Trick or Trump: The Donald, Pizza Rat among top Halloween costumes

25 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

How to confront friends who wear offensive Halloween costumes.

More than 3 billion searches happen on Google each day, according to the company, so if there’s one thing Google has lots of, it’s insight into what people are looking for.The lingerie site Yandy will rake in $15 million this October, Forbes predicts, thanks to its selection of “sexy” Halloween costumes, which include short-skirted and hot-panted renditions of 2015 memes—most notoriously, the heroic New York City rat who dragged a slice of pizza (video) down the subway steps.

People share photos of the worst offenders, usually costumes that sex-ify something usually not seen as sexy, such as “sexy ebola” or “sexy Big Bird“. (Which was actually no sexier than a standard flapper dress.) The argument against these costumes is that they are sexually objectifying and degrading in their assumption that sexiness should be part of Halloween anyway. With Halloween approaching, the tech giant has playfully put its power to use to determine the most popular costumes in the US, both nationally and by location. For some, that means perfecting their sugar skull makeup, hot-gluing feathers onto their homemade headdresses and dusting off their sombreros. “It can be demeaning to see your cultural identity turned into another off-the-rack Halloween costume next to the sexy kittens, lusty pirate wenches and slutty pumpkins,” Susan Scafidi, fashion law professor at Fordham University and author of Who Owns Culture? tells Mashable. Personally, I’d argue against the one-use, throwaway nature of a sexy Pizza Rat costume (pizza pockets are going to feel so done by December), but I also find myself impatient with the annual orgy of eye-rolling that accompanies the season’s new crop of sexy costumes.

Well, there’s a bit of information in Claire Suddath’s piece in Bloomberg Business on Halloween costumes that should give people pause before they express outrage at yet another round of goofy/sexy costumes on sale this year: The people who make them are making big money off your outrage. The annual outrage-fest drives visitors to the sites of places like Yandy, and even though you are supposedly visiting it to be outraged, a lot of you end up buying costumes from them anyway. It doesn’t have to mean a cleavage-squeezing or thigh-grazing costume—though if that’s what you feel like wearing, it makes you no less “empowered” than that Amelia Earhart over there. This is such a profitable marketing strategy that Yandy, the biggest costume maker, actually designs outrageous “sexy” costumes that they know no one will actually wear. Susana Morris, professor at Auburn University and cofounder of the Crunk Feminist Collective, tells Mashable. “And I mean ignorant in the truest sense of the word.

But in Fargo, North Dakota, Las Vegas, Nevada, or Laredo, Texas, Harley Quinn—the villainous clown femme fatale from the Batman universe—is more likely to be spotted trick-or-treating. So yeah, they designed that “sexy pizza rat” costume specifically so you would share it in Facebook, lamenting about how the world is going to hell, and your friends would all buy costumes off the link. For that matter, “Harley Quinn” is currently the top search nationally, which means, as Google puts it, “you have a frighteningly high chance of seeing another Harley Quinn costume at a party this year.” Rounding out the rest of the top five costume searches, as of this writing, are “Star Wars” (not character specific), then “superhero,” “pirate,” and “Batman.” Search for any specific costume, and Frightgeist will display its current national rank in popularity, as well as show the trend in searches for that costume in recent years. The screenshot below shows what happens when you search for “hot dog”—the number of Americans considering a frankfurter alter ego this year seems to be on the rise. Of course, it can work just as well whether you’re dressed as Chewbacca or Frodo Baggins, but there’s something uniquely thrilling about the prospect of tossing off our sexually puritanical yokes come Oct. 31, and wearing something risqué to the party. (Provided it’s that kind of party, of course.

If they don’t change their costume plans, or the offense competes unforgivably with your values, there’s no shame in dropping them for Halloween night. Sometimes giving racist, sexist trolls attention is just the price you have to pay in order to highlight very real problems with racism and sexism in our society. In these situations, you’ll likely want to have a big conversation about cultural appropriation and its many pitfalls, but it’s important to take a step back and consider what you want that conversation to look like — and if a meaningful conversation is even possible. “Just because someone is wearing a costume doesn’t mean they want to have a dialogue about it,” says Dr.

And to be clear: I’m referring here to dress-up for adults, not children.) Another reason to ditch the judgment: There’s often an unsettling edge of sexism to the condemnations of Halloween costume shenanigans, as Molly McHugh pointed out in the Daily Dot. “Nary an October goes by that the Internet doesn’t rejoice at the most ridiculous ‘slutty’ costumes we’ve collectively willed into existence,” she wrote, “and the bro-blogosphere works itself into a near fit waiting for Nov. 1, when it will post slideshow after slideshow of ‘idiot’ women they’re both ogling and mocking.” But if we let it, October 31 can offer a refreshing break from such slut-shaming—whether it’s ourselves or others that we’re judging harshly. Anna Akbari, a professor at New York University and creator of Sociology of Style. “It doesn’t mean it’s any excuse for them, and it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

Merelli quoted the Latin slogan of Italy’s Carnival: “Semel in anno licet insanire,” she said. “Once a year you have a license to go crazy.” Getting tarted up is fun, sure, but it also can also be revealing in more personal ways. “A costume party gives you the latitude to go out on a limb and try something else,” said Boardman. Simply put, the popular costume options for young girls are unoriginal and highly sexualized—and just steps away from the overtly sexy costumes ideas for teen and adult women. Many of the “boy” costumes have fake six pack abs and weird fake muscles, which is a whole other kind of problematic when it comes to lessons about body positivity and beauty standards.

No one else has said anything. “Your immediate reaction should not be to call bullshit,” she says, referring to someone wearing an offensive costume. “If a person is stepping to you, maybe you shouldn’t have a kimono on. But I read Dan Savage point out what should have been obvious, which that the whole point of Halloween is for people to let their freak flag fly a little. Having talking points under your belt will help you articulate your values, and hopefully let the people you’re engaging see the need to reevaluate their choices. Akbari names one question as a simple starting point for any conversation around costume cultural appropriation: “What were you thinking when you picked out that costume?” This question — straightforward and extremely open-ended — allows strangers and friends alike to consider their own costumes and choices to wear them.

Halloween is a kind of imaginative play, and expanding the list of “what girls can be for Halloween” is one small step toward expanding the list of “what girls can be”—period. Imagine what it would look like if the costumes that showed up on that Google search or in the pages of your local Toys “R” Us and Target catalogs were different—if the top hits were scientists, tigers, pharaohs, pilots, or doctors. It serves as a litmus test to someone’s ability and willingness to engage with cultural critique — and lets you abandon the conversation if things turn hostile. It could be an empowering education tool, a time to teach your daughters (and sons, and fellow parents) about some of the cool heroes you aren’t likely to run across in a Halloween superstore.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with dressing sexy, and sneering at women who want to use Halloween to express that side of themselves is, well, slut-shaming. In fact, that means you have more of an obligation to vocalize what you’re noticing. “Allies need to show up,” Morris says. “If I’m a black person and I walk into a party with my multiracial group of friends, and there are people at the party in blackface, my non-black friends need to step up. At a time when GOP candidates struggle to name even one important woman from American history, dressing up as an unsung woman from history is a great opportunity to have fun and educate others at the same time.

While researching Rad American Women, I learned about pilot Bessie Coleman—featured as “Queen” Bessie Coleman in the book—from the Halloween costume of a friend’s two year-old! (That kiddo is now five, and her mom tells me she’s going as ballet dancer Misty Copeland this year.) These costume choices also highlight the significance of providing a diverse range of role models—and potential costume options—for young people of color. Yandy-type costumes are explicitly marketed to people who don’t really care about costuming as an art, but just want to wear something cheap and sexy to go to a party. Anyone who has lived near a college campus in the winter and seen young women chattering their teeth because they went outside with bare legs and no coat over their minidresses can attest to that. As Rebecca Traister writes in her new piece in New York Magazine about this power imbalance: Students I spoke to talked about “male sexual entitlement,” the expectation that male sexual needs take priority, with men presumed to take sex and women presumed to give it to them.

Male attention and approval remain the validating metric of female worth, and women are still (perhaps increasingly) expected to look and fuck like porn stars — plucked, smooth, their pleasure performed persuasively. More than a few women in monogamous relationships have found themselves wondering why they do so much work to make sex sexy for male partners who often can’t even be bothered to ask what they want. Railing against sexy Halloween costumes is a way to rail against these larger dynamics, a way to express discontent over the fact that women are expected to satisfy but not expect satisfaction themselves. Women aren’t going to get men to treat us like equals by covering our bodies. (See here and here and here for evidence of that.) If anything, the only way to get it into men’s heads that they need to treat women with respect is to make it clear that respecting a woman and wanting to have sex with her are not mutually exclusive desires. (For all you know, the woman you’re judging for her sexy banana costume might have a loving partner who shares the housework with her but just has a fruit fetish that she’s trying to indulge.) Getting men to change their minds is a lot more work than shaming women for wearing sexy Bert and Ernie costumes. All you need is a sign, some “work clothes”(sweatshirt/denim shirt, jeans, boots), and maybe an UVAS NO button if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

She’s rather cleverly wearing last year’s Hermione robe, a paper doily, an amazing cardboard gavel made by mom Karya, and a stack of books that look old and somehow law-related.

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