Happy Halloween! This Halloween, I've noticed of people getting bent out of shape because a lot of women like to dress, as some people put it "like sluts" for the night. Here's a Salon article that talks about this, and on Postsecret this week, there's even a postcard that reads "I don't care if it's Halloween, you still look like a slut."
As one of the women these people are talking about, I feel I must respond. Yes, I am dressing sexually provocatively for Halloween this year. It's even worse than that. Not only am I dressing sexy (or "slutlike", if you will), I'm going one further: I'm dressing as a sexy nun! Holy thigh-high fishnets, batman!
And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
For me Halloween has always been about experimentation. You get to be someone or something you're not. I've worn masks, helped a boyfriend create elaborate multi-armed contraption for a computer virus costume, gone shopping for fake weapons and stuffed animals as a hunter of Beanie Babies, worn doctor scrubs and been mistaken for a real doctor (!), worn a skintight red satin gown and devil horns and danced my ass off to disco tunes with a short guy dressed as a boxer. And this year, my psyche wants to dress as a sexy nun, possibly the one thing that's the LEAST like me, as a non-believer in God with, recently, no sexual libido to speak of.
I admit that the nun part is making me feel a little guilty. I flirted with the idea of wearing the nun veil at the office, but I don't want to offend anyone. My best friend is Catholic. I worry a bit about offending her. But I'm not wearing the sexy nun outfit as a protest against God or the Church, I'm wearing the outfit as a contradiction: nun/slut, virgin/whore. It's fun. And interesting. And possibly even profound, if you think about it too much, which I'm endeavoring not to do.
One of the complaints about what the Salon article calls "Slut-o-Ween" is that it demeans women by encouraging them to become sexual objects. Excuse me, but as any woman with two brain cells to rub together knows: we're constantly being encouraged in this way, every day. It goes beyond cliche in our culture - it's just normal. Every woman's magazine, every ad for beer, cars, clothes, cruise lines, makeup, they all scream "A woman is only as good as she looks!!" That's nothing new, believe me, I've spent a lot of time studying this phenomenon.
So at Halloween, maybe those of us who choose to dress provocatively are finally saying "OK, if that's what you want, that's what you get! Check me in this corset and fishnets, blood-red lipstick and inked eyes, tiny skirt and pushup bra. See if you can handle the sexiness that is me."
As I type this, I'm wearing long stick-on fingernails, something I've never done before. It's hard to type. But I like them. They make me feel sexy. Yes, I understand that long fingernails make it hard for women to do a lot of things with their hands, and that some feminists point to the long-fingernail phenomenon as a way our society keeps women helpless. But sometimes, it's just fun to be different. To wear makeup and long eyelashes. To look in the mirror and be what all those magazines say we should be, even if on one level we know the expectation that we be like this all the time is bullshit.
To paraphrase Emma Goldman: If I can't play, I don't want to be part of your revolution. I'm as feminist as I can get, and I believe that playing with the stereotype is actually empowering. Imagine a man looking at the sexy nun, admiring her legs, wanting her, having that tingling sensation in his gut that means some deep, dark, taboo desire has been triggered, finally getting up the courage to talk to her, and realizing she's whipsmart and takes no bullshit, has a smoky laugh, and isn't about to go off in the corner with him to let him play out his lapsed Catholic fantasies unless he's worthwhile getting to know with his clothes on. Isn't that an experiment in empowerment?
You're damn right I'm sexy, and I'm a lot of other things, too. The computer virus (which, by the way, was named after me), hunter, satin devil, and doctor were all parts of my psyche that got to come out and play on other Halloweens. This year, it's the sexy nun, challenging one of the few deep-seated taboos still left: the taboo that says spirituality and sexuality are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and that one is more sacred than the other. I don't believe that, and this Halloween, I aim to prove it.
So if you're out there tonight, look at the sexy ladies and know that what you're seeing is only part of them, but a part that wants to come out and play, at least for one dark night. It's Halloween, after all. It's time to let the skeletons in thongs and 6" stilettos out of the closet.