Halloween Costumes: A Lesson and a Reminder
By Holly Jones
Please note: this article is catering to the nature of heterosexual engagements of the cis men and women, but this in no way means that this writer thinks that any queer, gay or trans*individuals are somehow incapable of dressing up and going out on Halloween. Believe me, they are.
The Plastics. Source: stopbeingaloser.org
“Halloween is the one night a year girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”
That questionable little gem of wisdom, for those of you not as familiar with mid-noughties chick flicks, is from Mean Girls and is an example of internalised misogyny*. There is, if you live by this rule, only one day out of 365 (or 366, but who’s counting?) in which a woman or girl can dress however she wants without fear of being judged by other girls – girls who would otherwise say that the way she is dressing is pandering to male sexuality, that she is attention-seeking, rather than wearing what she is because she likes it. That idea frightens me and should frighten you, too. I’d like that to happen every day of every calendar month.
Of course, in real life, even if girls aren’t commenting on what others are wearing, women and girls can dress in so-called ‘slutty’ Halloween costumes (“The hard-core girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears”) and expect exactly the same treatment from men as they do all every night out all year round: an entitlement that men, especially self-styled ‘lads’, have to comment on, or touch without permission – women’s bodies, without fear of consequence.
And then of course, if any consequences were to begin to manifest themselves, it was the girl’s fault for wearing ‘provocative’ clothing and of course, being as primal and knuckle-dragging as men apparently see themselves, he could not help but grope/sexually assault/rape as it is ingrained into his skull that women are not human, that women are a special interest group who have no value beyond the size of their breasts or whether they’re drunk enough to have sex with.
If that sounds too much like a rant, if you’re thinking “steady on, not all men view women like that! Not all men are incapable of distinguishing a consenting sexual partner from a drunk, inept woman!” then you need to read it again, and hear this:
If you are somebody who does not actively engage with other people – whether they be your friends who get a bit handsy with women and girls they haven’t even made eye contact with, or strangers you see propping up one of your inebriated female friends with his hands in her knickers – and make them aware as to what constitutes consent, you cannot take the moral high ground and bleat that you as an individual have never done such things, so you shouldn’t be made to feel like a bad person because of them.
‘Clownfish costume’ and ‘clownfish costume for women’. Hmm.
Sources: halloweencostumes.com and buycostumes4all.com
The truth is, that, on Halloween especially, women and girls are actively encouraged to wear ‘sexy’ costumes (I use the word loosely as ‘sexy Archaeologist’ or ‘sexy Angry Bird’ are not really the first things that spring to mind when considering what to wear for Halloween) because women’s and even young girls’ bodies are viewed as inherently sexual (see: ‘Boys’ Cookie Monster costume’ as being dressed up as Cookie Monster and ‘Girls’ Cookie Monster costume’ as being dressed up a sexed-up Cookie Monster) but this doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all in the clubs next Wednesday. If you’re someone who’s going out on the town, keep in mind that the women and girls you see are no less worthy of your respect whatever they are wearing, whatever they have been drinking and it is your responsibility to not take things too far without enthusiastic engagement.
A sexy giraffe. Because bestiality is no longer taboo! Source: Yandy.com
*That is, a general mistrust of girls which has been adopted by women and girls who cannot see the hypocrisy in it. It’s much the same attitude as the #reasonsifailatbeingagirl hashtag consisted of earlier this week, with girls decrying their fellow females – “I don’t really get on with many girls”, “Two things: Videogames and sci fi films” “I don’t CARE about calories. If I’m hungry , I’m gonna eat!”. Distancing oneself, as a girl, from stereotypically girly things (because other girls are so catty, so obsessed with losing weight and looking their best and trying to impress boys) highlights the fact that male traits are seen as more desirable in our society.