Costumes uphold misogynistic values

By Sam Deal, Opinion Editor

The way the leaves crunch under your feet and the fall breeze nips at your skin; the pumpkins lining streets nationwide; the sound of laughter filling the neighborhood. Halloween presents many Americans with, albeit for only one night, the chance to be a kid again and let all their adult worries drift away with the chilly, October night.

A DIYer’s fantasy day that encourages community involvement while providing a platform for expression and individuality. Who wouldn’t love that?

This is why it is so discouraging to see Halloween costumes that overly express gender roles and unduly objectify women. I find myself in a bit of a damper during all the fun festivities that lead up to the last day of October, because I simply cannot move past the fact that we are openly exemplifying all the unrealistic values instilled in us from a young age about gender and sexuality.

For the 11th year in a row, princesses are the top selling costumes for children, followed by Batman and then other popular super heroes, according to the National Retail Federation. It is understandable why children would idolize such imaginations in contemporary culture. Unfortunately it lays the groundwork for years of subjection to an unhealthy, unrealistic view of gender: women are dainty and men are macho.

Fast-forward 15 years from that childhood glee, introduce sex and you find a society that doesn’t respect women and clearly maintains a general indifference toward rape culture. Gone away is the idea of being a little kid. The leap, while broad, is not hard to make.

I would like to clarify on two points before I move forward: women should have the power to dress however they please and victim-blaming on any level is unacceptable.

But the concept that we can judge a woman to be a slut based upon her clothing selections on every day except Halloween is ludicrous; it is for the individual to understand the concepts of general decency and determine their attire based on their personal perception of that understanding.

I am mystified by the culture we live in that tells women for one day it is more acceptable to dress in a sexual way than others. Unfortunately I am also caught asking, “Why on earth would someone feel the need to bring on such objectifications?” which are undoubtedly a known commodity.

The idea that the way a person dresses indicates their promiscuity is in dire need of overhaul, but calling for men, specifically young men, to change seems to fall on deaf ears, and calling on women to change does nothing to get at the root of the issue and falls squarely in victim-blaming territory. I’m unsure of how solve this issue other than advocating and teaching respectful ideals to our children.

For every scantily-clad lady on Oct. 31, there seem to be multiple “Macho Men” who can be found salivating at the chance to get lucky. Seems safe, obviously all men aren’t predators and there are many who share values similar to my own. Unfortunately we do flirt with a dangerous line that all too often sees personal accountability fall to the wayside.

The sexy Halloween costume seems to make this flirtation treacherously prevalent.

Overly-sexualized costumes may not void the fun of Halloween, but they definitely turn it away from being a day to embrace your inner child and show some true creativity. Besides, the best costumes are the ones that actually mean something, not the sexiest.

Eliminating gender roles via costumes from a young age is just a start. There is truly no reason a man can’t be dainty or for a woman not to be macho. Then comes breaking down the years upon years of gender socialization.