Sex stereotyping and subliminal racism is never more in your-fucking-face than at Halloween. What do people really want when they wear those kinds of costumes? What's okay and not okay? Are there better ways of expressing your opinion that catcalling?

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In the words of the immortal Barney of How I Met Your Mother, probably one of the best television programmes of all time:

“You know what I love about Halloween?
It's the one night of the year chicks use to unleash their inner ho-bag.
If a girl dresses up as a witch, she's a slutty witch. If she's a cat, she's a slutty cat. If she's a nurse...she's a slutty nurse.”

The ridiculous thing about this quote is that, if the kinds of costumes you can find on sale at this time of year are anything to go by, it’s actually true. In addition to the usual mixture of nurses, pirates and thinly-veiled racism, you can also go to a party as...

    ■    ...sexy Donald Trump!
    ■    ...a hipster bee!
    ■    ...50s-style Pikachu!
    ■    ...sexed-up sea turtle, giraffe or whatever the fuck this is!
    ■    ...a slutty fortune cookie!
    ■    ...thinly-veiled innuendo designed to ruin your childhood!
    ■    ...sexually-liberated Darth Vader and their Ewok friend!
    ■    ...literally sexy Oscar the Grouch I’m not even kidding!

Anything caught your fancy yet?

Why have we sexualised Halloween so much?

Halloween is the one time of the year when everyone is simultaneously expected to do 'The Fancy Dress Thing'. 'The Fancy Dress Thing' terrifies most adults, so we retreat back into societally-mandated coping mechanisms to deal with it. For men, that’s being funny to the point of self-deprecation. For women, that’s “sexiness”.

What do the people wearing these costumes want?

This might come as a surprise after all my concerted piss-taking, but I don’t actually hate these costumes. I’d wear some of them, and a few are actually quite clever. I’m firmly of the opinion that mostly everyone should just do exactly whatever the fuck they like, and if that includes dressing up as a disturbingly age-inappropriate pie then so be it.

However subliminally, people like to feel as though they’re living up to what society tells them is important - and a woman’s worth, as we all know, is in her looks. I don’t think that’s all there is to it. Though; frankly, positive attention is fun. In safe spaces where I trust people not to cross my boundaries or make leering remarks, I wholeheartedly enjoy the attention garnered by an outfit that’s as much underwear as it is actual clothing.


What do the people wearing these costumes get?

Someone - a woman, in fact - once spent a couple of long, awkward minutes with her hands down my top rearranging my breasts in the middle of an event that is usually the safest space there is. I didn’t quite feel up to making a fuss about it at the time, but surprised myself when she’d finally finished by being actually really quite shaky and unsettled.

I once forgot to take a change of clothes to a fetish club with me, and had to get the night bus home wearing less than was perhaps ideal. Doing this in the company of others often gives me a rush of excitement and energy- at looking fabulous and not giving a shit. Doing this alone is fucking terrifying. I’ve never been so catcalled or felt so predated upon in all my life.

It’s not just about harassment, though. All too often you hear people talking about the women who wear these costumes as though they’re the problem, which is clearly manifest bullshit.

The Bottom Line

We need to stop laying the hate on stuff like this, I think. By all means call out the people who choose to wear racist stereotypes, and never let inherent sexism pass you by. The slut shaming, though? The horrible idea that enjoying sexy, attention-grabbing clothes somehow negates your intelligence? The sense of entitlement some people seem to feel over other people’s bodies?

That can all fuck right off.


Abi Brown is a freelance writer and general pen-for-hire devoted to sexual deviancy, far-left politics and wearing too much jewellery. Find her at her website or @see_abi_write.

Got a fucking question or weird scenario about, well... fucking? Our fucktastic Abi Brown, will answer any and all questions! Send her an email to AskAbi@fuck.com and get your question answered on Fuck.com!


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