Monday, October 5, 2009
Today I took my daughter to shop for a Halloween costume. I often wonder what a visitor from another society would conclude about our society by looking at our Halloween costumes. The most obvious conclusion, I think, is that we value women primarily for sex. Women's costume options generally derive from one "meta" costume: "naughty maid," "naughty soldier," "naughty firefighter," "naughty nurse," etc. What struck me this year is that the genre is beginning to expand to the "tween" category. As my daughter remarked, "Why are all the girls' costumes for Florida weather? Don't they know we live in Minnesota?" The sexualization of children does not take time off for holidays, apparently.
I also wonder what an outsider would conclude about our view of religion. The costume store has a whole section of costumes mocking priests, pastors, nuns, and monks, including one called "naughty priest," which I could not even begin to describe without blushing. (The costume includes a hand pump. See? I'm already blushing.)
So should we boycott Halloween? Absolutely not -- it continues to be one of my favorite holidays, and since I'm a guy, I've got plenty of costume options. (Though even fully clothed choices have been known to cause embarrassment to my family members.)
Obviously, this issue is bigger than Halloween. The sexual objectification of women (and girls) is not new. Making fun of religious figures is not new. It strikes me that mainstream, all-ages venues are becoming more blatant in their embrace of both themes, though.