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Take Back Halloween!

2010 October 28
Cartoon shows a girl and boy look at halloween costumes. Credit to Andy Marlette (drawing for The News Journal)

By Andy Marlette (

I love this cartoon. I sent it to nearly all the women I know last year. Do I need to say why I love it? It so clearly outlines the choices for young girls these days, not just at Halloween. You can be anything you want to be, as long as you’re sexy. You can be anything, as long as you look good doing it. Anything!! As long as some man somewhere thinks it’s sexy…

I mean, the first thing people say about women they’re trying to insult is usually that they’re ugly/fat/too old. That they don’t possess or inspire this all-important male approval. Just think about some of the things you’ve heard said, by the left and the right, about female politicians. Think about some of the things you might have said.

When men shout or whistle at me in the street and I walk away, what do they shout? They shout “You fat cow!” “You ugly bitch!” They’re not alone, every five year-old kid starting school learns that they can upset little girls by calling them fat.

Of course you can also be too sexy, because hey, you wouldn’t want those people you’re trying to get the approval of thinking you’re easy now, would ya? That could interfere with your appeal. But it’s all related. Be just sexy enough, show just the right amount of skin, look just submissive enough, just powerful enough, don’t look like you’re ‘asking for it’ (whatever the fuck that means), give that camera just the right look, and you too can be anything you want to be.

To get off the soapbox and back to the subject, Halloween, this day which just highlights something that’s already going on in our culture, here are a couple of seasonal links for you to enjoy:-

Website Take Back Halloween has got a hella load of costumes for you to pick from, and you won’t find the tagline ‘sexy’ on any of them. They’ve got warrior queens, goddesses and legends, and other famous women to pick from, poets, writers, saints, activists, movie stars and serial killers! They say: “Why be a fairy princess when you can be a queen?”

The bloggers at Geek Feminism, with a nod to Take Back Halloween, pick a few geekier costumes which also ignore the male gaze… they’ve got robots, rubiks cubes and Lovecraftian horrors… They say: “There’s no reason that a squid monster can’t have a feminine touch.”

Comics Alliance take a funny look at some of the most ridiculous and just plain unnecessary ‘sexy’ costumes on sale this Halloween, like the cringe-making Transformers costume below. They’ve very helpfully provided an illustration of what that character is supposed to look like – can you spot the difference? They’ve got wildly inaccurate superhero costumes, (and of course, there’s nothing that upsets this BadRep blogger more than people Doing Comics Wrong!), and they’ve got sexed-up characters from your other favourite childhood TV shows. There’s sexy Elmo, a sexy Ninja Turtle and a sexy Lone Ranger!  They say: “A sexy version of Elmo is the kind of thing that when you see it, you have to tell someone else, or it’ll just sit there in your brain slowly driving you insane as you try to figure out why it exists.” also has a feature on 26 ‘Sexy’ Halloween Costumes That Shouldn’t Exist.

I think I need to step away from the internet now. When you see a sexy Transfromers costume that’s the Internet gods’ way of telling you you’ve been online for too long.

Happy Halloween, folks! I solemnly swear to leave your precious childhood memories alone next time we meet.

Picture credit to the Comics Alliance

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Miranda permalink*
    October 28, 2010

    The good people of Twitter also sent us these:

    * NEYTIRI! FROM AVATAR! Wears, um, stilettos for Halloween.

    In the mighty jungle, indeed. D:

    * Mrs Potato Head! Should not be too round! Wear a bodycon minidress with a giant face on it, instead!

    Very Katy Perry.

    I actually think the second one is so quirky I kind of like it. In a really wrong way. But if I wore it the eyes would be right on my boobs, which, well. Bit terrifying. But NEYTIRI. WHAT IS SHE DOING IN HEELS. THAT MAKES NO SENSE. AND I DO NOT EVEN LIKE AVATAR.

  2. October 28, 2010

    This debate always makes me think of this video –


    • Miranda permalink*
      October 28, 2010

      That cracked me up! “Sexy sexy! And frog.”

      Brilliant :D

  3. October 28, 2010

    I personally adore the Mrs Potato Head one and would wear that for Halloween at the drop of a hat.

    I read an alternate view (and I can’t remember where, soz) that said that Halloween was the one time that women got to dress up in slutty outfits yet not be called a slut, and so therefore it was freeing. Not sure I totally agree but sometimes, I can see that people with good bodies (not me, I went as a pumpkin last year because I am short, round and owned orange tights) may want to show it off without men thinking that they are hookers and women getting jealous.

    Well, ok, that might happen anyway on Halloween, but at least they have an excuse, right?

    Whatevs, I’m off to buy the sexy Chinese takeout outfit. Gotta love an outfit that comes with a cookie as a hat.

    • Miranda permalink*
      October 28, 2010

      I thought that pumpkin outfit was absolutely wonderful. You looked fabulous.

      Two male friends of mine decided to be Sith Cheerleaders a couple of Halloweens ago. That was pretty cool. It wasn’t as over-the-top as they were hoping, though, because they just couldn’t *find* any spandex-y male-sized cheerleader gear in the shops (one of them was on a trip to the US, and had a look)! So they made their own with black t-shirts and red duct tape. :D

    • Hodge permalink
      October 28, 2010

      Isn’t that in Mean Girls?

  4. Metal-eating arachnid permalink
    October 28, 2010

    Sexy Hallowe’en costumes for men: not really the same.

  5. October 29, 2010

    Oh god! My eyes! My eyes!

    Some of those were sooooo wrong.

  6. October 31, 2010

    Of course, the other option (particularly for little girls) is Demure Princess. In pink. Or possibly, when we are living on the edge, green. Let’s keep it to the madonna/whore space….

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