What’s Sex Got To Do With… Halloween?


In college, Halloween is the one-day of the year where you can be as naked and “slutty” as possible, and it is deemed socially acceptable.  This is a new phenomenon to me, since in high school I never dressed up or went to Halloween parties.  I hypothesize that this shift is due to the “hook-up” culture that is rampant on college campuses.  For some reason, this is the day that both genders want to seem as desirable as possible.  This is not to say that is “unacceptable”, however, it begs the question of who is owning this display of sexuality?  Is this a personal reclamation of sexuality through a Halloween costume, or are we succumbing to the social norms constructed through a male gaze?

Halloween and its costumes are very much constructed by the male gaze, or the way in which the world (or in this instance Halloween) is viewed through a heterosexual males point of view. However, this form of the male gaze is one of objectification for visual satisfaction. It promotes the image of a “feminine” woman, seen through tight fitting clothing, plunging necklines, and tiny skirts.  This is not new or surprising, since heternormativity has been the social norm for a very long time.  It is the lens through which we view the world and informs our actions on a daily basis, though in a subtle way.  Scholars and concerned individuals tend to understand the way in which our norms are controlled by heteronormative standards, however to most people, this is just how the world works and its validity is rarely questioned.  However Halloween has become the one holiday where the male gaze is overtly exerted onto our lives and made the expectation and reality of this gore filled day.

It can be argued that males participate in Halloween as well and are known to don “sexy” costumes.  However, I would argue that this is not the norm or the expectation, reaffirming the role of the male gaze  In a quick search on Google images, it is seen that “sexy” costumes are widely believed to be those that women wear.  Even though my search was not gender specific (“sexy Halloween costumes” https://www.google.com/search?q=sexy+graduation+costume&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=701&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=l3F7VO7dBcapNvTqgZAP&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ#tbm=isch&q=sexy+halloween+costumes&imgdii=_ ) the overwhelming majority of the costumes shown are those for women.  This is not to say there are not an abundance of “sexy” male costumes however it is important to note that even without gender cues, my search yielded an unequal majority of women costumes.  With that being said, do you think the phenomenon of “sexy” Halloween costumes is constructed from the males gaze or is this just a way for women to reclaim their sexuality? Also, what is it about college a campus that makes this “sexy” costume phenomenon so trendy?


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