Respect the "Slut" This Halloween

Halloween is finally here. And if you’re anything like me, you couldn’t be more excited to embrace your dark side. The temperature is dropping as fall eases into winter, and through October we can safely justify entire days of cuddling up in a hoodie and shamelessly indulging in horror movie marathons filled with sinister gore and fun-size candy bars. Decorations are everywhere, superstitions are running high, haunted houses are buzzing, and, of course, we’re all getting psyched for costume parties. But even with all the thrills and chills to get excited over, there are some undesirable side effects of Halloween that come out to bite as well. And in this case we’re looking at the infamous “slut shaming,” which seems to come out to play a little more than usual this time of year.

Slut shaming has been a public concern for women for ages. Whether we’ve come from lives of housework, higher education, eight hour days in an office, or the “social evils” of prostitution, men and women alike have found ways to degrade other women for their actions and appearances, generating a sick double standard and expectations for female sexuality.  Words like “slut,” “whore,” “loose,” and “easy,” have been thrown around as verbal tools used to reinforce the idea that women are to reserve their sexuality for pleasuring their men. So, while men hoot and holler, and exchange high-fives and beer clinks over their buddy’s most recent lay, women are expected to exercise a more low-key, or timid portrayal of their sexuality or else face brutal public belittlement and scrutiny, unsupportive judgment, and even physical violence for something as simple and human as exercising confident femininity.

Maybe even more so than sex, appearance is a huge component of this kind of social judgment. A twenty-something-year-old woman could be a virgin, but as soon as she steps outside in a mini skirt she’s deemed a woman who is “clearly asking for it.” Well, believe it or not, it is possible to consider a woman good-looking and hot in sexy attire without disrespecting her. Sometimes it’s nice to feel like a woman in public and catch a second look here and there. It feels good. It boosts confidence. But that kind of attention, maybe a smile from that cute guy across the room, isn’t the same as an extra friendly look up and down with hungry, greedy eyes. A woman should be allowed to look sexy and feminine without having to worry about incessantly being undressed by strangers’ eyes, or ending up forcibly in the hands of the wrong guy at the end of the night.

So, while you’re slipping into your costumes for that mixer, house party or public bash, guys, remember that when a woman shows up in a skin tight cat suit, or fishnets, she probably isn’t trying to send you a message to blatantly disrespect her. Acknowledge that she looks fantastic without being a jerk, even if that means getting razzed by your friends who have had maybe a few too many beers. And girls, if you’re not one to publicly sexualize your image, don’t be the girl who tears down someone else because she wants to express her femininity in public through showing a few more curves and a little extra skin. The female body is beautiful, and wanting to look good and feel sexy once in a while can be healthy. Don’t be the one to ruin that by reinforcing these heinous perceptions that women are whores for wanting to feminize their appearances. And for those of you ladies who are going all out to put a middle finger to slut shaming, bravo. Be safe, own your costume, and cheers to a happy Halloween.