Bad candy, crossing the street, and gender stereotypes are what the ADL says we needed to worry about for Halloween in 2021? This is a far cry from the antisemitism and other marginalized groups the ADL was trying to protect when it first formed.
Halloween has traditionally been a time for kids and kids at heart to dress up as their favorite characters. From the horrific and creepy to the cute and comedic, these costumes gave the wearer a chance to explore who they wanted to be for a night. These costumes would often include clowns, cowboys, musketeers, princesses, or mermaids. Additionally, it was not uncommon to see popular movie figures like Hulk, Superman, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the last 20 years.
Not this year. Not if the ADL had its way. “Halloween should be festive and exciting. When approached thoughtfully, the holiday can bring not just candy and costumes, but creativity, learning, and community building. But to ensure that Halloween and other holidays are positive experiences for all, they need to be inclusive and respectful.” Inclusive and respectful? Unless you’re going as a member of the Third Reich, a Klansman, in blackface, or a southern plantation slave owner there isn’t really anything that isn’t inclusive or disrespectful.
The ADL disagrees with that sentiment. In their eyes, we need to encourage our children (and ourselves if need be) to avoid ‘perpetuating gender norms’. This is because it could cause an issue with someone who ‘exists outside the gender binary.’ Meaning, in case someone is not comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth, feels awkward that someone who is comfortable with their assigned sex and shows it with their costume.
Or in their direct phrasing “Many Halloween costumes perpetuate gender stereotypes and exclude those who don’t conform to traditional gender norms, especially those who are transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming. Be mindful that you may have students who feel excluded and marginalized by the overly gendered way Halloween costumes are marketed.” No. Just no.
I’m sorry that your unique, special little snowflake doesn’t like what they were born as. If my son wants to be a cowboy, or my daughter wants to be Elsa from Frozen, they damn sure will be. Much the same, if your son wants to be Anna from Frozen, he should rock out as Anna. That doesn’t mean my daughter can’t be Elsa. If he should feel offended or upset that she dressed that way, it’s his own fault. Not my daughter’s. It’s really that simple.
The idea that everything needs to be made to make people feel more comfortable 24/7 needs to stop. While there is a line between intentional and accidental disrespect, to tell others they cannot dress as something they want to be for Halloween is insane. As previously stated, there are certain truly hateful exceptions, and even the idea of a Caucasian dressing up as a Native American can be seen as taboo due to the history between these groups.
Prior hate or racism is an acceptable reason to forbid a costume. It makes sense to avoid hate for a costume. However gender norms are not hate, those are assumptions that have kept the human species alive this long. Looking at a boy in a boy’s costume should never be inherently harmful. It simply means that they go with the flow. Their lives are less complicated, and they should be free to celebrate that, just as someone who has the complication of gender identity disorder should be able to celebrate freely too. Now the only question is if a straight male in a nun costume is still funny, or if the ADL will hate that one too.