It seemed like such a good idea, moms using Halloween and their kids to push back against those pesky traditional female roles. Janice D'Arcy of the Washington Post laments the "most sexist day on the American calendar":
Many of us parents spend the rest of the year working to offset cultural stereotypes. We make sure to present strong role models for our girls, kind role models for our sons and share messages that are, generally, gender neutral. But for several days in October (because Halloween has become a week-long extravaganza, has it not?) we dress our girls, or allow them to dress themselves, as princesses, fairies and ballerinas and our boys as soldiers, construction workers and superheroes. It’s the one day when so many of our kids revert back to what our great-grandparents expected they might be.And that's terrible, because no one knew anything back then, or did anything right.
On Target’s Web site, we can scroll through dozens of costumes whose designers seemed to miss that whole ERA dust-up. Only under the boys section is there a costume category for “occupation.”Target offers what sells. They're funny that way. If you want Betty Friedan or Margaret Sanger you'll have to get more creative.
But when you're choosing from among cheapo mass-produced made-in-China designs there's not much out there for the "high-minded."
Ms. D'Arcy decided to go with Wonder Woman for her girls: "I remembered the show as a celebration of female strength and fortitude." But after the costumes arrived in the mail, she figured out that the goofy 70's show was really about Lynda Carter's Wonder-ful body:
By now Lynda Carter was wearing a costume so tight it’d take special powers to breathe. I let the girls watch as she clumsily air-kicked and bear-hugged the male villains. The whole show was a male fantasy of a really big-hearted dominatrix.Oops.
Ms. D'Arcy lives in a world where it's considered clever to dress your daughter up as "Wise Latina" Justice Sonia Sotomayor. For real. There's no denying that's one scary costume. A bit low on the fun scale, of course, but feminism is serious business.
Suggestion to moms who really want to empower their daughters: Instead of micromanaging and politicizing their choices, why not let them choose what they want to be for Halloween? And if you really want to go retro, let them browse through the lives of the saints for ideas. It's fertile ground for strong role models. St. Joan of Arc, anyone?
Linked at CMR -- many thanks!
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