A few years back I posted an photograph of two costumes side-by-side: labeled “Beer Man” and “Beer Girl.” I wrote that the practice of using “man” alongside “girl” “reinforces a gender hierarchy by mapping it onto age.” We see this outside of a Halloween context too, like in this vintage ad for pens.
Sara P. found another example, this time from iparty. The flyer puts a girl and a boy side-by-side in police officer costumes. The boy’s is labeled “policeman” and the girl’s is labeled “police girl.”
This phenomenon is an example of just how mundane and ubiquitous gender messages can be.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.