Trick or Treat?

Tis the season for fun-sized Mars bars, pumpkin-flavoured everything, and random hook-ups. Amidst all the sweet treats and spooky decorations, there’s something about Halloween that just screams, “Sex!”

In recent years, Halloween has developed a reputation as an excuse for women to parade around in as little clothing as possible. A corset, mini-skirt, and knee-high boots can be fun and empowering attire any day of the year, if one didn’t have to worry about being judged or looking desperate. But call the ensemble a “burlesque costume,” and you’re laughing.

Of course, women should always feel comfortable dressing in as little or as much clothing as they want. There shouldn’t be one day a year where it’s socially permissible for women to dress scantily without judgment. No one should be entitled to comment on or judge a woman’s clothing or appearance at any time.

But I think the sexual freedom afforded by Halloween extends beyond dress. There’s something about a costume that makes a person feel more sexually free. I think a large part of the appeal of Halloween and costume parties year-round is the chance to step outside yourself, assume an alternate identity that affords you the freedom to do things you might not normally have the courage to.

Sure, in an ideal world, people wouldn’t need an excuse to act sexily. If two people want to hook up, they should be comfortable doing it without hiding behind masks or waiting for the season when it’s most socially acceptable. But the link between costumes and sex extends beyond Halloween. A range of sexy outfits can be found in lingerie shops year-round, not because people are in search of an excuse to dress provocatively, but because there is something fun and hot about role play and being able to try on another identity.

On Halloween, that role-play is released from the bedroom onto the streets. Wearing a sexy costume can release your inhibitions and give you the confidence boost to try new things. It’s an opportunity to act on your wildest fantasies.

The pressure to dress provocatively can get out of hand with the trend of sexing up every costume on the shelf. Like every other night of the year, women should be allowed to show as little or as much skin as they want. But we all have that really cute outfit that’s too flashy/trashy/fancy/uncomfortable to wear anywhere. Halloween is the perfect excuse to pull that puppy out of the closet and build a costume around it.

Halloween needn’t be about parading your assets and living up to unrealistic media expectations. Costumes are about expressing yourself, sexually or not. And holidays are about having fun and eating your weight in sweet stuff.

Vanessa Baker

Vanessa Baker was born in 1989 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and holds a Bachelor of Journalism with Combined Honours in Human Rights from Carleton University and an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin. Her fiction has appeared in Wordlegs and A Thoroughly Good Blue. Her journalistic interests include music and the arts, feminism and sexuality, and social justice. She also writes and performs slam poetry dealing with gender-realted issues. She currently lives in Dublin.

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