Late night sex talk: Slut shaming on Halloween

Halloween is upon us. It is coming up in just a few days, and that means parties, haunted houses, possibly some bad decisions being made and, arguably the best part, costumes.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am actually really excited. I’m mostly psyched to see all the superhero/villain Homecoming outfits that are about to be recycled, but that is neither here nor there. This column is about sex and, believe it or not, there are some definite connections between sex politics and Halloween.

Every year, companies literally sell sex in the form of super-skimpy Halloween costumes for women. And, every year without fail, many of us ladies choose to buy them. Now, before anyone thinks, “Yes, someone’s going to discourage girls from wearing slutty outfits” let me stop you right there. That’s not what I am about to do.

I am not here to ride in on my high horse, wearing a witty Halloween costume that shows no skin, and condemn the girl who decided to be Sexy Tinker Bell. In fact, I am here to give that girl a high-five and compliment her glitter eye shadow, because she probably looks awesome in it.

Let me say something right off the bat: what you do with your body is nobody’s business but your own. Society will tell you otherwise, but it’s true, you do you, always and forever.

We really like to put women into boxes, and try to control their bodies in every way possible. The abortion debate, the lack of accessible and affordable birth control, and the fact that women pay more for health insurance because of necessary procedures and exams are all physical, big-picture examples of this attempt at control. But since this issue is a product of a patriarchal society, which we all live in, like it or not, it trickles down to even the most trivial situations – like what we decide to wear, for example.

It has been said, by Lindsay Lohan, to be specific, that Halloween is a time for girls to dress as slutty as they would like without the fear of anyone persecuting them for it. I see that as partially true, and I also see it as a problem.

I don’t think that girls wearing skimpy Halloween costumes are completely free from persecution. I think people still judge and critique the Sexy Tinker Bells of our time because slut shaming is a very ingrained, normalized part of our society, and that means it is happening all the time and all around us. But I do still think there’s something to be said about the fact that Halloween, a day in which the whole point is to pretend to be something else, is the single time we’re supposedly free to wear what we want.

We live in a backwards society, to be honest. Women are constrained to the virgin/whore dichotomy, so we are seen as sex objects and our value is determined by our sexual status, but we cannot win either way. If you’re a virgin, you’re a prude—but if you’re a whore, you’re worthless. It’s all pretty messed up, and one of the ways we see the effects of these beliefs is our reaction to a woman in a miniskirt. Which is exactly why I’m writing this today.

I wish I could just scream ‘DO NOT SLUT SHAME’ into everyone’s face until the world understands, but that is neither efficient nor effective. But, basically, my point is this: you have no right to comment on someone’s body, plain and simple. You have no right or reason to tell someone how to dress and, therefore, how to express themselves. When a woman chooses a sexy Halloween costume (or a sexy anything, any time of the year), she is taking ownership of her body and flipping the metaphorical bird to the standards put upon her by history and society.

The girl in the Sexy Tinker Bell outfit is no less smart than you. She is no less talented or strong, and she does not value herself less than you do because she is bearing more skin. She deserves respect, just like every human being on the planet. And, if you are also worthy of respect, you will not whisper about her outfit to your friends behind her back. You will high-five her and compliment her eye shadow, and you will leave her alone.

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