Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Call It Slutty: Changing The Launguage Surrounding Halloween Costumes

"In the regular world, Halloween is when little kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress as a total slut, and no other girls can say anything bad about it."

If only. Many young women show skin on Halloween, to be sure, but their peers aren't exactly keeping their mouths shut about it. There's plenty of girl-bashing and slut shaming surrounding Halloween as well as sexualization and sexual liberation, which I'm sure Ariel Levy would have plenty to say about. People call Halloween "Slutoween" as a clever joke, referring to the number of "sluts" running around in "skanky" costumes. When my mom and I used to shop for costumes, she would call many of the ones I picked out "slutty." Last week, as I mentioned previously, there was a piece in my university's newspaper entitled "Trick or Tramp."

This. Needs. To stop.

Seriously, it's only contributing to our culture's horrible trend of slut-shaming when you call a girl in a skimpy costume a tramp, or a whore, or a slut, or a skank, or any of those words. It doesn't help to refer to the costumes themselves as slutty. The word "slut" is a funny word, it can have a positive or negative connotation depending on whether you think being sexual is a good thing or not. Feminists have the SlutWalk, where they try to take back the word slut and, more importantly, insist that no matter how much of a "slut" a woman is, or how slutty she's perceived to be, it's not okay to rape her (honestly, the latter reason is the only reason I'm okay with the name of those demonstrations, knowing the history of why the walks started in the first plce). Jenna Marbles did a "pro-slut" rant on YouTube where she dissed the trend of girl-bashing, and good for her! But her constant use of the word slut was, to me, problematic. However, "slut" is still largely used as a judgmental word, used to diss someone for being too sexual.

I'd rather see people who criticize these costumes use words like skimpy and revealing when referring to the costume, and inappropriate when talking about costumes for teenage girls. I'd like to see the judgmental girl-bashing to come to swift end, as soon as possible. If someone truly and genuinely wants to use Halloween as a time of sexual liberation when they can unleash their wild side and show a little more skin than usual, why is it anyone else's problem? Trends can be problematic, the rampant sexualization surrounding Halloween is a feminist issue to be sure, but individual behavior is really only a problem when someone gets hurt as a result.

And guys, I'm sure you love seeing cleavage and thighs on Halloween, but maybe consider the idea that Halloween isn't really about you getting a boner. I always thought that's what Mardi Gras was for anyway. Personally, I wish we as a society would scrap the sexy trend on Halloween in favor or a return to scary costumes on Halloween - for everyone, not just for guys. Sometimes I wonder if women were ever socially allowed to wear scary costumes. I know I'm going as a sexy jellyfish this year (originality for the win), but I think next year I'm gonna scrap the glitter and tights in favor of old, torn clothing and lots of fake blood and zombie makeup. A zombie usher, perhaps. Covered in popcorn. With a broom "fused" to me somehow! Yeah . . .

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