31 October 2007

Halloween Sluts

OK, OK, stop cheering. There are no actual Halloween sluts here. (I know, I just lost all my readers...) I'm talking about the phenomenon of Halloween sluts. You know, the thing where dress-up party season rolls around, and so many independent, modern feminist, liberated women say things like, "I think I'm going to be a nurse. But, a sexy nurse!"

In theory, when you're playing dress-up, there's no point in dressing as who and what you are, unless you have an extremely overactive irony gland. Dressing as who you are is like any other day. Costumes are about being something you're not. So what does it say that so many women want to be Sexy Something for Halloween? And, perhaps more importantly, how did sexy get moved off the body, and become simply another element of costume? Just like there are costume pieces that say "rich" or "poor" or "violent" or "infantile"... certain costume pieces say "sexy". So, it's no longer about the woman's body--it got transferred to her closet.

Is intrinsic sexiness no longer a commodity women possess? Consider all the cultures in the world that do or have required women to stay covered, stay hidden, stay away from stranger's eyes. The theory is that women are inherently desirable, and the sight of the smallest part of her corporeal self will incite riot. Not the body, only. Women have, in different times and places, been obliged to bind their hair, cover their gaze, and live entirely apart from others in their community. That sort of attitude speaks of a dangerous kind of appeal, the sort of uncontrollable power that must be mastered at all costs.

Has that power, at least in the western world of power suits and superwomen, been expended? Have women relinquished so much of their magic, in the drive for so-called* equality? Has the feminine mystique become so dilute that we need to pretend to be sexual creatures once a year, because it would be fun to pretend, but not to actually be sexual creatures for real?

To be perfectly plain, I believe what is referred to as "sexiness" in the sense of the sexy costume is a license to command attention. It is a pass on all the things women so often apologize for, a long list often including such transgressions as: having sexual desires, having ANY desires, having skills and abilities men don't have, wanting power, position, and compensation, having opinions, having goals, not always being able to fulfill the supportive role but sometimes needing support instead, and of course the inevitable crime of having expelled the boys from the womb in the first place. (This is a crime of which all boy's mothers are guilty, and can never be forgiven.) In some regards, women live their apologies for these issues. So, on Halloween, when a female type person decides that, just for this one night, it's OK to play the role of the temptress at whose patent-leather, spike-heel clad feet the men must inevitable crawl... she's reclaiming just the tiniest taste of her power.

I support that, actually. Some people will say it's perpetuating sexism. Disagree! I say, those other 364 days, when women are suppressing their interest in being sexy, in owning that power... those days perpetuate repression of women and their power. Please observe: it's incredibly rare that men choose Halloween to give free rein to their inner gigolo. Quite the contrary, Halloween is the time that men are playing dress up and exploring their cross-dressing side, their 80s look, their love of togas, their secret fascination with serial killers. Things men are not addressing the rest of the year. Why? Because men already own up to their sexual nature. It's not necessary to pretend to have it once a year, they don't have to unbutton the top 3 buttons of their shirts and flex their muscles for an audience on just one night of the year, they can do that all the time. (Not saying that's how all men express their sexual nature, but that's more or less the equivalent of the Sexy Cheerleader costume.) Aside from, perhaps, "dead," I can't think of a single theme that unifies mens' costume choices, the way "sexy" unifies womens'.

Anyway, for the one person who is still reading this, I offer you a fun little video about where to go to get your very own Sexy Something costume. Or, frog.

* Equal rights, yes, but we are biologically a sexually dimorphic species, actual male-female parity is gonna be a long, long row to hoe...

1 comment:

Rufus said...

Apparently, Jill Souble has written a song about slutty costumes. It's fairly amusing and features the theremin, which is always a plus.