“Is Your Dog’s Halloween Costume Sexist?” No, It’s Just Cruel And Stupid…

dog-costumes

In an article in its business section that screams desperation, the Washington Post examined the earth-shattering issue  of whether PetSmart sells sexist dog costumes for Halloween. I suppose an argument can be made that this really is newsworthy, since the fact that some feminists and those in the throes of end-stage political correctness mania have actually registered objections about this does confirm the theory, bolstered by our current Presidential campaign, that the nation is losing its collective mind, and not all that slowly, either.

Apparently PetSmart places gender labels on its Halloween dog costumes, so firefighter and police officer outfits are for male dogs, while the owners of female dogs must choose between “a pink cowgirl costume and pink loofah.” On the website BaxterBoo.com, female canines are pointed towards the “sweetheart nurse” garb or the ever-popular “French maid.”

Never mind that: who wants to be caught dead doing anything on a website called “Baxter Boo”?

Scott Lawrie, who co-hosts a gender-focused podcast called, “She will not be ignored,”’ told the Post,

“It seems silly on the surface, but this is part of a larger message we’re sending, that there are certain jobs for men, and certain jobs for women. The career options for women — and dogs — need to go beyond pink loofahs and pink cowgirls.”

No, Scott, it’s silly all the way down:

1. First of all, why  is a feminist website comparing women with dogs?

2. The dogs don’t know the difference, so it is not as if they are being steered into traditional male or female roles. Besides, I’m sure that both male and  female dogs in police costumes are determined to brutalize unarmed black men…

3. I’m curious: How is anyone supposed to tell whether a castrated male dog is wearing a sexist costume or not? Are people really doing up-close examinations to decide whether to be offended or not? Have you done this, Scotty? Hmmmm? Come on, admit it!

4. Sending a message are we?  Is there really a subset of children whose view of gender is decisively influenced by dog costumes? I would think species confusion would be a greater danger, as in, “I want to be a police officer, that Shih Tzu is dressed as a police officer, maybe I really am a Shih Tzu.” Children identifying as dogs would be a problem worthy of a Post feature, but I don’t see it looming. Boys becoming nascent Donald Trumps because they see a poodle wearing a ballerina outfit seems even less likely.

Scott also reveals that his research shows that non-career costumes for kids ranging from lobsters to pumpkins to dinosaurs, also bear the male/female labels. Wait: does that mean that girls are being subtly steered away from identifying as dinosaurs or pumpkins? Damn this sexist society!  And what gender are dog costumes for children supposed to be? The Post is silent. This seems like lousy reporting to me.

The article does raise some legitimate issues, like the fact that Halloween costumes for dogs sometimes carry the same unethical gender price mark-up as women’s clothing and hair products, such as shampoo and conditioner. At Party City,  for example, “Supergirl and Wonder Woman doggie costumes were priced 30 percent higher than Superman costumes ($16.99 versus $12.99). Batgirl costumes, meanwhile, were selling for $19.99, a 33 percent premium on Batman’s $14.99 price tag.” To be fair, this just might be the market system at work: maybe there is more demand for Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Batgirl costumes because more dogs want to be Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Batgirl  on Halloween.

Wait: if the wearer is a dog, what’s the difference between a Supergirl and Superman outfit? And why aren’t the dogs dressing as Krypto, a.k.a Superdog, Superboy’s pet?

kryptoI never knew for sure whether Krypto was a male or female. I mean, there’s no physical evidence either way. And why aren’t kids given the opportunity to dress as Krypto? Why can’t they identify as a cartoon super-dog of the opposite sex, whatever that sex is? Do cartoon dogs even have  genders? What does gender even mean for a two-dimensional drawing? I’m so confused!

The real, honest-to-pete newsworthy item in the report by Abha Bhattarai—and if he gets another assignment like this, I’d suggest he call up  an employment lawyer, because this may be ethnic bias at work, unless Abha is a woman’s name, in which case it may be gender and ethnic bias—is that 16 percent of Americans say they plan on costuming their pets for Halloween this year, according to the National Retail Federation. “The most popular costumes for pets were gender-neutral pumpkins, hot dogs and bumblebees,” writes Abha, who just told us that pumpkin costumes were gender specific.

Well, which is it? Maybe this assignment was too tough for Abha after all. Hold that call.

Never mind the pumpkins, though, for the point is this: dogs aren’t props. Making them wear stuff on their heads, muzzles, feet or bodies to make humans say “Awwww!” or laugh at them is unethical, an abuse of power, and an abuse of love.  For the most part, dogs hate wearing clothes, though some will tolerate it, because they will tolerate almost anything to make their humans happy. Ethical, kind, considerate humans, however, don’t abuse their dogs this way, because it is cruel, selfish and stupid.

This apparently has escaped the notice of PetSmart, the Washington Post, Abha Bhattarai, and a lot of dog owners.

Shame on all of them.

20 Comments

Filed under Animals, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising

20 responses to ““Is Your Dog’s Halloween Costume Sexist?” No, It’s Just Cruel And Stupid…

  1. Chris Marschner

    I totally agree that dressing animals is wrong

  2. Patrice

    Are hot dogs REALLY gender neutral?

  3. Well, one of the great benefits of being so materially secure and comfortable is we can find myriad ways to be unethical that our ancestors were too busy trying not to starve to worry about.

    1st world problem, thy name is dog costume.

    Seriously though… dressing up dogs is a barometer on the human doing the dressing and far more a worry about the state of that human than of any children who see the dog.

  4. Emily

    I used to agree that dressing up dogs was ridiculous… and then I had my yorkie in the drafty old house we were renovating. It wasn’t even that cold out, and he was shivering. The vet said nothing seemed wrong with him, so… we gave in and got him a sweater. But I always end up explaining to people that no, we don’t want to dress him up, he’s just a wimp.

    On topic, his sweaters are from Walmart and they’re pretty gender neutral, but I don’t recall them being labeled male or female. (There were others of the same brand that were decidedly less gender neutral, but I think it was all the same packaging.) Maybe Walmart is just ahead of the curve on doggy gender equality.

  5. Other Bill

    I think anyone over the age of ten or twelve dressing up in a Halloween costume is dumb, never mind dogs. It’s a kids holiday. As Jack has said, adults have ruined it. Adults should be adults.

  6. valkygrrl

    1: The gendering of the dog costumes tells us something of what the makers of the costumes think about the roles of men and women.

    2: Please don’t put a costume on your pet.

    3. Per Emily above, please do get or make* cold weather gear for dogs that need it, it’s totally not the same thing as a doggie firefighter costume.

    *I’ve knit two doggie scarves and would do it again if asked again.

  7. Alex

    My dog usually hates clothes: she’ll tolerate a sweater when it’s cold (and take it off as soon as she stops feelingcold). But she loves her hot-dog costume. Turns out she uses it as a portable pillow so she can lie down anywhere around the house instead of having to find her bed. Funny thing is my wife hates the costume for exactly the same reason…

  8. joed68

    With all of the trivial issues instant-access media distracts us with, thank God there are people like that out there to help us keep our priorities straight.

    The apocalypse can’t come soon enough.

  9. Moakie gets excited to dress up. She knows it means she is going to an event. Yes in the pug rescue world we have “events” and there are contests and wards for dressing your dog.

    Gender bending Theodore is secure in his manhood despite wearing a lavender pillbox hat made in England.

    I don’t do Halloween, for dogs or humans, but we do dress them for events and fundraisers.

    Pugs and their human like faces particularly fall victim to being dressed! Fortunately they seem to relish the attention.

  10. Wayne

    I think there’s a narcissistic element to this. “Oh don’t you think my little doggie looks sooooo cute in her little outfit?” No!!!! You’re a moron for buying it!

  11. Becky

    A friend of mine has a 12-year-old daughter whose career ambition, for YEARS, has been doggie fashion designer. It’s taken a lot of self-restraint over the years to not even roll my eyes. I think I once went so far as to make an economics comment…

  12. THE Bill

    Have you ever noticed you never see jack Russells dressed up?

    I bet after the first time the dresser was bitten they stopped trying

    • Did you ever see “Wishbone”? It was terrific, a PBS kids show about literature, about a Jack Russell Terrier belonging to the son of the local librarian. The son and his friends had various adventures that reminded the dog of famous books, which were then elaborately portrayed, straight, except with Wishbone the Jack Russell as the male lead, and fully costumed, with the rest of the characters played by humans. (He was Romeo, the Prisoner of Zenda, Rip Van Winkle, Sherlock Holmes…). Apparently they uses three dogs in the filming, and only one Jack Russell would tolerate the costumes.

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