I wanted to write something about “sexy” Halloween costumes for the last week or so, but it was after seeing a joke ecard today that I really felt pushed into it. The ecard said something like “Your Halloween costume is a bigger setback to to women’s rights than the entire Romney campaign is.”
To address the obvious: umm, fuck no, it’s not. Someone’s costume isn’t going to elect a few radical Supreme Court judges. It’s not going to make me have an unwanted ultrasound. It’s not going to make rape anything other than someone having unwanted sex with someone (not ‘forcible’ or ‘legitimate’ or ‘easy’). It’s not going to take away the provisions in the recently passed healthcare initiatives that give free preventive screening (breast cancer, cervical cancer) to women. Okay? None of those things is going to happen because a woman is a “sexy” nurse or a “sexy” Big Bird (dear God).
However, there becomes a couple of issues that I am sort of conflicted about and feel lost in their extreme paradoxical natures. The first is the idea that “slut-shaming” is wrong. It’s the premise that a woman shouldn’t feel shame about her sexual activities, the way she dresses, who she hangs out with, etc. Men are not judged on the same basis as women in these regards, and it should not be okay for a man to act the way he wants (especially in regards to sexuality) and for a woman to do the same things and be labeled a “slut” or a “whore.”
Fair enough. I agree with this. I think the sexual double standards of this country are terrible and are only getting worse. Do you really think that if a man were able to get pregnant, such a large group of people would be fighting to take away their choice to do so? Or even stranger, would be fighting to take away their access to contraception — something that helps prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place? Fuck no, and you’re lying to yourself if you think so. Just look at the advances in erectile dysfunction medicine in the last 15 years and come up with a suitable comparison in something that’s been done for the world of women. (1) So, obviously, I don’t agree with “slut-shaming” and the idea that women’s bodies aren’t their own.
BUT … there was a super cute video flying around the other day, and it was all about how you don’t have to dress sexy for Halloween. Of course, by you, I mean women. Cause I really don’t see an epidemic of guys dressing “sexy” for Halloween. Unless you count the brave men who do drag (whether fabulously, or with hairy legs and terrible makeup). So, the point of the video was … hey, you don’t have to be a sexy doctor, you can be … a doctor! Ditto nurse, teacher, police officer, etc.
While some people think that commenting on this sort of thing is contributing to slut-shaming, I’d proffer that it’s something to think about. I think that by reducing everything to a ‘sexy’ outfit, several things happen. We forget that women are non-sexy occupations every day, and sexifying everything tends to diminish that. There is definitely the process of continuing to produce objectification fodder, as well. I don’t have to see you as a person with a brain and interests and feelings, you’re just a slutty nurse whose person exists for me to ogle.
Also, if you want to eliminate the slut-shaming aspect here, then just dress … like a hooker or a dominatrix or something truly sexy. Don’t be ashamed of it, just do it and have fun. I think people shy away from these things because they don’t want to look “slutty,” and then wear a nurse’s outfit or a bee costume that has barely any material and think that there’s a distinguishing factor there. Not really, ladies, you’re still dressing to show off your body and make people look. If that’s what you want, okay, but it doesn’t make you any less “sexy” than the person actually dressed in something that is directly related to sex.
I wish that I believed that things like porn and strip clubs were actually empowering for women, but there’s just been no evidence yet that will convince me otherwise. The women strung out, the guys who are secretly hoping (or getting) a little more than a lap dance, the way that people forget that those are human beings up there — I just don’t see it as an expression of female power. I see it as a way to make a living, but a really hard, sad one. If that gets me a knock off my feminist card, so be it. I also see how it transforms the attitudes and actions of men who frequently participate in these things, and again, I can’t be convinced that these things are good — it’s not a worshipful thing or a way for people to act responsibly and openly about their sexual desires. Porn and strip clubs are currently still things that get done in the back corners of society and are not viewed as something positive or normal — they’re viewed as perverted and deviant by most.
However, I digress. I could write a whole blog post about porn and strip clubs, and I’m just trying to throw down about Halloween. I understand that we don’t need to make women feel bad about showing their bodies off, but I also wonder where we’ve come as a society that so many women want to show their bodies off in such an explicit and obvious grab at attention. It leaves me with more questions than answers.
(1) Maybe you could say the HPV vaccine, but there’s also people who think that teenagers that are vaccinated (2) will become roving, raving, romping sex-crazed people. It seems foolish to think that that would have causality — there’s still a LOT more STDs to be worried about, and I’d think that if you are having sex, you are, and if you aren’t, being vaccinated (3) isn’t going to make it any more likely for you to go on a fuck spree.
(2) Generally speaking about women whenever I hear this issue come up — no real talk of vaccinating a bunch of teenage guys, even though it’s been approved for such, AND guys are much more likely to spread it to women because there are often no symptoms/complications.
(3) You might recall I’m weird about vaccines. I think kids should be vaccinated for the biggies (polio, diptheria, whooping cough), but definitely spaced out and definitely not necessarily as babies. But I don’t believe in chickenpox vaccinations and I SUPER don’t believe in flu shots. The HPV thing is weird — it seems like it’d be a good idea, but again there’s something in my gut that says it’s not great. Again, maybe it’s the idea that a. we have no clue what it really does to the body and b. the way that it spread like wildfire — potential “mandatory” vaccinations, etc., makes me think that someone is just sitting back, not really giving a fuck, raking in cash.