What if I Don’t Want to be a Whore? Female Stereotypes & the Hyper-Sexualization of Halloween

For the first time in my twenty-four years of existence, I didn’t go out for Halloween. A part of me thinks I’m just too damned exhausted; another part of me thinks what I’m really tired of is the costumes. What if I don’t want to be a whore?

Last year for Halloween, I dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and my room mate dressed as Alex from A Clockwork Orange. We went bar-hopping along Queen Street West in Toronto, and we were shocked at the amount of female flesh we saw laid bare for a chilly night in late October. Next year, we joked, we’d just go as whores—why bother dressing it up with cat ears or a bunny tail?

I’m not the first person to point out the lack of options for women on Halloween: remember this scene from the Sex and the City movie:

Miranda and Carrie are shopping for Halloween costumes. Frustrated, Miranda turns to Carrie, exclaiming: “Witch and sexy kitten. That’s it. The only two choices for women, with and sexy kitten?”

Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey, also pinpoints this sentiment:

“In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it. The hardcore girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears”

One look through the women’s section of the Party Packagers costume catalogue and you’ll get what I mean:

Why does every picture in this catalogue resemble the last five pages of NOW Magazine? For as little as $39.99 you, too, can participate in the hyper-sexualization of Halloween.

The truth is, I’m not really angry about the costumes. What I’m really angry about  is the cultural truth they reinforce: the costumes remind us that these days, after feminism, after Hillary Clinton, and even after Tina Fey, a woman can be anything she wants to be—a nurse, fire fighter, a police officer—but she will always first and foremost be a sex object.

-LM

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