As Halloween draws near, we are again besieged with ads for Halloween costumes that range from truly horrifying to…well, truly horrifying. And as always, the easiest costumes to find for women invariably begin with the adjective “sexy” or “slutty”. Here at SJFB, however, we know that what can be truly horrifying – in the monster-under-the-bed/what’s-behind-the-shower-curtain/who’s-waiting-for-you-in-the-parking-garage kind of way, is the idea of real empowerment for women that is not predicated on men’s whims, permissions, or fantasies. BOO!
To that end, as huge Halloween fans, and with the history of being the ones at the party wearing the tongue-in-cheek Halloween costume with irreverent delight, serious irony, and finely honed feminist analysis, we thus offer you JANE’S TOP 10 HALLOWEEN COSTUMES FOR 2014:**
10. SEXY STRIP OF BACON
Rather than making all the respectable occupations women have fought their way into “sexy” costumes for Halloween, select an inanimate object that looks decidedly nonsexy when dressed in it. For example, this year Wal-Mart sells a body-length bacon strip costume. Add this year’s popular TaTa top over your bacon-clad chest and you’re done. [You had me at bacon. . . .]
9. FEMINIST PROSTITUTE
If most people are out there setting the women’s movement back three decades by sexualizing women in respectable professions, we’ll take a profession most think of as not respectable and remind people that feminism is about beliefs, actions, and perspectives, not occupations. Dress like a siren, carry a red umbrella as well as signs that say, “De-criminalize Prostitution”, “Rights for Sex Workers” and “No More Slut-Shaming”.
8. BEYONCÉ VOTER
While the conservatives on Fox News this year may have dismissed single mothers as “Beyoncé Voters” you’ll frighten Fox News when you show them just how women can vote like Beyoncé. Wear a fantastic gown that hugs your awesome booty, add an “I Voted” sticker, and carry signs with some of Beyonce’s most frightening-to-Fox music lyrics: “Try to Control Me, Boy You Get Dismissed”; “All My Ladies on the Floor (of the House and Senate)”; and “If You Liked it then You Shoulda Put a (Nuva) Ring on it (even if you work at Hobby Lobby)”.
7. THE CAVEWOMAN WHO HAS IT ALL
Wear a one-shoulder fur pelt, carry a stone club for hunting in one hand and a woven basket for gathering in the other, cavebaby strapped on so she can breastfeed while simultaneously hunting and/or gathering, and hum “Me Will Survive”.
6. DISNEY’S VERSION OF FEMINISM
Choose your favorite feminist–Gloria Steinem, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Susan B. Anthony, bell hooks, Benazir Bhutto, Joan of Arc. Now, make her look fancy! A frilly dress, pretty shoes, a sparkly necklace, and a jeweled crown. And, of course, the requisite (male, taller) prince by your side.
5. A WOMAN AGAINST FEMINISM
You may have seen the Tumblr site (it really exists and it’s really scary!). You’ll need to wear your best frock (pressed by your housekeeper, if you don’t have time!), looking hot enough to turn on your husband when he comes home from work but not so hot that any other man would ever look at you with anything other than envy for your husband; forced smile and gritted teeth holding back your rage that only 18% of the Senate is female and that 1 in 5 women will be raped during college; and holding a sign that says “I don’t need feminism because I don’t mind not having equal rights, finding my value in men’s assessment of my appearance, and living in a rape culture”.
4. BYSTANDER BRIGADE
(fun group costume!)
Your opportunity to be the knights in shining armor! So own it – shiny metal knight attire, sword at the ready to slay the dragon/rapist, steed at hand to carry off grateful damsel in distress. Bring your friends! That, and script in hand, prompting you to invite the errant evil knight to get another beer, play another game of pool, or whatever distraction technique you might need to employ to redirect his plan to rape. Optional props: red flags to wave, or green dots to apply, as needed; damsel in distress.
3. MONTY PYTHON KNIGHTS WITH KILLER COLLEGE GIRL
(another fun group costume!)
Use the same costuming as above (a groups of knights), only this damsel wears a white eyelet party dress. From a distance, she may look all innocent and helpless but, just like the white rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, don’t let her fool you. She has a mouth dripping with blood and is carrying a skull along with her red Solo cup. Suggested dialogue:
College Guy 1: “That girl’s got a vicious streak a mile wide!”
College Guy 2: “What, behind the college girl?”
College Guy 1: “That’s no ordinary college girl!”
College Guy 3: “What’ll she do, nibble your bum?”
College Guy 1: “She’s got huge, sharp—eh. . . she can leap about. . . look at the bones!”
College Guy 2: “Right, silly little bleeder. One blow job comin’ right up!”
Every once in a while, the college girl attacks and the group of knights retreat shouting, “Run away! Run away!”
2. NFL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONSULTANT
Wear athletic workout wear, protective eyeglasses, and carry a clipboard with a pen. Attach a nametag, “NFL DV Investigations” to your jacket. Everywhere you go, explain how the NFL takes the crime of domestic violence very seriously. Then sit back and enjoy the party because you’re not really going to do anything!
1. TODD AKIN’S LEGITIMATE RAPE TEST
Using a white plastic trash bag, dress as a home pregnancy test stick. Have people pee on you, and if the stick reveals just one horizontal pink line, that person was legitimately raped (and not pregnant). If there is a pink plus sign, that person was not legitimately raped (and can make “barefoot and pregnant” their Halloween costume). [If you’re out with friends, have them wear buttons that say, “Evolution is Religion, not Science”, “Card-Carrying Member of the Institute for Creation Research”, or “I’m With Todd”.]**Be aware you run the risk of needing to explain not just who you are dressed in but the fact that you are, actually, dressed for the holiday. One of your SJFB bloggers had the experience in college of attending a “come as you’re not” Halloween party, dressed as a fellow (highly annoying) classmate, only to have said classmate appear at the party and ask why she was not wearing a costume. True story.
Feminists wishing to indulge in the guilty pleasure of getting a manicure can soon do so while resisting rape at the same time. Some smart students at NC State–Ankesh Madan, Stephan Gray, Tasso Von Windheim, and Tyler Confrey-Maloney–created a nail polish that detects date rape drugs. The polish changes color if your polished fingernail is dipped into a drink that contains common date-rape drugs like Rohypnol, Xanax, or Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid in it. Of course, we all know that the most common date-rape drug is plain old alcohol, but if a drug like this gets mixed into an alcoholic drink, its effect can magnify alcohol’s impact and lead to memory loss and even medical crisis.
The drug-detecting nail polishes are being developed under the name of “Undercover Colors” and have not been released to the public yet. Some protest the development and marketing of this nail polish based on the belief that the onus should not be on women to prevent and end rape and that the pretty polishes are victim-blaming. We agree in part: the onus should not be on women to end rape. But we believe that giving women more tools to protect themselves against rape is empowering, not victim-blaming. And while only a small percentage of perpetrators are drugging women’s drinks to facilitate their ability to rape, we are okay with women adding nail polish that can detect date rape drugs into our arsenal of resistance strategies. Not instead of changing the rape culture, or instead of holding perpetrators responsible for their behavior, or instead of teaching women active physical and verbal resistance strategies. In addition to those things.
The NC State students explained their purpose in developing the drug-detecting nail polish: “We hope this future product will be able to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators. . . .” We think this approach is actually quite radical, and it complements the advocacy of self-defense training. When women have strategies that shift the fear from themselves to the perpetrators, a fundamental feature of rape culture shifts: the pervasive fear felt most often by women.
Perhaps part of feminists’ skepticism about this anti-rape nail polish stems from the traditional point of polishing one’s fingernails and the accompanying bogus color names, such as “blushing bride,” “bikini so teeny,” “bouncer, it’s me!” “nein! nein! nein! OK fine”, “topless and barefoot”, and “damsel in a dress”. Ewww.
Since the anti-rape nail polish is still under development, we’d like to celebrate it as an additional device in women’s rape resistance toolkit, and in the spirit of feminism and wry humor, reclaim nail polish as a tool of the resistance by offering the following names for the Undercover Colors nail polish colors:
• Resistance red
• Red flag
• Fighting spirit
• Sign to Stop
• You pinked the wrong night to plan a rape
• Boxing Barbie pink
• Pinko Commi Feminist
• Kiss off
• Not today, Sun….
• Goodbye, not Yello(w)
• Gold Away
• Orange you sorry you tried this
• Orange will be your new Black
• Tread Gingerly
• Green dot
• Preying mantis
• Yes means yes
• Leaves now
• Blue balls
• Vicious streak
• You’re gonna sing the blues
• Mudd (that’s what your name will be)
• Taupe It Now
• Espresso NO
o Clear to me you’re a criminal
o Glass-ceiling smasher
o I see right through you
• Tough as Nails
• Black and blue from the Rolling Stones (and I don’t like it at all)
• Black the fuck off
Dear Your Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama:
We applaud your recommending last week, in conjunction with your attendance at an interfaith meeting in India, that girls learn martial arts self-defense against sexual assaults. In your interview with One World South Asia, you said that women and men should be equally valued in society, and when asked if you had any message you’d like to give to the young girls in India, you answered that “the idea of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to train school girls in martial arts seems a practical solution. For self defence, young girls in India should learn martial arts like Karate. In the long run, education can be an effective tool in helping girls to stand up against sexual crimes.” To this you added that “lower castes should pay more attention in education. They should particularly educate their girls. People who are well off should help the poor people in getting education.”
You didn’t say that girls shouldn’t put themselves in risky situations, Your Holiness, because you know what we know – that sexual assault is not about what women targeted for sexual assault do to “increase” their risk.
You didn’t say that girls are responsible for preventing sexual assault, because you know what we know – that the responsibility lies with perpetrators, not with targets and victims.
We agree wholeheartedly with this agenda for young girls and believe this should be our message to girls in the U.S. as well.
We only wish that you had made this recommendation to U.S. President Barack Obama during your recent meeting with him at the White House. We don’t think you did because they’d surely have put you in their “It’s On Us” video. The goal of that movement, they say, is to “…reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it”. And what you said, Your Holiness, reframes the conversation by suggesting that women don’t need to just hope that someone else gets that “it’s on them”; you reframe the conversation by taking a stance, as the most influential spiritual leader in the world today, that women as equal pillars of humanity, have the right to and capacity for self-defense.
So can you call President Obama back and tell him that?
We know that you won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and that you call yourself a feminist. We just hope that your recent recommendation to girls about self-defense is understood by others as not at all in contradiction with your being a Nobel laureate. For we know of your teachings about compassion as well as women’s rights.
Overall, we love your messages, as well as how you offer them. You not only speak, have f2f meetings, and write books; you also have your own Twitter (with 9 million followers!), Facebook, and Google Plus accounts. We do too! (Except we have about 8.9999999 million fewer followers.)
Martha McCaughey & Jill Cermele
PS: Is being the Dalai Lama a good job?