Ah, Halloween. That special time of year when a person can scare a total stranger on the sidewalk and get high-fived for it, instead of getting punched in the face. Halloween is an ebullient holiday that provides a pressure-free day/night of fun for children and adults alike. It is a unique and entirely illogical holiday that combines sugary treats with elements of horror. Whether it be trick-or-treating, walking through a haunted-house, carving pumpkins, parading, or going to a drunken masquerade party looking to get laid, Halloween has something for everybody. It is estimated that Americans will spend around 1 billion dollars on Halloween in 2014. One of the things people will be buying this holiday is costumes.
Wearing a costume is an integral part of the Halloween experience; it is also the least enjoyable. There are only a handful of times in which dressing up is socially acceptable: Christmas, Comic Con, Halloween, St. Patricks Day, Football games, and if you’re a 1930s comedian or a celebrity who makes poor life choices, a vaudevillian blackface performance. To me, dressing up in a costume is like having penile elongation surgery. There may be some purpose to it, and in my case, a need for it, but I’d rather not partake. What I can appreciate about Halloween is the fact that it provides people with a unique outlet for expressing themselves. Unfortunately, this “expression” is often accomplished through cultural appropriation or abusing racial stereotypes. Even if it is not done with any malicious intent, people should be mindful of how they dress, especially with the plethora of costume options at our disposal. There is really no limit on what you can dress up as, except if you’re a female. Recently, it seems that female costumes have been narrowed down to “slutty” versions of professions or other characters. Such as the “slutty nurse”, the “slutty pumpkin”, the “slutty doctor”, the “slutty ebola”, or even the “slutty Joe Biden”. Female costumes have become overtly about sexual exploitation. Woman are forced to wear slutty clothing which perpetuates female objectification and negative stereotypes on the subject of “beauty”. Halloween costume business owners should be ashamed of themselves!!!
Of course, that is all nonsense. That’s not to say that business are not promoting more risqué costumes, they most certainly are. And that’s not to say that as a society we don’t have a long way to go on gender equality, we do (just check out this story or this one or this). Regardless of those facts, Halloween costumes for women should not be a contentious topic. Now, I should acknowledge that I am biased on this issue. As a straight man (except for Mondays), I am a big proponent of women wearing revealing clothing. Even so, objectively speaking, there is nothing inherently wrong with a woman or a man wearing a more suggestive costume if they choose to do so. What these costume critics fail to understand is that by equating revealing clothing/costumes with “sluttiness”, they are inadvertently perpetuating a dangerous stereotype that they have long been fighting against: that revealing clothing is somehow equivalent to “being a whore”, which is absolutely false. Showing skin does not make a person “immoral” or “slutty”. It is this line of thinking that promotes misogyny and discrimination. By criticizing “slutty” costumes, these Halloween detractors are actually facilitating this particularly harmful mindset, instead of thwarting it. Women are judged every day of their lives by what they wear, how they dress, how they talk, and much much more. Halloween is/should be the one day that they “can dress up like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything about it“. It should be the one day where people can dress how they want, free of judgement. So let’s allow women to make their own choices and let’s keep our opinions to ourselves.