Oct 312012

istock_000002222952small-300x199-2142741Today is Halloween, which means eating candy until you puke, prank calling everyone you know and dressing up in fabulous costumes. Speaking of costumes, Have you noticed how Halloween costumes seem to be…designed differently for men and women? Costumes seem to always be gendered and clearly “belong” to one gender or another. And not just that….it seems that the costumes designed for women are much more sexualized than those for men.



Women’s costumes, no matter their theme, seem to always heir some type of sex appeal. Clearly, you can see a difference in these images. There is such a clear line of gender difference here, that forces women to be hot and sexy. For Halloween, you have to be dressed provocatively to even be in the norm!But at the same time, we see men’s costumes reflecting strength and dominance. Just look how they are standing…the women are in more vulnerable and sexually suggestive poses, while the men have their limbs spread and feet planted firmly on the ground. Their costumes also don’t leave them vulnerable or exposed, giving them a sense of power.


It is these gender roles and dynamics that also play out in our society. In many ways, Halloween costumes are a reflection of that.  They showcase both what is socially acceptable and valuable as well as our ideas about men and women.  It reinforces our stereotyped ideals about how men and women should behave.

Stepping out of this box has more consequences for women. Nudity or sexually suggestive clothing is much more taboo on female’s and seen as a moral failing on her part. With men it is not the same way…provocative clothing isn’t as sexualized and is also seen as humorous. Even if it is seen as sexy, there isn’t the sense of moral disparity that exists for women. The man is just simply seen as sexy, not judged or ridiculed for dressing in such a way.


I think all of this lends to the fact that we need to be more critical about how we think about clothing and gender. On Halloween, we shouldn’t condemn girls for dressing like “sluts” nor harass them into showing more skin. Costumes for women, though, should have more diversity and not be as sexually focused as they are, since it seems like women have no other choice but to wear a sexy costume! Halloween costumes reflect our society’s attitudes on sex and gender, but don’t have to reflect yours.


  One Response to “Halloween Costumes Enforcing Gender Roles”

  1. I work at a job that lets us out to play a bit on Halloween and encourages themes. Because we are an almost all female crew, we pretty much drag king it every year. Its of course not equivalent, but I take great pleasure in playing male characters most years!