Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WOMEN'S HALLOWEEN COSTUMES: NON-SEXY NEED NOT APPLY

For most horror fanatics, Halloween is the most exciting part of our entire year.  For one night, it becomes socially acceptable for us to show off our nerd prowess without fear of judgement.  Now, of course I understand that we are all proud of our horror geekery year round, but the general populous is less likely to look down upon us around the witching hour.  It also shouldn't matter what the general public has to say about us, but for the sake of argument, let us all just accept the fact that we're more welcome to be spooky around this time of year in contrast to say, Easter.  Moving on.  Halloween is a time of tricks, treats, and dressing up as whoever or whatever we please.  The weird thing, is that for women, we are forced to be whatever or whoever we please within a very specific constraint.  That constraint -- provocative. Before I even get into this argument, know that I am a HUGE advocate against "Slut-Shaming."  If someone wants to dress a certain way, more power to them, this argument is not against women who choose to dress provocatively, it is an argument against perpetuating objectification for no other reason than to excuse objectification with a holiday "tradition".

Without divulging into the history of Halloween and all that jazz, in the Western world it is generally accepted as a time of year where individuals dress up in costumes, throw parties, carve pumpkins, and eat an unmeasurable amount of sugar.  Costumes can range from common professions, beloved characters, super heroes, monsters, and of course, sexual fantasies.  Over the past few years, an unsettling trend in women's costumes has grown to a near epidemic status.  It would appear that for a woman to have a socially acceptable Halloween costume, she must wear one in a manner as provocative as humanly possible.  Again, let me emphasize that I have no issue with what a woman chooses to or to not wear.  However, when I walk into a Halloween costume emporium and have to choose between something baring my midriff, something baring my chest, or something so short I'd show my whispering eye if I sneezed, that is a sign of a societal problem.  The issue here isn't that women are dressing provocatively, the issue is that highly sexualized costumes are our only option.  Perhaps worse is the fact that this idea has been so engrained into our skulls, women are starting to believe that it really is our only option.  Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course.  Unfortunately, exceptions are in the vast minority.  
It is true that men and women's clothing must be tailored differently simply because we're built differently. (See: Boobs and Hips)  However, please look at this photo above.  The costume to the left is a familiar Michael Myers costume inspired by the Halloween series.  The costume to the right?  The female version of the same exact costume.  That purple catsuit is supposed to be a costume of the babysitter killer boogeyman.  If you look, you'll notice an absence of a mask, a tighter fitting form, a more revealing top towards the breasts, and a set of "fuck-me" pumps.  I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure Laurie Strode could have knocked the block off of "Michelle Myers".  The first image showcased in this article is the increasingly popular "Mrs. Krueger" costume, the female counterpart of Freddy.  Freddy Krueger wore pants, and his sweater did not include abdomen slashes or a tight fitting frame.  Freddy's sweater sat at the nape of his neck, not off of the shoulder.  I understand wanting to add femininity to a masculine look, but why does femininity must equate to revealing?  Not to mention, much like the unmasked "Michelle Myers," the "Mrs. Krueger" costume doesn't come with a mask or a burned face makeup kit.  Of course the woman shouldn't have burns, then no one would want to get her in the sack.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of women's Halloween costume is how early the sexualization begins.  I won't even post some of the ridiculous things posted about children's costuming, but please read above the description of a "teen" costume.  Teen as in "more than likely too young to consent to sex".  The description says "...whimsical and girly but you are all grown up now so why not find out if big boys like to play with dolls!" Um. What? This sounds like something out of a kiddie-porn chat session. Remember, this costume is geared towards girls between the ages of 13-18, geared towards women who can't vote or in some instances drive or see an R-Rated movie without the help of mom and dad...and the costume industry is trying to make these young children "sexy."  The most screwed up part about all of this is that we are still living in a country where lawyers will ask rape victims what they were wearing and then tell them they could have prevented their rape had they dressed differently, and yet women are still promoted, nay, EXPECTED to dress like this on Halloween

I'll admit that I'm guilty of dressing "slutty" on Halloween. [at the time of this article's publication] I'm 22 years old and I am at college, but it has always been my choice. However, instead of being a half naked "insert profession or object or character" here, I find a way to show of my horror chops as well.  Since starting college I've been a female Ash (complete with chainsaw arm), a Silent Hill nurse, a broken doll, and this year I'll be going as Laurie from Trick R Treat.  All of these costumes, I've had to make myself.  Why? Because not only is it next to impossible to find horror nerd costumes for a girl that aren't the ones featured above,but to find a costume in plus size? Get outta here...

"BUT MEN ARE OBJECTIFIED TOO!" You may cry. No. No they are not. Stop right there. You're wrong. Yes, there will be some skimpy and/or tight fitting costumes here and there, but the overwhelming majority of men's costumes are fully covered or detailed replications of existing characters.  After walking through a Spirit Halloween store, I could count on my fingers how many "sexualized" male costumes there were.  Hell, even the ones that are there are clearly for the empowerment of the man and not for the female gaze. The “sexy” costumes will either be ridiculously jokey with some sort of visual reference to a penis on the exterior of the costume, or the costume will be nothing specific. Many of the "sexy" male costumes are just different colored boxers, sometimes with a set of suspenders.  The costume to the right is meant to be funny.  There's a reason the "Dick In A Box" video got so many hits, and it's not because it was sexually appealing to see Andy Sandburg gift wrap his johnson.  It's humorous, and it's an excuse for men to be sexually forward.  Of course I'm not saying that men aren't objectified at times, but in the world of Halloween costumes, men can do whatever they want. But if a woman doesn't dress completely risque, she's "doing it wrong".  This is a huge problem and unfortunately, because we keep dishing out the dough for these costumes, it's a problem that isn't going to be resolved anytime soon.

I cannot stress again that I have no qualms with women who decide to dress sexy for Halloween, I do it, I love to do it. It makes me feel good about myself. The problem is that women aren't allowed to make that decision.  Dressing sexy is our only option. Unless we make a costume by hand or forego the costumes all together and wear street clothes, women are forced to pick through the aisles of costumes with hemlines growing shorter and tops squeezing tighter.  We need options, we need choices, and unfortunately for us, the only decisions we get to make in Halloween costume selection is whether or not we're showing leg or breast this season.

11 comment(s):

Chelsea Nicole. said...

My whole grumble with the Halloween costumes is the lack of choice for women, which you've covered very well. It's just ridiculous to me when I walk into a costume store, or browse online, and all of the adult women's costumes are different themes and characters...but they're made from the same general dress. The flouncy/too-short-have-to-wear-a crinoline-and-some-fishnets under the skirt just to feel comfortable enough to step out of the house. Do I want to be a sexy Freddy? Sure, and I can. But...where are the costumes that don't make me feel guilty for eating something other than a liquid diet? Sometimes, I just want to be a really awesome Batgirl. And no, not a midriff-bearing, stiletto boots-wearing Batgirl. One that kicks ass and looks awesome. But costumes like those are few and (very far) between.

The Goodkind said...

No doubt. Commercially there is rarely such thing as a costume without a women's "sexy" version.
The problem is that women aren't allowed to NOT make that decision, and male 'objectification is a joke, an excuse and a coverup.

lady_ash2112 said...

You hit it right on the head BJ. Your article is EXACTLY how I feel about Halloween costumes for women today! I have nothing against women who choose to dress provocatively. However I do have a problem with there not being a huge variety of "non-sexy" costumes to choose from. Not every woman likes to dress like that. I am very self conscious about what I wear and I certainly do not feel comfortable showing off, or failing to cover up, body parts that ordinarily only my husband or my gynecologist would be allowed to see. I don't want to be afraid that my boobs will pop out if I sneeze or my lady parts will be in full view to the public if I bend over slightly.

And don't get me started on the market of sexualizing girls at a young age. That just crosses the line into repugnant.

thevideovacuum said...

As a father of a two year old, I'm sickened to see so many children's costumes being advertised as "flirty". There is no reason a kid that age has any business wearing a mini-skirt.

Bob said...

You know, it's totally funny but we gay guys have a problem with it, too. There is no need for a sexy Freddy or a tarty rag doll. I mean, if you want to go that route, more power to you but the idea that sex sells is not always appropriate.

And, seriously? This is our high-holy day. We spend 364 days a year trying to look like straight people, you all can at LEAST treat the one night a year when you dress like us with some reverence. ;0-)

emilyeinolander.com said...

I'm wearing a big white sweater and jeans, dousing myself in blood and carrying a big ass cell phone for 90 cents at the thrift store and being Drew Barrymore from the first scene of the first Scream movie. CUZ I DON'T GIVE A FUUUUUCK. If all they sell is objectifying shit, I'll make my own.

Matt Thomas said...

I agree with everything you said and I'd like to add that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what they sexualize. The most dumb sexy costumes that get on my nerves are Female Freddy costume, Mrs. Voorhees and the Chucky Chick costumes. ALL THREE actually are present in the film series at some point. Freddy when he was dressed as the hall monitor (if I was a girl I would so cosplay that), the ACTUAL Mrs. Voohees (not a slutty fictional wife of Jason in a hockey jersey, Jason's mother), and Chucky's Bride Tiff. They could do versions of those that would have more appeal to horror fans since they aren't just made up.

Absence of Alternatives said...

I agree with everything you said, and I admire the fact that you're so young yet already so wise. (Well, there is never a direct correlation between age and intelligence anyway...) The whole trend to sexualize everything is also really evident in the whole cosplay scene. It seems to me that yes women can dress up as whoever they want, as long as they are sexy, showing legs, breasts or both. So now you've got yourself sexy Doctor Who, Sexy Sherlock Holms, sexy Superman (I mean, Super Girl) etc. Ugh.

C.H.P. said...

I worked in a costume shop a few years back, and I remember coming across a "Lolita" costume. This in-and-of itself isn't necessarily surprising, but it was in teens/tweens size. It wasn't a 'genre' costume either (like the Japanese Gothic Lolita thing), it was a 'sexually provocative child' costume in a child size. What parent buys that for their child?

Illsa Gorrey said...

I've dressed as a hooker before because it's so against my own personality to be sexually provocative, but really, I much preferred my Undead Prom Queen. I was fully covered in my poodle skirt and sweater. The costume and makeup were getting the attention, not my body. And really, that's the way I like it.

Cuttysark said...

I love your plus size Halloween Costumes ideas. Keep sharing and more power to your blog.

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