Almost one in three women’s Halloween costumes use explicit descriptive language in their title. Research carried out by The City on the most popular Halloween costume catalog in Dublin and two online websites show that nearly one third of all women’s Halloween costumes use language which clearly sexualises the costume.
Words like ‘hot’, ‘naughty’, ‘raunchy’, ‘tease’, and ‘saucy’ are just some of the descriptions used in the titles of women’s fancy dress. None of these terms are used to describe male costumes with the majority of those aimed at men using words like ‘whacky’, ‘funny’, or ‘crazy’ … with a very occasional ‘handsome’.
The research also shows that for costumes that portray a figure of authority, there are no female sizes or equivalents. Examples of this include ‘High Court Judge’, ‘New York Cop’, ‘Army Guy’ or ‘ER Surgeon’, all of which have male models and no women’s sizes.
In comparison, women interested in those kinds of costumes will have to settle for ‘Officer Pat-Me-Down’, ‘Corporal Cutie’, or ‘Naughty Nurse’. With names like that, it is no surprise that female Halloween costumes tend to be physically very revealing. So are women and girls under increasing pressure to take the ‘sexy’ option out of fear of seeming ‘lame’?
We spoke to Chairperson of DIT’s gender equality society, Constance Keane, and members of the public to get their views on this issue.
By Rosemary Haughey and Niamh Geoghegan