Pumpkins, Patriarchy and ‘Slutty’ Girls

Will Amott’s perspective on the Halloween debate that always sets tongues wagging.

“Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”  Regina George, Mean Girls.


I am a staunch and avid fan of All Hallows’ Eve. Countless times I have had friends and strangers alike preaching why the holiday is childish, redundant, embarrassing – so on, so what.

Along with this, and the myriad of Facebook posts (“OMFG Tesco’s out of horns, any spare? Willing to £££”), there comes that old debate: what women wear. The ‘slut’ debate.


Bodies are canvasses for one night a year. I’m not writing this piece sermonising for or against the way anyone paints hers or his.

However, that doesn’t mean a termination of inquiry. The question here does not revolve around the choice women make on a personal level, but the issues around this choice.

So you want to use your body-canvas for empowerment and to show what your mama gave you, I get that. Sexualisation as a form of authority over men is a feminist debate I’m not going to get into. It’s up to the individual.

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What I think we need to look at is what Regina George hits on. One night a year, other girls aren’t going to slut-shame you. Boys aren’t, either. They shouldn’t anyway, and you shouldn’t have to worry that they will – bingo.

Slut-shaming celebrities (see: Miley, Rihanna, Kim K) is the latest social media scourge that has filtered into the mainstream.

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Go as a naughty nurse, a heart-of-gold hooker, a raunchy Rastamouse, it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the idea that girls must.

You must seize your chance to go all-out and overtly express your sexuality, because otherwise you’ll have to wait another 12 months? No. That’s stupid.

Dress provocatively any other night, and you’re criticised for being ‘slutty’, but the patriarchy lets you have this one night where you’ll not only be lauded for dressing ‘slutty’, you’ll have clothes specifically marketed to make you look ‘sluttier’. It baffles me.


Girls, look at your outfit choice this Halloween: do you feel comfortable? Who are you dressing for? If you’re dressing for anyone, who is it? Why?

I’m not suggesting the short black skirt, black bandeau, no tights, 10-inch heels and eyeliner whiskers are an outfit choice that always screams peer pressure to me. For some, that’s demeaning. For others, it isn’t.

What I am suggesting is that when you see someone you know uncomfortable dressed like that, or when you see someone being shamed for her outfit, that says something about the duplicitous patriarchal sexual culture of Great Britain today, and that something is incredibly negative.

That something is childish, redundant, embarrassing – and needs to change.