Welcome to your local Halloween shop, a place where you are able to not only pick up your child’s Iron Man suit, but also a new outfit for your sex doll, like the sexy “Ivanna Nibble” vampire costume, which comes with the warning label, “For adult use only.”
The first thing I see as I enter my local Halloween shop is a life-sized photograph of a woman in a rainbow mini skirt, a low-cut blue halter top with big red buttons and four inch red pumps. She isn’t wearing any face paint or a red nose like her male counterpart in the photo, yet I know this is my female option for a clown costume. However, I doubt I would have made the connection that she is supposed to be a clown if there hadn’t been a man dressed in an actual clown costume in the photo with her.
I remember going to parties when it has been hard to discern what the majority of the people were dressed as with such little fabric to
give the proper cues. As I go down the aisles and see such options as “racy referee” and “perky plumber,” I wonder, if you’re not actually going as a prostitute, should you really be dressed as a prostitute?
I am thankful for the women who came before me and have made my life easier. I understand women have fought tirelessly for our freedoms and believe women should be able to express ourselves in any way we please. I just ask myself if the majority of women I see every Halloween really dress like this for themselves? Maybe, but which culture seems more patriarchal? One where women are pressured by society to cover their bodies, or one where they are pressured by society to reveal their bodies?
As a woman, especially those of us in college, there is an expectation that whatever we choose to dress up as will be hyphenated with the adjective ‘slutty’ in front of it. It seems that as soon as we are too old to trick-or-treat, the role of Halloween for women shifts to sexual fantasy.
There were virtually no scary costumes in the adult section. What resonates about Halloween with adults who continue to dress up is the ability to express an idea. Those who use the holiday as an opportunity to scare are in the minority. The only costumes that wouldn’t give you risk of catching pneumonia went to the other extreme and were completely covered. The covered options advertised for women were a penguin costume and a baby costume. Apparently a slutty baby still crosses a line here in West Michigan.
Of course our Halloween shop is not alone in the costume world. Costume shops all over the country provide these options for women and little else. If Halloween is about freedom of expression, then shouldn’t we have more options? A holiday that calls for a night free of social judgment shouldn’t have expectations. If women aren’t dressing this way out of expectation, then may I ask, if Halloween is your one night to freely express anything you wish about yourself or society without judgment, is saying “I could be promiscuous if wanted to be” really what you want to say?