Here’s an interesting example of the triumph of ideology over simple fact. Fia K. sent in a link to a costume sold at Amazon titled “Tiny Boy’s Costume.” The costume is a green pterodactyl. There is no equivalent Tiny Girl’s Costume. When I search for that phrase, the search engine deletes the word “girl” and sends me back to here.
This is more than just an instance of associating boys with dinosaurs and excluding girls, although that would be problematic enough. No, the costume is called “Tiny” because it’s associated with a cartoon character with that name from the show Dinosaur Train.
Funny thing is, Tiny is female (note the eyelashes, you can always tell by the eyelashes).
This is evidence of how powerful gender ideology can be. Tiny’s actual fictional femaleness is less powerful than the ideological association of boys and dinosaurs. Hence, a Tiny Boy’s Costume.
The word “heteronormativity” refers to a persistent privileging of “opposite”-sex couples and the relative invisibility of people who partner with others of their “same” sex. Halloween costumes are a great example of the phenomenon. Costumes designed for couples nearly always assume that they need to outfit a man and a woman, not two men or two women.
As an example, here is the main page for couples costumes at Party City. Notice that all couples represented are heterosexual:
Occasionally the costumes even have heterosexualized themes that metaphorically refer to penile-vaginal intercourse, like this plug and socket costume at Buy Costumes…
…and this updated usb and dock costume:
It’s a simple point, but worth observing. For people who aren’t heterosexual, these Halloween costumes are just one more example of how they aren’t recognized or validated by our society. We are increasingly accepting of gay people, yet they remain marginal in our collective imagination.
Lindy West for the win at Jezebel, asks what’s so sexualizing about calling a child’s costume “naughty.” The costume below was widely criticized for sexualizing little girls, but West nicely observes that there is a non-sexual, child-related meaning to the word naughty. You know, being bad. The non-sexual version of bad. Doing something you’re not supposed to do. A non-sexual thing. You know what I mean! West writes:
Sure, naughty has had sexual connotations as far back as the mid-19th century, but it’s been used to describe disobedient kids since the goddamn 1600s. So why did we let hornay college chicks hijack the word in all its forms? Why can’t children be naughty anymore?
Nevertheless, West is right. The biggest problem with this costume’s title is that it includes the word “leopard.” Because that’s just false advertising. It doesn’t say sexy leopard and the dress — I’ll stop calling it a costume now — is not particularly sexualizing.
West calls for change:
Why don’t we send “naughty” back from whence it came—into the realm of wedgies and spitballs and pies cooling on the windowsill with bites taken out of them!? It’s time, people. You know it is. Take Back the Naughty. For the children.
And for the grown ups, too, who are tired of the idea that being a sexual person makes us bad, bad girls and boys.
@plouie01 snapped these two pics of the suggested gifts for Mother’s and Father’s Day at Chapter’s Bookstore in Vancouver. You might notice an interesting difference:
Yep, that’s right. Men get books, interesting books even! And women get… pink stuff. Mostly paper products, but without words and ideas on them, and also candle and soap.. You know, pretty good-smelling things meant to please the daft. Forgive me, perhaps I’m being overly harsh towards stationary. All I’m saying is, not a single book for ladies at the book store? Alas.