Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thick as a Brick

As Halloween costumes for women become sexier, is it about freedom or exploitation?

In her thigh-highs and ruby miniskirt, Little Red Riding Hood does not appear to be en route to her grandmother's house. And Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone's bed. There is a witch wearing little more than a Laker Girl uniform, a fairy who appears to shop at Victoria's Secret and a cowgirl with a skirt the size of a tea towel.

Anyone who has watched the evolution of women's Halloween costumes in the last several years will not be surprised that these images -- culled from the Web sites of some of the largest Halloween costume retailers -- are more strip club than storybook. Or that these and other costumes of questionable taste will be barely covering thousands of women who consider them escapist, harmless fun on Halloween.

Cue the tone (and reality) deaf feminist theorist:
[The] abundance of risque costumes that will be shrink-wrapped around legions of women come Oct. 31 prompts a larger question: Why have so many girls grown up to trade in Wonder Woman costumes for little more than Wonderbras?

"Decades after the second wave of the women's movement, you would expect more of a gender-neutral range of costumes," said Adie Nelson, author of "The Pink Dragon Is Female: Halloween Costumes and Gender Markers," an analysis of 469 children's costumes and how they reinforce traditional gender messages that was published in The Psychology of Women Quarterly in 2000.

Of course. Right about the same time we would expect gender neutral aspirations, books, ad infinitum.

In answer to the question posed above, is it about freedom or exploitation?

The answer is yes. More completely, it is about women's freedom to exploit their power over men. Which no amount of pained discussion about "Gender Markers" will ever change.

By the way, as a free service of The Daily Duck, there are only 10 shopping days left until Halloween, and [the] two best-selling women's costumes are a low-cut skin-tight referee uniform and a pinup-girl-inspired prisoner outfit called Jail Bait.


Blogger David said...

The distinction they're drawing between sexy Halloween costumes and Wonder Woman constumes is somewhat unclear to me.

October 22, 2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

I saw that article and it seemed confused, because it quotes sellers of customs saying "we stock them because they fly off the shelves" and then later wonders which came first, the selection or the sales. Uh, read the earlier paragraph, dudette.

I wonder if the sales aren't skewed because women who wouldn't wear these are also the type to make their own. Certainly SWIPIAW would build before buying (she had this wonderful database crash costume one year).

October 22, 2006 5:04 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


If I watched a little more TV, that outstanding example of unintended irony wouldn't have sailed right over my head.

I must have chosen my neighborhood badly, since I haven't been treated to any such splendiforous outfits when hauling the critters around.

Oh well, there's still hope for this year.

October 22, 2006 6:04 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Front Street bills itself as the biggest Halloween party in the Pacific.

This year, the schoolma'ms in charge have decreed no salacious costumes. I have not paid enough attention to know how this is to be enforced.

Besides, about 15 years ago, no one complained about a politically incorrect costume stunt: about 8 guys dressed up in foam rubber shark costumes and marched up and down the street. Whenever they saw a pretty girl, they would surround her and go into a feeding frenzy.

The girls loved it.

October 22, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

The only thing more offensive than being attacked by the sharks: being ignored by the sharks.

This problem is ancient, and indeed was the root of the Trojan War.

October 23, 2006 1:23 AM  

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