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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sexy Halloween costumes: Scary trick or tart treat?


Columnist Anna Swenson does her own Pro/Con on scandalous Halloween costumes from a woman’s perspective.

PRO: Sexy costumes are spunky, subversive

Pull up those fishnets and lace up your corset with pride, ladies! Halloween is the perfect night to feel beautiful as well as hit society where it hurts.

For one short night of the year, women can be sexually liberated without fear and without shame. Any time in which society encourages women to be freer and more open is something everyone should embrace.

Women are usually repressed by societal restrictions, fear of what other girls will say about them, hesitation regarding what kind of guys they will attract and apprehension about how guys will view them. Halloween is one harmless night to go out and flaunt what you’ve got, even if you’re normally self-conscious about that part of yourself.

Looking sexy makes you feel good, brave and powerful. Women have the advantage in so few situations, so we should embrace every one we can. Dressing sexy encourages women to have the confidence to throw away your everyday hesitations and don the lace-up stiletto boots with pride.

Halloween is a chance to embrace and undermine what society says women should be and a safe space to question these images being sold to us. It’s the one night of the year when even the primmest girl can throw off her cardigan and admit that she too has sexual urges. Women want sex and can seek sexual pleasure just like men do. The overt sexuality of Halloween allows women to challenge the phallocentric idea that only men have sexual appetites.

Women can be sexy to other women, too. It’s just as repressive and anti-feminist to suggest that such sultry costumes are only meant for the pleasure of men.

The nun costume is an ironic choice: we know women are overly sexualized, we see that every day. People expect nuns to be all covered up, so let’s hike that skirt up and showcase that enviable ass. People expect women to be meek and defer to men, so let’s be powerful, dominating women and use every trick we have in our arsenal to get the treats that we want.

Pairing the ultimate image of chastity with the image of our well-toned thighs allows us to poke fun at traditional expectations of women in a fun, upbeat way. The humor lends a sense of power and confidence that just being sexy, like a girl might dress for a regular night out, doesn’t.

The sexy Halloween costume is playfully subversive. It is not with a doe-eyed smile that we don our bedazzled bras and four-inch pumps. It’s with a knowing smirk. Sexy Halloween costumes are a girl’s way of blowing a kiss to the male-centered society while really giving it the finger.

CON: Respect for women as brief as the skirts

Hopefully every beautiful lady who chooses to dress up as a “”slutty nun”” realizes the deep, sad irony in that choice. 

Honey, there’s a reason it’s not okay for you to dress like a prostitute. It’s belittling, demeaning, and objectifying every single day of the year. No matter how hard you try to justify your undoubtedly-tasteful, G-string-and-bra ensemble, you’re deluding yourself. Baring every bit of your body is not an empowering choice that kicks the patriarchal paradigm right it the balls. In fact, the effect on them is quite different.

Women are expected to wear as little as possible on Oct. 31. There are literally thousands of options of sexually charged costumes for women, from “”sexy Alice in Wonderland”” to “”sexy repressed ethnic group”” to “”sexy Spongebob.””

Yet where are the sexy costumes for men? Guys usually dress up as women, characters from Animal House or sports players. They don’t have the pressure to look “”hot”” on Halloween that women do. If this trend really went both ways, the majority of guys would be slathering themselves in glitter, getting a poofy bronze wig and working on their brooding stares.

While plenty of women want to satisfy men’s sexual fantasies on Halloween, very, very few heterosexual men are willing to fulfill women’s fantasies by dressing up as Edward Cullen.

Dressing provocatively to a degree of distaste gives in the societal pressure that women have to be sexually satisfying to a man in order to feel beautiful. Women dress in impractical, uncomfortable, potentially dangerous costumes with only one goal in mind: to be desired by men.

The fact that it’s only one night a year is perhaps the most distressing aspect of this entire topic. The notion that women are “”allowed”” to dress like prostitutes only on Halloween implies that we need “”permission”” to dress a certain way.

It’s not just one day — it reinforces the entire culture of sexualizing and objectifying women. It says you need validation from a man to feel beautiful. It says you have to have the go-ahead to dress however you want. It says that sex is women’s only strength. It says that all you are is a nice pair of ass.

Dressing up as a slightly different flavor of “”total skank”” does not subvert the culture of womanizing, it reinforces it: it says that treating a woman as only a sex object is not only passable, but preferable.

Despite what we tell ourselves while dusting glitter in our cleavage, sex appeal is not power. No matter what you call it, you’re still giving guys what they want while only sacrificing yourself. Who convinced us that sex is our strength? Oh yeah, men.

Anna Swenson is a sophomore majoring in English. She can be reached at

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