What Drives The Skank Impulse?

Halloween will arrive tomorrow, with plenty of kids hitting doorbells looking for candy. Some of them will dress as though they want to work something out in trade, as Newsweek noted yesterday (via Instapundit):

Apparently, witches aren’t ugly anymore; they’re sexy. So are pirates and pumpkins and princesses–traditional little girl Halloween costumes that used to say, Isn’t she cute? now scream, That’s hot! with an increasing array of halter tops, bare midriffs and miniskirts. Costume catalogs and Web sites, filled with images of pouty preteens modeling the latest in Halloween fashion, seem almost to verge on child pornography, and ooze with attitude. Witches are “wayward” and grammar-school pirates are “wenches.” A girl isn’t an Army cadet, she’s a “Major Flirt,” and who knew female firefighters wore fishnet stockings? Even Little Bo Peep comes with a corset, short skirt and lacy petticoat.
And while complaints about “slutty” kids’ costumes may seem like a yearly parents’ lament, the industry has been ramping up the sex appeal to ever younger groups of girls. It’s not just 10- and 12-year-olds who have gone Halloween trampy. Now 6- and 7-year-old models are featured in catalogs wearing child-sized versions of skimpy costumes that used to be reserved for adult boudoirs. If you think we’re exaggerating, note that they’re actually selling something called a “Child’s Chamber Maid Costume.” And, many of the tween girls in the photographs are wearing more make-up than Christina Aguilera on awards night. More disturbing may be their expressions–they look as if they’ve been told to give the camera their best “sexy” gaze.
Tack on all the licensed outfits from popular TV shows and toy lines like Cheetah Girls, Bratz and Hannah Montana, and parents are having to search farther a field for something that won’t make their little trick-or-treater look like a lady of the night. But with adolescent girls parading around in short-shorts that say JUICY across the bottom, and every younger girls aspiring to be a diva of some sort, is it any wonder that their Halloween costumes have gotten racier? “No, but it is distressing,” says Joe Kelly, founder of the advocacy group Dads and Daughters. He sees the trend as symptomatic of a deeper issue. “The hypersexualization of younger and younger girls only serves to reinforce gender roles. When an 8-year-old girl can’t find a doctor costume because all they have are nurse outfits, that’s a problem.” Celia Rivenbark, author of the 2006 parental manifesto “Stop Dressing your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank,” has noticed it too, and says that Halloween has become “just another excuse for little girls to dress like sluts.”

It’s not limited to the girls, either. Michelle Malkin points out that boys can get in on the prostitution theme by dressing up as pimps. The Washington Post keeps the focus on girls in a front-page piece today that reports on the challenges parents face with pre-teens and costumes such as the Playboy Racy Referee, Major Flirt, Devilicious, and French Maid — all sized for the elementary-school set.
Why are we sexualizing our little girls? Whose interests does that serve? Carol Platt Liebau takes a look at the issue in her new book, Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!). As the grandfather of a 5-year-old girl, this trend disturbs me and makes me question how she will manage to learn responsible sexuality in a world determined to cheapen and degrade her.
I look forward to reading the book — but in the meantime, we’ll have Carol on Heading Right Radio on Thursday, 3 pm ET. This topic hits close to home, and it won’t go away on November 1st. Be sure to join us.

34 thoughts on “What Drives The Skank Impulse?”

  1. My mom used to say it was pain that helped people learn stuff. They had to absorb life’s lessons.
    While you can go overboard, on the other side, and make things TOO, TOO, easy.
    That’s why today’s kids are clueless.
    As a friend of mine wrote me, recently. Growing up as he did in Texas. He was responsible for the farm animals. Their feeding. And, all the other chores. Life sometimes presented danger. Part of natural events.
    That’s what’s missing.
    Kids today live inside of a fake caccoon, where they’re told the only thing that can hurt them are the monsters they see on TV. Fake stuff. Leads to fake results.
    And, kids who can’t cope when they need to feel better about suriving childhood.
    You think I’m kidding?

  2. It’s because we keep giving people attention in a non-judgmental way for any kind of weird sexual allusions.
    Halloween is a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously, but sluty and skanky are not very funny. Tell people they can do better.

  3. http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/08/the-history-of-.html
    I found this at Atlas Shrugs quite awhile back. It gives a quick history of the relationship of marxism to political correctness done by William Link on behalf of the Free Congress Foundation.
    The basic idea is that because Marxism could not succeed in creating a workers’ revolution, they planned and are implementing a cultural revolution which consists of several fronts.
    It’s a fascinating item to listen to. It’s a bit long and I thought I’d listen to just a little, but it was so fascinating I listened to the whole thing.
    An early attempt at cultural revolution was in Hungary where they sought to undermine families w/ sex ed. They go into quite a lot of detail of how to accomplish this.
    Another part of the cultural revolution is the identification of “victim classes”.
    You really need to listen to the selection to understand. But I found it extremely interesting and informative.

  4. That’s funny, because I’m dressing up as Tony Montana (the hell with buying a 50 dollar “Tony Montana Costume,” I went to my dad’s closet and got everything I needed there for free, which is great or kind of sad considering my dad still wears what I borrowed haha) and my girlfriend is basically going as a high-class hooker.
    We’re not going trick-or-treating or anything though, it’s just for a Halloween party. She’s going trick-or-treating as a big pink bunny.
    I’m still going to be Tony Montana.
    But the times, they are a changin!

  5. My ten-month-old will dress up as a flower, not as Britney Spears.
    And before I ever see her with a pair of shorts with the word “JUICY” on the behind, I’d rather put her in a convent… or have her dress like one of the characters in “The 1900 House”.
    My mom never tolerated me looking like a whore as a teen. What makes designers and marketers think that I’m going to allow it? That may be another parent without morals. Not me.

  6. This past Saturday at Michigan State University I saw hundreds of students in their costumes and remarked to my friend that ALL the girls were dressed as hookers. E-V-E-R-Y single one of them. Am I missing out on something here?

  7. I doubt I’ll see many parents making their kids wear the “Biblical Shepherd/Economy” line from Anytime Costumes… it just doesn’t scream ‘spooky.’
    I loved dressing up as a grown woman for Halloween when I was 8. But I was a boy, and hardly “Juicy.”

  8. Stop Dressing your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank…

    Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters addresses an issue that has bothered me, but which I have never spoke about. Here’s a good article concerning halloween (capitalization omitted – check back around Christmas time to see if I capitalize Christmas) …

  9. To newton:
    Umm, good luck with that. As a social conservative dad to a 13 y.o. in taxachusetts, you will not believe the pressure to cowtow to what “everyone else” is doing — and I can assure you, everyone of her friends is dressing up for Halloween “like a skank”.
    Very disturbing trend when to be considered “normal” you have to dress that way.

  10. Well just look at the regular clothes marketed to young girls, and you may figure out why they costumes have gotten so bad.
    It is difficult to find clothes that look nice, are at least somewhat trendy but don’t make your daughters look like tramps.
    Also, while none of my girls do dance or cheer-just look at some of the clothes put on young girls by those groups. There was a team in a parade the girls were in this summer (my girls are in a band). It was a cheer/dance group and the girls were in hot pint booty shorts and cropped tops with tassles all over it. The group of girls were anywhere from 7 to 12 years old. I was apalled.

  11. I’ve been reading Straus and Howe’s Generations lately, and one of the predictions of their model was that the Millennial (Generation Y) and ‘New Silent’ generations would see a return to the old gender roles and a widening of gender perceptions.
    In reading this article, it occurred to me that perhaps they were correct about this, but that while the gender roles are returning to what they were, the societal protections that used to be in place have been torn down so throughly they are not coming back as we might have hoped. I hope I am wrong about that.

  12. Yet another reason why I pray I only have sons.
    Really, I think the problem stems from expanding the years of “adolescence.” People in their early twenties are now viewed by media/hollywood as children, not adults. Dressing up in a costume at age 24 is now acceptable, whereas it used to be teh ghey.
    Now, if you are 24, what kind of costume are you going to dress in? Something cute? No. You’re going to dress as something that will get you laid. Hence, the pimp/whore trend. Add MTV’s rapidly spiraling downward age bracket (they now target pre-teens), and of course you are going to get 8 year old whores at Halloween.

  13. My first reaction was that these parents must be afraid of being seen as prudish regarding they’re children. The kids want to fit in — absolutely, but so do the parents which is not a good situation. We’re all so desperate to be cool it’s pathetic. Just raise your friggin kids.
    And it’s not just halloween. Near L.A. where I live I’ve seen 10th and 11th grade girls showing butt cleavage — I don’t know how any male student can concentrate in class. And I just drove by a male teen with his pants completely below his ass. Not beltless, sagging pants … and not halfway down but completely below what any reasonable person would define as the *ass area*. I suppose boxer shorts proclaim virility. Whatever, I don’t need to see em.

  14. This causes to me to recall a Halloween about 12 years ago when I was the trick-or-treat shephard for my three and a couple of neighbor boys. That made four boys and my daughter, the youngest. My daughter was dressed as a genie, I would guess. Hard to say. But the boys were faster, would arrive at each door first and announce, “She’s Madonna!” My indignant little genie would arrive shortly after and breathlessly announce “I am NOT Madonna!” After a while the boys tired of the game and ceased their slanderous mischaracterization of my daughter’s costume, but my daughter continued to loudly announce at each neighbor’s door that she was NOT Madonna, much to their befuddlement and amusement. When we got home, my daughter had twice as many treats as the boys. Cute sells!

  15. drew,
    I live in TX: there are quite a lot of churches in this little town of mine. I don’t think I’ll see a whole lot of girls dressed as skanks… If I go to the high school, well, that’s a different story.
    It’s stuff like this that should make parents aware of their responsibility to raise their children right, and for children to know what is modest costume and what is not. I wore a Strawberry Shortcake costume in the fourth grade, for cryin’ out loud! Nowadays, what choice do girls have? Skank and skankier.

  16. Little girls have played dress-up for decades, imitating women dressed in high fashion clothing. Today’s little girls imitate the fashions they see on TV and in movies and magazines. This is not surprising, it is normal behavior and to be expected. What is surprising is that parents allow their little girls to be infected by that garbage. People say, “How did I lose my child?” They didn’t lose them, they gave them away to television and Hollywood. Todays’ children spend more time with Hollywood than with parents or teachers. Why be surprised when they reflect what they see for hours a day?

  17. Girls like to be noticed and their dress codes – while eye catching – is accepted today; even with halloween costumes.
    A few years back when “Beauty and the Beast” was popular with girls my daughter wanted to be Beauty for halloween, along with all the other girls on our island. I said’ “why not be the Beast? – its’ halloween? No way, her and most of the other girls her age wore “Beauty” costumes.
    Hollywood and TV have been a big influence on our children. But when they grow up and have a family things change.
    This is just a passing fad just like all the fads in the past.
    The important part of being a parent, in my opinion, is to live by example, give good advice, and be there for them when they stumble.

  18. There’s nothing wrong with hot chicks.
    Skin revealed through a scantily clad dress worn on a shapely female frame is very, very sexy.
    Witch or no witch: hot women should not be ashamed to flaunt it.
    Good night and good luck.
    It’s time for a roll in the hay with the very scantily clad wife.

  19. If you send your children to public school – or a co-ed private school – you pretty much tacitly accept that they are going to be sexualized (definitely don’t mean necessarily sexually active) by the end of their freshman year of high school at the latest.

  20. Last year I had a sign at the beginning of walk up to my house.
    If your daughter is dressed
    Like she’s working in the Street
    Please keep her there and move along.
    Only children will be served.
    We do not believe in child labor.
    I actually saw one child about 8 who had wads of monopoly money shoved under a belt as part of her costume.

  21. There are several reasons why little girls are sexualized in our culture:
    1. People are so sexually jaded and satiated, children are the final frontier. Taboo breaking is hip, edgy, and irreverent.
    2. Plenty of unhappy, unfulfilled adults live vicariously through young people and thus push kids to do the things that the adults never did or no longer do.
    3. More and more parents are clueless morons who have no idea what’s appropriate and are therefore unable to set boundaries.
    4. The popular culture is all about destroying traditional values as an expression of angry adolescence. Corrupting children is the ultimate nihilistic-teen thing to do.
    5. Our culture worships youth and sex. It’s logical that the more sex-obsessed the culture becomes, the younger its sex objects also become. This downward spiral is speeding up, since we are loathe to put limits on anything.
    6. For years the popular culture has insisted that children are just small adults. It’s thus easy to ascribe to kids an adult’s mature passions and desires. From there it’s easy to rationalize viewing children as sexual beings capable of making informed decisions about what they want.
    The logical end to all this is the widespread acceptance of pedophilia. That’s where we’re headed, unfortunately. Someone above wrote “hot women should not be ashamed to flaunt it.”
    Once all modesty is thrown out the window, you end up where we are. When you’ve seen and done all there is to see and do, you look for new thrills.

  22. What the young girls haven’t yet discovered is the huge difference between being sexy and having passion. If I had a girl my advise to her about sexuality is not to waste her passion on porn people, they make for terribly lousy limpy lovers.

  23. I remember shopping for my daughter when she was an infant and being shocked at how many shirts there were that tied up under the breasts and allowed the tummy to show. And we are talking about 3-6 month old clothes!
    She is now 5 and likes anything with sparkle on it, but I can usually find cute things with ponies and rainbows and butterflies to satisfy her.
    She is going as an Indian girl for Halloween this year. Her choice.

  24. It doesn’t just happen on Halloween

    The Washington Post and Newsweek both have up articles this week which discuss how risque Halloween costumes for young girls have gotten over the last several years due to their popularity which, to me, has become the scariest part of Halloween.
    But as…

  25. I have some behind-the-scenes info for any of you confused by the Michelle Malkin article Ed links to.
    If you went over to Michelle’s site yesterday morning, you’ll have noticed it was atacked by hackers. The page code was all screwed up.
    What went unnoticed is that the hackers apparently replaced a number of files on Michelle’s site, including the two videos she has in the article.
    To wit:
    In the first clip, she says:
    “Instead of cackling in their beds and treating the exploitation of their daughter as a joke, they ought to grow up and set those young girls straight before it’s too late.”
    In the actual clip, the father walks in, sees his daughter pole-dancing, immediately grabs her, throws her over his shoulder and carries her out of the room. Obviously, this was a completely different clip than the one Michelle saw.
    In the second clip, she says:
    “In this video, the underage girls pretend to flash their stepbrother and his manager friend, who videotapes them parading around the pole.”
    In the actual clip, the stepbrother walks in, says “What the (bleep) is going on here?” and tells his manager to turn off the video camera. Again, this appears to be a completely different video than the one Michelle reviewed.
    These same hackers apparently infiltrated the Newsweek article, as well, replacing the four example pictures.
    To wit:
    1. The pictures Matthew saw had “an increasing array of halter tops, bare midriffs and miniskirts” and the models were “told to give the camera their best sexy gaze”.
    Yet in the four pictures we see:
    – The little pirate girl is wearing her “tough pirate” look.
    – The little witch girl is giving a delightly humorous and evil grin.
    – The little maid is merely smiling.
    – The ‘mod’ girl is in her “confident woman of the world” stance.
    Hardly anything that qualifies as “sexy”, and, in case it’s never occurred to Matthew, Ed or Michelle, little girls actually can’t look “sexy” by definition — they can only turn it into parody.
    2. The pictures Matthew saw seemed “almost to verge on child pornography”, yet here’s what the hacked pictures show:
    – A belly button (gasp!)
    – Three inches of leg above the knee (gasp!)
    – Three inches below the neck (gasp!)
    Two bare arms (double-gasp!)
    Worse, the evil hackers even changed some of Matthew’s text, adding “Hannah Montana” to the list of evil influences, whereas everyone on the planet agrees that Hannah is a terrific role model and that her TV show could only be described as “squeaky-clean”.
    I’m sure that all of you pray daily for this evil scourge of computer hacking to stop. It’s totally ruining the moralists’ agenda and screwing up some really great articles.

  26. As a mother of a 10-year old daughter I can testify that buying a costume that is not ridiculous is extremely difficult.
    We went last weekend and found a “Pirate girl” outfit the was outrageous. Rather than send my daughter out dressed, essentially, like a Pirate slut, we modified it here at home. Believe me, she was as uncomfortable with the initial product as my husband and I were. Rather than spaghetti straps being the only barrier between her chest and the world, she is wearing a matching t-shirt (add $15.00); we added modesty shorts (another $10.00) etc., etc.
    I would rather have not doubled the cost of the outfit, but there were so few choices and we ended up buying the one that we could alter tastefully.
    And it is not for lack of effort finding a costume. The only other place we could find that had costumes for public consumption had prices ranging from $50 up. We bit the bullet on this place two years in a row.
    Hmmm. Sounds like there may be some money to be made in the girls costume apparel line.

  27. Does anyone remember the clothes girls wore in the 70’s? Today’s customes cover more skin than the dresses that Cindy and Jan wore on the Brady Bunch. This is nothing new.

  28. For those who might be worried what the average teen is wearing today at high school…
    My daughter is going Goth: black ankle boots, black socks, long black skirt, black peasant top, her older sister’s black cape, and lots of dark makeup.
    My son is going as a hippie, wearing an old tie-dyed shirt of mine, his older sister’s embroidered jeans, lots of beads, Hubs’ old jean vest, a bandana headband, and a pair of my old granny glasses. Oh, and flip-flops.
    Both kids look rather respectable, although my son is complaining that the pockets on his sister’s jeans are way to small to carry anything.
    These costumes did not come from a costume shop, but from a local thrift store and our closets (sad to say). So there’s your answer: eschew commercial costumes, which are overpriced anyway, and recycle “found” garments!

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