Skepticism

Spooky. And sexy!

Every year around this time, people start asking what happened to Halloween. There are a number of complaints about it, these days, including but not limited to:

  • Not scary enough
  • Too safe
  • Too many punk kids not dressing up
  • Too many satanists destroying Christianity
  • Not enough Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes at the local CVS

And then there’s something I’ve been joking about for quite a while now — the proliferation of the sexy costume. The average woman who wants to purchase a costume has no choice but to procure the “sexy” version of whatever she wants to be. This includes: sexy witch, sexy vampire, sexy cat, sexy bunny, sexy cavewoman, sexy Starbucks girl, sexy bumblebee, sexy prospector, sexy golfer, sexy judge, sexy fast food worker, sexy Statue of Liberty, sexy Minnie Mouse, sexy Rainbrow Bright, sexy Girl Scout, and sexy construction worker. Right now you’re thinking I threw in a few funny ones just to make you laugh. I DIDN’T. They’re all sold right here. To be honest I kind of like Rainbrow Bright.

This recent article in the New York Times asks what is behind this absurdity. Some seem to place a lot of blame on the costume companies, which is just a little ridiculous — they wouldn’t sell the things if people weren’t buying them. If you’ve ever been in a Halloween/costume shop, you’ll know that they don’t really put a ton of effort into marketing the things. It’s usually cheap fabric tossed into a clear plastic bag with an embarassing photo on the front. A lot of women want to dress up like that — so is that a problem?

Maybe, maybe not. Halloween has become a day during which you can be whatever you want, for just one night. Some people go with the traditional scary, some go with funny, and it doesn’t really seem like cause for alarm that some women want to be overtly sexual. It’s fun to dress up like that, and it’s fun to feel sexy. When else do you get a chance to look like a slutty Girl Scout? I mean, besides that year you hit puberty and noticed boys before the other girls in your troop?

One person quoted in the article points to a double standard, in that men’s costumes tend to be crass, not sexy. Is that really a double standard, or do most men just not care about being sexy on Halloween? Most guys I know enjoy a good chainsaw massacre over the latest Sandra Bullock movie, so is it really that big of a surprise that they’d rather slather themselves in blood rather than walk around in a g-string?
That’s when it comes to adults, of course. How about the kids? Surely the trend of sexxxing up Halloween is only relevant to the 16+ crowd?

Excuse me, I have to go ponder my new-found hatred of humanity.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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13 Comments

  1. "The average woman who wants to purchase a costume has no choice but to procure the “sexy” version of whatever she wants to be."

    Get a male or unisex costume, or make your own costume. I mean, if you want to be something like a zombie, pirate, cowboy, or lumberjack, you'd be better off getting something at the thrift store than buying the cheap flimsy crap they sell at the costume store. Only if you want to be a trademarked character, like Superman or Darth Ridiculous, does a store-bought costume look better than a home-made one.

  2. So, which of the Bostonians out there are up for rooting through the dollar-a-pound pile at the Garment District with me?

    (Well, actually, ever since I got that tweed jacket and sewed on the suede elbow patches, every day is All Hallows Eve. I go as the chalk-dusted professor. Unfortunately, the young women who try for that look have to go as sexy chalk-dusted professors, and that can only end badly.)

  3. Joshua, I have no idea what you're talking about but I love augmented realities. Let me know details if you find them out, and I'd be up for a Bostonian skeptical meet-up sort of thing.

    And I LOVE the Garment District, Blake, if only to people watch as the old ladies fight over used pajamas in the dollar a pound area.

  4. Calling all Boston skeptics: individualists, unite! (-;

    My favourite part of that New York Times article was the following:

    Many women’s costumes, with their frilly baby-doll dresses and high-heeled Mary Janes, also evoke male Lolita fantasies and reinforce the larger cultural message that younger is hotter.

    I recall reading that Vladimir Nabokov once said,

    I am probably responsible for the odd fact that people don't seem to name their daughters Lolita any more. I have heard of young female poodles being given that name since 1956, but of no human beings.

    Given that Nabokov always mourned having to abandon his native Russian for a command of English he felt to be second-rate, and knowing that Humbert Humbert perenially failed to master the slang employed by his Lolita, it is deliciously ironic that both "Lolita" and "nymphet" have gained such prominence in modern colloquial talk. And, surely neither Humbert nor his maker could have forseen the Gothlolis and Lolicons of Japan. . . .

  5. I don't think anybody could have forseen… Japan. Just in general.

    Rebecca, et. al, here are a pair of links concerning "Ghosts of Liberty". The first is a Globe article on it, the second is the tour/game's website:
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/http://urban.conditor.com/ghosts.html

    I guess we could start a thread on the forum (I have an account, I may as well start using it) to work out the details if people are keen on the idea.

  6. This year, I am going as a two-tailed t-test. I bought two devil tails, and I am going to draw the t-test on a t-shirt. Har-dee-har-har. I have stats class that day, so I thought I should wear an appropriate costume. :)

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