Just because I dress as a sexy cat for Halloween doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist
Purr-lease leave the sexy cat alone
As the ancient proverb goes: “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it”.
But sexy costumes – and those who wear them – are shamed for being inherently sexist.
A few years ago I went to a Halloween party as a “generic sexy cat”. I was was met by rolling eyes, and embarrassed from being a “bad” feminist I declared I wasn’t simply a sexy cat: oh no, I was an ironic sexy cat. I then had to spend the rest of the night explaining my costume to everyone, and being ironic. Great.
My fear of proudly declaring myself a sexy cat didn’t come from the fact I might come across as a “slut”, but rather people might think I had been duped into what some might consider dressing like one. Of course it was my choice alone to don the cat ears and carefully apply my eyeliner whiskers, but afterwards I was made to feel stupid for wanting to do so.
Clearly there exists an interesting paradox where you shouldn’t buy into being sexualised by society, but you also have every right to feel sexy if you want. Surely if nobody wanted to buy sexy costumes, there wouldn’t be any sexy costumes?
That’s not to say it’s not creepy sexy costumes are targeted to female consumers in the way they are, because it is. “Slutty Ebola Nurse” or even the classic “Sexy Nun” are clear examples of unnecessary sexualisation to the extreme, and in these ways, these costumes are inherently misogynistic. There’s no choice to be simply a police officer – you have to be a sexy police officer.
But what sexy costumes aren’t is a reflection of the people who wear them. Believe it or not, the sexy cat you see up at the bar isn’t a poor girl cruelly tricked by the patriarchy to adhere to the evil male gaze. She just wants to be a fucking sexy cat.
So for those girls who like to keep themselves snug in a onesie on Halloween, or prefer to dress as something really witty and culturally relevant, good on you. And for those girls who want to be a sexy nurse, or just simply can’t be bothered with the effort of finding something other than your cat ears to wear this year – you’re not bad women, or even bad feminists.
If we want to live in a world where women are free to wear what they want without criticism, that includes wearing as little as they want.
It includes sexy nurses, sexy cats, and even sexy nuns. It includes not only not thinking of women as sluts for these costumes, but also not thinking of them as perpetuating a sexist society for wanting to look “slutty”.
If this is the world we want to live in, we need a world with sexy cats.