Was the tooth fairy a stripper?
November 1, 2013 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Women from the DC Youth Poetry Slam Team have a thing or two to say about women's costumes and the choice to be a sexy nurse or a mother-fucking monster. (transcript)
posted by drlith (99 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love this, profanity and all! But if you prefer a more family-friendly approach, the team has provided a link to a clean version in the comments on their facebook page.
posted by troika at 8:58 AM on November 1, 2013


LOVE.
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:01 AM on November 1, 2013


Yeah, it's amazing that something that is about a topic that typically fills me with rage can make me feel so good by watching it. Absolutely love.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:02 AM on November 1, 2013


Glorious. The perfect salve for my crappy, misogyny-filled morning.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:05 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah let's make something else fun about Halloween taboo for our bullshit social control agendas. It worked pretty well for the fundamentalists and terrified mommy groups.
posted by clarknova at 9:12 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


clarknova, are you saying that the people in the video are trying to make revealing female Halloween costumes "taboo for [their] bullshit social control agendas"?

Did you watch the video?
posted by R.F.Simpson at 9:21 AM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


clarknova: "Yeah let's make something else fun about Halloween taboo for our bullshit social control agendas. It worked pretty well for the fundamentalists and terrified mommy groups."

Did you, um, actually watch the link or read the transcript?
posted by Karmakaze at 9:22 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is good... and I generally don't like "poetry slams"... but that is good
posted by edgeways at 9:23 AM on November 1, 2013


WTFV clarknova
posted by edgeways at 9:23 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Where do you have to go to see objectionable costumes? (Other than those incredible cheapies which you never see anywhere except still in their plastic packages, still on the rack, in the drugstore? Where they will be on move-'em-outta-here clearance the day after Halloween.) I had quite a long evening here yesterday, many many trick-or-treaters at the door, more parents in costume than usual (perfect temperature, not too hot for shaggy-Yeti, not too chilly for sexy-Yeti) and not a single whiff of sexy-Yeti or any of that all evening long.
posted by jfuller at 9:43 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like this.
posted by putzface_dickman at 9:45 AM on November 1, 2013


Go to a halloween party or a bar, you'll see huge numbers of women dressed as sexy whatevers
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:46 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where do you have to go to see objectionable costumes?

Adult Halloween parties. Most people aren't drinking heavily enough while going trick-or-treating with their kids (at least, one hopes) to have the requisite poor judgement required to put on the really questionable costumes.

I expect to see a few on my Facebook feed this weekend.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:49 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


To answer the question in the post title - probably.

Most stories relating to mythical creatures boil down to rights-of-passage / sex / fertility in one way or another. So the tooth fairy was probably promiscuous, or into inter-species copulation, or some other deviancy. Why wouldn't she be? Unless she was an old crone, they're mostly sexless I guess.

Fairies and nymphs were celebrated for their sexual freedom. I've got nothing to back that up, but I read it somewhere on the internet once. Free loving was part of what set them apart from the mortals.

Dress up like a hooker. Wear a massive phallus on your nose. I know it amuses me.
posted by samworm at 9:51 AM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can we not refer to revealing Halloween costumes as "objectionable"? Or saying the the people who wear them have "poor judgement"?

Feminism works both ways and I don't understand why it's more acceptable to slut-shame on Halloween than it is the rest of the year.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


> "Can we not refer to revealing Halloween costumes as 'objectionable'? Or saying that the people who wear them have 'poor judgement'?"

Yes. This. Please.

It is incredibly saddening that the metafilter comments are so incredibly much less progressive than the poem they're commenting on.
posted by kyrademon at 10:10 AM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Yup. For lots of people I know Halloween is an excuse to throw off the shackles of society and show off their sexy side.

I mean, non-sexy costumes are awesome, but I too am sick of the sexy costume hate.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:37 AM on November 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


what gets me is that sexy costume hate is very rarely directed at the multitude of costumes that involves shirtless guys - it's the same group, teens/college age people dressing up, those with great bodies usually finding a costume that shows that off - but the hate always goes towards sexy cat and never towards shirtless farmer/hick/greek god/etc.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on November 1, 2013


I went as Wonder Woman this year and I noticed that there were several iterations of the costume, of varying sexiness. The little girl version was barely recognizable as Wonder Woman at all, because it was like a princess version, with a long skirt and cape. I wore a mid-level sexy version, with a blue spangled tutu and a strapless top (but not the full-on corset version). Anyway, you can't really do "slutty Wonder Woman" can you? She's incredibly powerful no matter how she's dressed, and "slutty" implies something distasteful, which Diana is not.
posted by Biblio at 10:55 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Commercialized objectification of women is not "something fun about Halloween" that is being "ruined". Anger at the fact (for example) that a widely available man's Finding Nemo costume is a cute fish but the complementary woman's one is a skimpy orange dress is not "a bullshit social control agenda". Jesus fucking christ.

People of all genders should wear what they enjoy wearing on Halloween, just like any other day. But the default setting for women's costumes does not have to be sexualized.
posted by elizardbits at 11:02 AM on November 1, 2013 [48 favorites]


slutty is one of those words that's hard to pin down - to a lot of the world it seems to mean any woman who shows sexual interest outside of the bedroom to anyone besides her husband. going from your example, a simple google image search for slutty wonder woman (mnsfw depending on your settings) brings up a variety of costumes ranging from barely there to fully covered. people who seem to like calling women sluts don't seem to care if the woman is powerful or not, just that it's a woman.
posted by nadawi at 11:03 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


i also agree with elizardbits - the default sucks. but of course instead of the vast majority critiquing that, they just make fun of women for dressing slutty.
posted by nadawi at 11:04 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan of sexy [whatever] costumes because they are often unimaginative. A boring costume is worse than no costume at all. But hey, let your freak flag fly - if a sexy Bin Laden outfit does it for you then knock yourself out.
posted by djeo at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2013


Yeah, and to expand on my point, I don't think women who choose to wear revealing clothes are brainwashed by the patriarchy or anything like that. I just hate that the default setting for "omg how can we distinguish between a man's costume and a woman's costume" is always going to be "show tits and ass".
posted by elizardbits at 11:06 AM on November 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


Really enjoyed this. Makes me feel hopeful.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:22 AM on November 1, 2013


Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket and about 50 kabillion more women like this. 'Cause we totally need them.

Thanks.
posted by Solomon at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2013


I was thinking what jfuller said; The only place I see these "objectionable" costumes is in articles on the internet decrying how they’ve taken over the world. I’ve rarely, possibly never, seen them in the wild, as in someone actually wearing them.

I’ve seen a few women wear "sexy" costumes at parties, but they are never anywhere near as skimpy or weird as the ones I see on the internet, not much more revealing that what I might see at grocery store and less than at a club, and most women just dress in regular costumes. I assume that somewhere there are a bunch of women wearing these kinds of costumes, but I also assume that’s because they’re adults and that’s what they want to do and it fits their social situation.

I get that the idea as presented is not good, but neither is the idea of putting razor blades in candy.
posted by bongo_x at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


> the hate always goes towards sexy cat and never towards shirtless farmer/hick/greek god/etc.

In the places I tend to hang out every bit of the objection I see is "encouraging women to dress like this is about patriarchy and social control" which won't apply to guys dressed as sexy hicks. (But then when you buy into that line, hey whoops you're wrong it's slut-shaming.)

N.b. you don't have to encourage me to be a sexy hick, it's my natural state. STELLAAAAAAAAAAA!
posted by jfuller at 12:04 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


what gets me is that sexy costume hate is very rarely directed at the multitude of costumes that involves shirtless guys - it's the same group, teens/college age people dressing up, those with great bodies usually finding a costume that shows that off - but the hate always goes towards sexy cat and never towards shirtless farmer/hick/greek god/etc.

We were noticing that this past Halloween - one muscle boy only had to strip down and write "Tarzan" across his chest, and everyone wanted a picture with him. The rest of us mortals had to be a bit more creative.

I wonder how much of a real issue there is. If you google "slutty nurse costume" then of course you are going to get more risque results than if you google "zombie nurse."

There are two Halloweens, and what is appropriate for the youth-oriented neighborhood Halloweens isn't the same as the adult-oriented parties in Honolulu, West Hollywood, South Beach, gay cruises, college campuses, etc. There it's all about the sex and skin, and those with the bodies for it are going to show them off.
posted by kanewai at 12:21 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


but of course instead of the vast majority critiquing that, they just make fun of women for dressing slutty.

Why assume that? The yearly slate of articles I've read about this all seem to be making elizardbits' points.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:21 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sexy or not, default sexy or not, I don't give a damn how you dress for Halloween.

Women or men, being adults with brains and the ability to make their own choices, can wear whatever they want.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:30 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But no matter what garments we wrap ourselves in
A Woman’s Status as Trick, Treat, or geek is not up for discussion.
A woman dressing, acting, BEING, should be HER CHOICE
If a woman wears a skimpy outfit let it be HER CHOICE
If a woman wants to be covered up let it be HER CHOICE
IF I WANNA BE A MOTHERFUCKING MONSTER then let it be MY CHOICE"


I didn't read it as Halloween style slut-shaming. Just that the lack of choice for women now is frustrating and sexist. When I was a kid the point of dressing up was to look grotesque. Now you can't be a witch, but you can be a sexy witch. I'm sure witches don't wear corsets that tight irl, it would make it really hard to bend down to pick toadstools. High heels are shit for broomstick landings. But if I want to hire a witch costume now I need to wax. What if I just want to be a witch and wear baggy black from head to toe and a big pointy hat and a wart? I want my fucking wart!
posted by billiebee at 12:33 PM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I’ve rarely, possibly never, seen them in the wild, as in someone actually wearing them.

I too have never really seen them in the wild - but then I never get to Halloween parties for adults these days, either.

My own personal theory - and I have zero evidence to back this up - is that these types of costumes are probably bought more for enjoyment in the privacy of the home, with one's partner or partners (or alone, whatever) more for wearing out in public. They strike me as being like buying sexy lingerie or other intimate wear/toys - something you would use in private play.

That being said, everyone should be free to make their own choices about dressing however they want, especially at Halloween. I think the overall concern (that the choice in easy costumes (i.e., something you can buy quick, as opposed to doing a lot of it at home) for women is coming down to a slutty costume vs. not much else) is worrying; there should be tons of choice in what to dress up as.
posted by nubs at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2013


There is not problem one about someone wanting to put on a sexy whatever costume and doing so [1].

There are problems one through umpteen about the situation, however, when I go searching for a woman-sized prisoner's jumpsuit costume to make into a Chell costume and find that all options are "sexy prisoner," and end up having to get a L boys' costume and do a lot of previously-unplanned-for resizing and sewing.

...actually, since that's a prisoner costume in particular, make that problems one through umpteen squared.


[1] Modulo thoughts like "sexy nurse" or "sexy policeman" or sexy $PROFESSION depictions being the very essence of female sexual objectification, but, hey, it's Hallowe'en and a chance to be what you are not and whatnot go on with it.
posted by seyirci at 12:35 PM on November 1, 2013


But the default setting for women's costumes does not have to be sexualized.

And just to help make the point, this is how stupid it appears to be getting.
posted by nubs at 12:45 PM on November 1, 2013


I did my part for gender equality by dressing as Sexy Mario.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:50 PM on November 1, 2013 [23 favorites]


I agree and applaud these young women, but the hijab is like it or not a symbol of the subjugation of women.

The swastika (godwin?) was pleasant enough as Indian good luck but you're not going to be able to re-approriate it. Similarly with the veil.

One could argue the sexy nurse is a hijab unto itself, but maybe it's better to leave that to next year.
posted by four panels at 12:51 PM on November 1, 2013


Sorry, where are you getting hijab from in all of this?
posted by troika at 12:55 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Paraphrasing Dave Chapelle's bit about uniforms, but I do think people are at least somewhat responsible for the messages they choose to send - and that includes their costume choice. Yes, you're free to dress however you want, and no, you can't control people's interpretations or reactions - but the claim that you're not responsible for downstream effects AT ALL is clearly false. Similarly, these women are entitled to say what they think about your costume.

At my kid's school yesterday, every boy in the class save one (unfortunately, not mine) was a corporate comic book super hero. Every one of the girls was a princess, or fairy, or princess-fairy. For the most part, parents had tasteful costumes, but we did have the moms dressed as sexy Wizard of Oz Dorothy, sexy cat, etc.

If I have any say in the matter, next year's costume is absolutely not going to be in that mold. If nothing else, it's obvious that we've got a lot of work to do between now and then in terms of messaging and interpretation of pop culture.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:57 PM on November 1, 2013


Why buy a costume? Doesn't anyone know how to sew or use a hot glue gun? Seems that's the real way to autonomy.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:57 PM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fairies and nymphs were celebrated for their sexual freedom.

Regardless of sexual politics, this is historically accurate. Check out the satyrs and nymphs on 2500 year old Greek pottery.

I suppose the pivot depends on what you determine 'freedom' to be.
posted by four panels at 12:59 PM on November 1, 2013


Why buy a costume? Doesn't anyone know how to sew or use a hot glue gun? Seems that's the real way to autonomy.

Yes. The complaints here seem to be about what’s readily available to buy. That’s a problem of free markets and not liking the result, not a social mandate of some kind. People selling costumes are very interested in making things people buy, not making a statement.
posted by bongo_x at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are you talking about hijabs and swastikas though.
posted by elizardbits at 1:04 PM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I did my part for gender equality by dressing as Sexy Mario.

How could you be non-sexy Mario? Not possible.
posted by bongo_x at 1:07 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid the point of dressing up was to look grotesque. Now you can't be a witch, but you can be a sexy witch. I'm sure witches don't wear corsets that tight irl, it would make it really hard to bend down to pick toadstools. High heels are shit for broomstick landings. But if I want to hire a witch costume now I need to wax. What if I just want to be a witch and wear baggy black from head to toe and a big pointy hat and a wart? I want my fucking wart!

Your complaint is noted
posted by The Gooch at 1:09 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


People selling costumes are very interested in making things people buy, not making a statement.

Nobody's disputing this. Nobody's claiming that costume makers are all sitting in a smoky backroom chomping cigars and laughing about how they're going to keep the women down this year. The argument is that the default position that "female costume == sexy costume" is sexist and reinforces shitty patriarchal norms about women. The fact that these costumes are the fast sellers and big profit earners REINFORCES that, it doesn't negate it.
posted by KathrynT at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we not refer to revealing Halloween costumes as "objectionable"? Or saying the the people who wear them have "poor judgement"?

How about "problematic"?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:17 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


At my kid's school yesterday, every boy in the class save one (unfortunately, not mine) was a corporate comic book super hero. Every one of the girls was a princess, or fairy, or princess-fairy. For the most part, parents had tasteful costumes

I have this terrific video of the elementary school where my mom worked doing their usual halloween parade. It goes on for quite some time, and the students and teachers are uniformly football players (buffalo in the '90s!), batmans, and princess-fairies. And then comes my mom sailing down the hallway dressed as a picnic table, complete with food, drink, and her head on a platter in the center. It's shockingly hilarious, especially coming after a sea of the same thing over and over again. In another thread I was complaining about her not teaching her daughters how to meet society's expectations of feminine, I should probably thank her for teaching us to be big weirdos instead.
posted by troika at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2013 [20 favorites]


That is, I should thank her for teaching us what she did instead of complaining about what she didn't do. Nothing wrong with being feminine!
posted by troika at 1:33 PM on November 1, 2013


Why buy a costume? Doesn't anyone know how to sew or use a hot glue gun?

No I don't, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to learn. And if I was a man I wouldn't have to, I could just walk into any shop and buy a costume that fully covered my chest.
posted by billiebee at 1:37 PM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


Where do you have to go to see objectionable costumes? (Other than those incredible cheapies which you never see anywhere except still in their plastic packages, still on the rack, in the drugstore? Where they will be on move-'em-outta-here clearance the day after Halloween.)

Universities like the ones my friends and I went to, and among certain groups of young people who have moved to major metropolitan areas shortly after college. In those kinds of social circles, there's really quite a lot of pressure on young women to show their "assets" -- it's as much a social expectation as the one that people dress up for a formal dance. Is it possible to ignore that pressure? Of course, in exactly the same way that it's possible to wear a t-shirt and jeans to prom. But it's a bummer that the pressure exists, especially when I don't think it did in quite the same way 25 years ago. And it's a depressing reminder of how much young women are still valued for their looks (and how much that is internalized) to a much greater extent than young men.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 1:43 PM on November 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


searching for a woman-sized prisoner's jumpsuit costume to make into a Chell costume and find that all options are "sexy prisoner," and end up having to get a L boys' costume and do a lot of previously-unplanned-for resizing and sewing.

ha! I had the exact same problem! good thing I was planning to be Chell from portal 2 and can tie the damn thing around my waist, because it's crazy baggy, even after taking it in.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I'm getting from this thread is that opinions on this topic are a morass of irritable contradictions.
posted by Nomyte at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2013


I'm one that thinks if you think you'll have fun, and that's what you want to do, go for it.
A lot of the 'sexy whatevers' are on the young, and that's where their heads are at.
As long as there's options for everyone, let the good times roll.



Metafilter: I want my fucking wart!
posted by BlueHorse at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problematic and objectionable things are the lack of choices for women who don't want to wear the "slutty" costumes and the social pressure on women to wear them anyway. Men who don't have goods to flaunt or don't care to flaunt them may do so with ease; it's much harder for women in the same positions. Anyone clicking their tongues at women for dressing to show off, or at the costumes they show off in, is missing the mark.

The performance is making the same point as this.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:56 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


That is, "Men who don't have goods to flaunt or who don't care to flaunt them may easily decide not to do so; it's much harder for women to do likewise."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:11 PM on November 1, 2013


The problematic and objectionable things are the lack of choices for women who don't want to wear the "slutty" costumes and the social pressure on women to wear them anyway.

While I don't doubt for a second women have to conform to societal pressure about a lot of things, I do wonder if this extends to Halloween costumes of all things.

In terms of "lack of choices", my kids made their own costumes this year, which is a choice.

I always figured the women who wear "sexy" costumes are women who want to wear sexy costumes.

For example, taking my kids out last night, we were encountered by a group of twenty-somethings on their way to a Halloween party, two men, two women. One women was wearing a sexy costume. She was dressed as a snail, and she looked pretty damn hot (if you can believe a snail can be hot). The other woman was dressed (as was her boyfriend) as a Titantic survivor. Not "sexy". The other guy was dressed as a friendly drunken sailor.

So, everyone exercised their right to choose how to dress up.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:29 PM on November 1, 2013


I agree and applaud these young women, but the hijab is like it or not a symbol of the subjugation of women.

Sure -- where it's mandatory or the default. DC is not such a place. Women who choose to wear hijab do so for massively different reasons than women who are expected or forced to.

Got something against women's choices, four panels?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:30 PM on November 1, 2013


And with a single anecdote, all was rendered well, for the complaints in the video and the thread beneath it didn't count.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:37 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, to be clear, I think women are exercising a choice.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:47 PM on November 1, 2013


Sure -- where it's mandatory or the default. DC is not such a place. Women who choose to wear hijab do so for massively different reasons than women who are expected or forced to.

You can tell just by looking at them that women wearing hijab in DC are not expected or forced to by their families or social circles? You don't think a man in DC might expect or force his wife to wear hijab? Or a father his daughter? Or a grandmother her granddaugher? 18 years of that kind of social messaging, and you yourself might even come to believe that not doing so makes you irreparably immodest.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 3:51 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure -- where it's mandatory or the default. DC is not such a place. Women who choose to wear hijab do so for massively different reasons than women who are expected or forced to.

Got something against women's choices, four panels?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:30 PM


No. But a lot of women don't have a choice, and trotting out the hijab doesn't mean it's conquered.

In 500 years blackface may be a choice, a badge expressing your freedom, but in the current social climate it means something. As does the hijab.

The woman in the video is not standing up for the Saudi royal family, but the video is also not a denouement of equality. She means well, and for tonight that is probably enough.
posted by four panels at 4:04 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 500 years [not remotely equivalent example] may be a choice, a badge expressing your freedom, but in the current social climate it means something. As does the hijab.

Yes. And sometimes it means things other than what you, the knower of all things and hater of all Muslims, say it means.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2013


Yes. And sometimes it means things other than what you, the knower of all things and hater of all Muslims, say it means.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:07 PM on November 1


I appreciate your comment, and in no way want to derail a positive thread. Let me just say growing up my closest friend was a Palestinian boy, who prayed every day in front of a rug of Mecca hanging on his parents wall. I love him to this day. The subjugation of women is very real, and bigger than you, or me, or Islam.
posted by four panels at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2013


KokuRyu I know what you're saying, but the point is that women don't have the same amount of choice, at least when it comes to bought costumes.

My local fancy dress shop has a section for men and women. Can you see the difference? The men's costumes are generally funny, the women's are generally sexy. Men can dress like a banana, an elephant and an assortment of fully-clothed pilots, pirates etc. Among others women can be a sexy schoolgirl, a sexy convict, a burlesque witch and a shipwrecked sweetie. The couple of comedy outfits on the women's page such as the penguin and the monkey are modelled by, er, men. (Except for the fried egg - I guess it was ok for a woman to model that one as you can still see most of her legs.)

If I personally decided to run in last minute to pick something up and didnt feel like getting my tits and/or legs out I have so fewer options than a guy. If you want to be a French maid, more power to you. If you don't, your choice is severely limited.
posted by billiebee at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


All I gotta say is be careful when hooking up with people wearing sexy kitty cat costumes. I been picking sequins out of my rug all day and my egyptian cotton sheets may be ruined.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:15 PM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


. Let me just say growing up my closest friend was a Palestinian boy, who prayed every day in front of a rug of Mecca hanging on his parents wall.

Do you think if he were a girl you'd respect Muslim women who choose to wear hijab?

The subjugation of women is very real, and bigger than you, or me, or Islam.

Who said it wasn't?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:23 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


[This is not a thread about Islam and probably shouldn't head down that rabbithole. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:26 PM on November 1, 2013


Well, to be clear, I think women are exercising a choice.

KokuRyu, to be clear, the point is not that women do not have choice, the ability to choose what they want to wear - and did you seriously think that was the point? Really? - but that women don't have a lot of non-"slutty" options to buy off the rack. Even if a woman chooses to be a fully-dressed pirate, she often either has to buy a revealing version or make her own. And women shouldn't have to make their own costumes if they don't want to wear something revealing, nor should they have to dig through three different stores' selections to find what they want.

Women or men, being adults with brains and the ability to make their own choices, can wear whatever they want.

The thing is that I agree with this, and you agree with this, but a lot of people, even when they say they agree with this, don't really act as though they do, and women bear the brunt of their disapproval. Women often get flack whether they cover up or not.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:36 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, the problem isn't about being sexy for Halloween if that's your thing: have at it! But there are plenty of costumes that are already sexy. Be Aphrodite. Or a stripper. Or Mystique. Or an SI swimsuit model. The problem is that when women's costumes start marketing "sexy firewoman" or "sexy prisoner" or "sexy surgeon," it's suggesting that it is inadequate for women to JUST be a surgeon, or firewoman, or whatever. (And you could argue that something like "sexy prisoner" trivializes abuse and exploitation...). So yeah, I'm not cool with the idea suggestion that, essentially, all women's professions/identities are "sexy _____" with the emphasis on the sexy rather than the other qualities.
posted by TwoStride at 4:37 PM on November 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


> But the default setting for women's costumes does not have to be sexualized.

OMG. The default Halloween costume for everybody is a worn-out sheet with a couple of eyeholes. Note that when you are wearing one of these nobody can tell whether you're man, woman, or Yeti. Had two of these last night, one on a toddler who stepped on his? her? hem and fell down (on the grass, no harm done), one on an adult who I'm guessing was a woman because a child called the apparition "mommy."

It's mildly distressing if women don't have a wide enough choice of easy last-minute off-the-rack costumes. But those who really truly care about what they wear on Halloween--I do, I hoped to have my homebuilt whole head green man mask ready for this year but no, it's still got a couple of months work to do on it--you have all the choice in the world if you care enough to get started now for next Halloween. If it's not a big enough deal to you to do that then it's not a big deal to you period.
posted by jfuller at 4:39 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


When did sexy become such a horrible thing?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 4:39 PM on November 1, 2013


So my choice is a bed sheet, a sexy nurse, or a year's worth of work? I think I'll stay home.
posted by billiebee at 4:59 PM on November 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


SkylitDrawl: "When did sexy become such a horrible thing?"

Yes, because that's what we've talked about in thread. The mere whiff of sexiness in any costume ever.

We haven't talked about the dominance of sexualised costumes over non-sexualised costumes (you don't get an option of surgeon and sexy surgeon if you're a woman buying a costume - you just get the sex). We haven't talked about the way it is a social expectation in many communities, and a performance of conformity to dress in that sexualised way (because anything else sticks out and god forbid you don't want to). We haven't talked about the rewards for being sexual in our culture, or the punishments.

No, we've ALL been calling for no sexiness ever in any costume and the sexiness itself is the problem.

(also, FFS these are teenaged fucking girls talking, you don't think they know this pressure and exactly how it fucking plays out, particularly at intersections of race and class)
posted by geek anachronism at 5:43 PM on November 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Did you watch the video?

Admittedly, I started skipping through when one of the girls feigned surprise over the skimpiness of Wonder Woman costumes.

But it's not like I haven't heard this crap the last three Halloweens running. It just gets more obnoxious each time, too. Halloween is an easy target for stupid ideological agendas because it doesn't have any religious or cultural groups lobbying for its (admittedly fluid) traditions. It's also the one people enjoy the most, so if you can take away some of that pleasure you've won something.


If it's not a big enough deal to you to do that then it's not a big deal to you period.

Exactly. If you're complaining a cheap, mass produced costume doesn't suit your tastes then you should have made your own. Like pumpkin carving, it's part of the tradition. Where were their costumes for this halloween-themed performance? They have no interest. It's just a vehicle.

There's a reason there are a lot of skimpy shelf costumes: they sell. There's a class of partygoers for whom sex appeal is what they want to wear, and they don't care about impressing people with their imaginations. Is it tacky? Sure. Is catering to them tangible evidence of the intersectionality of patriarchal oppression woven into the fabric of modernity? Give me a fucking break.

And it's not as if this is a real issue. There are plenty of modest store costumes for women. Are you really going to tell me I only saw spotted bikinis on the shelves this year? Sorry. I was actually looking and my perceptions aren't so easily manipulated.


When did sexy become such a horrible thing?

When tumblr got ahold of third wave feminism.
posted by clarknova at 5:53 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what? In the mid-late 90's, also known as my College Days, I LOVED dressing up sexy. There wasn't as many choices, so I went as a fairy, devil, nurse...

WHY didn't they have this? I don't care it shows up on all the 'HAHA DUMB SEXY COSTUME' lists, I woulda have LOVED it in college. And it's no more revealing than a sweater-dress, really.
posted by Windigo at 6:11 PM on November 1, 2013


If you're complaining a cheap, mass produced costume doesn't suit your tastes then you should have made your own.

You're so right. My apologies for ever having stepped away from a sewing machine. You see the problem, my humourless sisters? We have simply lost our darning skills! That'll teach us to get it into our silly heads that we can expect costume-makers to cater to us while we go off to our day jobs willy-nilly.

Like pumpkin carving boobs, it's part of the tradition.
posted by billiebee at 6:14 PM on November 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


I did my part for gender equality by dressing as Sexy Mario.

Thank you for doing your part.

Now please bring in Luigi.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 PM on November 1, 2013


We have simply lost our darning skills! That'll teach us to get it into our silly heads that we can expect costume-makers to cater to us while we go off to our day jobs willy-nilly.

Regardless of design, most of those costumes are darned in third world sweatshops, mostly by women. If it was women's liberation you cared about, yes. You'd probably be at the sewing machine darning your own.

Assuming you cared enough about Halloween to participate.

Plenty of working women (and men) make their own costumes. What's your excuse.
posted by clarknova at 6:52 PM on November 1, 2013


Plenty of working women (and men) make their own costumes. What's your excuse.

That I can't be arsed?

Your dedication to Halloween is touching, and I respect that it clearly means so much to you. But personally I'd just like to throw on a simple costume and have a drink without having to worry if my nipples are showing. You know - like a man.
posted by billiebee at 7:00 PM on November 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


So, no, clarknova has not watched the video and is in fact just assuming what it's about and is in fact completely wrong, just as everybody thought many comments ago.

The whole point of the video is that women should wear whatever they want, not just on Halloween but any other day. In particular, as teenagers, they feel a lot of pressure to dress a certain way. And sometimes they even want to dress that way, but they want it to be their own choice, not one that is forced upon them by limited options or societal pressures.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:01 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to throw on a simple costume and have a drink without having to worry if my nipples are showing. You know - like a man.

You don't have to make an authentic 13th century period piece. Go to goodwill, buy a pair of old jeans and a tshirt. Spend two minutes with a pair of scissors in the parking lot. Splash some karo and red food coloring on the whole ensemble. Presto. You're a zombie.

Or you can not do anything because nothing happens to you for not dressing up on Halloween.

Plenty of the bagged, nylon costumes are modest. If you wanted better last minute selection than the saggy witches' dress and hat you're expecting more commercial attendance to your material desires than I care to contemplate. This is an internet ideology issue. Not a real issue.

And lots of men worry about their nipples showing. Have you seen those guy's devil's outfits?


So, no, clarknova has not watched the video and is in fact just assuming what it's about and is in fact completely wrong, just as everybody thought many comments ago.

What? No. I mean Yes. Like I said, I skipped through it. I saw enough. I don't have to stroke my beard for three minutes of activist propaganda to figure out I'm being propagandized, or for what. I'm sorry. I know you found it very moving. To me it's familiar puritanical crap.
posted by clarknova at 7:58 PM on November 1, 2013


[A couple of comments deleted; cut the personal attacks. Clarknova, you've made your thoughts clear, but since you're not discussing the message of the actual video that is the subject of the post, you're getting into derail and/or personal soapbox territory. If you don't feel like watching the whole thing, that's your choice, but then please don't try to steer or squash discussion.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:36 AM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


When did sexy become such a horrible thing?

"When I turned 35-40"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2013


Hey could more men come in here and tell us how this is actually not a problem at all for them... ?

lol, Metafilter, you cad
posted by stoneandstar at 8:33 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ok for the love of Christ this isn't actually about anyone's particular last minute costume buying needs, it's about the fact that there's this disgusting cesspool of sexual expectations for women basically every day of our lives and every time we get dressed and it just happens to be a popular point of derision on Halloween because it's ramped up to the absurd. I hate those nasty nylon costumes in a bag and it's still humiliating to see them and realize that I can't be treated like a human being for one fucking second because I've got tits and that means all bets are off.

If you watch this piece and think "propaganda!!!" I think maybe you're a little brainwashed and you're definitely ignorant of what daily objectification (and self-objectification) does to a person psychologically. This video is about women wanting to be treated like human beings, as ever. Mostly, to feel like our own bodies aren't being sold to us, that we don't feel like our sexuality is our most salient characteristic. That we don't need to be JUST SEXY ENOUGH, NOT TOO SEXY at all times in order to be taken seriously and also not dismissed. If you haven't spent any time as a woman lately maybe you should look at the research on this before you come in to tell us women how we're all consumerist idiots who can't sew and want to run a sweatshop.

Someone mentioned in another thread recently about how upper class clothes for women are often frumpy, and how it's the ultimate status symbol for a woman to dress without having to worry about being sexy, not even a little bit. Because if you're a regular woman, being sexy or not sexy isn't about sex, it's about status, and it's a fucking bullshit buzzkill.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


What I find really disturbing is how fetishized "sexy" has become in reference to women (and how resisting that is somehow puritanical, yeah ok). I am sexy every day of my fucking life, and it sure isn't because I wear a push-up bra or a miniskirt or stockings with a seam on them. It's because I'm a woman and I love sex. And no, I'm not 35-40.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:45 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dunno. The poetry was meh for me. Might have been partly the slam conventions, which I find increasingly tiresome.

It just seemed so bullshitty whiney stuff that works out to metafilter bait. So the whole point is that women should wear whatever they want? Cmon, does anyone seriously think that women in the US cannot wear whatever they want, not only for Halloween, but pretty much anytime? The wonderful thing here is that you are not limited to the forces that be. And judging from the costume shop that actually exists around the block from my house, there is a pretty wide array of premade costumes actually on the market, rezdy to wear.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:50 PM on November 2, 2013


Cmon, does anyone seriously think that women in the US cannot wear whatever they want, not only for Halloween, but pretty much anytime?

*raises hand* I mean, nobody's holding a gun to my head, sure, but how I dress definitely has a major, major impact on how I'm treated and respected, in nearly every aspect of my life, from buying my shoes to trying to get my son into preschool. And, yeah, a big part of that is what's available that's appropriate to my age, my size, and the venue. Why should Halloween costumes be any different?
posted by KathrynT at 12:16 AM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sure, women in the US can wear whatever they want. On Halloween, even.

They're just judged for what they wear far more harshly than us guys are.

But you knew this.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:17 AM on November 3, 2013


This feels wrong as a general statement. Try wearing a nice skirt and pretty tights on your next trip to the grocery store.

I generally agree with the premise of patriarchal control, but I think that it manifests for both men and women. Women have to think about whether they're going to get shit for their choice when they dress, men better not make too many different choices otherwise they aren't really "men".

There's a reason men get mostly modest outfits and giant wearable props, and it's not just because women are supposed to be sexy, it's also because men aren't.
posted by smidgen at 12:11 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not that men aren't supposed to be sexy, it's that they don't need to be/aren't expected to be.

See also this thread. One of the points the author makes is "Subjects are sexual, while objects are sexy". There is a difference, and its something to remember when people ask "what's wrong with being sexy?"
posted by billiebee at 12:37 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think your statement is completely true. The expectation proceeds from the requirement that men not be like women. One of the attributes of "women" is "sexy". As a man, I get the message loud and clear, from both men & women, that "sexy" men are likely gay (as in, not a suitable mate for a het woman). I don't think it could be clearer than that.
posted by smidgen at 1:58 PM on November 3, 2013


A sexy man is not considered a suitable mate for a woman? Straight men aren't allowed to be sexy? Sorry, you've lost me.

my future husband Ryan Gosling would no doubt also disagree with you
posted by billiebee at 2:16 PM on November 3, 2013


You're confusing my description of expectations and reality. This wasn't about actual female sexual desire, it was about the expectations placed on men. That's the problem. Of course het women find sexy men to be a good thing in the abstract, that's not in dispute. What I dispute is the idea that men have no social constraints on being sexy, where I know that to be false.
posted by smidgen at 2:28 PM on November 3, 2013


I also don't really buy (most) verbal hygiene arguments. There are two problems I have with them:

First, they generally present things as simple binary. Sexual objectification is not pure evil in of itself, it is after all, part of human sexuality at a distance. There is nothing wrong with being sexy or wanting to be sexy or desiring a sexy person. It is the requirement for such objectification that is evil. By pretending that swapping a word for it's inverse on some spectrum means something, the hygiene argument wants to perpetuate the idea of a binary flip -- when the damage is fuzzier or on a different spectrum entirely.

Secondly, they presume that thought and emotion is subordinate to language. If one suddenly starts requiring women to be "sexual" instead of "sexy", for instance, it doesn't really change anything. I get that the word switch seems to give the owner of said sexuality more control, but it is illusory -- the same expectations are there -- you've just moved the requirement not from object to subject, but from an external to an internal requirement which is perhaps even *more* insidious.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this is exactly appropriate to this particular thread, but putting it out there...
posted by smidgen at 2:29 PM on November 3, 2013


Try wearing a nice skirt and pretty tights on your next trip to the grocery store.

??????

If you're trying to refute the usefulness of a statement as a generality, you don't do that by bringing up an extreme edge case. "The average height of US males is 5' 10"" is not negated by pointing out the handful of 7-foot-plus pro basketball players.

As a man, I get the message loud and clear, from both men & women, that "sexy" men are likely gay

This feels like a [citation needed] moment, because I don't get these messages at all. Unless you are associating "feminine" with both "sexy" and "gay", which is pretty damn simplistic and reductive.
posted by soundguy99 at 2:43 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This feels like a [citation needed] moment, because I don't get these messages at all. Unless you are associating "feminine" with both "sexy" and "gay", which is pretty damn simplistic and reductive.

I think it's more that some people are eager to call a man gay if he seems to be making an effort to be sexy by drawing attention to his body, except perhaps for in a few generally accepted ways.

There's a lot you could probably unpack there and it's not like men have it worse than women or something, but in my experience this is a thing.

I mean sometimes a straight man just wants to grow a luxuriant moustache and be muscular and semi-nude in public, there's nothing wrong with that according to my Bible
posted by ludwig_van at 6:23 PM on November 3, 2013


You may have a point, ludwig_van, but I don't think it's really germane to the point of the FPP or the thread.

Once again, somehow we've turned this discussion into All About Men, which is a derail, and I apologize for my part in this.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:53 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


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