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Why do Good Girls Go Bad, For a Day?

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Posted on Oct 19, 2006
From N.Y. Times

Seemingly innocuous characters have a sexy edge in costumes, which evoke male fantasies and reinforce a larger cultural message: younger is hotter.—N.Y. Times

Why is it that Halloween has become, as comedian Carlos Mencia jokes, “Dress-Like-a-Whore Day”? The N.Y. Times plumbs the sociological issues at the question’s root.

N.Y. Times:

...Indeed, many women think that showing off their bodies “is a mark of independence and security and confidence,” said Pat Gill, the interim director of the Institute of Communications Research and a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

It is a wonder gyms do not have “get in shape for Halloween” specials.

In her book “Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality” (Harvard University Press), Deborah Tolman, the director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University and a professor of human sexuality studies there, found that some 30 teenage girls she studied understood being sexy as “being sexy for someone else, not for themselves,” she said.

When the girls were asked what makes them feel sexy, they had difficulty answering, Dr. Tolman said, adding that they heard the question as “What makes you look sexy?”

The trend is so pervasive it has been written about by college students in campus newspapers, and Carlos Mencia, the comedian, jokes that Halloween should now be called Dress-Like-a-Whore Day.

But the abundance of risque costumes that will be shrink-wrapped around legions of women come Oct. 31 prompts a larger question: Why have so many girls grown up to trade in Wonder Woman costumes for little more than Wonderbras?


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By beeline, February 26, 2010 at 3:53 am Link to this comment

Fancy dress is about wearing things you normally wouldn’t. Men wear speedos, or unbutton their shirts to the navel, women wear short dresses and show off their lingerie. Its not compulsory, what’s the big fuss? Fancy dress is just that.

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By George, October 26, 2006 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment
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Is Carlos Mencia a cultural authority?

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By Amanda, October 23, 2006 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t think the problem is with dressing sexy per se, but with dressing up to satisfy a male fantasy.  I’m all for enjoying sexuality, but I’m not sure when it was decided that dressing up like a pornstar, who fakes sexual pleasure to arouse a predominantly male audience, constitutes female sexual liberation.

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By Farakon, October 19, 2006 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment
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Call me crazy but… beacuse it’s fun?

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By Chris, October 19, 2006 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s not read too much into this. I mean, really, what other day of the year is it OKAY for women to dress sexy without being called whores? I know many girls who like to dress flirty and would do it more often—but to be sexual in this society must mean a) you’re a whore b) you’ve been sexually abused c) you’re oppressed in some way.

To actually enjoy dressing in a sexy costume is a sign of mental illness in this society.

What does that say about us that we are so immature and incapable of dealing with a women’s sexuality that we simply cannot talk about it unless we’re discussing how this woman (or gender) must be damamged in some way if they actually enjoy being sexual?

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