I'm sure the glob of clay little Timmy brought back from nursery school, with "Worldz Graytest Mom" scrawled on it, is an exceptional piece of art, but it confers no special rights. It entitles you to no special authority over the direction of American culture. It does not obligate the rest of us to water down our entertainment in order to spare you the burden of cracking the manual on the cable box that came with all those terrible, filthy channels you're paying $40 a month for. It certainly doesn't require us to defer to your judgment about which occasions are "family holidays" to be celebrated in whatever manner you're comfortable with. There is, I realize, the risk that the instant they're old enough to stop brunching at your nipple, your precious tots will be scarred for life by the sight of a bit of cleavage, but I feel confident they'll recover somehow.So I’d been chuckling about that passage for several days, and planning to link to it eventually but never getting around to it. And then what should appear in the O.C. Register but another article denouncing the same trend! And how’s this for irony: while the reliably-left-wing Times included an op-ed decrying the trend on family-values grounds, the reliably-right-wing Register included an article decrying the same trend on feminist grounds. I would say this constitutes further evidence for the theory that editorial page editors choose their guest writers to make their ideological opposites look like dopes, except the Register article appears in the “Life” section.
To the author’s credit, she doesn’t actually espouse the feminist line herself, but she does let a women’s studies prof speak authoritatively without the barest hint of dissent:
"Looking sexy is now considered normal, feminine behavior for a woman, so on a day like Halloween, women will take it as creative license to wear revealing clothing and no one can call them a tramp that day," said Donna Gough, an assistant professor of women's studies at Cal State Fullerton. "And for men, it's a day where they can openly stare at and drool over women in such attire without being called a chauvinist pig." … "The message being sent for a woman is that you have to wear these costumes to fit in and be normal and be considered attractive and appealing to men," said Gough.That’s right – all those women wearing French maid uniforms and scanty cavewoman skins have been pressured into it by our chauvinistic culture. Of course, most women I see in such outfits seem positively giddy about it, but I suppose that’s just false consciousness.
How exactly did the sexification of Halloween occur? I must have missed the meeting where the boys all got together and hatched their dastardly scheme to overstock the costume shops with slinky stuff. Or maybe it was a decentralized process – probably one of those zero-sum status-seeking games I’ve been hearing about. Women who dress up sexy make other women look frumpier by comparison, so they have to sex it up too, and pretty soon they’re all shivering at outdoor Halloween parties without having gained any relative advantage. I suppose Robert Frank would recommend a bare-skin tax. I recommend throwing a big shapeless sheet over your head and going as a ghost. Then you can either cut out eyeholes (if you want to see) or go eyehole-free (to protect your corneas from being seared by the sight of skin).
(All right, I can’t out-snark Julian, but I sure can try.)