Where’d that 6-year-old get an AK-47?

Seriously. Where.

While the rest of the internet is in a tizzy about Sexy Noun costumes being the only ones available to women in Halloween stores, my Halloween-related moral panic is CHILDREN! WITH GUNS!

As I strolled the aisles of a Halloween store last weekend, I was struck by the sheer volume of military costumes for boys. And not just any military costumes. Military costumes like this:

If that one wasn’t gross enough, I was treated to this gem as well:

I’m sure parents all over the country are thinking: Finally! Now I can teach my young son how to be racially insensitive AND hypermacho at the same time! Yes!!! Spirit is the best Halloween store EVER!

I also saw a toy AK-47 (hence this post’s title) that had a picture of a young boy on the package. I can only assume this is meant to signal that this is an AK-47 meant for children, not adults, thus saving all of us the embarrassment of showing up to a party with a little kid’s gun. (Bullet dodged! ha… ha..)

Now, I’m not saying that a child dressing up as a soldier for Halloween is necessarily a cause for moral panic. As much as it might make me uncomfortable to see a 7-year-old in military fatigues, I can’t say it’s all that much different (to a child) than dressing up as a firefighter or a cop. And if this child has a parent in the military, I can understand why he or she might want to wear a military costume.

What I don’t understand is the two costumes I posted pictures of. However, they make more sense in light of the fact that United States culture seems to be pressing hypermasculinity on boys earlier and earlier. That same weekend, I was in a Game Stop and heard a boy no older than seven ask his father if the new Call of Duty was out yet. He could barely pronounce Call of Duty, he was so young. Of course, the problem of Call of Duty and its effect on other games, and what effects they all have on our society (especially when younger and younger children are playing them) is a complex enough issue for its own post.

As much as we as a country pretend to be concerned with keeping guns off our streets etc etc, where’s all the moral panic about 6-year-olds carrying toy guns and wearing weird dreadlock wigs? What are we teaching little boys about violence? Why does Call of Duty have to ruin every non-fantasy game series I enjoy? Who the hell would let their kid wear a “Dreads Commando” costume?

I can’t answer any of these questions, at least not in so small a space. In any case, deconstructing the hypermasculinity sold to boys is just as important as deconstructing the hyperfemininity being pushed on girls. Both are extremely detrimental to society and to individual boys and girls. So, consider raising hell about these at the same time that you’re complaining about cutesy pink Batgirl and her sidekick cutesy tutu Batgirl.

-Joanna

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