It’s Almost Halloween, Cue the Slut-Shaming

Every year, about this time, it’s difficult to live in America and not hear something about women and skimpy Halloween costumes. To the untrained eye, the feminist critique of such costumes and the slut shaming jokes about those who choose to wear such costumes are indistinguishable.

The fight for gender equality is about people having power over themselves, to be able to make decisions and have choices that aren’t limited based on their gender. The problem with skimpy Halloween costumes is not their existence, and it is not that some people choose to wear them. Instead, the problem with skimpy Halloween costumes is that for those who would find themselves shopping for mass produced Halloween costumes (read: all Halloween costumes you buy at a chain store), the women’s choices are most often Skimpy or Nothing. Men are also not really presented with an option, but for them it’s either Full Coverage or Nothing. Indeed, for people who possess the ingenuity to create their own costumes with thrift store finds and / or a sewing machine, the problem of someone else dictating how revealing your costume will be doesn’t exist. However, we don’t exactly live in a culture that discourages purchasing everything you might want or need. Despite a growing trend of DIY enthusiasts, a large amount of folks will still be shopping for costumes, and they are right in taking issue with the all too present lack of coverage variations within costumes created for one gender.

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Yes, skimpy options are often the only costume options for women. Yes, that’s a shitty product of the sexism that still exists in our culture. No, it’s not wrong for women to choose these options. It is all too present in our society that women are chastised based on their chosen attire, and that is just as shitty at Halloween as it is during the rest of the year. No outfit a woman chooses to wear is an ‘invitation.’ No outfit a woman chooses to wear “sets back Women’s Rights.” Comments such as these are an attempt to police a woman’s attire while shaming the same woman because of her choice to wear a skimpy, sexy, form-fitting, or revealing costume is not any better than manufacturing such costumes as the only women’s version.

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