I don’t have a Halloween costume this year.
I used to have a dress up box full of scarves and hand-me-downs. With enough imagination, I could costume myself and all my stuffed animals and put on a puppet show with them. I used to dress myself for Halloween with some arcane explanation that I was an amoeba or a particular Greek goddess or French revolutionary. I’m sure it all just looked like scarves to my parents. I dressed as Peter Pan a lot, predicting my current penchant for costumes of asexual male characters from fantasy books and TV (The Doctor, Bilbo Baggins, Willy Wonka. Basically I just want to own fantastic coats).
I’ve moved a dozen times since then, and the dress up box got sold in some long ago garage sale. Now I have suits. You can be lots of people in a suit, right? To me, the villains that are the creepiest are the ones who wear suits, because it means they are part of the establishment. They have networks, and power, that we don’t understand, and if we defeat these ones more will take their place.
I have lots of opportunities to dress up. Lots of times when I feel more comfortable being sexy than Halloween. I’d just rather not compete with the rest of the world right now. If Halloween is a Straight Pride Parade, then I’ll be an ally and a spectator. I don’t have time to put into costumes that are high quality, weather appropriate, witty and topical, easily recognizable, non-offensive, and show the right amount of skin. I have a multi-million dollar budget to rescue, massive amounts of work to catch up on after the shutdown, multiple parental visits to coordinate, partners that I’d like to see every once in a while, health issues to deal with, and a bike to winterize. It’s like at some point I put on the Adult costume, and now I can’t find the zipper. And, I’m uncomfortable with the dynamic on Halloween, and no other time, of what dressing sexily means. Sexy Halloween costumes may be dumb and badly made, and it may be disappointing that there aren’t more non-sexualized options for women, but feminists will defend my right to dress sexy if I want. But. How do I communicate that it’s a conscious choice rather than being pressured to be a sex object? You know and I know that a short skirt is not consent, but a lot of people don’t and I’m unwilling to put my body on the line in the name of educating them. So I don’t. Halloween makes me want to run far far away from femininity.
Besides, most of the fun of being in costume is getting in character, truly BEING someone else for a day. How does one get into character as Sexy Watermelon?
I’m thankful that the message is getting out about the problems with culturally appropriative Halloween costumes. Halloween is the time when we forget that it’s not ok to ask someone “What are you?” Look: you can still dress as a person of another race…as long as you’re dressing as a person and not a category.
Some day maybe I will build myself a new costume box, except I can’t think of anything that I would want to own that I would want kept separate from my normal clothes. Everything feels like a costume. Halloween’s just the day I’m supposed to convince other people of that.