Does Your Favorite Scary Movie Have a Lady Problem?
S1: This is the waves. This is the waves. This is the way this is, the way
S2: this is, the way this is the waves that it took to
S3: welcome to the Waves Slate’s podcast about gender, feminism and never saying Who’s there? Every episode you get a new pair of women to talk about the thing we can’t get off our minds, and today you’ve got me. Shayna Roth, producer of The Waves and other shows for Slate
S1: and Me, Allegra Frank, senior editor for Slate
S3: and this is our very special Halloween episode. And to commemorate the best holiday of the year, no, I will not be taking questions or hearing comments on that. We are going to be talking about horror movies today. This is something that I was very excited to talk about because ever since I had a kid about a year and a half ago, my relationship with horror movies has dramatically changed. I mean, I used to just watch horror movies and slasher movies. Halloween, the Scream franchise, The Conjuring Fright, like all of these movies, were just ecstatically, especially around this time of year and especially slasher movies. I just I loved these movies. I thought they were so fun. But last year, when I sat down for my yearly ritual of watching Halloween, I I could not get through it. Suddenly, I was very concerned for all the people being murdered, and it all felt senseless and I got all kinds of existential about it, which is not what you want when you’re, you know, just trying to watch a movie. And more than anything, I got to really thinking about what these movies do for women and what they say about women and why the hell I as a woman would want to watch other women scream and suffer for 90 minutes. Because when it comes to horror movies, women are either victims or mothers, and I have been wrestling with whether there’s a place for feminists and feminism and horror movies again, especially slasher movies for a while now. So I did what I always do with these existential feminist questions as a producer of a feminist podcast. I asked my over queens dude in Susan to do an episode on this and Allegra, you were game to come on this journey with me. So why were you interested in talking about horror movies?
S1: Well, first of all, I just wanted to talk to you as someone who I assume coined the term over queens. So, but yeah, I mean, I am interested in hearing about your relationship to horror movies because I feel like mine has changed as well. But maybe in the other direction I was never I was never a really big horror person. Not to say that I’m not a fan or never was. I certainly feel like I am now, but I was always the person who was sort of invited to those annual ritualized Halloween movie nights. Not really the one hosting them. I just I’ve always been a little bit of a scaredy cat. I just never really found the genre to be as funny or as dramatic, as elevated as I wanted as someone who’s like a a film pretentious jerk. But I’ve become more into it over the years. I think maybe as horror itself has had a bit of a critical resurgence of, you know, artier movies. But I think overarching the, you know, listening to you, I’ve thought about, OK, why was I really not into horror? Why do I still feel a bit at a distance from it? And I think it’s what you’re saying of how horror as a genre often treats women and people of color. I don’t really love watching anyone get murdered or stabbed or brutalized in any way, of course, but it’s always been really extra hard, I think, for me to stomach if it is a woman or a person of color as someone who is both. I think because the movies often suggests these people never stood a chance anyway, and we, as members of American society, know that that is often the often the case as well. These movies are reflecting society and the lack of agency that these marginalized people often have, but it’s drawing entertainment from them oftentimes. Of course, there are those movies that subvert the this standard, this trope, and I think those are the ones that I find more affection for, or at least more readily. But it’s still just a difficult genre to grapple with, knowing that the movies in which the person of color wins or the woman wins are subversive more than commonplace or increasingly commonplace, even as horror itself is changing.
S3: We’re going to take a break here, and when we get back, we’re going to start this conversation by getting into the evolution of the final girl trope and the portrayals of women and people of color in horror movies coming up on the waves. I have a special announcement for you today. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Slate. It’s our birthday. And for a limited time only, we’re offering our annual Slate Plus membership at $25 off. As a member, you’ll get no ads on any of your podcasts, unlimited reading on the slate site and member exclusive episodes and segments from us and other shows like Slow Burn, Amicus, Political Gabfest, the list goes on and on. For the past quarter century, Slate has been covering all the major news events, from elections to social issues to historic court decisions. Our culture shows have debated if things are sexist. Now we debate if things are feminist, named the best summer songs and explained the latest TikTok trends. If we become a part of your listening routines, we ask that you support our work by joining Slate Plus. Sign up for Slate Plus at Slate.com. Slash the Waves Plus to keep us going for another 25 years. Again, we’re giving you $25 off an annual membership through October 31st, Halloween. So sign up now at Slate.com. The Waves Plus. Allegra. Yes, I have a question for you.
S1: Shoot. What’s your favorite scary movie?
S3: Obviously, that’s from Wes Craven’s 1996 meta horror, I think masterpiece scream. But for real, what is your favorite scary movie?
S1: Yeah, I mean, I was thinking about this for a little bit because I’m really bad at choosing favorites. I’ll say I don’t know if Scream is my favorite, but I watched it for the first time last year and really, really enjoyed it. So that’s a recent favorite. You know, not really recent movie, but I really liked that, as I kind of alluded to before. I’ve been better about it now, but my formative years as a film fan were marked by like studying film in college and being kind of pretentious about it. So a lot of my favorite horror movies are a little more off the beaten path. I really love Suspiria, the Dario Argento movie, not the remake. The remake was awful. Hated the remake so much. I love the original. I love the movie How Sue, which is a really surreal, funny horror film of Japanese from the 70s. I love like Hitchcock, if we can really call those scary, but I think the birds is really scary. That’s a fave, and I would say Get Out is probably just one of my favorite movies in general. So I guess it has to be my favorite horror movie. My favorite scary movie. And I feel like with all of these choices as I was kind of like cobbling them together, there is a pretty common theme throughout like Suspiria, House Zoo and the birds are all starring women and Get Out is about a young black man getting out of a a fake woke white families house. So it really reminded me, OK, the horror movies that do resonate with me are the ones about those marginalized heroes getting their their comeuppance.
S3: I love all of those. I especially have become a very, very big fan of Get Out as soon as it came out and I saw it in the theater, I thought it was amazing. But I also have a very fondness in my heart for the quote unquote classics like Halloween. I think Nightmare on Elm Street is a very interesting movie, although I haven’t revisited it in a long time and I don’t think I could handle it right now because it’s very, very gory. But I loved it as a teenager and scream it. And I think what I like about Scream is its treatment of the horror movie tropes and the idea that we can make fun of these tropes and directly call attention to them. Like in the first movie, when Randy is explaining how you survive a horror movie,
S2: you don’t know we have an aneurysm, why don’t you? There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie, for instance. No one you can never have sex. Oh, no, no, no, no big. No, no. Day to day sex. Yes. OK. Number two, you can never drink or do drugs.
S4: Not the sense that it’s a
S2: sin, it’s an extension of number one and number three, never, ever, ever under any circumstances, say, I’ll be right back because you won’t be back. I’m getting another beer. You want one? Yeah, sure. I’ll be right back.
S3: Oh, these things have become tropes kind of for a reason. Aside from, you know, those great movies that you recommended and a few others, I mean, for the most part, when people think of horror movies, they think of these tropes, they think of slasher movies. They think of Friday the 13th, they think of Final Girls. And so I’m curious, what is your relationship with the idea of the final girl and what do you think of that particular trope, especially because recently it’s getting kind of a weird resurgence. There’s been a few books were there about Final Girls and Final Girl support groups and things like that. Where are your thoughts on that?
S1: Yeah, it’s lovely. The theory or the trope of it is something I’ve thought about a lot, and I think as I’m becoming more of a fan or regular watcher of horror movies, I’ve picked up on it more like I. As I said, I only watch Scream for the first time last year and I watched the first one and the second one, and that definitely leans into the the trope, which I don’t know if we really need to define it for any horror fan, but it’s, you know, the last survivor of all of the the targets, the victims in the film, who is a woman, it’s the final woman who is able to defeat or escape the bad guy. So scream, obviously is like that. I rewatched the first Halloween and then I also watched the 2018 Halloween this week, and obviously we got our girl, Laurie, in there. Yeah, there’s just a lot of really core examples of that in those really popular movies. And I want to say that the reason movies like Halloween and Scream are so indelible is partially because we have this sort of subversive take of there is a final girl who is outlasting everyone else. I mean, I think about movies like Cabin in the Woods and more recent one, which also really pokes fun at that of like, you’re going to have the Virgin last. But even then, it’s like, Oh, no, no one gets to live in this movie, which is kind of like a funny twist there. And the fact that it acknowledges that twist is part of why that movie was so fun and good. But at the same time, I mean, I think it’s like the trope itself is just reflective of this is not the standard horror has not been very progressive for much of its much of its life. And it’s weird because even though it is a common enough trope now, it does still feel unique and rare. If that makes sense. Like a lot of our biggest horror heroes are horror heroines. I think like the most memorable ones, the most likeable ones. And yet that is not still the case. Like, it’s still the average horror movie does not star the final girl. Does it bother you that it is still sort of like our favorite horror characters are these women? But then the average horror movie doesn’t lean into that father like this is a trope as opposed to a standard?
S3: I think so. I think, honestly, I think I’ve been thinking a lot about Final Girls lately because I want to see more of them. And while I was prepping for this episode, initially, my thought was, well, the final girl is not feminist, won its girl instead of a woman. You know, that’s how it always kind of gives it a strike against it. And historically, the final girl, which originated with the original Halloween movie by John Carpenter with Laurie Strode, the idea of a final girl or the sort of rules for a final girl is a virgin timid woman who screams and cries and somehow manages to survive this psycho killer. But when I went back and was really looking at some of the different movies that have, quote unquote final girls, none of them really fit that description. In the case of Halloween, Laurie. She smokes pot. She also really keeps her head on straight while saving these kids. You’ve got Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street, who is super smart. She is very proactive and she goes in and she really like takes on Freddy Krueger head on. You’ve got Jenny and Friday, the 13th Part two who has sex and drinks and still manages to survive. So it made me wonder if the whole Final Girl trope doesn’t actually exist. If it’s something that we have, I don’t know if the right word is coded or created to almost lessen some of the feminist potential of horror movies. I don’t know, does that? Does that make sense? I’m just I was trying to sort of sort out where I stand on the final girl next. And the idea of maybe she’s a more progressive idea than I was thinking about and then I originally thought about,
S1: I think that is an interesting perspective. Like I, I think I’ve gone in to it or like in my thinking of it, I think I have generally considered it to be feminist, like part of, you know, even feminist film theory, which, you know, whatever. Again, I’m not really that pretentious of a film person.
S3: I’m here for the feminist film theory. Please bring it on.
S1: Yeah, I think ultimately, like I do see it as a feminist thing, but at the same time, so I was watching, I was rewatching the original Halloween. And, you know, in that movie, I’m like, Who cares about spoiling it? It’s a billionaire, Laurie. Jamie Lee Curtis character Laurie is the only one who lives of her friend groups, so her friend group is like two other girls her age, two other teenage girls and their boyfriends. And they all get brutally murdered. And her two other friends are like, they make fun of Laurie because she doesn’t want to ask a boy out to the dance, and they invite guys over when their parents are out of the house Halloween night so they can have sex. All of the other female characters that are killed are more sexualized, right? Like Laurie is presumably the Virgin, whatever, like the responsible woman who doesn’t need them and is taking care of the kids like basically a maternal figure. And I mean, that plays into like a similar trope of the Virgin is the one who lives, and the Virgin is often the final girl. I think something that Scream is really good at is it does subvert that. Like Sydney is not just like this caged up Virgin hates men untouched, but where it started with characters like Laurie Strode. It was like, Well, the reason she gets to live is because she doesn’t have sex and she doesn’t let men touch her. So Michael Myers can’t touch her either. And that definitely is problematic. Like that part of the final girl trope, the part that’s so ingrained into it still, I think is really not cool like that is not feminist at all.
S3: Yeah. And I think you’ve really hit on something that these movies have historically struggled with, which is how we’re dealing with women who have sex and sexuality and women. In the Halloween Unmasked podcast, which was released through The Ringer, Jamie Lee Curtis was interviewed and she said that there are three types of women in these movies the smart Alec, the cheerleader and the repressed Virgin. The repressed Virgin. As you mentioned, usually the final girl and it’s the smart Alec and the cheerleader cheerleader. You could probably argue is code for slut are the ones that get murdered. And also in this group are the, you know, the black best friend or the other women of color who are also treated as very disposable. And I think that is probably more so than just the final girl trope. It’s the treating of women, particularly women who have sex or who drink or who are not, you know, buttoned up. Wearing their pearls as disposable is historically what is so problematic about these movies?
S1: Yeah, I think so, too. I mean, bringing in the the black character is really important here, too of like oftentimes the the cheerleader, I think, in screen to write like her best friend in Scream two, I think is is a black girl. I remember being so mad when she died, I was like, Oh, come on, really? But I guess it was sort of like telegraphed to us because she was a girl with a boyfriend, whatever. Although again, as I said, Sydney was too. But yeah, it’s important not to forget. Like, it’s not just the women who are treated this way. It’s often the people of color, the black characters more often than not, and black people in movies are often treated differently than white people in movies. They’re characterized in more stereotypical or outlandish ways. They’ll lean into a different kind of speaking pattern or just they’re shown as very different from their white characters, even if they are of a similar economic class, like if they go to school together like the black characters are still often othered and female characters. This is true, too, but like when they add that element of race, it is often a different story. So when you’re a black woman, then your chances of being a final girl are like next to none. And that is really frustrating. Like, I’m struggling to think of a black final girl.
S3: The only one that I have seen or can think of is actually in a book. It’s by Grady Hendrix. It was recently released called the Final Girl Support Group and. What’s interesting is he has this, you know, group of Final Girls, and then it turns out somebody is trying to get rid of all the final girls because in this world, the movies that are that we’re talking about Halloween Scream, the heroines are real, like they’re based on real life, which is an interesting element and an interesting thing to think about. But what he does is the one black final girl. She is dead at the beginning of the book. So like, even when we try and have a black final girl in some medium, she’s not a final final girl. She doesn’t survive to the end of the book. She doesn’t even make it into the book. And I’m so curious as to why we just constantly struggle to have these these women portrayed in these powerful roles.
S1: I mean, I think it’s like true, just any genre. It’s like thinking about it outside of just horror female leads. There are fewer parts for women in lead roles, especially ones where they play independent, powerful women. I feel like a lot of those roles are like, you’re playing a queen or whatever, like not anything a little more grounded or like a mother or things like that. And it’s true for women of color to like. Horror is just one genre like subgenre of the greater problem endemic to movies, which is just women are not treated super. Awesomely, women are rarely the heroes, and if they are, it’s like a big To-Do like, Oh, this is great female led movie. Like, it’s still far from a standard.
S3: Yeah, that’s how you get that Marvel moment when all of the female superheroes did their power pose and it was just like, done at a female moment and like, Yeah, get exactly. I think that’s a good place to end this part of the conversation. So we’re going to take a break here, and when we get back, we’re going to talk about all of these movies sort of again. But in current form, because a lot of these movies are getting sequels, reboots, television spinoffs, and we’re going to talk about sort of how the genre is doing now when it comes to feminism and its treatment of women and people of color. But if you’re enjoying the waves, we would love it if you would like and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.
S1: And if you want to hear more from Shayna and myself on another topic, check out our Waves Plus segment. Is this feminist where today Shayna and I are debating whether sexy Halloween costumes are feminist?
S3: Welcome back to the waves, one of the reasons, aside from Halloween being in a few days that this is such a timely conversation to have is because there are so many remakes and reboots and sequels coming out to classic horror movies. There is. Bear with me and I Know What You Did Last Summer series on Amazon. The trailer for the fourth Scream movie recently came out and will be released in January, which makes no sense. There is a Chucky TV series. It seems like every Stephen King book ever written is getting greenlit and, of course, a new Halloween movie, the sequel of the reboot, which was a sequel to the second original Halloween movie. I think I got that right is now on Peacock and in movie theaters. So it’s just madness.
S1: Sound broke by saying,
S3: I know I might never repeat that. No. One of the things these new we’ll call them versions have been trying to do is correct the original sins of their franchises. And this is something I think we’ve been seeing for quite a few years now. The one that immediately comes to mind is the remake of Black Christmas, where the women really flipped the script on the people that are coming at them. Halloween sees its protagonist, Laurie Strode, as a proactive vigilante of sorts in the newest versions of these movies, and there are more people of color in some of these series. So my question to start off is, do you think they are succeeding in staying relevant with the Times?
S1: Hmm. So I just watched Halloween, so I’ll I’ll go with that one. I just watched the new Halloween Halloween 2018, so I knew going in, OK, this is like a modern update, right? Like it’s a sequel. As you said, it takes place in 2018. So I was definitely looking for like, OK, is this going to try and make this film that at the time was progressive in its own way? Like, is it going to correct for some of those issues we did mention of, like Lori’s more sexualized friends or the ones getting killed? So I thought that was like a good litmus test for like, are these reboots and remakes and etc. doing a good job of meeting the times? And I mean, I think Halloween at least was good in that sense, like I was watching it and like, there’s a lot of men who are killed and it is sad, but it’s more upsetting. And I think the film recognizes it’s more upsetting when a woman is killed and they definitely pare that number down a bit. There is a callback to the original as a babysitter is killed, this time a babysitter who invites a guy over to have sex, though, is killed. But ultimately, it’s like a story of mother and daughter and granddaughter, and they come out OK, which you know, has its own issues. Because, as I mentioned that one girl having sex does get killed and the granddaughter is not doing that and just broke up with her boyfriend. And but still, I think ultimately there is something there’s some progression there of we are really leaning into. It’s women in charge and they can completely take care of themselves. They’re the ones we trust in these situations, and the guys are usually the ones screwing it up. But I I feel like otherwise. There’s just so much about horror itself that you kind of have to revise in order to get away from these issues. So there’s just a lot of things that you can’t really change about. These stories, like Carrie, is still going to be mocked and shamed for having her period. There’s just a lot of things that are core to these stories, and when we’re just rebooting and remaking those existing stories like you can’t change things too dramatically before, it’s not the same thing anymore. And I think a lot of these people want pretty much the same thing. Like, that’s why there are a million Halloween movies, because people just want to see Michael Myers stab someone so they can’t change things too much.
S3: Yeah, it does. I mean, whenever I stop and think about like, why are we relying so much on these old franchises? I’m like, Why not just make something new? Then I remember that it’s a business and there’s IP here, and it’s reliable IP, and so they’re in it to make money. So. So you see the the Hollywood machine kind of wrestling with this like, well, we we know that Michael Myers is going to make money and it does. Halloween Kills is doing very well at the box office, despite there still being a pandemic and despite it being for free on Peacock. But you see sort of the Hollywood machine being like, we want to have these horror guys, which we know are going to bring in money. But we also know that of the times means we have to be more progressive. So they’re trying to, like sandwiched these two things together. That to me, it just I don’t know that it. Really can work while I find it interesting that you have Laurie Strode and she’s dealing with this trauma of all the things that have happened to her and how it’s made her this sort of like bad ass. I got a house that does tricks so that I can trap Michael Myers Yelp
S1: that does tricks. That’s exactly what it is. It literally is like this weird kind of comical house with like a kitchen island that reveals a bunker.
S3: Yeah, yeah. And I felt like when I saw that part of the movie, I’m like, I know I’m supposed to cheer, but I’m groaning because this just seems a bit silly and I wrestle with it. I see what you’re doing, but I can’t really applaud you. And I think where we get some of the more we’ll call it, feminist horror movies are some of the newer non franchise ones, you know, we’ve talked about. Get out. There’s also it follows, which is a whole different way of doing this, where that takes the if you have sex, you’re going to die concept and really pulls at it. You have Jennifer’s Body, which is a very interesting sort of horror comedy movie. Yeah. And one of my favorites of the last decade is your next, which really has that who you think is going to be the final girl or this woman who’s being hunted in this house. It turns out she’s like a survivalist, and she, like, builds her own tricks in the house. And it’s it has comments about class and things like that. So I think those are really where we are able to see true progression in these types of movies. And I feel like whenever we see more of these reboots, it’s really more of a we want our money. We know this property works, but you know, we got to throw you some scraps.
S1: Yeah, I think that’s super true. And also, I’ve not seen your next. I’ve seen the other ones, but now you make me really want to watch it. It’s really good. Yeah, I think like those movies that are more original and like created today for today’s audiences, works so much better than something like Halloween, where it does have that DNA in there. And they really are just like in a lot of ways, banking on the name, the fact that like there is a sequel to Halloween that like they’re making it a trilogy again, it’s like, OK, we know what you’re doing. It’s clear, it’s clear you’re doing so. I’m certainly more interested in watching like movies that you mentioned and newer ones.
S3: So not to be a total mom about all of this, but this all kind of brings me to the question of should slasher movies even be made and what is it about them? Be it as a reboot or be it in an original form? What is it about them that makes us keep wanting to watch people get stabbed and murdered in horrific ways? Is it cathartic? Is it that the time suck? And so I want to scream while watching other people scream? I guess it’s like because like, I still am vaguely interested in watching these movies depending on how they’re done. But also like like, I feel like if you explain this concept to aliens, they would be very confused as to why anybody finds this entertaining.
S1: It’s interesting because, yeah, like what you’re describing makes me think of rollercoasters because I it’s easier for me to watch a horror movie than it is for me to go on a roller coaster, especially when they go upside down. That’s the kind of thing that I like. I don’t know how people can explain that, like other than its thrill-seeking, I like to be scared. It is cathartic. And obviously that doesn’t last as long as a horror movie. But I feel like there is more of a legitimate risks to your life than doing the roller coaster than a horror movie. And that’s I think part of my preference is like, I do sort of like getting that thrill, but at least I can turn the movie off or leave or something if it gets too bad, but roller coaster, you’re strapped in. So I think it’s like the same sort of impulse the slasher in particular, though, because it’s like there are so many different ways to do a horror movie. So it’s the slasher, those so classic. I think maybe like the idea of home invasion or a stranger who’s coming after you and seeing that subverted and like, think that’s just a big fear a lot of people have. And so having some sort of agency over that fear, like there’s the secret thrill of watching that happen to someone else and then also knowing that, oh, here’s how I could get out of that. Watching movies like that, I’m like, Oh, OK, so that’s what I would do, OK, I should have a knife on me and I should have a secret bunker, and I should learn where to elbow the guy. Like things like
S3: how should do tricks my
S1: house to do a little magic tricks? Yeah. So I think I think a lot of it is thrill-seeking. I would love for someone to explain roller coasters to me, let alone an alien like I just you will never sell me on that. It’s much easier to sell me on a horror movie.
S3: Before we head out, we want to give some recommendations, Allegra, you go first. What are you loving right now?
S1: So the one thing I love the most right now other than my weirdo cat is this one tick tock sound that’s basically a meme. There’s a couple of trends to it, but I’ll describe the sound. So comes from an America’s Funniest Home Videos clip from a few years ago, and it’s like a little boy playing on a table and then he knocks whatever he’s playing with down, and it shatters the table like a coffee table.
S2: Oh, no.
S1: This table is broken, it’s just like it’s just a strange way for somebody to talk and the way he says it is so funny to me. So it’s just it’s like picked up on TikTok as things do, like kind of randomly and there’s kind of like people recreating the video. But my favorite version of this is people trying to lip sync that audio with a straight face. So it’s just really funny, like watch people try to do it with a straight face and then they inevitably start cracking themselves up. So I’m obsessed with watching people crack up while trying to lip sync that audio. And now, my friends that I just caught that all the time, but like, say, other things like, Oh no, my internet, it’s broken or whatever my phone on so many levels, my phone battery, it’s dying. Like just the way that it’s it’s sad is so funny to me. So that’s what I am really into right now. What what are you loving?
S3: So my recommendation, it’s it’s probably a little late by now for most people. But if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend Hulu’s only murders in the building show. All the episodes are now out and available for streaming. And I thought it was just delightful. I went into it with fairly medium expectations, and I thought it hit all of the marks it has. Steve Martin and Martin Short and Selena Gomez in it, and they are just delightful, bumbling heroes trying to solve a murder that happened in their building. It has plenty of twists and turns, but never takes itself quite too seriously. It was just one of those watches where it felt like just kind of putting on a cozy blanket and once a week just being like, I’m just going to sit here and I’m going to watch this and be with my friends for a half hour in the lovely New York apartment building that they’re in. And I actually recommend, even if you haven’t watched it yet. Not bingeing it. It was really fun to just watch it one week at a time. I thought it kind of helped the show along a little bit instead of just sitting down and watching all of it at once. I highly recommend it. I would love for Martin Short and Steve Martin to do more things together and make them available to me because those two are just such a delight. And the idea that, you know, they’ve been friends for forever and they’re still making things together. I it’s just such a lovely ray of sunshine in this cloudy world.
S2: That’s it.
S3: That’s our show this week. The Waves is produced by myself.
S1: Shaina Roth Susan Matthews is our editorial director with Joon Thomas. Providing oversight and moral support.
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S1: The waves will be back next week. Different hosts, different topic, same time and place.
S3: Thank you so much for being a Slate Plus member, and since you’re a member, you get this weekly segment, is this feminist? Every week we debate whether something is feminist and this week we are talking about very on brand for this episode. Sexy Halloween costumes Allegra. You have first thoughts,
S1: so I’m like a decidedly unsexy person. So my Halloween costume is usually like I will try and lean into sexy, etc. because it’s funny if I do it. But I think a lot of people growing up, this is not me trying to shame them or anything, but they would definitely just be like, You’re already sexy. And now what do you do when you’re just wearing like hot pants? And yeah, you’re just wearing a bra and hot pants and like a cat ear headband or whatever. Versus I would be sexy Detective Pikachu. That’s a little more creative. And again, it’s funny when I do it as an unsexy person. So it’s not to say I don’t think it’s it is or is not feminist, but I do think it’s not often used as like I am taking a stand. I’m going to own my sexuality tonight by dressing up as a sexy poodle or whatever, you know, like, I don’t often find it to be like the people who are too shy to assert their sexuality are now using the opportunity. I feel like often I see it as like my friends who are already really hot, just dressing extra hot or like being hot, but pretending not to be themselves that night.
S3: I have to admit, like in my single days when in college and we went to the bars and it was Halloween, I did attempt. I think I attempted a sexy schoolgirl at one point and oh
S1: my god,
S3: it didn’t work. I tried to get my Britney Spears on. I know it was just based on like things that I found in my closet, which is not a sexy place to find clothes. So, yeah, but I think what you’re touching on there is the key, right? Whether or not it’s feminist is the intent. Are you dressing in this costume because it makes you feel good and this is what you want to do with your body? And that’s fine. Or is it because you want to? You know, show it off for the men’s or the women’s, whoever, and it’s a matter of, well, I just want to, you know, I’m doing this not for me, but for other people and for their enjoyment.
S1: Mm hmm. Yeah, I feel like I don’t know any time you dress sexy. I guess that question comes up. Are you doing it for you or are you doing it for someone else? And Halloween is just the time when people feel more comfortable to do it and like everyone is doing it. I went to a wedding last week and I think it was and I decided to dress. I wore a dress that made me feel awesome and I looked great and I was like, I’m at a wedding and I’m not trying to catch the bouquet. I’m there with my partner. He knows that he thinks I’m sexy, even though I’m not. And but I’m still going to do it for myself, and this is like a time when I felt like I was doing it for myself. But those times are very rare, and it was still like, I am using this occasion of a wedding where other people are dressing up. I don’t know. I wish there were more times when we could just be sexy for ourselves, and it’s not like a big To-Do where it’s you are expected to be looking a certain way anyway. You know, I wish we could all just comfortably be find ourselves sexy or dress sexy or make up our selves sexy or just feel sexy whenever we want. But it is very hard
S3: whenever I think about Halloween costumes, and particularly in this context, I think about Mean Girls. And this is maybe the one time when Lindsay Lohan was ultra feminist in a movie where she shows up to a Halloween party or a costume party, and she’s wearing a giant wedding dress and she’s got blood all over her, and she’s an ex of the she got an ex-wife or an express or an ax or whatever, and she shows up at all the girls there in lingerie and bunny ears or mouse ears. I’m a mouse, duh. And it’s just like that to me is very emblematic of Halloween costumes in general. Sometimes it seems like there is either the super sexy outfits or some sort of super sexy version of something. Or you can be like a witch or something really ugly and like. Those are sometimes at least in the stores, the choices that you have for Halloween costumes as a woman. And if you want to get a little bit different like sexy Pikachu, you got to really get creative and figure it out on your own right.
S1: Yeah, it’s like guys can just go pick up an easy Michael Myers costume. But for us, it’s sexy Michael Myers. I guess we should just buy the Michael Myers costume ourselves, but it’s definitely, you know, that is not marketed to us, and it is inherently funny in a way it wouldn’t be for other people, right?
S3: And it does seem like whenever I look at the ready made Halloween costumes where it can be male or female, the female version is always like cinched in a little more, you know, showing a little more skin. We got to make it even if it’s like a mailman costume, it’s like, Oh, we got to just got to show off those curves. Gotta make a little bit more sexy. It’s like, what if I just want to wear some baggy scrubs and deliver mail
S1: and I just want to be a mailman?
S3: Is there something you’re dying to know if it’s feminist or not? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at The Waves at Slate.com.