Sluttiness Shouldn’t Be Seasonal
Slip on your Ugg boots, slide into your Juicy sweatpants, and sing along to “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson.
Because it’s 2004.
And the trajectory of our country, our culture, and our very consciousness is about to transform… when, in the iconic film Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan iconically proclaims:
“In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”
This mantra is one that my generation swears by. And yet, as I type “slut” into this Word doc, a vicious vocabulary box keeps popping up. It spookily cautions me: “This language may be offensive to your reader.”
Microsoft Office is onto something. Language shapes how we understand one another, and for many people, the term “slut” is not something they could feel safe embodying or comfortable saying, given that it’s historically been used to shame women. To this day, Merriam Webster defines “slut” as: “disparaging + offensive: a promiscuous person: someone who has many sexual partners—usually used of a woman.”
And even if we’re not directly calling women “sluts,” our society is constantly policing the bodies of women—especially in schools, with strict dress codes that disproportionately target Black girls:
Leggings. Tank tops. Short skirts.
Heels that dare to surpass one inch. Makeup that dares to be visible.
If a girl dares to don such attire, she may be removed from the classroom—or worse yet, sent home from school, denied her opportunity to learn.
Why? Because she’s “distracting” boys, of course. And doesn’t she want to “avoid” being sexually harassed? That’s the sexist logic that too many of our schools operate under, and it reinforces this dangerous message: that girls are ultimately responsible for the abuse and harassment perpetrated by boys.
I’m going to be honest: I hate Halloween, mostly because I’m as basic as a “Live, Laugh, Love” poster, with the arts-and-crafts skills of an uninvolved father from the 1950s.
But there’s always something I’ve loved about the holiday, and it’s the very thing that Mean Girls expresses so perfectly: it’s the only day I feel comfortable dressing like “a total slut.” Reclaiming “promiscuity,” daring to be a “distraction,” and refusing to blame myself for any man’s abuse or harassment.
My costumes have never been original (think: stray cat, stray witch, stray girl in a black dress clutching a Crunchwrap Supreme with acrylic talons). But they’ve always been slutty. And for me, that means they’ve always made me feel sexy, powerful, and confident.
In that way (and that way alone) I believe every day should feel like Halloween. Because women should always feel empowered to “dress like a total slut” whenever we want, and whatever that means to us—and no one should dare say anything about it.