A Brief Guide To Not Slut Shaming People This Halloween

Slut shaming people on Halloween is easily avoided. Learn how with these easy tips.
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Slut shaming people on Halloween is easily avoided. Learn how with these easy tips.

So it's Halloween. We all love Halloween! It's the one time of year we get to dress up and have fun and be silly. We all already know not to be racist (I hope, right, kids?), and how to avoid other offensive costumes, but let's talk about Halloween slut shaming for a minute, because it comes from women as well as men, and it's misogynist and sexist and crappy. 

Here at xoJane, we support your decision to wear a slutty Halloween costume: in fact, we have some suggestions for you! And we don't think anyone should be up your butt about it. (Unless you want them to be.)

Halloween slut shaming basically follows the classic and very basic sexist formula of: "That girl isn't wearing enough clothing! Heavens! Someone stop her! Her ankles are showing!

Women who dress in revealing, or sexy, or skimpy, or slutty, or whatever you want to call them, costumes on Halloween are treated like garbage for how they dress. And not just on Halloween night, either, because the Internet remembers, and now that the Internet is in our pockets, the Internet is, well, everywhere. You may not remember what you did last night, but Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook will. 

How can you stop Halloween slut shaming? Fortunately, we've got a guide for you. The first thing you need to know is that if you see someone in a costume other than a giant sheet, don't panic. Everything is going to be okay, and you're probably best off approaching the situation by treating her like everyone else. You may be disconcerted by the visibility of her legs or arms, but I assure you, her legs and arms are just like ours. 

You can basically avoid Halloween slut shaming by not telling women that their costumes are too revealing, slutty, or whorish (whatever that means) and telling people who say that kind of thing that what they're saying isn't cool. No really. That's pretty much it. But as long as you're going to be out and about this Halloween, do the ladies in your life a solid and help them have a happy Halloween that won't come back to bite them in the butt later -- no matter what they wore. 

These ladies are here to talk to you about slut shaming. Photo credit: Vancouver Film School

These ladies are here to talk to you about slut shaming. Photo credit: Vancouver Film School

1. Why she's wearing that costume is none of your business.

Maybe she just wants to slut it up, for whatever definition of slut works for her. That is totally, 100% her business. Maybe she's dressing for herself or taking a dare from her friend. Don't assume that someone pressured her into it, or that she was forced to wear an outfit by a partner. You don't need to comment on her costume unless you want to follow the golden rule of not saying anything unless you have something nice to say. 

(By the way, sexual harassment is not "something nice," so make sure your comments are less about leering at her body and more about, you know, her costume, or mutual interests, or your connections to the host of the party, or "How to Get Away With Murder," or basically anything other than cravenly hitting on her. If she seems interested, great, and godspeed, my friend. If you get rejected, say it was nice chatting and move on.)

2. Try to remember that people are out to have fun on Halloween.

For whatever reason that someone's wearing a revealing costume, she doesn't want to be hassled about it. She doesn't need you all up in her Playboy Bunny to inform her that she's antifeminist or letting the side down or giving in. She also doesn't need people hassling her because they think her costume is some sort of signal of sexual availability -- so if you see someone doing that, step in and tell them to quit it. (And, uh, if you're the kind of person who does things like that, quit it.)

Waaaay more work than I will ever put into anything, ever. Photo credit: Vancouver Film School

Waaaay more work than I will ever put into anything, ever. Photo credit: Vancouver Film School

3. Be careful about pictures.

Taking pictures on Halloween is tons of fun! I love checking out costumes later. However, ask people before taking their photos (yes, including people you know), and also ask if it's okay to upload them or share them on social media. A friend dressed as a naughty nurse might be totally fine with having her picture taken for your own album, but uncomfortable with having it put up on social media or in another shared venue. Don't assume that people are okay with having their pictures taken -- and offer to share if you do take a snap, because they might want copies!

Remember Erica Moen's rules for sexytimes personal pictures? Yeah, slutty Halloween costumes are a lot like those. 

4. The Internet never forgets.

Adjacent to that last, think about the repercussions of posting pictures online, and tagging them. When you tag people on Facebook or other social media, their awesome Halloween costumes are going to come up for all to see, not just your friends -- and they might not actually want those costumes shared with certain people in their feed, including family members and potential employers.

An elementary school teacher, for example, would appreciate it if you not post her dressed up as a slutty devil, taking body shots off a hot bartender. What she does in her off-hours is her business, but unfortunately, employers can and do search social media, and they fire people over it. Make absolutely sure that people are okay with having pictures uploaded and tagged with their names, and don't be a jerk if they ask to be untagged or to have the pictures taken down. 

Sexy zombie.

Who says zombies can't be sexy. Photo credit: tangi bertin

5. Wearing a costume of any sort isn't an invitation for sexytimes (unless you want it to be!), and neither is being drunk or high.

I don't think I need to tell y'all this one. But if you see a lady who is clearly not interested in someone's advances, don't be afraid to intervene. Don't want to cause a scene? Make like she's your friend. 

"Hey, Cindy, can you come to the bathroom with me really quick? I think I need a safety pin for this seam." Works like a charm -- and if she really does need to be rescued, she'll probably be glad you showed up. In an ideal world, she wouldn't need rescuing, because we wouldn't live in a world filled with jerkface rapists, but unfortunately, we do; so while we can work to make the world a better place, we also need to look out for each other now. 

Don't get all up in other people's personal choices, but if it looks like someone is trying to take advantage of someone who is drunk or high, make sure that doesn't happen. Don't let people who can't consent leave parties or common areas. 

If necessary, help them find a safe ride home, whether you're on a college campus (safe ride services are usually available, especially on nights like Halloween) or at a bar (a taxi is a safe bet, although depending on where you are, a police officer may be able to help out too). If you're comfortable with it, offer her a ride home yourself or help her get home on public transit. 

Yes, it can feel dorky and stodgy to ask someone to confirm that she's okay leaving with someone, or to tell someone to back off because he's obviously pressuring someone into something she doesn't want to do, but you may be doing a really great thing. 

Ultimately, however, it's important to remember that the only people responsible for sexual assault are the people doing the assaulting. While you can try to look out for the safety of others, and speaking up sends a clear notice to any would-be rapists in the room, you're not a failure or a horrible person if you fail to identify a sexual assault or can't intervene in time. 

P.S. Dudes, don't think you can sit this one out. You have the power to tell other dudes to not be horrible people.

6. There is nothing wrong with being a slut.

If people want to wear slutty Halloween costumes because they're feeling slutty, they should rock on with their bad selves. They're consenting adults and they can make their own life choices. Send them off with a pack of condoms and wish them well. 

Photo credit: Mika LSL

Photo credit: Mika LSL