As Halloween approaches each year, the internet abounds with images of sexy costumes; some websites advertise and others mock, but everyone seems to have an opinion. Both types of costume coverage seem to center around women, and it’s always unpleasant to see internet lists that either objectify (“10 sexiest women at Halloween”) or shame (“10 sluttiest costumes”) us ladies.
For this reason, I was surprised to encounter a list entitled “25 Sexy Halloween Costumes For Men That Should NOT Exist.” Most of the costumes featured are basically a male equivalent of traditionally sexy female costumes, meant to bring sexuality to the forefront, except in perhaps more vulgar and less subtle manner: a very literal “Party In My Pants,” a long sequined penis, a barely there kilt that just covers the genitals. The idea that female sexuality has to be hidden behind a police woman or librarian costume while men can just basically dress up as a penis without judgement is certainly worth addressing, but in general, the costumes seem obvious and maybe gross but not particularly offensive.
But one costume on this list actually upset me. Its top half is your typical vampire costume, complete with a cape and vest, but the bottom half of the costume comprises, as Costume Supercenter puts it, a pair of “nude pants with dropped trousers and removable inflatable.” The “inflatable” is a blow up doll, a plastic woman with long blonde hair dressed only in a sheer black bra and undies. She grips onto the costume’s white shirt and appears to be orally pleasuring the wearer. This halloween gem is titled “Down for the Count” (get it?).
I understand that this is “just a costume” and that it shouldn’t really bother me, but it uses an aesthetic and visual language that is troubling. The “girl,” in addition to being plastic, is completely faceless. She is purely a prop, an object not only for the wearer’s imagined pleasure but also for his amusement. The act of fellatio becomes degrading; we are encouraged to point and laugh at this “clever costume.” It ceases to be about sex, and becomes more about the joke that is the female blow-up doll; the man in the ad image smirks and gives the camera a thumbs up.
And the female in this costume is not only an object, far from human, but there is also the subtle and coded suggestion that some sort of violence is being done to her. Aside from the associate of vampires (and Count Dracula in particular) with the seduction and murder of women, the very name “Down for the Count” evokes the idea that this women is defeated. A thesaurus entry of the phrase brings up words like “destroyed,” “dead,” “cooked,” “finished,” and “nonfunctioning.” Perhaps I’m reading too much into a silly halloween costume, but it does seem to glamorize a sort of domination of or violence towards women. And it’s not like the name won’t be the punchline of the evening; when asked “What are you?” the wearer will reply throughout the night, “She’s ‘Down for the Count!’”
No thanks. What do you think of the costume? Let us know in the comments!
Images via Buzzfeed and SF Citizen