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It's Time for Your Annual Lecture on How Halloween is Demeaning to Women

Yandy Hauntingly Sexy Halloween

Rutgers Professor Stuart Charme’ in the Philadelphia InquirerWear this costume and become “the friendliest next door neighbor in town.”

So says the ad hawking Yandy’s “Sexy Mr. Rogers” Halloween outfit. … Only this one swaps the famed children’s TV entertainer’s trademark red sweater and khakis for a plunging v-neckline, exposed midriff, and booty shorts.

Sexy Mr. Rogers

It’s a sad day in the neighborhood.

It amazes me time and again that, despite this post-#MeToo moment, when gender equality is increasingly championed, Halloween remains a holiday when commercial costume makers emphasize traditional gender roles for children and the sexualization of women. …

Take a stroll through any Halloween store and you’ll notice these norms in plain view. Aisle after aisle, costumes are precoded to delineate those for boys and girls. …

Worse yet, as children grow older, commercial costumes offer different models for adolescent boys and girls. “Sexy Mr. Rogers” sums this up perfectly. Boys’ costumes express power and agency, while girls’ versions emphasize beauty and sexual appeal. …

Similarly, if we look at occupational costumes, a male donning a hardhat, badge, or a stethoscope looks like he could head off to work. For young women, however, occupational costumes become sexualized as they get older — it’s easier for women to find a “sexy doctor” costume than just a doctor one.

It’s moments like this when I envy the academics like Professor Stuart Charme’. Not because they get to be America’s great Wet Blankets. The skunks at our cookouts. The turds in our punchbowl. Though that is the role they most seem to relish.

No, I envy them at times like this that I truly appreciate how easy they have it. To be a college professor is to live in a protective bubble where you have the luxury of theory and have to prove nothing. Say something that sounds virtuous, collect your virtue points. It’s that simple. You don’t have to back a word of it up with data or research. Just say “Grown ups dressing up in costumes I don’t approve of is harmful,” bolster your argument with that one trip you took through a Spirit Halloween pop-up store, and you’re done. Enjoy that column space in the Philadelphia Inquirer and all the prestige that goes with spoiling the fun of people who would never invite a killjoy like you to their Halloween party in the first place.

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The damned thing of it is, I’m an under-educated semi-literal who writes snarky blogs. And even I feel pressure to back up my opinions with facts, figures, stats, records … verifiable proof. But if I taught at Rutgers I could write Op-Eds with nothing more to validate my opinions than the title of “Prof.” in front of my name and a stroll through a costume shop. And for that, you get credit for being a woke, enlightened champion of women. It must be nice.

Here’s my opinion. And it’s based on the empirical evidence of taking my kids Trick or Treating and going to Halloween parties filled with adults. People dress however the hell they want. Young. Grown up. Girls. Boys. Women. Men. Girls tend to like girls stuff. Boys like boys stuff. My friends daughters went as princesses or cute animals. My sons went as superheroes, pirates, Indiana Jones, James Bond. Soldiers. Not because society pressured them. But because they picked out what they wanted to be and their parents bought it.

When Barstool used to throw our Wicked Halloween Party in Boston, the vast majority of women went as something with one of three adjectives: Sexy, Naughty or Slutty. Not because anyone compelled them to. No one forced anyone into “Sexy Pirate Wench” like it was a bonnet in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It was their night to cut loose, and cut loose they did. Hell, I was at a party last weekend where the average age was about 40, and there was a Sexy Khalessi and a Sexy Melissandre.  They looked great. Like the Barstool party women, they were having a good time looking great. Society was not harmed.

And that’s the point. Halloween is about having fun looking however you want to look. It “sexualizes women” who want to be sexualized. For those that don’t, there are a billion other options. And they take them. With or without the approval of Professor McNoFun and the judgmental scolds who have nothing better to do this time every year but lecture adults who didn’t ask for a lecture about how they should play dress up in late October.

Like I said, it must be great to be that self-righteous without having to prove your case. All I know is my brand of “gender equality” allows you to dress up however you want. And as far as my backing up my argument, here’s all the proof I need: