Halloween Costumes

Alright, I’m going to get soapboxey here.   I don’t think little girls should be dressing up as Harley Quinn for Halloween.   It sends all the wrong messages, encourages all the wrong behaviors and sexualizes them way to early.

“But Sean!   It’s Halloween.  If we follow that logic, kids, even girls, can’t dress up as zombies, Jason, Freddy, werewolves or mad scientists.  Get off your soapbox and rethink your position!”

You’re right…I can’t decry all the Harleys and allow the slasher-flick characters.  Well, I can, with some explanation.  First, I need you to do an image search of Harley Quinn.  I’ll wait.    Ok, THAT is what I’m talking about.  If you’re 21 and hitting a club like that, more power to you.   If you’re 9…no.

Let’s take a look at the character of Ms. Quinn.  She was the Joker’s psychotherapist, fell in love with him, helped him escape and was treated truly horrible by him at every turn…only to fight even harder for his attention.  Everyone who every loved someone who treated them like crap and kept going back; she’s that times one million.   The version of Ms. Quinn that girls are dressing as is portrayed by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad.  As good as Ms. Robbie is in the character (note: I haven’t seen the film, but what I have seen and been told, she’s FANTASTIC) she’s eye candy and exists, at least partially, to be gorgeous and lusted after by male characters.

Hey, I’m a dude, I like a beautiful woman just as much as the next guy.  This isn’t about objectifying adult women.

So, you have your 5th grader dressed as Ms. Quinn in her “Daddy’s Little Monster” tshirt (shudder) and pigtails and shorts and smudged makeup and baseball bat.  THINK ABOUT THAT!!!!   Is it not just the least bit creepy?   Anyone who knows the character is going to think of (in some order) her appearance in the film, her truly damaged psyche and that she’s essentially a battered lover with no self-esteem.

Really???   That’s appropriate?

“Um, Sean…is a werewolf, devil or axe murderer appropriate?”  

Yes, in context.   Not many of us are going to be identified by our horns, bloody aprons, chainsaws or rotting flesh.  Ok, a lot us dudes are going to have to deal with back hair, but that’s really very minor compared to what women will have to deal with.  These little girls are going to grow up being judged by appearance..and the more attractive they are, the better.   In too many ways, the things that identify Harley aren’t the things we want our girls to least identify with…especially at a young age.

“Why is it ok for boys to be violent characters but girls can’t be ‘sexy’ characters?”

Yeah, I know.  Part of it is our culture.  As a child you probably see mom or dad, brother or sister naked in a non-sexual way.    You (hopefully) don’t see Mom hack up the neighbor with an axe, or Dad turn into a wolf and eat someone.   Go to a movie and you’ll see people killing each other in ever more creative and violent ways, but a glimpse of skin is forbidden.

A few years ago there was a backlash against the Disney Princesses and how they were (up till not too long ago) passive characters in their own stories who were waiting for a prince.   Then came Mulan, Merida, Tianna, Rapunzel, Anna and Elsa; quite the opposite of damsels in distress waiting for a man to save them.  I TOTALLY get that!    As the dad of two girls, I want nothing more than for them to be self-sufficient.  Not in the man-hating “I don’t need you and all your Neanderthal habits” way, but in the “I can take care of myself.” way.

So where were these characters?   I saw some princesses (note: I’ll lump all princesses together as a relative positive role model) and the usual cats, hotdogs and hippies.  Didn’t see too many Reys or Supergirls.  Wonder Woman and Agent Carter were missing in action.  Unscientifically, I think there were just as many Harley Quinns as all female heroes combined.

Moms and Dads….pay attention.  The hearts and minds of our daughters are being won over by all the wrong characters.   We can, and need to do better.

*steps of his soapbox and goes back to his day*



Filed under family fun, geekery

5 Responses to Halloween Costumes

  1. Great posting Sean, and I agree completely. The perspective is different when you are the father of daughters…I know it has been for me at least. The last thing I ever wanted my daughters to be an accessory for some dude (which is basically Harley Quinn), evil or not.

    • Sean

      Thanks Steve. I think it comes down to this: Most of us wouldn’t dream of sending our 10 year old dressed as a Playboy Playmate or even Vegas Showgirl. Harley Quinn, especially as she’s portrayed now, falls in the same category (to me).

  2. Kerry

    Even the most powerful and independent ladies are sexualized either by Halloween itself or how they are portrayed in entertainment. Have you ever seen a cat woman that wasn’t wearing a skin tight leather suit? Or a Wonder Woman that wasn’t wearing a corset and underwear? My point is there are far fewer powerful female roles that aren’t spun into a pinup visual in comics, films, etc. I would much rather my daughter go as Katniss or Hermione than Harley Quinn. I’m the first one to urge women to be conscious of their bodies and the message that they send to the world by what they wear or say or snap. But until our girls have more powerful and less sexual options we are stuck with a lot of Harley Quinn’s. Until they have more positive female role models on our televisions and in our magazines, we are really limited on what our girls see, who they admire, etc. More female CEO’s and less Kardashians please.

    • Sean

      The skin-tightness is a big part, but only a part of it for me. With superheroes you get a degree of “physical ideals”, as seen by muscle suits for boys too. You’re right that there are far too few strong, non-sexual female heroes in pop culture. (You’re not ever going to see Marie Curie or Sally Ride costumes).

      • Kerry

        However I will say this. You can be sexy, smart, powerful, successful, independent and make a positive impact (Beyoncé, Mia Hamm, etc) but there is age appropriate time to show off certain assets. I personally give more props to the ladies who encompass all of the attributes without the nude selfies or waste shaper promos. I hope to pass on to young girls like my niece that they can be as successful as Miley Cyrus without being a walking trash bag.

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