Happy Halloweekend JMU!
I hope you all had an amazing and safe time these past few days in your stunning costumes! I’ve seen so many funny, creative, and, yes, “slutty” costumes…. some of which I saw in the mirror! The confidence I felt in my Halloween costumes this year was amazing, and this is a huge milestone for me. I finally feel comfortable and confident enough in a body I once resented and even hated to wear revealing costumes and go out in them, but according to some, that makes me a fake feminist. The argument I’ll be addressing is that “slutty” Halloween costumes aren’t empowering, they’re objectifying, uncreative, and anti-feminist. Although I don’t agree with this notion in the slightest, I want to address some articles and quotations that do, and explain why I agree or disagree with their takes.
A quick note:
Throughout this post, I will only be saying “slutty” in quotes, as I don’t agree with how the term is being used in this context. It’s being used to shame women for embracing their sexuality, and like feminists have reclaimed the word bitch, I think we should reclaim the word slut. If wearing what makes me feel sexy and confident makes me a slut, then I guess I’m a slut!
The first article I found arguing against “slutty” costumes, titled This Halloween, Why Not Go As A Feminist?, suggests that these costumes are anti-feminist in the very first sentence, “Halloween costumes can be fun, frugal, and feminist.” The author goes on to claim, though, that these costumes aren’t anti-feminist because they are “slutty,” but because of the message they portray. Two costumes used as examples for this are sexy Arab/African/Native American and Nazi/KKK costumes; with these being the examples used, I don’t think the author should’ve tried to take a feminist stance on this issue. Cultural appropriation can be examined as a feminist issue, but it’s much broader than that, and it’s not just women wearing culturally appropriating costumes. The same goes for Nazi/KKK costumes – they’re obviously wrong and racist, but the blame shouldn’t only be placed on women as this article does; all that being said, I do completely agree that wearing costumes like this is anti-feminist, insulting, and wrong. Finally, the author gives suggestions of what they claim to be feminist-safe costumes, and although they claimed earlier in the article that a costume being revealing doesn’t make it anti-feminist, I think it’s noteworthy that the only costume suggestions made are very conservative.
The next article titled When it comes to sexy Halloween, women just can’t win seems to agree with my opinion on the issue, but also provides reasoning from the other side of the argument. The reasoning they provide for why some women DON’T wear sexy Halloween costumes is, “Because a woman doesn’t have to measure her worth by how good a random guy thinks she looks in a corset. And because one of the best parts of Halloween is the chance to flex creative muscle — to take on another persona, instead of performing a “sexy” version of yourself.” I find this argument very misogynistic and counter-effective. First, it suggests that women are wearing these costumes to satisfy the male gaze, but every woman I’ve spoken to, including myself, states that she dresses for herself and in whatever makes her feel most confident and liberated. Second, it’s suggested that “slutty” costumes can’t be creative, but I strongly disagree – I think dressing as sexy Dr. Phil is pretty creative… and also the best costume I’ve ever seen.
Finally, the last counterargument I’ll be addressing is a quote from an article titled 18 Feminist Halloween Costumes — Because a Sexy Nurse Is so Last Century. This quote is the opening sentence of the article, and I think it sets the tone for the rest, “Whether tongue-in-cheek or totally serious, sexy costumes have become the norm for most of us women on Halloween.” I do not think these costumes have become the norm, they’ve just become normalized. Nobody is expected to wear a sexy costume, it’s just become accepted when they do, which is thanks to the feminist movement!
I thought my (pretty progressive) college campus would be spared from this scrutiny, but we aren’t. I’ve seen the same men who show up to parties shirtless even when it ISN’T Halloween shaming their female peers for their costumes. I’ve also woken up every morning of this Halloweekend and gone on YikYak, a popular anonymous social media app where you can see local people’s posts, and have been met with posts like “I do not want a daughter” and “a lot of fatherless behavior tonight.” The issues with these phrases, apart from their clear and immediate misogyny, are very controversial and raise so many questions: Do you not want a daughter because you’re afraid men will treat her the way you treat women? Why is not having a father being weaponized to shame women for just existing in a way some may not agree with?
It deeply saddens me that my peers are using terms like these and that so many people seem to share the belief that “slutty” costumes are anti-feminist, but they cannot and will not stop me and other feminists from expressing ourselves however we please. If you strip away the buzz words like “slutty” and “sexy” used to describe these costumes, they’re really just a means of expressing and embracing our femininity and sexuality. So often do we as women get sexualized against our own accord, so when we are comfortable enough to sexualize ourselves, why is that an issue? Furthermore, why is it an issue addressed more than when we are sexualized against our will?
Wear whatever the hell you want, and to hell with what others want.