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Sexy Mustard

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The feminist in me thinks that the objectification of women is a huge bummer. But the weary, jaded, pragmatic cop who’s just months away from retirement in me understands that it’s normal and natural to want to be admired; it’s natural to want to stoke desire. So it makes sense that I’d be in 1000% agreement with Amanda Marcotte on her entry about the practice of wearing of sexy Halloween costumes.

One the one hand, I worry that sometimes women–especially young women–make too many decisions about their appearance using boner-based metrics. And that’s not good. On the other hand, it’s fun to dress up in a sexy outfit and turn a few heads. I think  understanding and admitting this is a healthy thing.

Ultimately I think it’s possible to indulge the urge to strut your stuff (once in awhile) while at the same time understanding that constantly looking for validation from men is probably not a good idea. You gotta strike a balance. Now, somebody hand me my Sexy Chupacabra mask.

 

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  • She wore an itsy-bitsy teeny-weenie yellow polka dot bikini a huge and flowing extra-large and totally black burka, and had to sip her drinks through a straw.

    Everybody, join in!
    She wore a huge and flowi…

    What?
    Nobody?

    • LeeEsq

      Billy Wilder would like to see you for stealing his ideas about torture.

    • Pat

      Some of us think that girls, and boys, should wear whatever the hell they want to.

      What you’ll find when your kids are bigger, bspence, is that that is exactly what they will do.

      My teen (and I) made a Homestuck costume for her. She was cute as a button.

  • Lurking Canadian

    I still think it would be nice if the stores could stock some non-slutty options for women. I imagine there are some who would prefer to dress as a superhero or cop who doesn’t look like a stripper. They should have options too.

    • I ABSOLUTELY agree.

      • Well, they can go out as the most desexed creatures in our social lexicon–mothers.

        • Karen

          Exactly. Women don’t have a mental switch that turns off the desire to be attractive when we give birth, or on our 36th birthday, whichever comes first.

        • Derelict

          Should I suggest you hit the Urban Dictionary for the term “MILF”?

          • Walt

            I think the idea of MILFs are a kind of suppressed knowledge that has only bubbled up to the surface recently. I read somewhere an interview with a porn director who was viscerally disgusted with making MILF videos, but he did it anyway because they made money.

          • Almost by definition a MILF is a woman who doesn’t look like she gave birth or has middle aged spread or sagging post nursing breasts. See also popular images for Cougars.

            • DrDick

              But not at work. On the other hand what all the youngsters here call MILFs are what I call “young women” (i.e., women my son’s age or younger).

          • Tristan

            That’s a terrible counterpoint. The whole reason ‘MILF’ is a thing is that we decided, as a culture, that we needed a special category to describe someone who gave birth and is still sexually desirable because it’s such a novelty. If you’ve ever used ‘MILF’ non-ironically (or ‘ironically’), you’re basically human garbage, is what I’m saying.

        • ajay

          the most desexed creatures in our social lexicon–mothers.

          No one’s lusted after Angelina Jolie in absolutely years.

          • NBarnes

            If Angelina Jolie showed up on the street without makeup, in baggy clothes, towing a squalling child, looking exhausted and haggard, she wouldn’t be coded as ‘sexy’, either. Part of her being coded as ‘sexy’, despite being a mother, is that she’s ‘Angelina Jolie’.

            • Adolphus

              And even “candid” shots of her have been retouched and altered. Unless it’s the perennial “stars being not-hot”photo spreads, then they have been altered and retouched to look LESS hot.

          • Halloween Jack

            Because, obviously, the statistical outlier represents the whole curve.

            • Speaking as a person intimately familiar with the phenomenon women go from being highly visible and public property as pregnant–with people stopping you to try to run their hands over your belly or inquire into your health–to being almost completely invisible after the baby comes out and you are pushing him/her in the stroller. You vanish almost completely except among your peers. In the doctor’s office you are referred to only as “mother” or “mom.” Outside of the house you sometimes only know you are present in a room or an elevator when people move away from you or walk around you. It reminds me of a marvellous cartoon I saw once to help you diagnose your age:

              It was a picture of an old woman crossing the road. If you answered “what old woman/I didn’t see her” you were under 20. I have definitely experienced this vanishing in my own life as I get older.

              • Karen

                And it hurts worse if you were a hottie in your 20’s. I didn’t know how much I appreciated random compliments from strangers until I stopped getting them. This is NOT to be interpreted as nostalgia for street harassment or strangers shouting “hey Babe.” It does reflect nostalgia for the extra kindness attractive people get in our society and which is denied to the less than perfect.

              • Halloween Jack

                I don’t disagree with you; I was responding to ajay’s comment about Angelina Jolie.

    • sibusisodan

      Kristen Schaal’s recent segment on this on the Daily Show was excellent, although possibly NSFW.

    • Barry Freed

      Or turn it around, like a line of truly scary and realistic costumes: “Studious Stripper: A single mother of two young children who is working as a stripper to put herself through school to become a dental hygienist.”

      • Tristan

        ‘Unemployed After Her Twelve Years Old Playboy Shoot Surfaced Teacher’

      • Woodrowfan

        wasn’t that a Reagan movie, “She’s Working Her Way Through College”??

    • Amanda Marcotte

      It’s irritating that the distinction between “men’s” and “women’s” costumes is how much skin is showing, absolutely. But the solution to this conundrum is simple: Buy the men’s costume.

      • Orpho

        But, but hips! Hips are a problem. Well, a “problem.”

      • Tarzan.

    • LeeEsq

      I’m surprised that nobody even thought about this idea yet. There has to be a fairly large customer base waiting to be tapped.

    • Adolphus

      Store bought costumes?

      Really?

      Kids today…..

    • TribalistMeathead

      I was actually impressed with a Party City ad that ran frequently on Hulu a week or two ago and included several non-slutty options for women.

      They weren’t highlighted the way the Sexy Little Red Riding Hood costume was, but they were there.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    the flip side (I think) is that when I see someone out and about strutting their stuff I just admire from a distance and not make the mistake of thinking it has *anything* to do with me personally

    • Tristan

      I assume they’re trying to make me feel bad about my shyness, then make furious posts on my Men’s Rights blog.

      • NonyNony

        I assume that they’re Fake Geek Girls attending cons going to Halloween parties in costume despite not liking the character they’re dressed as at all in order to something something something misogyny something.

      • DrDick

        I just figure that they are trying to make me feel embarrassed for being old and fat and not at all studly.

        • BigHank53

          Don’t worry. The embarrassment wears off after a few decades.

          • Woodrowfan

            promise???

            • Yes, the embarrassment ends in death. So its a sure thing.

            • BigHank53

              Actually, I do. It’s incredibly cheering to realize that the half-your-age young lady that you’re checking out from the corner of your eye is not only old enough to give legal consent but also vote, drink, run for Congress, etc.

              • DrDick

                Yes, well, in my case, “young women” includes anyone under 40 (my son’s age) and it has not kicked in yet.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        mkay, I think that makes you a ‘beta’ male, and I must be… hmmm…. “epsilon”, maybe, or “iota”…. yeah. something like that

        • Hogan

          Omega Man?

        • DrDick

          I actually think most of those PUAs/MRAs are more like deltas.

          • herr doktor bimler

            In the calculus sense of an infinitesimal difference?

  • Gregor Sansa

    But no slutty ketchup.

  • The whole point of any holi-day is that its not like other days, for fuck’s sake. Saturnalia included a complete reversal of social roles including slaves being waited on by their masters. The obvious relationship between repression and disorder, between lent and carnivale, should be clear. When you have a repressive, judgmental, hierarchical social relationship such as the one between women and their public selves you are going to have a push for one day of freedom and release. Sexy and eye catching is, by definition, empowering in some places and times–the only thing that makes it not empowering is if the people around you turn it into an occasion for cannibalism and rape. To dressup, play act, turn your body or your evening into a work of art are all fun. To take over the workplace with a drunken christmas party can be fun. That doesn’t mean one is assenting to to the theft or destruction of one’s personal boundaries anymore than an artist who puts a painting up in a museum is accepting that viewers can attack and destroy it. A performance is, by definition, not an “anything goes” offering.

    But I especially like Amanda’s point that what is truly scary about slutoween is that, despite the hysteria, it obviously puts the shoe on the other foot in terms of control. Nominally women who dress up and act sexy seem to be putting themselves out for men and men would, therefore, gain status, pleasure, and control by viewing them. But as long as the women retain the right and power of choice and agency the MRA’s would certainly see the entire experience as one long cocktease that prevents beta males from gaining rightful access to women. The vast majority of the work of PUA’s/MRAs is attempting to devalue women’s appearance and control in order to prevent a given woman from having the power or self confidence to reject them. Anything that puts women, as a group, in control of their sexuality and their experience of pleasure is anathema to this goal.

    It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, as a female or a male, and risk rejection by a potential lover (or by society as too outre (imagine an accent there). The shit is really going to hit the fan when men return to peacocking and seduction like Elizabethan dandys and the beta males really find out what its like to compete with someone who is willing to work it, and work it hard.

    • Thank God I already have a partner, because I am too old and tired to learn how to twerk. ;-)

    • LeeEsq

      Aimai, I’m going to disagree with this and point out that it is a very Christian and pagan way of viewing holidays. Plenty of other cultures require people to more or less carry on as usual on holidays. For example, while Purim is observed somewhat in similar to Carnival in spirit; Jewish culture never allowed the complete abandonment of ordinary norms to take over. Purim demands the same amount of sexual discipline that was practiced at other times. You were allowed to be a little more tipsy than usual at best. As far as I know Islam also never permitted carnival-like abandon even on its fun holidays and required the same sexual disipline that oridinary days required.

      • Thats just wrong. I didn’t argue, on the basis of Saturnalia and Carnival, that every religious tradition has an identical topsy-turvey day. I alluded to both a pre-christian and a christian example because they both exist and reflect some of what is going on with Halloween. But you are also wrong about Purim. Purim included quite a bit of drinking and also gambling. Different Jewish communities at different times encouraged and discouraged the practice and of course there’s a long tradition in the Jewish community of keeping fermentation/mold/impurity/and chaos at a distance but Purim is, in fact, a good example of a holiday change in behavior.

      • joe from Lowell

        Aimai, I’m going to disagree with this and point out that it is a very Christian and pagan way of viewing holidays.

        But we’re talking about the celebration of Samhain/All Hallow’s Even in a western culture. How is “that is a very Christian and pagan way of viewing holidays” supposed to be a point against her argument about our society?

    • Karen

      I hope to see the day when the self-described Betas learn that tin not enough to bathe occasionally to attract a woman. And for what it’s worth, I insist that my sons know ballroom dancing, cooking, can converse on the arts and current events, and that they wear stylish CLEAN clothing. Both of ‘me now want sewing lessons, albeit because they want to go to ComicCon in costume. (I also insist that they respect women and behave in a polite and considerate manner to absolutely everyone.)

      “Turn your body into a work of art:” my cousin’s daughter is a theater student at Wake Forest. She went as Van Gogh for Halloween and her roommate was “Starry Night.” They deserved for their pictures to be a viral sensation.

      • Best costume we saw this halloween on the street (not that we saw many): Mother and Father dressed as giant windmills accompanying a tiny Don Quixote and a Tinier Dulcinea, complete with sound track.

        • Karen

          Brilliant.

        • NBarnes
          • witless chum

            That’s more awesome than an awesome thing.

            • joe from Lowell

              I’m not sure there’s any awesome left after that costume.

          • Karen

            Also brilliant.

          • Halloween Jack

            Ripley!

          • Barry Freed

            “But you had the best costume I’ve ever seen, how come no one gave you any candy?”

            “Daddy just couldn’t resist shouting that line dear every single time they opened the door.”

    • Halloween Jack

      The shit is really going to hit the fan when men return to peacocking and seduction like Elizabethan dandys and the beta males really find out what its like to compete with someone who is willing to work it, and work it hard.

      *sigh* If only someone would bring sexy back.

      • I know, right? Mr. Aimai is dead sexy but g-d forbid I should dress him up that way. The one time I tried to buy him an incredibly, drop dead sexy pair of dress pants (interestingly enough from a high end African American men’s shop in a mall where dressing sexy for men was not seen as at all problematic) he balked. Not because he realized it was an AA men’s store, because we didn’t figure that out until later, but because the pants actually would have made him feel self conscious when he interacted with other men in work situations where anything other than (gag) dockers would have drawn attention to him. And I get that. Being seen can be scary. A lot of people, male and female, prefer to remain anonymous and invisible.

        • JL

          You can prefer not to dress in ways that are considered “sexy” in mainstream culture and also not want to be anonymous and invisible.

  • OzarkHillbilly

    On the other hand, it’s fun to dress up in a sexy outfit and turn a few heads. I think understanding and admitting this is a healthy thing.

    Just for the record, men like to do this too. I certainly used too. (too old, too fat, too tired)

    • Just for the record, men like to do this too.

      Not that I really mean to accuse you of gender essentialism, but please: Some men. Maybe (for all I know) most men. But not all men; not (in particular) me. I will stipulate that I may very well be badly damaged and/or highly gender-atypical—but just the thought of participating in ballroom dancing, cosplay, Hallowe’en parades, or any such thing (down, or up?, to the level of suits’n’ties) gives me the cold robbies; nor do I enjoy seeing others (men or women) so participating. (Yet I don’t mind, and in fact rather enjoy, watching “costume dramas”, within limits. Okay, I’m inconsistent in my neuroses. Sue me.)

      • sparks

        I’m not as bad, but similar. Even though I have donned costume on rare occasion, it still brings back bad memories of being conscripted to act in every grade school play from 1st grade to 6th. It got to where when my college friends wanted me to go to a party (and trick or treating, which I thought insane), I wriggled out of it pleading I had to catch up in some classes and had to work. Total lie, of course.

        At least ballroom dancing wasn’t a popular thing when I was growing up.

  • rea

    Saturnalia included a complete reversal of social roles including slaves being waited on by their masters

    The thing about Saturnalia–it’s a special day in which the masters and the slaves reverse roles. But, the slaves know better than to take things too far, because after the holiday, everybody resumes ther normal positions in life. Halloween dressup works the same way . . .

    • Exactly. Its a special day. It can have all kinds of good and bad consequences, utilitarian or aesthetic, or just be what it is (a holiday) but it is a special time out of mind.

      There’s just so much fear of free female sexuality out there. Sometimes that fear is based on a kind of paternalistic “watch and see what happens to you young lady if people see you as easy!”) and sometimes it is aimed at controlling a kind of “unlawful” use of female pulchitrude in places where considerations of the body and sex are supposed to be off limits to subordinates (Avoid looking too sexy in academic or business settings because its unfair to the other students and professors who are competing as purely disembodied brains.) But this completely ignores the role that typically male forms of empowerment and jockying for control take which often include male sexuality/charisma/dress/height/good looks. Mitt Romney’s mom may have told him to dress modestly and soberly but she didn’t tell him to dim his radioactive smile or muss his hair in order to make it easy for the schlubs to feel like their work is respected as work. There are all kinds of ways in which (some) men get to use their sexual and masculine power within work settings that are valorized and not scorned.

  • Rarely Posts

    I support sexy Halloween outfits (for both men and women), but I have two additional thoughts:

    1) As a pure matter of fashion, for most people a costume will be most flattering if it leaves something to the imagination. Each person has to make that call for themselves, of course. But it always makes me sad when I see an attractive man or woman who has managed to pick a costume so tight and/or revealing that it doesn’t flatter their body, where one size larger or an outfit which covered the belly/butt might have been just right. As a friend of mine once put it when a very, very skinny woman walked past us in a way too-tight, size 00 dress – “we all have internal organs, and she maybe should have chosen an outfit that accounted for that fact.”* One size larger! All it takes!

    2) If one goes out on Halloween as sexy, almost nude angel/police-person/etc., one should expect people to flirt with one and also tend to notice one’s physique. It may be difficult to get them to pay attention to one’s intellect in these circumstances. Plan accordingly. On the other hand, if one wants to impress with one’s intellect or personality, there may be humorous, scary, or other costumes that will draw more attention to it.

    Still, I love the sexy outfits, have worn them on occasion, love going out to Halloween and seeing everyone prancing/strutting (since I mostly go to gay bars, mostly see men in sexy outfits). Just two thoughts that I’ve drawn from my own observations.

    * Obviously my friend did not say it loudly enough to be heard by the woman or in anyway reduce the fun she had that evening. It just slipped out quietly between the two of us.

    • witless chum

      Personally, I think the oh, she’s almost falling out of that look can really look great on many ladies. But one of the more alluring Halloween costumes I’ve seen was a woman who was dressed up as some kind of creature from World of Warcraft. It wasn’t particularly revealing, it was that every visible inch of her skin was painted blue and I really would have like to find out how far that went. (Didn’t try to, stupid monogamy.) To sum up, aesthetics are pretty arbitrary and individual.

      • NBarnes

        On the other hand, almost everything about night elves is sexually coded, so it’s hard to present as a non-sexy night elf.

        • Tristan

          This just makes it sound racially problematic.

          • NBarnes

            World of Warcraft can be racially and sexually problematic, yes.

    • 2) If one goes out on Halloween as sexy, almost nude angel/police-person/etc., one should expect people to flirt with one and also tend to notice one’s physique. It may be difficult to get them to pay attention to one’s intellect in these circumstances. Plan accordingly. On the other hand, if one wants to impress with one’s intellect or personality, there may be humorous, scary, or other costumes that will draw more attention to it.

      There are limits. Part of the ongoing nerdfight over harassment at science-fiction conventions has to do with establishing that “cosplay is not consent”: that is, just because you’re wearing the Slave Leia getup doesn’t mean you want people to put photos of you on Facebook, fondle you, etc. without asking.

      • Yes, very good point.

        I’m also really interested in the assumptions embedded in the quote:

        one should expect people to flirt with one and also tend to notice one’s physique. It may be difficult to get them to pay attention to one’s intellect in these circumstances. Plan accordingly. On the other hand, if one wants to impress with one’s intellect or personality, there may be humorous, scary, or other costumes that will draw more attention to it.

        If someone wants to flirt with me the onus is on them to try to interest me, to impress me with their intellect or their costume. In other words, they might want to “plan accordingly” to have a better opening line than “nice tits!” The costume isn’t an open invitation to sex starved idiots to hump my leg– it can be seen as an opening gesture in a long game, or as a sign that I value the imagery or enjoy the costume for itself. To argue otherwise is to argue that when a woman extends her hand to a man to shake it at the start of an encounter that she is wholly responsible if he then drools down her chest and asks if she wants to fuck. A costume choice is not an open invitation.

        • Anonymous

          Yeah, asshole behavior is certainly not justified by sexy halloween costumes. Still, justified or no, there are assholes in the world. Stating that fact and assigning responsibility for that fact are two different things.

          • But no one denies there are assholes in the world. Least of all women. Most of us have been approached and hassled sexually since we were very young–I believe Amanda Marcotte has talked about being hasselled when wearing sweat pants and jogging. When someone walks up to you and says “wanna fuck” or “nice tits” or “can I objectify you honey” its very, very, very, seldom related to the wearing of sexy clothes. I think its telling that the poster throws the onus for the imagined incident onto the woman–like she’s “false advertising” and leading some poor shlub on by wearing a low cut dress. That’s not what a woman is doing when she wears a sexy outfit and it doesn’t require that she be wearing said outfit for her to be sexually harrassed by some guy who is not and never will be interested in her intellect.

            • It occurs to me that the attitude that “wearing sexy outfit” = “leading men on to expect a welcoming of their sexual advances” is somewhat related to the argument that a man wearing a policeman’s uniform to a halloween party should expect people to come up and ask him to arrest and shoot their enemies.
              1) the argument is that there is no difference between the costume and the person.
              2) the argument is that sexy clothes are, in a sense, a uniform that reflect some kind of job description so you are false advertising/refusing to perform your job when you don’t accept the viewer’s idea of appropriate behavior when in your role.
              3) That all sexually suggestive clothing is, almost definitionally, whore clothing or prostitute business wear and that what you do when you put it on is give up your right to make personal judgements or require more than mere money to induce you to enter into a sexual or flirting relationship.

              • Halloween Jack

                When I dressed as a ninja, I didn’t take the assassination contracts I was offered. (Well, not the hard ones, anyway.)

                • Lets face it, this is really just a blog discussion of the Buffy episode where everyone becomes their costume.

                • Barry Freed

                  Comes back around to Willow as a sexy ghost (but no one can see her).

                • Yes, I think that is a very interesting feature of the storyline. Willow’s magic costume is her inner, sexy, adult self later to emerge when she becomes a full on wicca and goes through her bad willow phase. She covers it up with an innocent ghost costume and then that costume drops off when she is transformed. Sexy willow is empowered willow. The main goal of her character on that night is to protect and defend–she orders people around and she’s full of confidence (ultimately). And like the character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding the eyes of her true love see her and see through and around all costumes–Oz “sees” her and falls for her when she’s in her Eskimo outfit and when she is striding across campus in her sexy outfit and he values her both times with the phrase “Who is that girl?” (The hero in MBFGW turns out to have noticed and appreciated the heroine even when she had been uglified for plot purposes.)

                • Barry Freed

                  Yes, as soon as I’d written above I immediately thought of Oz and that line “Who is that girl?” that he says the second time around. And then I smiled a big fat smile.

                  Xander also gains a new confidence (and body of knowledge) that he’ll draw on when push comes to shove in future seasons.

                  And isn’t that the episode where we first find out about Ripper? Giles’ secret past. A lot going on about old secrets and repressed selves as wells of strength in that episode.

              • jpres

                Borrowing your nice phrasing below, I would say that the behavior you describe is to be “expected but not re-spected.”

            • jpres

              Throughout this thread we have people stating that these costumes are worn to attract attention and even, per b, to “stoke desire.” And there is nothing wrong with that. It does not justify harrassing behavior in any way. The responsibility for that behavior lies 100% with the harrarrer.

              • jpres

                *harasser

        • Rarely Posts

          I honestly think you’re responding to a lot that wasn’t in the original comment. As to your point:

          If someone wants to flirt with me the onus is on them to try to interest me, to impress me with their intellect or their costume.

          I completely agree!! If a man or woman flirts with you, and you are not interested (because they are ugly, because they are stupid, because they are offensive, whatever), then my recommendation is to politely and firmly express that lack of interest. They should respond accordingly by politely making their goodbye! If they don’t they cross over into harassment, abuse, stalking, etc.

          At the same time, I don’t want to live in a world where people can only flirt with or express interest in those people who they (somehow) 100% know will return their interest. A lot of clubs, bars, and parties would get even more awkward than they already are. It’s been a long time since I hit on someone who had no interest in me, but it’s not impossible. When it happens, it doesn’t hurt anyone but my ego on getting shot-down. And, I definitely get hit on by people who aren’t my type – it’s not a problem, as long as they respond politely to my lack of interest.

          And, yes, when I go out in my sexy sailor suit, I want people to notice that I’m sexy! My sexy sailor suit is an open invitation for other people to notice that I’m sexy. That’s all it is, but I can’t insist that it’s only an invitation for people I like to notice that I’m sexy.

          I honestly wonder how one imagines a world where wearing a sexy outfit couldn’t lead to flirting or people noticing that one is sexy. I mean, do strangers not interact in this world?

    • NBarnes

      If one goes out on Halloween as sexy, almost nude angel/police-person/etc., one should expect people to flirt with one and also tend to notice one’s physique. It may be difficult to get them to pay attention to one’s intellect in these circumstances. Plan accordingly. On the other hand, if one wants to impress with one’s intellect or personality, there may be humorous, scary, or other costumes that will draw more attention to it.

      Typical. :(

      • I went out last halloween as a giant disembodied brain in a vat but not only could I not fit through the doorways easily, no one thought I was all that interesting, either.

        • Tristan

          No change there, then.

          (This isn’t personal, I just couldn’t resist that opening)

          • Its ok. I didn’t really go anywhere because my vat was in the shop.

        • Uncle Ebeneezer

          Maybe everyone just assumed they were simply lost in a thought experiment! Seriously though, that’s a brilliant costume idea.

  • witless chum

    More bacchanalian holidays seem like something this society needs just to keep the size of the ass stick down. The old Puritan notion that fun is suspect is still in the cultural mix and needs to be completely exorcised.

    We’ve got Halloween and New Year’s Eve, but we kinda need a summer one, too. Slutoindependence Day has a nice ring.

    • Dave

      I’d just like to point out that this particular weirdness is an entirely North American thing, and I suspect highly related to the fact that, in everyday life, you folks already have to endure more contradictions between pornification and puritanism than anybody could be expected to survive with their sanity intact. The stick up your ass is a giant dildo, and you’re too afraid to admit it, but you like it that way. Or something.

    • LeeEsq

      I think that modern societies do not need bacchalian holidays for several reasons.

      The main point of bacchalian holidays was that the were a sort of pressure release for very hierarchical and oppressive social systems. Let the women, serfs, or whatever underclass you have go wild once in awhile and than you can enforce the oppressive system the rest of the year. The ethos of an egalitarian society is such that you aren’t supposed to need a pressure release. The reason why the Puritans didn’t like the wild Christmas was that they thought society should be structured as such that a release was unncessary. I agree with this world view, I can’t see any advantage for public wildness.

      We are also a very diverse society and their are many different groups that would bacchalian holidays with disdain. Not just conservative Christians but Muslims, many Jews, Hindus, and others are simply going to view bacchalian holidays as an insult. If we want a diverse society than we are going to have to realize that not every culture is going to prize wild abandon. Unless we want another giant culture war.

      • witless chum

        Number one, a lot of people do not experience our current American society as egalitarian, so we’ve still got that need for “blowing off steam” if that’s the reason. It seems more pie in the sky to believe that we’re going to achieve some sort of egalitarian paradise that people will experience as such. Believing that God sent smallpox to kill tens of thousands of people so you could have their cornfields is comparitively straightforward. And I think that even happy, productive members of society can use that sort of vacation.

        And, number two, I think the fun of public wildness is worth it for its own sake because it’s fun. I think we’ll all be happier if we embrace the notion that doing things because they’re fun is okay.

        Observant members of Group X can stay in on Oct. 31. In a pluralistic society, some people not wanting to participate in every holiday/tradition/whatever has got to be just fine or else the whole edifice is not sustainable. The notion that you do your thing and I do my thing is the only thing that can give us culture war peace. And religious conservatives are not likely to be placated by a less-effusive Halloween. If you’re going to look at it in culture war terms, let’s keep them busy fighting against sexy condiment costumes and maybe they’ll have less time to try to take away people’s civil rights.

      • I don’t mean to argue with you and be captious but I think you are confusing a bunch of different kinds of observations.

        1) While its true that there can be a utilitarian explanation for Saturnalia, some aspects of Nowruz, Purim etc… that isn’t the only reason those festivals exist or existed in the form they took. Its our latter day psychological explanation for something which probably had more to do with then unquestioned orthodoxies and ethnotheories of society, fertility, and wealth.

        2) A plural society has to be plural for everyone–conservative muslim and christian communities don’t get to push their vision of appropriate dress on the rest of us any more than they get to push their belief that the state should execute homosexuals.

        3) A backlash from repressive, authoritarian religious communities is to be expected, but not re-spected. Historically and culturally one of the only ways to build, grow, or maintain a repressive religious or political community has been through conquest or control of young men and women. If people can vote with their feet they will usually leave for greener pastures. I see no reason to support conservative religious sects in their attempts to prevent young women from walking away from repression if thats what the women choose to do. If conservative sects have trouble finding wives and reproducing patriarchal and repressive family systems thats their problem, not mine.

        • MPAVictoria

          “2) A plural society has to be plural for everyone–conservative muslim and christian communities don’t get to push their vision of appropriate dress on the rest of us any more than they get to push their belief that the state should execute homosexuals.

          3) A backlash from repressive, authoritarian religious communities is to be expected, but not re-spected. Historically and culturally one of the only ways to build, grow, or maintain a repressive religious or political community has been through conquest or control of young men and women. If people can vote with their feet they will usually leave for greener pastures. I see no reason to support conservative religious sects in their attempts to prevent young women from walking away from repression if thats what the women choose to do. If conservative sects have trouble finding wives and reproducing patriarchal and repressive family systems thats their problem, not mine”

          *Stands up and claps

      • MikeJake

        Some type of midwinter festival/holiday seems to have been universally observed by ancient peoples everywhere, partly because that’s when the solstice was, but also because it gave people some fun to look forward to during the long, dark, boring time of year.

      • MPAVictoria

        ” Not just conservative Christians but Muslims, many Jews, Hindus, and others are simply going to view bacchalian holidays as an insult. If we want a diverse society than we are going to have to realize that not every culture is going to prize wild abandon. Unless we want another giant culture war”

        Well then fuck them. Seriously, if I can’t dance then I want no part in your revolution comrade.

      • djw

        The ethos of an egalitarian society is such that you aren’t supposed to need a pressure release.

        That sounds like a lovely place.

    • Thick White Dude

      Cinco de Mayo functions as a summer-ish one surely? At least on the Left Coast.

    • JR in WV

      Summer solstice, the longest day of the year in late June, is the occasion for a great annual party at a farm in the next county. It’s quite the wild party, with fireworks as soon as it gets dark, a midnight bonfire, a huge teepee, drum circle, and so forth.

      Much beer, lots of homemade music, pretty much everything a good summertime bacchanalia would need.

  • Sexy cosplay, on Halloween or at other times, is fine. Having no other options is not fine, and the extreme genderedness of the phenomenon is disturbing.

    • JL

      This this this.

      If I want a Halloween costume, I pretty much have to make my own or buy what was intended to be a men’s costume. Which is hardly the greatest injustice in the world (and I generally end up making my own), but it’s obnoxious and broken that if you have a body with breasts and hips, you can only buy either a sexy costume or one that isn’t made to fit your body.

  • …Also, the “sexy” versions of the costumes have been filtering down into Halloween wear for little girls, which is kind of skeevy.

    • postmodulator

      Yeah, I saw a couple of real “what the fuck” costumes on little girls during Trick or Treat. (The only Halloween party I attended was a fetish ball, so revealing costumes on both sexes were both more common and arguably more appropriate.)

    • That I agree with. But everything adult filters down to little kids. We don’t think its skeevy to dress a little boy in a Superman costume, or a fireman costume, because we think those are cool things for him to aspire to. We aren’t under the impression that people look at your toddler in a superman costume and want him to leap off a tall building or save the world. The sexualization of little girls is horrible when its really happening/being done by people who are grooming her for inappropriate early sexual contact. But is a little girl dressing up as a “sexy witch” any different from a little boy dressing up as Superman from the point of view of normal development of children’s interests in doing stuff that adults appear to be doing? The content of both character roles is completely opaque to them.

      • NBarnes

        We aren’t under the impression that people look at your toddler in a superman costume and want him to leap off a tall building or save the world.

        Don’t let your toddler jump off that building. They’re not the goddamn Batman.

        • In keeping with SEK’s original formulation, sholdn’t it be ‘their not the goddamned Batman.’

      • Tristan

        This is the first time I’ve seen Superman characterized as an ‘adult’ thing.

        Well, maybe Man of Steel.

      • JL

        How about little girls dressing up as (not-sexy) Superman?

        I have a problem with the “Boys get to aspire to do things, girls get to aspire to look a particular way” dichotomy.

    • Halloween Jack
  • Orpho

    I think the problem of sexy costumes is that Halloween is not a Saturnalia, we do not don the costumes in a social vacuum, and we’re already in a patriarchal milieu where woman are meant to be eye candy.

    Not to open a whole ‘nother can of worms, but it’s very similar to feminists who have worries about BSDM in a culture where “normal” pr0n sexuality involves women getting the shit kicked out of them.

    In either situation, how “free” a choice is the decision to adopt a mainstream practice? And, conversely, how do you worry (or concern troll) about women making the “wrong” choice without calling their agency, autonomy, and humanity into question?

    I, of course, have no damn idea.

    • JL

      BDSM isn’t considered a, let alone the, mainstream practice.

      BDSM, if practiced at all ethically, is consensual.

      The problem with sexy Halloween costumes is neither the existence of the costumes nor the people who wear them. The problem is that if you have the body shape generally associated with women, it is hard to find other options.

      The comparison to BDSM fails because it is quite easy, if you want, to practice sexual activity that has nothing to do with BDSM. BDSM is stigmatized; vanilla sex is the “normal” practice – society isn’t pushing women into BDSM through limiting options.

  • NotOnScript

    OK, so we’ve heard from bspencer. Now I must note that we have yet to hear from the esteemed authority Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. What would he have to say?

    (Runs away quickly)

    • BigHank53

      In a tragic accident, the trademarked pink bunny ears that are Dr. Noisewater’s customary attire were damaged. You can’t expect the good doctor to be posting while naked, you pervert.

      • I really miss the avatar with the crazed bunny who appears to be sliding sideways, out of the picture.

        • herr doktor bimler

          I am now legally obliged to link to this.

      • The Velveteen Rabbit

        the trademarked pink bunny ears that are Dr. Noisewater’s customary attire were damaged.

        I resent your implication, sir.

  • Ronan

    It’s been a while since Ive had the money or desire to spend time in clubs where the young folks frequent, but my memory was that a significant proportion of young women generally dressed ‘sexy’ regardless of whether it was halloween or whatever (for multiple reasons)
    Good on them I say, what else would you do on a Friday night in your late teens early 20s?
    Anyone (feminist included) who objects to this is no better than an Archbishop, imho

    • A feminist is always better than an Archbishop, IMHO, especially because her reasons for believing what she believes are based on argument and reason and not a game of bronze age telephone.

      • Thick White Dude

        “game of bronze age telephone”

        Appropriated for future use!

    • Ronan

      “Ultimately I think it’s possible to indulge the urge to strut your stuff (once in awhile) while at the same time understanding that constantly looking for validation from men is probably not a good idea”

      Although Ive great respect for bspencer, I personally dont buy this
      There are any number of reasons a young woman might want to dress sexy when going out that dont involve ‘looking for mens validation’. They might like the clothes, might be comfortable in their body, might want to get laid for their own satisfation rather than the mans. Perhaps it makes it easier, cuts down on the smalltalk they have to make with some dopey motherfucker

      • Absolutely. A whole lot of women’s dressing up is directed at other women, for example, or at one’s own self image.

      • JL

        For that matter, they might want to get laid with (by?) another woman, or a non-binary person.

        • Ronan

          Indeed
          The reasons are (almost) endless

  • LeeEsq

    Its a tricky issue. We can all agree that one way that women were controlled in the past was through severe restrictions on their sexuality. The entire Madonna-Whore complex, which despite its name existed in one variety or another in a lot of diverse cultures. Getting rid of the sexual restrictions on women was a great victory.

    At the same time, the sexual restrictions on women disappeared in away that subjects women to objectification. This is a bad thing for a variety reasons like rape culture and it perpetuatres the idea that women exist primarily to please men. Even homosexual women aren’t immune to the latter since lesbian sex and romance is heavily marketed towards a straight male audience.

    There doesn’t seem to be a way to square the circle and end restrictions on women’s sexuality and avoid objectification at the same time.

    • Objectification happens even within the context of Madonna/Whore. You are just as objectified as a Madonna as you are as a whore, in other words. Its not a code word for “visually attractive to men” or for straight up sexual fixation. As for the marketing of lesbianism to straight men–that’s just an incredibly weird thing to throw in there. Uh…are you under the impression that the “more for me” porn market (as a friend described het interest in lesbian porn) really hires lesbians in order to shoot the films? Do porn films that include women dressed up as einstein objectify scientists?

      • witless chum

        Objectification happens even within the context of Madonna/Whore. You are just as objectified as a Madonna as you are as a whore, in other words.

        This seems like a very important point for people to keep in mind when they bemoan women getting treated like nothing but sex objects by men and/or society. You do see women sometimes suggest that 1950s attitudes weren’t all bad because they think comparative public modesty allowed them to escape the “you must be sexy all the time rat race” somewhat. Hearing about what it was like to grow up in those times from my mom, I’m real dammn skeptical that anyone would prefer them.

        • Entire subtext of Mad Men is knocking at the door and asking to be let in. Oh Hai!

  • I just want to thank you for referencing one of my favorite Halloween videos of all time in the title. Now I just need someone to post something referencing “The Cat with Hands” and my life will be complete.

  • Tristan

    Am I the only one here who hates sexy Halloween costumes, and modern* Halloween generally, not because of any gender baggage, but because it’s kind of skeezy and sad that what used to be by far the most kid-centric holiday became ‘dress as ironic and/or sexy version of other people with a bunch of other 20/30-something amateur drinkers day’?

    *Yes, I’m yelling at a cloud here, I know

    • witless chum

      Dan Savage’s formulation that Halloween has become the Straight Pride Parade seems dead on to me. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

      • I agree–I think its dead on. With the priviso that its age limited as well. Its a cohort thing. I think that parties themselves, like barhopping, are not as common a phenomenon as the media like to pretend. Hell–my husband’s company doesn’t have a christmas party, let alone a halloween party. In my age group all parties revolve around the children and their interests and you often don’t know people to socialize with outside of your child’s school or your work. None of the adults in my age group have parties anymore, at all. Maybe there’s a stage in life when people have free time and are shopping around for mates or fun or parties are organized along social media lines and are a free for all but I think that is more limited in geographic and age range that the media are admitting.

        • Proviso.

          • David Wilmot

            THANK you.

        • Adolphus

          I would also argue it’s a at least a little bit of a class thing. I have a lot of rural poor in my extended family and none of them have EVER really celebrated Halloween in this way or treated partying and drinking as the sport other classes do. In their 20’s, and many in their teens, were too busy with kids, jobs, etc. A lot of them live near a college town (they are actual cutters although I never once heard anyone in that part of the family use that word) and the contrast between the late teens and twenty-somethings in school and those out couldn’t be more stark. And those are the ones not in the military.

          • Ronan

            As a general rule Id be surprised if this was the case. I cant speak to the US, certainly not rural America, but *everywhere* Ive lived drinking/partying etc has not fallen along class lines, one way or the other
            Obviously it has fallen along the lines of ‘I have kids, I cant be doing this’
            Ive never really seen halloween (speifically) celebrated in this way though, (as a time to dress up and go drinking) that I can remember. Not to any great extent anyway

          • Ronan

            although Ive misread your comment, so forget the above

          • But are they not drinking/partying or just not doing it with a Halloween Theme? Drinking and partying are very much class things in a way–not that they don’t span all classess but that they involve classed ways of conspicuous consumption, are classed in terms of age participation, and are classed in terms of what happens when excess leads to property damage. There’s also a class and regional component as to whether you party primarily within your family or strictly with non family members–across age cohorts or strictly within age cohorts.

    • NonyNony

      No you’re not. That’s called “getting older”.

      (Halloween has actually been a pretty skeezy holiday for adults for most of the 20th century. It’s just that when you’re a kid you don’t notice because the adults do a reasonable job of hiding the skeevyness from you. But from what I can tell it’s been a kind of skeevy “dress up in costume, get drunk and try to score” holiday for adults since at least the 1950s in the US.)

      • Tristan

        I think I may just hate any day that brings strangers into the bar who get silly off half a pint, because contrary to my appearance as an under thirty western Canadian I am actually a retired Yorkshire potato farmer.

      • LeeEsq

        Has it? I haven’t seen any evidence of skivy adult Halloween in the media of the time.

        • MPAVictoria

          I would bet so. People had just as much sex back then Lee. They just talked about it a bit less.

          • Anyone remember the movie The Apartment? I’m not calling it an ethnographic study but it referenced something people thought was happening which is sex and partying at work. And man, read Betty Fussell’s “My Kitchen Wars” for an eye opening look at academic partying and sexuality as well as the results of repressed homosexuality during the fifties and sixties.

          • LeeEsq

            That isn’t what exactly I meant. What I meant is that I’d assume that skivy Halloween would make into the media, a scene in a movie or something, even if it would be depicted with a bit more subtlety.

    • Ronan

      An amateur drinker!
      That reminds me of the old, heavy drinkers who complain that Christmas brings in the crowds who arent there for the dark days of Oct, Nov, and Jan and who get in the way of their proper drinking. I love those old timers, I must say

      But what the hell is old Halloween like?
      (agreed on the dressing up thing, I never got into it. Dont know why?

      • Ronan

        shouldnt be a ? at the end there
        also what was halloween like before it became ‘modern’, was what I was asking above

        • Tristan

          I don’t really know, I think NonyNony is probably at least somewhat right about this being a false (like there’s any other kind) nostalgia thing (Although I’ve also heard media reports that adults are indeed dressing up and so forth more than ten years or so back, so I don’t think it’s entirely perception). I did say I was yelling at a cloud.

          I think I may feel the need to try to ‘legitimize’ my dislike of Halloween when discussing it publicly in this way because, man: the people who really like Halloween? Those guys are some scary motherfuckers, and not in a seasonal ‘ghosts n’ ghouls’ meaning of scary.

          I do like that all the best movies come on TV for it, though.

      • The Velveteen Rabbit

        Alcoholics tend to refer to New Year’s Eve as Amateur Night.

        • Ronan

          we’re not implying anything here Tristan!

    • Anna in PDX

      I think I am yelling at that same cloud, Tristan. Like people said below, maybe I just was unaware that adults used halloween to go out and score and used the halloween costumes to do that, but I thought that was more of another kind of holiday, maybe Mardi Gras or St Patricks Day (here in the states anyhow).

      My son and I were talking about this yesterday (he is 21 and was not raised in a country that has halloween so he does not really know what he is talking about) and he has this sort of “I don’t like Halloween being all about slutty adult costumes because it has taken away from the magic sort of aspect” attitude, too.

      It’s probably largely false nostalgia but I still reserve the right to not be fond of the sexy costumes and to think they are too ubiquitous.

      • Anna in PDX

        Well I meant “above” obviously.

      • Ronan

        “he has this sort of “I don’t like Halloween being all about slutty adult costumes because it has taken away from the magic sort of aspect” attitude, too.”

        Ha, I love that! My only memory (after the trick or treat years) was stinking of smoke and burnt rubber after the nights bonfires, and getting drunk on cheap cider in a flield at the back of a housing estate
        Every bloody year
        Magic it was not!

        • Ronan

          Im glad to be rid of it, tbh

      • Mind you I’m completely removed from all this sexybusiness. I’m 41, been married for 17 years and have a toddler son. Halloween has been strictly cute for me for years now.

  • I live in the shadow of a large university. If I did have the urge to lecture the young women about sexy Halloween costumes I would also have the urge to lecture them about what they wear when they go out partying or to clubs the rest of the year, which would make me a scolding asshat.

    Also I have determined that the average college male is allergic to shirts. They won’t wear them unless absolutely necessary. No one lectures them for going around showing their boobies.

    • Hubba hubba.

    • BigHank53

      Yeah, living near a large school will expose one to quantities of….unfortunate male flesh.

    • JL

      I am curious what region your large university is in. Around here I would only ever expect to see shirtless college students outdoors during a few months of the year.

  • I like this thread. I’m learning about all kinds of attitudes that correspond to the beliefs of nobody I actually know personally.

    One thing it’s reminded me of is the phenomenon, which I encounter at times, of the flamboyant introvert, the person who’s uncomfortable with people staring at him but doesn’t let this stop him from going out dressed as the Batman (but does let it make him mad that people insist on staring).

    • Thats an interesting example. I’ve never, ever, met a flamboyant introvert who dresses as Batman (or anything else) and then gets angry when people notice.

      • Tristan

        Well, Batman is supposed to be a weird figure of the night who only gets seen if he wants to, so maybe they just get mad that you’re not playing along by finishing half a sentence before realizing they left through the window.

      • Malaclypse

        They should dress as Spiderman, then stay home watching television alone while lying on the sofa. Problem solved!

    • As someone who is fairly introverted, I respectfully submit that a flamboyant introvert is a contradiction in terms.

      I think instead you have an attention hound whose schtick is to pretend to hate the attention he seeks.

      • Yeah, what leaped out at me was the hostility. I get someone who is somewhere on the autism spectrum doing a thing (like dressing up) and not handling the attention well because its too much/the wrong kind of social interaction but the hostility part, the getting angry part, seems like it pushes this into more of a shtick or part of the pleasure for this person than an accidental misreading of the situation.

      • As an introvert who as a teenager did music and even theater (though I realized that I was too introverted to perform well with my body and voice, and moved backstage), it doesn’t seem odd to me at all. What seems odd is assuming that people are nasty when they’re amused by a wardrobe based on extreme self-expression. Walking to a cast party in a mid-thigh length disco-inflected toga (braided headband with feathers hanging down from it) seemed “normal” to me, but I wasn’t surprised when my Tribeca thrift shop menswear black coat and black and white checked scarf looked odd to people in a middle class suburban mall. I think some people must consider that (the coat, not the toga–more often I’d see it with something like purple hair–and probably that dates me) just a personal fashion choice, so people who find it strange or funny must be behaving nastily.

        And see, the assumption that anyone who dresses a bit differently is “an attention hound” is also totally new to me.

        • Suggesting there are instances where someone would dress up as Batman but not expect to draw attention is new to me, so I guess we’re even on that score.

          • “Like Batman” is an exaggeration, but not that much. Would a person expect to go to the liquor store in one of the following–cape, bat ears hat thing, t-shirt with Batman costume silk-screened on it–and not get any comments? Some people seem, from what they say, to think that only an exceptional jerk would so so.

            • would do so, that is, would make comments

            • I’m confused. Are you talking about someone who dresses eccentrically for the social circle in which they find themselves and then is shocked to have someone smile at them, or frown at them or are you talking about someone who is shocked to be ignored. Because this is totally a regional/geographic/cultural distinction not everywhere observed. For instance, New Yorker’s pride themselves on having seen it all and (in my experience) refuse to bat an eye at the most outlandish dress and behavior. In New England its considered inapropriate to even express interest in another person on the street (no hi, how are you unless you know them, no glances at all) and this used to carry on right into business settings where the clerks used to think it rude to approach a customer directly. Meanwhile, down south (again in my experience of Atlanta and New Orleans) its considered normative to engage strangers in lengthy conversations filled with exclamations about shared or not shared tastes.

              • Did my second comment clarify that (you really can’t reload the page while you’re writing a comment with this interface, can you)? I meant being surprised to have someone make a comment.

                I had in mind someone who expects to be met with, “oh, here’s a guy who likes to wear Batman ears instead of a Red Sox cap, I guess I’ll ring up his purchase and call him hon and say ‘supa, exact change,” like anyone else.

                Yet at the same time, the most minor mention of the fact that most people don’t dress like Batman is assumed to be a deadly insult. So presumably they’re not looking for attention and don’t want it. (And the people I’ve known who’d dress oddly to work did not expect people to be staring at them all the time, and despised newcomers a little if they didn’t almost immediately take it more than 98% in stride.)

                In the instances I’m recalling that took place in New England, there were no New England natives involved. (There are also huge differences in culture as you move west or east within the state.)

            • So “dressed as Batman” isn’t really dressed as Batman but something equally extravagant. What difference does that make then?

              I’m also not sure what you mean by “comments.” Is someone who says “Wow, awesome cape” or whatever seen as being a jerk, or just people who are like “Blar har, look at that dork in the cape?”

              Even if the latter I’d have to say I’d find the shock at negative reactions to be at best, excessively naive. They’d have to be unaware that people are jerks who make obnoxious comments to be surprised when someone is a jerk to them.

              • I’m talking, in part, about “Heh, I guess you must really like Batman,” or, “Are you going to a costume party from here?” or, “In my last job, no one would have been allowed to wear a Batman t-shirt and cape in the office,” being interpreted as “What a dork.”

                • I think your friend sounds like an asshole. Not an introvert or an extrovert but just an asshole. If I’m understanding how the interaction went down.

            • Barry Freed

              If I saw this (and I wish I had) I’d certainly comment. That comment being something along the lines of “Awesome!”

    • Isn’t “a flamboyant introvert who dresses as Batman” Bruce Wayne?

      • You’re pretty smart for a shamelessly flaunted polar bear’s butt.

      • Tristan

        Bruce Wayne? I don’t-

        OH MY GOD.

        BRUCE WAYNE IS BATMAN

        • Keep that shit up and the Joker’s coming after you.

  • Paul Klos

    “Ultimately I think it’s possible to indulge the urge to strut your stuff (once in awhile) while at the same time understanding that constantly looking for validation from men is probably not a good idea. You gotta strike a balance. Now, somebody hand me my Sexy Chupacabra mask”

    Well I think that is sort of the key is why are doing it because its fun and in the right time and place not because it the only way you measure your self worth – that is sad road. I don’t see any reason not turn heads when you can once in while its fun as a long its not the only way you find self value and you do it places that are appropriate.

    • Speaking of places that are appropriate I notice no one has mentioned Ren Faires. I happen to have had to go to a Ren Faire several times because I was stranded with young children in Florida and looking for something to do so going and paying gobs of money to see dressed up actors perform the marriage of Katherine of Aragon to Arthur (Henry the VIII’s older brother) seemed like a good idea.

      What I discovered was a magical, tawdry, adorablely sandy field filled with men and women all strolling and wearing the most elaborate period costumes–all the women were in bustiers whether they were six weeks old (so cute!) or 60 (bo-fucking-dacious with her cleavage hoiked up to her chin). There were guys wearing chain mail and men in kilts, there were women dressed as fairies and as camp followers and queens. And it really didn’t matter how old you were, or how out of shape, or how unmade up, or how unsexy your daily affect. People were having a blast–hell, I’ve got a costume myself and both my daughters do too. I wouldn’t wear it anywhere but the ren faire, and since we are never going back my chances are slim, but damn it was fun to do. Far from being about seduction and sexiness it was simply about itself: dress up.

      • Given Mrs__B’s work as an immunologist, I’m not going to a ren faire until I have the make-up for tertiary syphilis ready.

        • That would be so cool!

        • Karen

          Agreed. You really should do that. In the alternative, plague sores or smallpox scars would be awesome as well.

      • Karen

        I wondered why no one mentioned Ren Faires before now. Or, for that matter, ComicCon, sci fi conventions, debutante balls (see the Order of the Alamo Fiesta de San Antonio for some serious cosplay) quinceneras, and weddings are also occasions for everyone to dress up and have fun. Humans like dressing up and our society offers too damn few chances to do it. Formal clothing is just another version of cosplay, and one that gets too much ragging. We need more parties for grow ups to wear fancy dress!

  • OK, I should clarify that

    A.) I think non-sexy costumes are great and there should be a big range of non-sexy costumes available to women.

    B.) I think that men should totally be sexy. I mean, come on, I’m the jerk always going on about how I think female desire and male beauty are always given short shrift.

    • A) Agreed.

      B) That’s why I eschew pants.

    • Re: # 2: YES!!! YES! And did I mention, YES! Male beauty needs to be acknowledged more often, and allowed to thrive.

  • I’m going to ask the obvious and stupid question: how about we all, as a society, stop policing other people’s clothing? I’m not accusing Dr. BennethNoisencer or anyone else here of doing so. I just can’t believe that people get worked up about this to the point where Marcotte’s piece and this post are needed. WTF, people…there are real things to worry about.

    • Getting worked up about unimportant stuff can be…sexy.

    • To quote the great B. Breathed – Pipe dreams are under the bed.

      What it comes down to is another form of policing women (which is sexist as hell, even when feminists do it) and a naive idea about what drives sexism (which is dumb).

      It would be nice if guys would take us seriously if we’d just cover up, but a brief glance at women’s fashions around the world and through the ages shows this just ain’t so. Instead you get women chasing after other women about the amount of leg they’re showing while GOP assholes shred reproductive rights.

      • That’s why I said “all.”

    • Well, as a staunch feminist and just overall live-and-let-live kind of person, I totally agree. But even in a lot of the feminist circles that I run in, there seems to be a profound misunderstanding of the causes of misogyny; i.e. a lot of people believe that if young women stopped dressing “sluttily,” there would be far less sexism in the world. I’m serious–I know self-described feminists who believe such things. Someone has to speak up every now and then and remind the world that the burden of eradicating misogyny is not on young women who dress how they see fit.

      • Unfortunately the right wing doesn’t have a completely monopoly on totalitarian freaks. (We just don’t let ours run for office.) I find it particularly irritating because there’s no real difference between saying Sexy Clothes Cause Sexism and Sexy Clothes Cause Rape. Except the Sexism link carries the additional guilt of making things bad for all women.

        See also sneering about Lipstick Lesbians and Very Serious Conversations about femmes. Gaaaaah.

  • My ultimate guide in how I dress is: 1) Do I think I look nice in it? Do I appreciate and admire it? If so, then I’ll wear it. If other people, including men, happen to like it, then that’s a nice bonus, but I first have to like it; and 2). Is it comfortable? Weather-appropriate? If so, I’ll pull it on. Simple and effective.

    • And no, I’ve never donned a “sexy” Halloween ensemble, nor do I anticipate doing so in the near future. I’ve never been the type of person to dress overtly “sexy”, and doing so for Halloween would just be an exercise in pointless silliness (of an annoying type, not ala the silliness of dressing like a pink crayon for Halloween when I was three).

      But hey, if other women find it fun or even empowering, I’m certainly not going to try to talk them out of it. To each her own.

    • My approach to dressing too! It was different when I was young. I was much more about being eye candy. Being eye candy is about 1000 on my list of priorities these days.

    • It’s simpler for those of us who are (a) danglers and (b) slobs. (1) Is it clean? (1a) Can it pass for clean? (1b) Will I be around people who will care if it’s clean? (2) There is no 2.

      When people who are not danglers have the same opportunity to be slobs, we’ll have equality. Slobbish equality.

  • Royko

    My advice to everyone is:
    1) Tone down the sexy for Halloween, because it’s just gotten out of hand and, at the very least, is tired and cliche.

    2) As balance, turn UP the sexy for a different holiday. Perhaps Sexy Arbor Day?

    • Why don’t people who don’t want to see sexy halloween costumes stay home and people who do go to parties with their friends. Problem solved.

      • Royko

        But then people would be deprived of the splendor of my Burlap Sack costume!

    • Sexy Armistice Day! All it takes is four very carefully placed poppies!

      • herr doktor bimler

        I misread that as “puppies” for a moment.

  • Stolen “My Word” joke

    sexy condiment costumes

    Dressed in a little brie for Thora T.

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