Thursday, September 24, 2009

Halloween Costumes

I'm sure this is a blogging faux pas but i'd really like to resurrect a Halloween post i had up last year. If for no other reason than to give parents, and women, ideas for empowering costumes rather than resorting to the same old (sexist, sexualized, and objectified) standard options.

Halloween, if nothing else, allows children to play dress-up and use their imagination to be anything they want to be. Or in the case of the mainstream costume industry, gives kids the chance to further perpetuate gender roles, reinforce stereotypes, and dress little girls in hyper-sexualized outfits.

I was at a party store last weekend and spotted a wall of "featured costumes." I managed to snap a couple photos with my phone before the salesperson asked me what i was doing. "I am documenting the lack of options for little girls when it comes to Halloween costumes" I responded, "so that i can blog about how this parallels girls' and young women's lack of options in the real world." ("DUH!" i thought sarcastically...) I apologize for the quality of the photos, it was the best i could do with a phone on the fly :)

Of course there ARE options... for example, take page 1 from an online search for girls' Halloween costumes, letters A through H: Aurora, Barbie Anneliese, Barbie Cheerleader, Barbie Rapunzel, Blissful Bride, Bratz Jade, Bratz Sasha, Bratz Staurday Night Style, Cinderella, Devilicious Child, Fanciful Fairy.

Is all the pink making you a bit pukey? Sorry about that...

The store where i snapped the photos of those three costumes had several more options. For example, there were Power Ranger costumes, doctor costumes, and handyman costumes for the boys. For the girls? More of the same. I thought the whole girl = nurse/boy = doctor thing was so last decade?? Guess not. Not to say there is anything wrong with being a nurse, because there isn't. But to lead girls to believe that they don't have the option to be a doctor and boys to believe that they cannot be a nurse is outdated and damaging. The Tycoon costume cracked D and me up the most. I guess the female equivalent to "Tycoon" in Halloween costume talk was the MegaStar?? Because clearly all that girls have to offer is their looks and bodies. The model in the photo on the costume can't possibly be older than 10. No 10 year old should be wearing that much (or LITTLE) pleather... And i doubt many 10 year olds are that developed... So, moral of the story for your 10 year old girl who wants to be "successful" when she grows up? Boys use their brains to make money by becoming Tycoons. Girls use their appearance to make money by wearing very little clothes or by attracting Tycoonish boys.

Obviously it only gets worse as the target audience gets older. Check out the changes in costumes from toddler to girl to tween to teen to adult. The only thing that changes is the amount of fabric that goes in to making the costume. For example, even seemingly empowering costumes, like superwoman (which they call "supergirl") or warrior princes (who then becomes a "Geisha"), become hypersexualized as the target consumer gets a bit (read: no more than a couple of years) older. These attempts at options fall even shorter as girls grow up.

I get it. Some people (read: freshmen college girls who are experiencing their first taste of sexual freedom) see Halloween as an excuse to make any outfit into a sexy costume. Want to be a pirate? Ok! Sexy Pirate it is! Sexy Cat Woman, Sexy Nurse, Sexy Witch, Sexy Bunny, Sexy Schoolgirl, Sexy Anna Rexia (get it? sexy anorexia... riiiiight) and my all time favorite, the Sexy Detective (my freshman year 1st college Halloween party costume...) P.S. You should absolutely click through those links to the photos of those costumes but they are definitely not appropriate for work so careful.

Because i couldn't possibly write about Baby High Heels in any other post than the Halloween ridiculous costumes post, i wanted to include a bit about the new "infant trend..." If the topic of girls' Halloween costumes doesn't bother you enough check out baby high heels (designed for babies 0-6 months)!!!! I can't wait for a friend or family member to have a baby girl so that i can buy these for her!


So that we don't end on a negative note, what are some empowering costumes your kids (or kids you know) will be wearing this Halloween?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Call for a New "Masculinism"...

Who are these assholes and why do they want us to be more manly? And heterosexual, and anti-porn, and anti-choice, and really really Christian...

Apparently a bunch of ultra-conservative religious politicians got together this past week at a conference in DC. Here is there (literal) agenda. Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were there (no surprise...)

One talk on "The New Masculinity" states that, "feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men. It is time to redress the disorder it has wrought and that must start with getting the principles and ideals for a new "masculinism" right. Such a "masculinism" will have its dovetailing counterpart in a new "feminism" for they mutually define each other and, in nature, are meant to be complementary."

Other talks included:

Here is a highlight from the conference:

SCHWARTZ: ...Pornography is a blight. It is a disaster. It is, it is one of those silent diseases in our society that we haven’t been able to overcome very well. Now, I may be getting politically incorrect here. But one — It’s been a few years, not that many, since I was closely associated with pre-adolescent boys, boys who are like 10 to 12 years of age. But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people.

I had a very good friend who was in the homosexual lifestyle for a long time and then he had a religious conversion in the eighties. And he bought a old motel and turned it into a hospice for some of his former associates who were dying of AIDS. He helped, he helped almost 300 men die. This man was a real hero. But he knew that he wasn’t as healed as he thought he was. He was able to resist temptation. He was able to resist sin. But he wasn’t healed enough to take on the responsibilities of marriage. And he was a brilliant man in the sense that he knew himself. And he knew his limits. And he and I had good conversations about, about the malady that he suffered. And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people.

I haven't been blogging lately because I recently started a graduate program in clinical/community psychology. Right now i'm taking the predominantly core/basic classes necessary for a clinical psych phd, like assessment and research statistics. We've spent the past few weeks focusing on what makes legitimate science and what's empirically valid. With this fresh perspective, all i can say about the above "talk" is that it's such a load of pseudoscience! I really can't stand people who present themselves as authorities on a subject by citing faulty (or in this case untrue/nonexistent research) to gain support: "After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people." This specifically made me so fucking angry. But on an even larger scale, i'm a bit confused. I don't quite understand this guy's "logic." Even if i try really hard to look at his "argument" from his perspective (which is difficult enough), i still don't understand HOW looking at pornography in general can "turn" someone gay?? Where's the supposed relationship between pornography and homosexuality?

My friend Heather sent me the Think Progress article on this conference, and in her email she also wrote, "first they claim that feminism has destroyed family and marriage, then they promote "masculinism" via homophobia!! i really just don't even understand..."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Disgusting Guinness Commercial

A facebook friend posted this video on his wall. He wrote "best. video. ever" next to the link. I strongly disagreed.

This ad is actually incredibly offensive. I'm all for sexy advertising but there's nothing sexy or appealing about a women being portrayed as a silent beer coasters while three men(?) drink off of her. I think what bothered me most, though was the text: "Share one with a friend"... seriously? That's such blatant objectification. It portrays women as no better than beer, serving the mere purpose of entertaining men as they bond while they fuck us. Eww. The supposed sex here bothers me, too. It's clearly not good sex (based on the woman's only slight movements) and portrays the woman as nothing more than a body for three others to fuck, which is disgusting and not sexually empowering whatsoever.

Sexism is alive and well in this ad. If nothing else we have to admit that advertisements serve to sell more than the product they are promoting. If that wasn't the case, why would they use hot, half naked women to get products noticed? Advertisements also sell concepts of normalcy, and in this case, create a culture where it's not only ok but sexy to objectify women, use them solely for the purpose of male bonding and beer drinking, and "share them" with their friends. Women (people in general) deserve better than this.

I objected to the link. I posted an explanation underneath it to which many people replied that i was being overly liberal, overly sensitive, and unable to take a joke. Then someone compared this commercial to this Calvin Kline ad of David Becham modeling underwear. The guy was clearly misunderstanding the definition of "objectification." The term is used to signify when a person is seen purely to serve a purpose and their attributes and appearance are separated from the rest of their worth to reduce that person to an instrument (or object) solely for the pleasure or use of another person. When men are photographed half naked (as in that ad) men aren't objectified in the same way women are everyday due to the social context. We live in a country where women are second class citizens and commercials like the Guinness one only serve to perpetuate and glamorize that status.

Research just this year found that men are more likely to think of women as objects if they viewed pictures of stereotypically sexy women beforehand. "Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated. Scans of some of the men found that a part of the brain associated with empathy for other peoples' emotions and wishes shut down after looking at the pictures. Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, said the changes in brain activity suggest sexy images can shift the way men perceive women, turning them from people to interact with, to objects to act upon."