(F)em powered

Imagine you are walking into a Halloween costume store with your five-year-old daughter, sister, or cousin. Your little girl has her heart set on dressing up as Katniss Everdeen, the strong, warrior protagonist of “The Hunger Games”. To your dismay, all you see are aisles and aisles filled to the brim with frilly pink dresses and costumes that should be normal for any gender but are highly sexualized: nurses, superheroes, cops, even nuns. You feel your heart break as your child tells you she will just dress as a princess, instead of the mighty hero she had her heart set on.

The objectification and sexualization of women’s Halloween costumes have only gotten worse over time. I decided to take a look inside of a Spirit Halloween, one of the biggest chain Halloween stores in the United States, and I was disgusted, yet not surprised at my findings. There were two cop costumes next to each other. ‘Lieutenant Misbehave’ and ‘Adult Police Officer Costume’. Can you guess which was men’s and which was women’s? That is only one example. 

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman choosing to wear a ‘sexy’ Halloween costume. If you choose to dress up as a ‘buccaneer beauty’ or something along those lines, then props to you for wearing what makes you comfortable. The problem lies when being sexual is the only option available for women. 

However, the over-sexualization of Halloween costumes, specifically the ones marketed towards women, actually impacts the women who these costumes depict, like police officers, nurses, zookeepers and maids. Women in these professions are more likely to be harassed because of their job than their male counterparts, who do the exact same job. According to the Pew Reaserch Center, about 87% of all sexual harassment charges in the workplace are filed by women. By portraying the women in these fields as sexual objects with these costumes, we are only playing into the toxic masculinity and culture we want to get away from.

Halloween is not to blame for the objectification of women, the problem lies way outside of that. Society needs to break this vicious cycle where women are seen as objects, only there for the gaze of men. We need to stop viewing women as strictly sexual beings. Maybe then we will finally get to see the progress we need against the inequality in this cruel world.