How to Not Slut Shame This Halloween

Ah, fall is here! The crisp air, crunch of the leaves, and the unsolicited body policing! As Halloween approaches everyone is spiking cider and deciding what womxn can and can’t wear as a costume. Deciding whether you want to be something sexy, clever, cute, or funny is hard when no one will actually allow you to be either without shaming you! Without fail, Brad of Beta Kappa Homophobia will say that girls can do whatever they want as long as it involves showing cleavage, and will totally support you until he tells all the Guys(™) what a slut you are the next day. But here’s the kicker about Halloween costumes, no one really wants your opinion on what they’re wearing (unless you’re being racist, in which case I will direct you to this article). So here I am, sitting on the couch as a grown ass adult, thinking about my costume, and preparing for the inevitable unsolicited rude/sexist opinions from random men.

Let’s start by rewinding to why every costume option for womxn has “sexy” or “slutty” prefixed to the actual costume (for example, this "sexy deer" costume ????). Tacking “slutty” onto the beginning of pretty much anything never ceases to amuse. Because we associate the slutty with the bad. Only bad womxn dress slutty. So these words assign a narrative to the costume, and therefore the person wearing it. It assigns values, with unfortunately negative connotations, to the wearer that seemingly invite assumptions. “Sexy”, “slutty," "racy,” etc. can take away the power of the individual in costume because sexism uses body policing to strip womxn of control over their their own narratives and intentions. These dangerous norms encourage men to comment on what we wear, regardless of what we are personally trying to convey, and regardless of if we fucking asked. “Slutty” and “sexy” are designed to take away our autonomy and make us out to be the bad guys.

Our whole lives we have only had the “slutty” versions of costumes available to us (you can never just be a regular nurse/police officer/firefighter). The shaming of womxn who dress “slutty” on Halloween and the forcing of womxn into more sexual roles on Halloween are two sides of the same coin. The patriarchy tries to pigeonhole us into sexual costumes for men’s consumption, all the while saying that dressing in this manner is wrong. Remember: slutty is only acceptable because it justifies men’s objectification of us! But who let men decide what is sexual and therefore wrong? (That’s rhetorical, I know why). Everyone has their own idea of what sexy is. If you enjoy feeling sexy, your appearance could mean something entirely different from spandex and high heels. Your Sexy Halloween Costume doesn't have to match beauty standards and societal norms for womxn’s appearances.

As history Mean Girls would tell us, “Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it". And Regina George wasn't totally wrong about that one. More power to you if you wanna be slutty Ruth Bader Ginsberg or slutty Bob the Builder. The last thing I’m implying is that dressing in a more sexual fashion feeds into stereotypes or misogyny, in fact, if sexual empowerment for you is showing off your cleavage/thick thighs/booty game, then I encourage you to take that opportunity and show your body some extra love. Sexual costumes can be reclaimed and be used to take your autonomy back from the patriarchy. If Halloween is the one night a year where you feel comfortable dressing more “revealing” and this makes you feel confident, carpe noctem.

So how can you avoid slut shaming someone this Halloween? DON’T TELL WOMXN WHAT TO DO WITH THEIR BODIES. Recognize that what someone is wearing is absolutely none of your business. Know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone wanting to dress slutty/racy/skimpy (whatever you wanna call it), whether it’s on Halloween or on a day to day basis. Drill it into your mind that what someone is wearing is never an invitation to comment on or touch that person. And boom! Follow those rules and, just like that, you can go as a non-violent misogynist for Halloween!

 

*Important Sidenote: Sex work is not a costume. Putting on clothes you wear at the club and going as a “stripper" or “hoe” not only shows the extent of your own internalized misogyny, but is offensive towards peoples’ whose lives are literally criminalized.

About The Author

Sage works as a stand in for carby foods in home and garden magazines, as they are regularly mistaken for a pile of mashed potatoes.
Learn too much about their mental illness/sex life @sagielouwho on Twitter