Scary or Sexy: Halloween and Gender Roles

The views expressed in this op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of the “!” Student Newspaper.

Every year when Halloween roles around families flock to the stores to buy costumes for their children. Rather than finding gender neutral or unisex costumes for their young children they are confronted with a distinct separation between the genders and their respective costumes. A little boy admires a sparkly, bright yellow dress that is part of a costume for a Disney Princess, yet he is told he cannot buy it because he is a boy and cannot be a princess. Who exactly tells him this?  His parents or society? His teacher or his friends? There is a distinct message being sent through marketing when the costumes are labeled for a specific gender. The idea that boys and girls as young as five must dress for their gender has become a much larger problem than that. Last year, a “Trunk or Treat” event held by the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City explicitly banned any costumes that represented the opposite gender. With gender stereotypes beginning this young, there is bound to be some amount of later effect on these kids. In fact, Halloween still presents another topic of discussion related to gender equality, perhaps an even larger one.

Shown below are some differences in various male and female costumes. The female costumes are highly revealing. Not only is there a difference between each gender, but there is a significant difference in the costumes for women over time. They are becoming tighter, lower cut, and including less fabric with each year. While the seriousness of this may be a bit lower for young adults and adults, this trend is not just applying to costumes geared towards those age groups. Even kid costumes have followed this trend over the years. It has started so early that everyone, not only children and teenagers, is becoming accustomed to this trend.

This is not only a topic that radical feminists are bringing up, but also those fighting for equality among the genders. In fact, there is not necessarily a problem with dressing up a bit more revealingly than you usually would on Halloween. One may even say that encouraging women to only wear skirts that fall at least to their knees would be more patriarchal. For many, the problem lies in the fact that there is an expectation for girls to look “hot” on Halloween, adorned in their “Sexy Firefighter” or “Sexy Cop” costumes. This is not just an issue for those who believe women should not have to shave their armpits, but rather a problem for each and every human. It is something to question and think about. How far can we trace gender roles back in history? How have they evolved over time? Where do we see it in marketing, schools, and even the work force? And more importantly, what are the consequences and what can we do to fix it? Quite frankly, I’m not sure what is scarier, the zombie masks or the sexy maid costumes.

First Image Credit:

Male wizard costume:

Female wizard costume:×300.jpg

Male lion costume:

Female lion costume:

Categories: Opinion