Wednesday, October 31, 2012

more on sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism

This post has moved: sexy halloween costumes and social justice neo-puritanism, Parts 1 & 2.

14 comments:

  1. I think what they really object to is that you can now get "sexy" costumes at Walmart or your local dollar store for cheap. In fact, the costumes aren't even hidden away in a "sexy" costume section, they're just right out there under the label "women's costumes". It's almost like showing a loooot of skin has become mainstream for women instead of being in any way transgressive. 0.0 *laugh*

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    1. Modesty is always contextual: what's appropriate at the beach has never been appropriate at church. So you could argue that sexy costumes at Halloween are mainstream for Halloween, but that misses the greater function of Halloween: the holiday ends, and most revelers, having indulged in transgression, conform again.

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  2. I've also seen a lot of complaints about things like this "Tween" sized French Maid costume in various articles:

    http://www.purecostumes.com/halloween-costumes/00280/french-maid-child-costume.html

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    1. Actually, that's an interesting example. To prudes, it's sexual because it makes them think of eroticized servant imagery. But letting girls dress in short skirt versions of women's clothing is not necessarily sexualizing them, any more than letting boys dress in Tarzan or weightlifter costumes is sexualizing them.

      Though if I had a daughter who wanted to wear a maid's costume, I would only let her have it after I gave her a lecture about the exploitation of the working classes. :)

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    2. There's also a pimp costume for little boys...

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    3. The commie in me wonders about equating maids with pimps.

      But it's also important to remember that modern Halloween isn't about the supernatural world; it's about the actual world, too. And the actual world has pimps in it. Should kids not dress as gangsters and molls? Husbands and wives? Anything that might have a sexual component?

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    4. I'm not actually saying there's anything wrong with pimp costumes or maid costumes or running through the streets nude. (Nor am I saying there's anything right with any of those activities. I am neutral, as it were.) I just find it unlikely that there isn't an intentionally sexual component to some of these costumes that are aimed at younger children. *shrug*

      As for transgressive, judging by public reaction, I'm more transgressive in my every day clothing, which covers me up and stuff, than anybody is in a french maid outfit. Social norms are funny.

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    5. Full agreement that women wearing practical clothes without makeup are transgressive.

      Beauty pageant glamour shots of little girls are a bit creepy to me, but I don't know whether they're intentionally sexualized. I do know little girls like to dress up as big girls, and parents are amused by that.

      I'm more creeped out when parents are arrested because they have photos of their kids playing naked under a sprinkler or something equivalent. Nudity is not necessarily sexual. Nor is what Kirin Robinson called "a not-actually-arousing sexual aesthetic (no matter your orientation) in mainstream visual culture." People who assume little girls in two-piece bathing suits have been sexualized are people who should spend time with a psychiatrist.

      The maid outfit straddles the line for me: I can see how it would be interpreted as innocently cute and how it would be interpreted as sexualized. So let's move to a different example. If a kid dressed as Magenta from Rocky Horror, would he or she have been sexualized?

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    6. It's been a long time since I saw Rocky Horror so I don't actually remember what the character is like or what she does within the show. (Yeah, I know, it's a cult classic, but my memory doesn't work any better for those than it does for the ordinary sort of musical. Go figure.) Very risque, no doubt.

      I don't think a maid uniform with fishnet stockings is inherently sexual. If a kid actually came along and said, "Wow, I totally loved Rocky Horror and I want to dress up like that character!", I think it's pretty unlikely that the kid would be thinking of the adult interpretations of the costume. (Depending on age and development, of course. Chances are most younger kids would have no clue what the show is even about.) It would almost certainly be homemade since there are no commercially available child-sized costumes of Magenta as far as I can tell. (Interestingly enough, the pose they have the model in for the adult Magenta costume is not nearly as "sexy" as the pose for that generic French Maid costume.)

      There's the whole question of child-motivated costumes versus adult-motivated costumes, too. There's a difference between spontaneously deciding that a movie character is cool or that you want to look like your Mama for Halloween and being given a choice between the generic French Maid costume ("Oh, you're so cute! All the boys will just die!") or the generic Pretty Pink Cupcake costume (Man, what is that even supposed to be?) by your parents with the questionable taste.

      In short... I don't know. It really depends on the situation. :)

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    7. Dittoing that. While I think parents should have veto power, I really dislike parents who choose costume for kids who are old enough to have preferences of their own.

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  3. I am going to go on the record saying I know "pulchriphobia" is a latin/greek mishmash but it sounds better than Kalliphobia

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    1. It does, and I'm rather fond of mishmash words. Heck, English is a mishmash language. By coincidence or synchronicity, Steve Brust just tweeted: "I've invented a new word: multiglossa. Definition: A word that mixes Latin and Greek roots for no reason."

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  4. Er... Most people I see complaining about sexy costumes are complaining about the difficulty of getting -non- sexy women's costumes. Sexy costumes are awesome--but one should have a choice.

    I've never seen someone complain about the sexy costumes being available.

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    1. I've seen people talk as if there aren't any nonsexy costumes available. They must not be able to google.

      We walked through Target's Halloween section recently. There were plenty of nonsexy costumes available. Want to wear a fancy gown? Just pick your style.

      The reason there are so many sexy costumes available is the same reason there are so many sexy women's clothes in the fashion industry, which is directed by women and gay men: women like to buy them.

      And prudes like to complain about them.

      There's also a weird idea that women shouldn't wear men's costumes, but any costume that will fit you is unisex.

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