ChoiceWords Blog

Your urgent thoughts, urging action

Don’t Slut-Shame Halloween

Posted by

October 31, 2012

 

As a free-thinking woman living in the 21st century, I am deeply offended by the slut-shaming that coincides with the arrival of Halloween. Finally Feminism 101 defines slut-shaming as shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging/acting on sexual feelings. This message implies that sexuality is bad, and as a society we have the right to objectify women based on their clothing (or lack thereof.) The disdain expressed for some costumes is something I would usually expect from the conservative medium, not from fellow women.

Let me tell you first that I realize that there is a great divide on this issue of the portrayal of women, sexism, expectations, etc. I come from the belief that “If you got it, flaunt it.” Even if you don’t “got it,” I still hope that any man or woman would be comfortable wearing what makes them feel good. I don’t open my armoire every day and think to myself “Which outfit would society find to be appropriate for me to wear today?” It’s usually, “Hey this shirt looks good on me!” “I like the way this skirt makes my body look, what shoes should I wear?” I’ve gotten comments from superiors that I should wear clothing that is “more comfortable on the eyes for the elderly.” These comments deeply offended me, and I felt it was a personal attack on my person. Why would someone judge my efficacy based on how thick the straps of my shirt were?

There are many people who disagree with me on this issue. I take no offense to that, in fact I want to encourage the discussion and get down to the root issue of why we’re judging others in the first place. I don’t disagree that there is a noticeable difference in the costumes made for men or women, but we also have the choice to wear whichever one we want. No one expects us to be nearly nude, I don’t agree with the assertion that as women we are expected to wear scarce clothing on October 31st. A blog that outlines the difference between men and women’s costumes can be seen here.

This version of slut-shaming during the season is different than that which see when the discussion surrounds how women are seen as “asking for it” when they wear revealing clothing.  Instead it highlights the underlying psychological problem that a woman is only worth what we see at face value. It suggests that the more of our body we cover the better – can you think of any other society that holds these beliefs? I can and I know the implications it can have on a society. See – My Forbidden Face – Latifa.

Halloween gives people the opportunity to dress however they want to either assume another’s role for a night, or just to have fun. Men can dress like women without ridicule; people can dress as Nuns and Missionaries without being shunned; and women can be a sexy nurse, a sexy apple, a sexy fork for all I care – and the only one that has a problem with that are those who find issue within themselves.

How can we as feminists feel pride in what we wear while at the same time condemning sexist stereotypes? I believe that this is a personal decision. Some women may find it appropriate to burn their bras in spirit of smashing the patriarchy. Others embrace their sexuality, their body, and own the body they have and adorn it to whatever occasion is appropriate (for them). For me I wear what gives me confidence, (yeah it might include low cut shirts, tight fitting skirts, and heels) and I take that confidence and use it to my advantage. If a costume I’m wearing is “sexy” it’s not sexy because of how little fabric holds it together, it’s sexy because I make it sexy.

Halloween costumes of past and present, I think they’re all sexy.












Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “Don’t Slut-Shame Halloween”

  1. Andrew

    I'm so glad you brought this up, Amanda. It's something that doesn't get talked about enough when Halloween rolls in. I think we have to separate the sexism and misogyny embedded in the costume industry, from the choices women make to wear certain costumes on Halloween.

    An often overlooked aspect of Patriarchy's work is scapegoating. Instead of focusing on the underlying problems with the costume industry, we're busy blaming and slut-shaming women for their clothing choices.

    Women - and men - should be able to wear as much, or as little, clothing as they want on Halloween, and they should be able to do it free of stigma and judgement.

    Great post Amanda!

  2. Kate

    This point is not made enough! So often in this movement we push the pendulum so far one direction that we do more harm than good!

    Personally. I opt for more full coverage costumes, only because it's too damn cold on Halloween and I am a wimp like that.

    You look awesome in all of your costumes!