This week at Thought Catalog, I have had it with the judgement-disguised-as-feminism that characterizes so much of the debate about sexualized Halloween costumes:
Oh, good, it’s nearly Halloween. Time for our annual collective conniption fit over the continuing dominance of “sexy _____” costumes donned by young women, and increasingly by young girls. It’s a time when even people who don’t identify as feminists for the other eleven months of the year can shake their heads at how skimpy Halloween costumes have become, how every costume marketed to girls and women is sexualized, often to a point beyond parody. If you made a word cloud for every month of a given year, the words “whores” and “slutty” would be much larger in October than in any other month of the year, and that is saying something.
So let me get in early this year and say that if you’re planning to lament the sexualization of Halloween costumes by calling them “slutty” or, as these two women recently put it, “whorified,” don’t. Stop it. You’re not helping.
I want to be clear: for women and girls, Halloween has become sexualized to a point that would be laughable if it weren’t so worrying (Sexy Scrabble Board? Yep, that costume exists to be bought. It’s a minidress with a Scrabble board screen-printed on it). The fact that girls and women dress up, en masse, in skimpy costumes, while boys and men rarely do the same, suggests that there is a good deal of sexism afoot in how we now do Halloween. As in many cases, when it comes to “sexy” Halloween costumes, it’s hard to tell where social pressure and marketing stop and agency and personal decision-making start; it is foolish and insulting to imagine that girls and women are easily duped into the costumes they wear, just as it is simplistic and unfair to blame a large cultural problem solely on individual girls and women. And there are some excellent, laudable efforts to push back against the sexualization of girls, and to present an alternative view of girlhood, like SPARK, which objects to the use of “girls’ and women’s bodies as a marketing tool and a ratings grabber” (get ready for the usual October onslaught of cable news segments that titillate while pretending to inform, using the question, “have Halloween costumes gone too far?” as an excuse to use their seemingly endless B-roll of scantily-clad women).
You can read the whole thing here.