Now that another Halloween has come and gone, it’s the time of the year for everyone to throw in their two cents regarding the concept of “slutty” costumes, and I’ve got two pennies ready to go.
It’s nothing new that these days, the idea of Halloween being to commemorate superstitions about ghosts and ghouls seems to be out the window. Yes, there are certainly exceptions—especially on the Vassar campus, where I’ve seen my fair share of much more creative ensembles—but it’s become pretty much a fact that most costumes, especially those marketed toward women, are sexualized to some degree. Sexy vampire, sexy cat, sexy bumblebee, sexy bottle of Heinz ketchup—you name it.
One response to this phenomenon might go something along the lines of the following, according to Cady Heron: “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”
As my grandmother has phrased it on many an October 31st past, “WHY ARE ALL THOSE GIRLS RUNNING AROUND WITH THEIR EVERYTHING HANGING OUT FOR THE WORLD TO SEE?!? IT’S DISGUSTING.” (The caps lock is on because she would be yelling this due to her diminished sense of hearing at the age of ninety, if you were wondering).
Or, you might even just vehemently state your refusal to be a part of the trend of “dressing like a slut” because it’s degrading toward women.
The thing is—to continue with the “Mean Girls” theme that has apparently taken over this post—as much as we might not want to admit it, it feels sort of lame to be the only gruesome-looking Bride of Frankenstein when everyone else is sporting sultry Playboy Bunny costumes. Apparently scandalous outfits automatically make you “slutty”, but at the same time they have come to seem almost mandatory. It seems rather paradoxical that society somehow manages to simultaneously teach us not to dress provocatively because it seemingly implies that you’re a whore, yet it also encourages doing exactly that.
The problem with critical statements of “slutty” costumes is that, while they attempt to indicate disappointment in the sexualization of Halloween, they just wind up criticizing the individuals for dressing that way rather than the society that pressures them to do so. When we use words like “slut” and “whore” to describe people who wear a certain type of clothing, we imply that a revealing outfit means that whoever wears it will be “easy” to have sex with. Who knew that your clothing automatically signified so much about your behavior? As a wise woman once said, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” Not only do these critiques further perpetuate issues of rape culture (namely of victim-blaming), but they also try once again to tell women what they are and are not allowed to do with their own bodies.
Obviously, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dressing up skimpily, except that it probably covers too little skin for the weather of late October and you might be a little cold. But if you got it and you want to flaunt it, girl, please go for it. If anyone calls you a slut for it, someone needs to tell that person to shut their mouth, and you needn’t let that ignorant view stop you. The important thing in my view is that this type of costume shouldn’t be what is expected.