Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween: Women Undress to Impress

I’ll keep this short and sweet: what is it about Halloween that provokes women to wear next to nothing? I say this as a veteran of semi-nudity on past Halloweens. Freshman year, I was Britney Spears from her breakout video, “Hit Me Baby One More Time”. Sophomore year, I upped the nakedness by dressing as Samantha from Sex and the City. (Both times I ended up drunk and freezing.)

Last Friday, Sabrina and I joked about keeping a tally on the number of naked women we might see over the weekend, but we didn’t really have a defense for our own actions nor an explanation for anyone else’s. There seems to be a desire to be provocative and flashy, but only when it is "appropriate". So tell us, what’s up with the nudity? Why does it seem to happen only when we dress in costume? Who determines when nudity is acceptable? Men? Women? Both? Why is the nakedness called slutty? Who, if anyone, are we trying to please? And, if so, why?


sabrina said...

This post on Salon makes the same observation, but dismisses it as a result of more adults dressing up. Still lacking: an explanation of why adult women choose these costumes. It might be the transgression of norms that is desirable (an empowering/liberating explanation), but I am skeptical of the liberating power of something that simulates essentially derogatory cultural phenomena and evokes similarly derogatory (objectifying) responses.

Nick Minichino said...

Now you've got me thinking about this. Even Opinionistas had a post about it. And while she had an eye-rolling tone when discussing it, neither she, nor any in the comments that I noticed, had any problems with it, nor any insights beyond the "norm-transgression" idea. The only alternate theory that I can come up with is that it's a norm transgression that is not so much liberating as ethnographic (in the inexact Jacob Riis sort of way).

Adda said...

What this makes me think about is how women in our culture can be sexual in a positive light. My friends and I in high school would often dress up in totally ridiculous outfits, many of them definitely small and rather revealing, but we did it as a way to just fool around with clothing, as a way to do something weird and off kilter, and also as a way to enjoy our bodies, even in a sexual way. It sort of makes me think about how liberating it is for so many women to go to naked parties, or skinny dip, or any host of semi-public nude activities. As women we spend so much time obsessing over our bodies and trying to hide them from the judgemental eyes of the public, and its often incredibly liberating to do something that breaks free from that pressure.

Anyways, this is not to say that women dressing up as a slutty version of snow white, or what have you, on Halloween doesn't play into a whole cadre of misogynist sort of desires and expectations, but I think it forces us to consider where and when and how women can really enjoy being sexual (in public) without totally objectifying themselves? Any thoughts?

On a side note, this really funny guy in my Afam class (who btw was wearing a Take Back The Night in class the other day, and not ironically I don't think) was a slutty pumpkin. All he wore was his rowing little suit and otherwise painted himself orange.

I guess this just relates also to my feelings about the Maureen Dowd article (which I can comment on in that space), which is just that as much as I agree with you and feminists around the world that its good to point these things out and bring them to light, I think that it behooves us, in order to move forward in any sort of productive ways, to discuss why these things are wrong, but how they can be dealt with/expressed in a more woman-friendly way.

ashley said...

I agree that public nudity and creative semi-nude "play" can be liberating activities for women and men; however, we should recognize the difference between the "slutty pumpkin" and paying $60 for a french maid porno uniform.

If Yale women were truly interested in subverting social norms or in displaying proud bodies, they wouldn't need to cater to heternormative male fantasy. (One may argue that all forms of public nudity play into h.n. male fantasy, but I disagree: I haven't seen too many pornos with naked pumpkin-people.) Yes, the women who go as Britney Spears are probably somewhat motivated by the excitement of public sexual empowerment-- but dressing as a culturally beloved "slut" is playing it SAFE (and may ultimately reflect/perpetuate/create bodily insecurities). When sexual energies are masked with the face of a commodified icon, the potential for full liberation is squelched. Squishy chocolate mess in the bottom of your pillowcase.

katty said...

I really like halloween, the party and i love to go out with my litle girl, she really enjoy to ask in every house for a candy.
In the night the party is only between my husband and i, usually i buy viagra and my husban is a real machine.