Sociology of Halloween Costumes for Women

Sociology of Halloween Costumes for Women

Today is Halloween in Australia. We don’t really celebrate Halloween as a nation, although trick or treating is slowly becoming more common in some areas. (The kids in my court have been preparing all week by walking back and forth to each other’s houses with little Halloween buckets!) So unless you’re a horror lover like myself, you may only see costumes if you got to a Halloween party. But if you’ve ever had to dress up, as I did a couple of months back for my niece’s party, it can be tough to find a costume that doesn’t hyper-sexualise women, unless of course you make your own. 

There’s a scene in the Tina Fey movie Mean Girls, where the lead character dresses up in an awesome scary costume and everyone is astonished because she isn’t in a revealing outfit (acceptable outfits featured are “sexy mouse”). In the film, they call this the “slut rule.” From the script:

“In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.The hard-core girls just wear lingerie and some form of animal ears.” 

This passage not only shows how society pathologises women’s sexuality (if you’re sexual you must be a “slut”), but it also reflects how women are punished for their sexuality when acting outside of the constrictive norm (you’re only allowed to be “sexy” on special occasions, like Halloween, and even then you have to follow inane rules about what’s deemed attractive). 

Halloween is also a time when people will be culturally insensitive with their costume choices, thinking minorities should be flattered that their culture is sexualised and fetishised for one day of the year.

I love ghouls, so if you can’t revel in horror with your costume choice, women can still have fun and be empowered, like this little girl who dreams of being a scientist working for NASA!

Image: Jeff Parker. [Text] “Don’t get me wrong, the princess costume is nice, Mum. But this Halloween, I thought I’d dress up as a NASA Mission Commander…” 

#sociology #socialscience  #feminism #stemwomen   #women   #girls