Not Your Trick, Not Your Treat
According to many there are only two kinds of girls on Halloween: those who choose to dress “slutty” and those who choose to dress silly. This essay discusses the former.
The term “slut-shaming” is probably not foreign to the majority; but its definition is “the action or fact of stigmatizing someone for engaging in behavior judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative”. Halloween is just around the corner, meaning that too many people, often women, will be forced to combat derogatory remarks regarding their clothing, makeup, or demeanor on October 31st.
The Halloween Slut Shaming Phenomenon follows the outdated idea that people, again usually women, who show more skin than is considered appropriate are asking for either harassment or attention. However, if you actually stop to think about it this idea makes no sense.
Dear Slut Shamers, do you really think that the young woman in the Wonder Woman costume rush shipped it from New Mexico in the hopes of running into you and your lecture? Do you really think she knows who you are? Do you know that she’s a consenting adult who wore this on purpose because she wanted to? Are you serious?
Comments that demean people or reduce them to sexual objects are dangerous because they suggest that sexual assault and harassment are the fault of the victim and not the aggressor. These violent words take the blame off of the cat callers, fondlers, and rapists because these notions assume that sexual assault is an involuntary action. To be clear, assault and harassment are not always premeditated; however, assaulting someone is a choice. Expressing one’s gender and sexuality does not warrant objectification or assault; there is a human behind the costume and your dangerous, slut-shaming comments make baseless assumptions about one’s character.
Think about it this way: Let’s say you had a really, really nice BMW and drove it to work right after buying it. You’re proud of it, you’re excited about it, and you bought it for yourself. But as soon as you park it in front of me I yell at you for flaunting your money, throw eggs at you and your new Beamer, then steal the keys and drive it myself without your permission because “you shouldn’t have been showing off like that and it triggered a response out of me”.
Should I be offended by your nice car? No.
Should I become upset by your choice to buy something nice for yourself? Double no.
Should I reprimand you for using the car for activities that you enjoy? Triple no.
Should you be angry at me for damaging your property? Yes.
Should you blame yourself for my intentional damage? Absolutely not.
This analogy was not created in order to delegitimize or belittle sexual assault or the violence associated with slut shaming Halloween costumes, but rather to explain the ridiculousness of victim blaming. My choices should not be connected to your own voluntary actions.
So how do we work on combatting slut shaming on Halloween? Well for starters, understanding that one’s expression of sexuality and gender has nothing to do with you or your level of comfort. Their choice in clothing, style, and attitude on Halloween was planned with their conscious thoughts in mind, and no one else’s. No really, that’s it. Others’ choices do not invite abuse, and the way they choose to express themselves is not your punchline.
Also, it’s important to remember that Halloween is all about fun, and your negative comments toward the guy in the Tarzan costume aren’t an invitation to touch his crotch or spoil his night. To put it simply: just don’t be that person, just don’t touch people without their permission, and just don’t take photos of them without their knowledge. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with “being a slut”; these so called “whores” are consenting adults making choices that make them feel comfortable.
Ultimately, if you liked a “Me, too” status recently but judge a person in a revealing costume you better believe that as soon as your derogatory comment is produced you become part of the problem. If you see someone this Halloween receiving unwanted advances, please do not be afraid to intervene or help them out. Slut shaming is a part of the rape culture that is alive and well in modern society, and taking action against it only helps make spaces safer for everyone.