and wear a matching face mask. True love.
But, SERIOUSLY. We're supposed to dress up as dead bodies? Not just dead bodies, but "Jane Doe," the name they give to unidentified cadavers. There's no comparable "John Doe" costume for men, just the "Coroner."

Which brings me to another issue with sexist Halloween costumes, especially the ones labeled "couples." Gender roles, much? He's "chef," she's "Too Hot Sexy Chef." He's the judge, she's the "Doin' Hard Time" prisoner, etc. etc. etc. There's a million more like this: He's the boss, she's the secretary, he's the sailor, she's the "cruisin' cutie..." It makes me want to throw this at my computer screen.

(On a brighter note, baby costumes are adorable. If I ever have a child, I'll definitely dress him or her up as a lobster! Or a penguin... or a sailor duck... or a hotdog... or an air freshener...)

So what do these sexist Halloween costumes mean for society and feminism? I can already hear the protests to this post. "But it's just a joke... it doesn't mean anything... it's just one night!" When we're dressing our six-year-olds as "Pop Star" and our thirteen year olds as "Sexy Maid," while our sons get to be "Firefighter" and "Fisherman," what does that teach? That boys can be whatever they want to, but girls have to be their sexy counterpart? That boys' bodies aren't objectified from childhood, but girls' bodies are? I, and most other feminists, are for young women's healthy sexual expression, but when that expression amounts to being the scantily-clad counterpart to a male, starting as a preteen, it's not so healthy.

So next time some sexist jerk tells you that feminism is over, direct him (or her) to your latest costume store.

Discussion topic: What are YOU being for Halloween? What's the grossest, most sexist Halloween costume you've ever seen?

(My boyfriend and I are going to be Bonnie and Clyde. Equal partnership, badass 1930's outlaws, the name "Bonnie"- where can you go wrong?)



  1. A couple years ago, I actually witnessed a mother and daughter choosing slutty costumes together. The daughter was maybe 10. I actually overheard her telling her mother a costume "would look sexy." WTF?!?

    I'm going to be Bret Michaels this year. I will be totally clothed and openly mocking a ridiculous "celebrity." Good times.

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  3. Well, if you think that's bad, take a look at what they are doing to little girl's costumes:Whoa!


    I couldn't get the url to take you live. I guess you need to copy and paste.



  4. bonnie, When I was in college 1973-1977 you created a theme outfit, I was a witch complete with a large cauldron that emitted smoke, or slut of any varitey. I have been a bearded lady, a daranged beauty queen, "kitty" the fast talking trashy waitress, snow white, and my latest favorite, Dianah, Godess of the hunt. I still do love dressing up, outfits these days include more coverup! Aunt Kathy