But I don't want to be sexy!!!

FilthyGrandeur's picture

It's nearly Halloween, and as every woman knows, that means we only have one option when it comes to costume choices: sexy.

But I don't want to be sexy.

My fiance suggested that we could dress up as Batman and Robin, which I thought would be fun.  But I told him I wanted to be Batman.  Which of course started a heavily gendered discussion.

First, a disclaimer: my fiance is wonderfully supportive.  As I'm reading up on the ways in which privilege works, and discussing it with him, he's even been noticing it and pointing it out.  He's also gotten really good at noticing gender roles and presentations, sexism, racism, etc. in shows, movies, and commercials.  Sometimes I like to play a game, where I see a new ad on tv and after it's over, I look at him and ask, "Why do you think I'm angry about that?"  He gets it right.  And I know it's not easy recognizing privilege.  I've been there.  I'm still there.  Because in recognizing the ways privilege works means that I have to give up that privilege, and there are times where it's like I'm having an internal battle.  So I know that for a straight white cisgender man this is also difficult, because there's a lot of unpacking to do there.  But it's all necessary.

That being said, me saying I wanted to be Batman still challenged some notions of gender that had yet to be discussed.  So he suggested that I could be Batgirl.  Or this abomination:

First off, NO.  Second, how many times do I have to point out that high heels are not practical crime-fighting footwear?  Third, FUCK NONo way in hell am I wearing that.  Ever.  I wouldn't even risk losing a bet if I know that is my punishment.  Note: the above image is labeled as a plus-size.  Really.

I really really really hate that the woman version of anything has to be sexy.  If I want to be Robin, why can't I just be Robin.  Robin doesn't wear a skirt, or heels (though honestly I wouldn't complain if he did), so if I'm going to dress as the character, I'm going to dress the way he dresses without sexifying it. 

Oh, and what the fucking hell is this:

A sexy school girl witch?  Are you fucking kidding me?  So, what?  Now we're just mashing our heterosexual male fantasies together?  Maybe I'll dress as a slave princess kitten pirate.  With wings.

So anyway, my fiance and I were at the mall yesterday looking at costumes to kill time.  After having my fill of the above, and similar ilk, I moved on to the men's side.  That's when I saw the Edward Scissorhands costume, and I immediately got all excited and said that's what I wanted to be.  My fiance's response: that's weird. 

In a way I guess it would be (though after being together for nearly 5 years, you'd think he'd be used to my "weirdness").  And for several gendered reasons.  One, it's a man's costume.  There isn't even a sexy lady version of that one (which hadn't escaped my notice).  Two, given that most if not all costumes marketed and made available to women are sexual, my choice in being not sexual is breaking from (a disturbing) norm.  While I don't care if other women choose to freely express themselves on Halloween, the one day where we're actually expected to be sexual (well, we are anyway, but we're not supposed to like it, cuz then we're sluts, or something), it's not for me.  Because, three, all costumes made available to women are all about playing up male fantasies.  If I choose not to engage in this, I'm shirking the expectation of engaging in the male fantasy.  My rejection of this effectively called out my fiance's privilege (see, the above disclaimer was relevant!).  He, as a man, can be whatever he desires to be for Halloween.  Me, as a woman, can be whatever a straight man desires me to be.  My fiance has a privilege to express himself in any manner he chooses on Halloween.  My options as a woman mean I can only express myself in a sexual manner within the confines of male fantasy.

And it gets disturbingly worse, because now us ladies can sexualize our doggies too:

Isn’t that cute? The dog looks like it’s filming a (more) pornographic version of the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” video! Seriously, dude, have the porn and entertainment industries so thoroughly brainwashed the American female into believing that her life ought to revolve around eliciting boners that we’ve now moved on to dogs
I don’t dislike dogs. Dogs are cute and often very entertaining (though they stink a little more than I’d like them to), and I don’t mind seeing them around and even petting one occasionally. I won’t blame dogs for this abomination and affront to human decency and self-respect. I won’t blame the victim, as it were. Dogs don’t read blogs or dress themselves, so I’ll leave them out of it. Female pet owners and Halloween costume-wearers, on the other hand, I’d like to ask a question: Don’t you think it’s kind of insulting that when you have just one chance a year to be whatever you want, you’re still expected to be a sex object? Can’t we have one day of rest in 365? Men get to pretend to be any fanciful character their psyches can devise on Halloween. The don’t often come up with anything all that interesting, but still, they get to be whatever they want. And we’re supposed to also be whatever they want? That’s a pretty shitty deal.
The fuckability mandate sucks. Why foist it upon your poor dog?

This shit seriously needs to stop.  Halloween is my favorite time of year, and this is ruining it for me.  And whatever I dress up as (if I do dress up at all--money constraints and whatnot) you can bet it's not going to be some version of some male fantasy.

I'm thinking I might start planning for next year.  Since I'm an avid seamstress, I think I'll just make my own damn costume.  It sucks that the types of things I'd be willing to dress as just aren't available for me as a woman, and me making my own costume will only solve my problem.  Hmm....maybe I'll start my own costume business: Feminist Costumes for Feminists. 


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Jolie du Pre

jolie du pre's picture

Okay, I get where you're coming from.

Here's where I'm coming from. 

I'm a feminist who likes to wear her fuck me heels and her short skirts and who likes to turn men on.  Always have. 

So there you go.

I guess your "Feminist Costumes for Feminists" won't work for this feminist since you won't have any fuck me heels or short skirts.

Feminists are varied.  We don't all fall in one category. 


that's certainly fine.  if

FilthyGrandeur's picture

that's certainly fine.  if you can wear heels and not fall, more power to you.  i am perfectly aware that women come in many varieties, which is the complaint i'm attempting to make: we don't all want to be sexualized all the time.  the costumes made for women effectively lump us all into one category. 

and i don't know how to make shoes, so yeah, i won't have any of those.  but in a way, isn't it problematic that you're referring to those as "fuck me" heels?  i get where you're coming from, but women are continually presented as available for male consumption, and halloween only seems to intensify this.

and who said i wouldn't have short skirts?  my issue is that women versions of male character costumes are sexualized in a way that the origininal male costumes are not.  if someone wanted to have a short skirt costume, fine whatever.

and i was going for silly redundance with the Feminist Costumes for Feminists thing.  don't over think it.


jolie du pre's picture

Okay I won't over think.  Too many run-ins with ultra-feminists, I guess.  (I'm still traumatized.)  The feminist label is not black and white.  There are many shades of gray.  You would agree with that.  So, I'm cool with it.

I always get frustrated

Annabelle River's picture

I always get frustrated shopping for those pre-packaged costumes for the reason that they're also usually expensive, tiny, and fall apart almost instantaneously.  I'm sure whatever you sew would be better quality on many levels, including your self-expression.

But in the meantime, if you run out time to sew or to kick off Feminist Costumes for Feminists this year, would any of the men's-section Batman costumes fit you?  Or, if you want to be Edward Scissorhands, what's wrong with being strange?  Isn't Halloween all about being strange?

I would so, SO buy costumes

Charlotte's picture

I would so, SO buy costumes from you. I'm so sick of not being able to get my hands on any genuinely creative, interesting or just downright funny costumes at Halloween anymore. I'm so sick of this "sexy Halloween" phenomenon. I LOVE dressing up for escapism and fun, but there is absolutely no variety or imagination in costumes for women. It's depressing.

Why is it bad to be sexy in

Why is it bad to be sexy in your costume? If I had the body I would definitely get dressed in a sexy batgirl costume. My boyfriend's got one batman costume so we would be a great couple :).


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