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Slut-shaming Is The Scariest Thing About Halloween

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Halloween is, without a doubt, my favourite time of year.

As an October baby, I would have Halloween-themed fancy dress parties; my classmates dressed as toilet-paper-mummies or slick vampires- hair gelled harshly to their heads. I think that’s probably my favourite part of Halloween – the costumes.

Every year there is a reigning King or Queen of Halloween- with 2016 hailing Harley Quinn as the costume of the year. 2017 has a clear choice too, with the “Pennywise make-up tutorial” returning nearly 95k results on YouTube. “You’ll float too” is undoubtedly the slogan of the evening, with red glittered lips and white faces a sure sight at every Halloween party and club night. Unfortunately with this comes the annual slut-shaming of costumes that women have to contend with every year. This particular trend doesn’t seem to die out, rearing its ugly head to denounce the “hoes” and “sluts” who dare to bare their skin each year. Straight off the bat, social media outlets such as Twitter are teeming with venom:

“I hate girls who use Halloween as an excuse to dress like a slut”

“It’s Halloween, I’m a cat” no, you’re a slag in a short skirt with fake ears.”

“Halloween has turned into a hoe holiday!”

Just some of the delights on offer this year. Every year I’m baffled at why so many people are outraged at the female body, why a pair of breasts or a flash of butt cheek deserves so much hatred and anger and offence. Sometimes we’re targeted by Halloween warriors declaring that it’s “not scary enough,” or that we “haven’t made the effort.” Usually, these same people are those wearing a white t-shirt splattered with fake blood who told people they’re zombies. The worst offender, according to the “Ban Boobs Brigade,” is the classic “slutty cat.” A fairly harmless outfit by all accounts- one which usually consists of a black outfit paired with some felt cat ears on a headband. Groundbreaking? No. Offensive? Apparently so.

The uproar. The mocking. The downright verbal assaults to be expected if one wanted to sport a skintight catsuit and cat ears. That was one Halloween outfit choice that was simply too much for an ex-boyfriend… he had to “put his foot down” apparently. An Ann Summers black PVC jumpsuit was simply not acceptable for public wear, and so, I went as a slutty nurse instead. But a dead body? Fine. Rotting corpse? A-okay. Terrorist? Exposed paedophile Jimmy Saville? Murderer? All acceptable costumes. That same guy who clutched his pearls at the cat costume dressed as the Ebola virus for a Halloween party. A former work colleague and her boyfriend went as OJ Simpson and his dead wife. In 2013, two girls from Chester went as the Twin Towers attack, and WON A COSTUME COMPETITION.

All arguably more disturbing and insulting than the usual suspects; Playboy Bunny, Sexy Cop, Devil. And yet, all shrugged off, perhaps the subject of viral outcry for a week and then forgotten as “part of the fun.” We, as women, do not have that luxury. Instead, we’re lambasted on social media and in person every single year for being tramps, skanks, hoes, slags, attention-seeking trash who parade and peacock ourselves in skimpy outfits for the benefit and prejudice of men.

Actually, that isn’t why we do it at all. There are two very good reasons why women wear revealing Halloween costumes.

The first, is that sometimes very little else is available. One of the major first stops for costumes is Ebay. One quick search for superhero costumes divided by gender highlights the immediate differences – the men are given all-in-one options, some with and some without the padded muscles of the Hulk or Superman. All long sleeved, full coverage, with capes and masks and shoe covers. Fairly normal. For women? It’s an array of low-cut, skin-tight, shiny, corseted options. Most are short skirts, some are tight-fitted catsuits, some are simply high-cut bodysuits; essentially a swimsuit with a superhero logo emblazoned over the (plunging) chest area. “Sexy” is the default option given to us, otherwise it’s a manual job of searching for something loose or long or funny. It’s a common double standard of society; that women should be sexy to please men, but not so much that they threaten other woman, or that they “give the wrong impression.” Look good, but not too good. If you look too good then it isn’t a display – it’s an invitation.

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That “invitation” is for spite, judgement, slut-shaming, and on the darker end of the spectrum, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. All in our heads? Tell that to Donna Karan, a fashion designer who recently dismissed disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s victims as “asking for it” by wearing the wrong “type” of clothing. “How do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?” The short answer to that, is NO. It is never the victim’s fault. End of debate, no negotiation, any other “opinion” is irrelevant and inaccurate. Period. So, other than finding it hard to choose a costume that isn’t “sexy,” why else do women flaunt our bodies so flippantly on Hallows eve? 

Because, my dear, we want to.

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Confidence is beautiful, it’s positive, it’s precious. It should not be dictated by small minds or envious tongues. It should not be slandered or silenced or scorned, it should be celebrated. There are no “rules” to Halloween, it’s different across the globe. It’s diverse. It’s spooky, it’s scary, it’s sexy. It’s skulls, it’s superheroes, it’s slutty cats. Halloween is ageless, size less, careless. I have been a witch, a corpse bride, a devil. I have been a slutty nurse, a sexy leopard, and tonight, a sultry mermaid. Some girls prefer to dress as a pumpkin, or a banana, or Uncle Fester. To them I say: “You do you!” 

I have proudly “hoed it up” on October 31st for years, and I will continue to do so until I personally make the choice to stop. After all, I’d rather show some killer cleavage than spiteful ignorance any day.

 

Written by Faith Blumberger

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Written by Faith Blumberger

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Faith Blumberger is a writer, feminist and social media obsessive, who is always online and opinionated.

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