Monday, October 28, 2013

Grisly Hallowe'en: A Quiz

Is it just me?

As the awareness dawned on me I didn't know how to feel, beyond horror. And not the kind of horror that they were going for. I was shopping for some Hallowe'en decorations for the kids who were coming for the weekend. They both like decorating our place, no matter the holiday, and we like seeing the buzz of concentrated activities as streamers get strung and decorations get artfully placed. So, I needed some spooky stuff.

The store I was in had some unusual looking skeletons so I went to take a closer look. They were hanging, in a row, on a long peg. The first one struck me as very funny. It was a skeleton with fishnet stockings, high heels and a jaunty hat. I'd not seen them presented this way before and thought that the girls might find it funny. Then I went through the rest of the stock to find the one's in male garb.

There weren't any.

Not a one.

Suddenly the display, the row of dangling dead women became something much different to me. Something horrifying. Something not funny at all. I then thought about the fishnets and the high heels - oh my God what am I seeing here?

I had thought it was 'ye olde time' clothing. Maybe I was wrong. I had expected to find skeletons with chaps and a cowboy hat. But no ...

... it was just a row of dead women ...

... in fishnets ...

... and high heels ...

I hung the one I'd taken down back up in the row. I left the store disturbed. We had two little girls coming to visit. I want them to grow up in a world where women are safe, women are respected and where women have powerful voices.

Not a world where dead women hang on a peg in a store - bargain priced.

Am I over reacting, as I've already been told I am?

21 comments:

Colleen said...

Dear Dave

I don't think you are over reacting. I think you are seeing beneath the surface.


Colleen

Karry said...

This disturbs me, too. But then, people sometimes tell me I am too sensitive.

Anonymous said...

No - you are not overreacting - and there is a whole movement afoot to decry the use of "sexualized" halloween costumes. What was a harmless time of fun for young people has become a legitimizing of oversexualized behaviour.

Molly said...

Just another way to tell women that we're not valued. UGH. No, you just have a well-trained eye for things that demean others. Not overreacting.

Anonymous said...

Watch any kind of crime, investigative, or supernatural show on tv--the victims are women far more often than men. And the ways in which they are dispatched has only become more grisly over the years. I hear nothing but women screaming, screaming, screaming on these shows. And I don't even WATCH these shows--I am just scanning the channels or seeing commercials.

So no, I don't think you're being too sensitive, Dave. I think you are clearly seeing and processing what's in front of you: Women as prey, women as victims.

Sue

Utter Randomness said...

Definitely not over reacting. Skeletons dressed as the stereotypical vision of sex trade workers are inappropriate and gives a terrible message, even if people aren't absorbing that message consciously.

liebjabberings said...

I've never thought skeletons funny - I am not looking forward to having mine on the outside.

It may be a cultural thing, or a way of dealing with the fear of death, but I find it creepy.

And the fishnets and high heels made me think of women who are often victims - by their profession. Doubly not funny.

I'd let the girls grow up and see what they find funny - before subjecting them to this kind of display. If they think it's funny, in their innocent reactions, fine.

I can't imagine things like going to a Haunted House, or scaring yourself on purpose with ghost stories, or the creepy books supposedly meant for children, but other people find them entertaining.

Also, work with their parents on this one, but your instincts - first do no harm - were right on.

Alicia

Maggie said...

I reacted the same way. Then I went through the store looking at the other costumes. Men and boys could dress as terrifying villains and monsters from movies; women and girls could dress as the terrified victims in some of the same movies (though fewer selections were offered).

In the 'not-too-scary' aisle, men and boys could dress as doctors and cowboys. Women and girls had a much wider selection here: they could be sexy nurses, sexy bartenders, sexy nuns, sexy teachers, sexy cops, sexy witches, sexy prostitutes ...

I didn't see anything for women and girls that wasn't in some way either intended to actually be 'sexy' or to at least poke fun at the idea of 'sexy.' I saw almost nothing for women or girls that wasn't revealing a lot of skin.

I also saw almost nothing for men or boys that revealed more skin than face or arms - except the caveman showed his calves and feet, too.

I was appalled and left the store without buying the cloak I'd come for, which they had.

Thanks for being horrified with me.

Aimee Watson said...

Yes and no. You said you looked for one dressed in male garb. Where is the difference? Why is ok to have pegs full of dead males and not dead women? Would you have felt the same if they were all men? I agree totally on how you want the girls to see and view the world but its halloween..you will find the dead and the zombies and the super heros. I think sometimes we all need to sit back...relax ..and enjoy..(or not enjoy..everyone has a choice whether to enjoy themselves) life and our traditions in this country. I dont know the girls but i am pretty sure i can say that there are amazing young ladies but i am going to bet that if they saw the skeletons thats all they would have seen..skeletons dressed in funny clothes.

MichiganMom said...

As a woman, and a mother of daughters, Thank you for hanging it back up.

Laura said...

Dear Dave,

I do not think you are overreacting. To Aimee Watson I think there is a difference between offering both male and female skeletons and just offering sexy female ones.( I think it would be wrong to offer just male ones too). I also noticed a far greater female selection of costumes, but nothing suitable for my daughter because they were all "sexy". yes she could go as a non gendered doctor etc however I noticed that any of those costumes were classified in the mens section. Any one of these perceived female devaluing may be small, but they add up.

Mary said...

If you'd set fire to the store you'd have been overreacting.

But to decline to spend your money with goods or vendors whose motives you find questionable, is your absolute right as a consumer.

pattib said...

NOT overreacting. Maggie hit it right on, too, with her observations of costumer choices in the store. Wrong messages to send our children, both boys and girls!

Anonymous said...

I’m in the UK and I don’t think we have these things here but then I haven’t checked out what’s in the shops this year.
I’m in a different context but I don’t get why it would be ok to have skeletons in high heels and fishnets even if there were skeletons presented in ‘male’ clothes too?

Liz said...

I wonder, did the manufacturer only make female ones? Or did the store only choose to purchase and sell the 'sexy female' ones? Was it a large chain purchaser's decision, or a small independant who didn't think about the message they were sending?

Or maybe we could hope other people were equally weirded out as you were and the 'old timey' males skeletons were already sold out.

But I think it does tend to the over-sexualization of females and of females at halloween that makes it extra creepy. Which was entirely intentional. But it is a little more of a stretch (or an unfortunate conclusion) to say it portrayed female sex workers as victims. I would hope that this being pointed out to them would make them immidately correct their error, but I think drawing the line from plastic skeleton decor to actual dead human isn't as direct or obvious as it might seem.

Tamara said...

That's just creepy - with or without male skeletons dressed up. Maybe if the skeleton had had a silly dress or funny hat, but fishnet stocking and heels?

creepy.

Belinda Burston said...

Nope!

Jayne Wales said...

I suppose iwe could back to witches and the 6 million women who over history,( yes horribly the same figure as the people who died who were Jewish in far fewer years under the nazis) perished in terrible ways because they spoke out or performed medicine and were put to death.
This year Im doing an enchanted castle because I like things enchanted and magical.. I'm putting reds and candles and gold beads about. I'm hinting of the grimms fairytale type theme because t least there is a battle between good and evil and good wins out. There will be some witches about, bears, moons, cauldrons, cobwebs spiders etc but no one hurt. Blood, guts, gawry, exploited, damaged no thanks.

Jayne Wales said...

Really that was just so horrible as an image. Where was the power? They had all been executed.

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

I don't think you're overreacting, you're just seeing a painful truth about society, all of us.

Ugh, Dave. Do you sometimes wish you could "unknow" all that you do?

theknapper said...

omg Dave.....that is so disturbing. Having worked in the anti violence field for many years where it doesnt seem to be getting any better this image confirms it.