Massive generalization alert: Guys can’t help themselves. They love a slutty nurse, a slutty school teacher, a slutty elf, a slutty secretary, a slutty bride, and, given the opportunity, probably a slutty meter reader. Name a costume and someone has probably come up with a slutty version of it. Is this particularly disturbing turn in Halloween celebrations getting old? It doesn’t show any signs of going away—maybe it’s just me.
Please don’t get me wrong—this has nothing to do with the politics of slut-shaming. It’s a woman’s prerogative to do whatever she wants with her body, and I couldn’t feel any more strongly about this. What I find sad is that a lot of great ideas get passed by because they’re about as sexy as a mailbox, so The Sexy Nurse thing gets a disproportionate amount of play.
Granted, some popular costumes play slutty quite naturally, like Catholic schoolgirl (why would they make those uniform skirts so short, really?) and French maid (again with the skirts). Then there’s the slutty supernatural sub genre with the vampires, devils, and even werewolves that get the hotness treatment in popular culture. For the ladies anyway. Sadly, the male versions of the supernaturals usually lean towards the grotesque: think King Vampire in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain or Tim Curry in Legend (hot bod but a face only a mother could love).
So there’s a giant gender inequity in The Sexification of Halloween. Where do we bring The Sexy for guys? There’s The Village People, the seminal disco-era quintet who brought us the sexy cop, construction worker, cowboy, soldier, and leatherman (and yes, the headdress-toting first nations band member who was sexy but politically incorrect). Then there’s the subtly sexy, understated options like Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (best executed as a group costume): six sultry young men in good suits sporting overcoats of smooth attitude. From there it’s a short leap to the less coiffed, but equally violent characters from The Walking Dead. Their appeal is less obviously sexual, more blood and dirt and angst-covered sexy in an “I just need to be cradled to your bosoms” sort of way. (I’m thinking of Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon here—don’t you just want to brush the hair out of his eyes then give him a bath?)
If not zombie hunters, the zombies themselves have emerged as an alternative to The Slutty Anything. Zombies are trendy and have been interpreted in a variety of ways. In 28 Days Later, the zombies are super-speedy in contrast to The Walking Dead’s slow shufflers. And we can’t forget the toe-tapping undead in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. All pretty hard to bring the sexy to (though Jackson tried).
Male or female, exercising the urge to leave yourself behind for an evening is Halloween’s main draw today. It’s a night for make believe, for the suspension of disbelief we used to practice so easily as children. But unlike the kids, it seems like when women want to throw off the shackles of the everyday—of being a student or a mom or working the window at the drive-thru—they want to do it in the sluttiest way possible. Slutty anything. Slutty gas station attendant, slutty nuclear physicist, or slutty groundskeeper—as long as you can flash your décolletage and underbutt cleavage for all the world to see.
What troubles me is that this has become our default position, that we’re so repressed and removed from our natural, sexual selves that we need to blow our collective loads on one single holiday. The more public the better. Halloween has become a night when the bars are guaranteed to be packed—one of the biggest party nights of the year.
The unintended consequence (and source of smug self-satisfaction for the teetotallers) comes the day after. This is when we’re treated to spectacular executions of The Walk of Shame. Yes, New Year’s Day people-watching features revellers resplendent in formal wear stumbling by, but it’s hard to beat the day after Halloween when The Slutty Nurse crawls home in the cruel light of dawn, mascara down to her chin. That’s worth settling into a window seat at your local café for. (In fairness, there’s no shortage of guys marching by in tattered green shorts carrying Incredible Hulk masks, or other superhero paraphernalia, hairlines still smeared with leftover coloured face paint.)
So here we go. In the interest of avoiding these kinds of humiliations, I’m looking for the least slutty costume I can find. Cover me in fleece head to toe. A mask too, but not a sexy one like Catwoman. A Teletubby—that’s the ticket. At least I won’t freeze my sexy bits off tromping door-to-door around the neighbourhood. I’ve had a lot of fun flashing those sexy bits around bars in the past, but this year I’ll be saving them, warm at home for my favourite grownup trick or treater.