By: J. from Feminist JAMMS
With Halloween just around the corner, many people begin to ponder a serious question: how does one keep from crossing the line between tasteful and too revealing in their costume? While this concern may appear trivial, it arises from an ingrained fear of embracing the erotic, as women have been made to feel both contemptible and suspect by virtue of its existence. Undoubtedly, the erotic is a complex entity that cannot be discovered by means of a sexy costume singlehandedly. Despite this, becoming comfortable with sexual expression—even in the form of an outfit—marks the start of a woman’s journey to exploring her eroticism.
As explained by Audre Lorde in “Uses of the Erotic as Power,” the erotic serves as a facet of power for women, a creative source that is “self-affirming in the face of a racist, patriarchal, and anti-erotic society” (Lorde, 59). When considering this logic, it becomes almost nonsensical to criticize or “slut shame” an erotic costume. In doing so, people merely convey their discontent with the thought of women accessing an innate power within them. Consequently, this negative attitude toward erotic expression is emphasized by the mere existence of a line that women are afraid to cross with respect to their Halloween costumes—in this context—or their appearance in general. As a result of this suppression of power, women cannot grow beyond the distortions that they find within themselves, keeping them “docile, loyal, and externally defined,” further leading to acceptance of their oppression as a group (Lorde, 58).
Let this Halloween offer an opportunity for change and erotic embracement. By disregarding this arbitrary “line” drawn by a patriarchal and anti-erotic society, women should feel liberated to wear whatever they prefer without reservations. This year Halloween should be celebrated for what it really is, an occasion that allows individuals to express any identity without fearing unwarranted criticism. In the spirit of disregarding institutionalized norms, women should embrace their erotic, starting with the last day of October, and continuing with each day forward.