Halloween Costumes and Women

By Liza Doubossarskaia, NOW Communications Intern

Traditionally people would dress up for Halloween as ghosts, witches and demons in hopes of evading evil spirits, who are said to cross into the world of the living at summer’s end. The idea of wearing costumes for Halloween stuck around; although, today these costumes might attract more creeps than they deter.

If you’re guessing this post is about highly revealing Halloween costumes for women, you are correct. Nowadays, we can expand our mundane Halloween dress-up options of zombies and pop culture icons to include sexy dirty cop, sexy prisoner, sexy bee, or even sexy gangster bunny costumes. As the names imply, most of these outfits look like a cheap version of Victoria’s Secret lingerie, yet they cost the same amount of money. The costume industry was even thoughtful enough to create doggie versions of sexy Halloween getups, so now your pooch also has an opportunity to strut her stuff.

Guys can dress as Batman, Elvis or Freddy Kruger, but I have yet to see a male version of a sexy gangster bunny. If dogs can sex it up a notch, why can’t dudes? “Nobody wants to see that,” appears to be the most common objection to the idea, but it is a weak argument. While not everyone can get away with wearing a minimum amount of clothes, what is and isn’t attractive is still a highly subjective matter of personal taste. Perhaps the underlining concern for men looking too sexy is the fear that one’s masculinity might be called into question. How many men would be comfortable going as Dr. Frank-N-Furter (of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame) for Halloween, or being in a same room with a man dressed that way?

Once upon a time, sexual liberation was a big part of the women’s movement, but now many can’t help but wonder if our sexual emancipation has been turned against us, used as just another tool of oppression. Hyper-sexualizing everything to the nth degree is a trend in our society, but it is unfair to designate women as acceptable eye-candy and let men take the action costumes. Otherwise, Halloween fun turns into another reinforcement of the patriarchal worldview. Women are encouraged to dress provocatively, appealing to mainstream sexual depictions of women, while a man can become an object of derision if his choice of wardrobe crosses outside of heteronormative bounds.

And speaking of hyper-sexualization, what is up with all the tween costumes that are designed to make young girls look like Bratz Dolls? Grown-up women are in control of their sexuality and can decide how risqué they want to dress, but tweens lack the same understanding. Masquerading children as experienced adults is a disturbing practice, and the occasion of Halloween won’t make it any less unsettling.

Of course, Halloween costumes aren’t the real problem here. Like every other cultural practice, Halloween is a reflection of our society’s attitudes and beliefs. So, it’s not the otherworldly creatures we have to be concerned about.

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