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Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Sexing of Halloween

I’ve seen some great commentary on the whole “sluts on Halloween” phenomenon.  Here’s the first, by the hilarious Jenna Marbles.

She makes some great points.  BuzzFeed came out, last week, with this commentary on sexy Halloween costumes. When I  first took Women’s Studies, back in the early 90s, my professor told me a good test of sexism was to apply any issue to men, and if it was funny, it was probably sexist.  This video is a great example of that.

Halloween has become an industry all unto itself.  It’s like the pet industry.  When I was a kid, there were no mega pet stores.  You didn’t take your dog to the vet to get her teeth cleaned.  And you generally put together a costume using your own creativity.  As someone who has thrown a Halloween party consistently since 1997, I have seen a LOT of creative costumes.  And most people make them.  There is an occasional purchase, at the store, by some last minute party-goer, like last year’s Gorilla, but in general, people buy props and get creative.

The Halloween industry allows for a lack of creativity.  Just in a five mile stretch, we have the “Spirit of Halloween” and “Halloween City” which allows lazy or stressed parents to run in and purchase their child’s costume, and sells hordes of sexy lingerie the Halloween industry calls costumes.

The issue for me is not necessarily the pressure for young women (and old) to dress as minimally as possible, it’s honestly the lack of creativity.  Halloween is the time to DRESS UP, meaning put on clothing that makes you into something else, a character or a thing.  It’s not about dressing in something skimpy that makes you look just like you, but in a Victoria’s Secret catalog.

The industry of Halloween has allowed us to be less creative.  And this is why, as much as some of my friend’s hate it, year after year, we have a theme for our Halloween party.  This keeps people thinking and creating.

Here are some of the great themes over the years:

Villains of Time:  Two people, who didn’t know each other, both came as Bill Buckner.  One of my best friend’s came as Martha Stewart, fresh out of prison, with apology letters.  My brother and his girlfriend at the time came as Brittany and Justin.  I came as President George W. Bush.

Seinfeld:  Mulva, the low talker, the Soup Nazi, Elaine, the Ugly Baby.

Horror Movie Characters:  My favorite costume, Tippy Hedron from The Birds.  My brother in law came as Quint from Jaws.  My husband came as Franknfurter from Rocky Horror.

Rock n Roll:  We took pictures of people as the dead rock n roll stars, the women, the men.  My husband’s Bob Dylan with the harmonica was priceless.

I could go on an on about the creativity and the original-spirit my friend’s have.  This year’s theme “Songs” is going to prove just as creative, maybe even more so.  I’m not here to judge the so-called “sluts on Halloween.”  I’m here to question where people’s artistic and creative energy has gone?  Is it really easier to just drop $30 on a cheap, made in China costume?  Or is it just as easy to spread that $30 out by picking up an item here and there that finishes your original costume?  You are then the ONLY person on the planet wearing THAT costume this year.

I’m not saying don’t be sexy.  I’m just saying, be original.

halloween

Me, 7th grade, Houlton, Maine, as an old man.

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The Pinking of the NFL

Two weeks ago I sat in a bar with my little brother watching Monday night football in a university town with a big athletic program in central New York.  I noticed something I have never seen, even though it has apparently been going on for a few years.  All the players wore pink sneakers, gloves, or towels.

I asked my brother, “why are they wearing pink?”  He said “breast cancer awareness.”  I said, “Are you kidding?”

I get passive marketing to raise awareness.  We do it all the time in my work.  We have a “consent is sexy” campaign happening right now.  Passive marketing can be a powerful tool to not only raise awareness of an issue, but also to spark conversation amongst those who view it.

However, with recent allegations of domestic violence issues within the NFL, and October being domestic violence awareness month, these men should be wearing purple.  There’s something a bit unsettling about a bunch of burly football players wearing pink to raise awareness.  The whole thing made me uncomfortable.  I couldn’t even watch. And it is not the gendered color issue, i.e. blue is for boys, pink is for girls.  It’s more like “here we are helping you ladies to make sure nothing bad happens to your boobies.  Aren’t we great?”

The website has three points of focus:  1) for women to sign up for a reminder to get screened for breast cancer, aka, get a mammogram; 2) to donate money to the American Cancer society to provide more screenings for women (although I’m not really sure how this actually happens); and 3) asks folks to take a pledge that they will help other women get screened.

What are the players actually doing besides wearing pink?  Who bought them their new pink shoes?  Sneakers aren’t cheap, so did a portion of the cost for the pink shoes go to the American Cancer Society?  The month culminates in a “crucial catch” day on October 25th where they will raise money to provide breast cancer education and screenings to underserved communities.

Providing free screenings is a wonderful idea, as a preventative method.  But there’s so much more to this “pinking” of the NFL that is disturbing.  Maybe we should pink the NFL to provide research to the causes of breast cancer.  Maybe the NFL should have a month of not eating red meat as a factor or other types of awareness to the causes. Maybe they should have a pink sustainable month where they address the environmental impact that leads to the US being the country with the highest breast cancer rate.

Or maybe, just maybe, they should all be wearing purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month as that is the topic where the NFL could use some awareness.  pink

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