Thursday, August 21, 2008

The sexism in Halloween costumes  

20 comments
I absolutely love Halloween because I think it's the best holiday there is. But with all the good comes a whole lot of bad, because Halloween is also the most sexist holiday there is. Putting aside the fact that Halloween costumes marketed to females are getting skimpier by the minute, let's take a look at the pure sexism that exists in the types of costumes offered to each gender. While perusing BuyCostumes.com, one of the biggest costume sites out there, I decided to compare and contrast the "occupation" category of costumes for each gender, starting with the kid's costumes.

In the Girls' section, there are 16 "occupation" costumes. In the Boys' Section... there are 73. Seventy-three! Now, the types of occupational costumes in the Girls' section?

'Lil' Nurse,' a zoo keeper, 'Lil' Patty Cake Baker,' a nurse with hot pink scrubs, and a female boxer in an all-pink outfit.





How about the selection of Boys' occupational costumes? Astronaut, police officer, military officer, airline pilot, fire chief, 'Lil' Doctor' (NOTICE how the girls get 'Lil' Nurse' and the boys get 'Lil' Doctor'), S.W.A.T. team, train engineer, sailor, and car racer.




And so we have more evidence to support the argument that the main "gender differences" are not innate, but socially constructed from the very beginning. Girls don't become nurses and bakers because it's in their genes, but because it is thrust in their faces from birth that girls are nurses, and boys are astronauts, doctors, and police officers. Don't get me wrong... a nurse is a very honorable career, but where is the variety? Where is the encouragement that girls can be pilots and sailors too?

But of course... it doesn't stop there. You see, after the gender norms are established, they must then be reinforced. I ventured into the Adults' "occupation" section. The number of such costumes offered for women? 13. And for the men? 38.

Adult Female section: French maid, sexy bellhop, sexy police officer, "pretty stewardess" (actual title of the costume), and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.




Adult Male section: Astronaut, captain, judge, police officer, fire fighter, airline pilot, surgeon, baseball player, and soldier.




Infuriating? Oh yes. Unfair? Absolutely. Likely to change anytime soon? Don't bet on it. We as a society love our gender norms and fear change, as if a little boy wearing a pink nurse's costume will ultimately end the world. In the end, it's the ignorance that prospers. But when I have children, I swear on my life that I will let them wear any damn Halloween costume they want.

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20 comments: to “ The sexism in Halloween costumes


  • August 22, 2008 at 7:12 PM  

    These people have some of the same items but it appears they have many more Women's offerings - www.dizguise.com.


  • August 24, 2008 at 1:43 PM  

    This is all very interesting. As a child I wasn't allowed to participate in Halloween. Once I got older it became a personal choice because I found the costume options ridiculous, and the fact that women decide to play along with the slutty/skanky/limited options for costumes. Be creative for once.


  • August 25, 2008 at 9:35 AM  

    I love this piece. It's something that is so true but rarely complained about. Years ago I remember being at The Party Warehouse where a little boy expressed his desire to be a cat for halloween. His mother, furious and frightened of his choice told him he may choose a more "manly" costume. Being nosy, I watched until the end of the purchase where the little boy got a fireman costume and his mother purchased a witches hat and a broom. 'Nuff said.


  • August 25, 2008 at 3:49 PM  

    Costume reporter, if anything, that website further proves my point. All the fire fighter, pilot, and judge costumes for females are overtly sexualized. The male costumes, on the other hand, look like legit outfits that people in such professions would wear.


  • August 25, 2008 at 9:00 PM  

    I really don' t consider this such a suprise given that probably all of them come from China, a great promoter of equal rights for females. What would one expect from a society that treats women as second class citizens.


  • October 8, 2010 at 2:57 PM  

    This is a reality because during Halloween parties all women want to be the sexiest and that's good because we'll see beautiful women.


  • November 4, 2010 at 1:54 AM  

    I loved this post, and it definitely influenced my writing about the issue of hyper-sexualization of Halloween costumes!

    http://changefromwithin.org/2010/11/04/halloween-a-study-in-unhealthy-gender-norms/


  • March 13, 2011 at 6:46 AM  

    Indeed a very interesting blog. Read a pleasure. Cognitive information that is very good.


  • June 22, 2011 at 3:01 PM  

    Such an innocent halloween costume can be turned into what a girl/boy role in life should be. Just goes to show how society works.


  • July 14, 2011 at 3:54 PM  

    And it would be oh so wrong for a boy to go as a nurse. even though there are more male nurses these days.


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  • November 4, 2011 at 3:24 AM  

    This is all very interesting. As a child I wasn't allowed to participate in Halloween.


  • November 4, 2011 at 3:25 AM  

    All the fire fighter, pilot, and judge costumes for females are overtly sexualized.


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