On Halloween, I went out to dinner and saw a Slutty Nerd, a woman in a short skirt, heels and black-rimmed glasses, and a Sexy Nun, a woman in a revealing nun’s outfit baring her breasts and knees, again wearing high heels. This isn’t atypical for Halloween. The costumes offered and chosen by women on this holiday are rarely funny, politically-savvy or even scary (unless they are Slutty Vampire, of course). Instead, they are sexually promiscuous versions of quotidian professions, like maids, or popular culture characters, like Sponge Bob. The purpose of Halloween in every culture and incarnation is to turn societal priority on its head. What commentary are women who choose sexy costumes, even on this day of trickery and upended expectation, making?
It’s not just on Halloween that women are expected to be sexy versions of themselves. Time and time again, on television and in the movies, at bars or in restaurants, women are allowed to be anything they want to be, as long as they’re sexy first. Nobody wants to date a physicist or a professor, but if she’s a sexy physicist or a sexy professor, then they're all for it. Let women be anything they want to be as long as they have a sexy décolletage underneath their button-downs and librarian glasses. All of this is wrapped up in a guise that women must use their femininity—read, their sex appeal—to get ahead in life. If you've got it, flaunt it. Are we really supposed to believe that a woman seducing her boss to get a promotion at her company is some version of empowerment?
This daily expectation is what makes Halloween sluttiness—and college theme parties for that matter—that much more confusing. Halloween is all about societal critique: big-nosed Ross Perot masks, skeleton costumes and even Marty McFly homages illustrate priorities, fears and problems in American culture. Slutty Halloween costumes seem to comment that women need to use their sexuality in every type of situation; specifically, women can be anything they want to be as long as sexiness is still their priority. Furthermore, what is subversive about a slutty Halloween costume? How does it differ from women’s day-to-day expectations? Women are always supposed to be sexy, regardless of situation or profession. Sexy Halloween costumes that are really just exaggerated continuations of women’s daily expectations.
What do you think about the expectations of sexiness for women both on and after Halloween?