You shouldn't need an excuse to dress like a slut. But it used to be that Halloween was the one day a year when you could flaunt your goodies, embrace your sexuality and court sexual attention without anybody calling you that name so often hurled at women who are enjoying their bodies: S-L-U-T. But these days the annoying, unoriginal slutty Halloween costume girl is a trope that doesn't seem to be going away.
Those out there casually bitching about "slutty costumes" on Halloween should stop and have a long think about just what's wrong with dressing "slutty," or acting "slutty" for that matter. And maybe explain just what wearing revealing clothing has to do with promiscuity anyway?
My fellow sluts: If the haters have you down and you feel you need an excuse to unbutton your top button (an excuse besides the fact that it's fun and it feels good and it's HALLOWEEN, when you're SUPPOSED to dress up as something you're not), please see my feminism-approved list of slutty costume ideas.
1. Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy Bunny
I love this one for it's many layers. If you haven't read, Gloria Steinem's seminal "A Bunny's Tale," you can find it here.
A decade before Ms. Magazine, a young Steinem went undercover to expose the inner workings of Hugh Hefner's Playboy clubs, which were then flourishing. Not only did she encounter rampant exploitation in the clubs, she also documented how the clubs kept its employees from making the promised wages.
You can see photos of the vintage costumes here -- they consist of a light-colored satin bodice, a collar and bowtie, and of course, a fluffy bunny tail. Or just wear a modern bunny costume and throw on a pair of Steinem's signature aviators for extra plausible deniability when you insist, "I am NOT just dressed like a Playboy bunny. I am dressed as a crusader for women's rights."
2. Annie Sprinkle
Annie Sprinkle, who calls herself a "radical sex educator" and "feminist porn activist," has been a prostitute and a porn star, and went on to use her sexuality in her career as an educator and artist.
All you really need for this costume is a curly red wig and a lot of cleavage. Carry a speculum and a flashlight. Inviting partygoers to view your cervix, as in Sprinkle's most famous piece "Public Cervix Announcement," is optional.
Even if you don't dress up as Annie Sprinkle, go read "Forty Reasons Why Whores Are My Heroes" as an antidote to Halloween slut-shaming.
3. Free the Nipple activist
There are plenty of activists who use nudity and sexuality to garner media attention to their causes -- one of the most famous is Femen, which uses "sextremism" to "protect women's rights," organizing controversial and often topless protests. Another option for topless Halloweening is fashioning yourself a member of the Free the Nipple movement (most recently, Scout Willis drew attention to this cause by walking topless around the streets of New York City.) This group of women are fighting for equality in toplessness laws -- it is still illegal for a woman to be topless in public in 35 states.
4. Lusty Lady Peepshow Worker
There are all manner of feminist sex workers, but one of the most iconic are the women of the sadly defunct Lusty Lady peep show in San Francisco. The notoriously smart, feminist dancers of the Lusty Lady voted to unionize in 1997, forming the Exotic Dancers Union, the first of its kind. In 2003, when the owners decided to shut down the Lusty Lady, the workers came together to buy the place and run it as a worker-owned cooperative. In 2013, the Lusty Lady closed its doors, but you can embody their spirit of sex positivity and fair labor practices by dressing as a peep show employee this Halloween. Simply wear your cutest lingerie and carry a sign demanding unionization.
5. Riot Grrrl/Kinderwhore
This ’90s feminist movement started in the punk scene in the Seattle/Olympia area and soon spread to frustrated burgeoning 3rd wavers across the country. (Full disclosure: As a teenager I wanted nothing more than to be a Riot Grrl, despite the fact that I was at least 5 years too late.)
Riot Grrl bands railed against the patriarchy and rallied for female empowerment, through music (bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Sleater Kinney came out of this movement) and cut-and-paste zines. The Riot Grrls became known as much for their fashion as for their politics, often wearing miniskirts, babydoll dresses, barettes in their hair, and subverting sexualized clothing such as Catholic schoolgirl skirts by writing words like "Slut" and "Incest" on their bodies.
It was similar to the "kinderwhore" look popularized by Courtney Love around that same time, although she reportedly hated the Riot Grrl movement. She often paired her sweet, childlike dresses with smeared makeup, ripped tights and chipped nail polish. Either look could make an excellent slutty Halloween costume, and if you're anything like me you already have most of the elements in your own closet.
6. Woman-Owned Sex Shop Worker
Both Babeland, which began in Seattle in response to a lack of woman-friendly sex shops, and Good Vibrations, which started in 1977 San Francisco to provide accurate sex information and quality sex toys for women, are examples of woman-focused, feminist sex toy shops. Good Vibrations calls its store staff Sex Educator-Sales Associates and one would make a great costume. Wear a nametag, carry a dildo. Please be prepared to explain what phthalates are.
7. A Slutmarcher
Remember Slutmarch? In 2011, women across several countries protested violence against women and its perceived link to a woman's clothing by marching in "slutty" clothing and carrying signs with sayings like "My clothes are not my consent." Let's go back to that heady time this Halloween. Fishnets, miniskirt, protest sign, you're done.
Too late to put together an elaborate costume? Pop out one breast. Carry a baby doll. You're a lactivist, one of the women who have protested with "nurse-ins" and the like to ensure the rights of nursing mothers. Now don't leave that baby on the floor next to a keg somewhere!
There you have a few of my ideas. Go forth and be slutty! But do bring a jacket. I support sluttiness, not pneumonia.