All I really want to say in this post is in the title, but I suppose that is too short and I suppose most of you will have clicked on this link as you settle into your desk with a steaming [witches’] brew by your side, so the least I can do is give you a little more to read during this spooooky Halloween week, eh? Also, given my previous two posts about the (un)erotic nature of vampires and the very erotic nature of werewolves, I feel a weird compulsion to round out the month. So… just humour me.
I don’t think saying Halloween is a sexy holiday is necessarily a difficult argument to make because, unless you are pagan or participate in the Christian appropriation of pagan holidays, it is pretty obviously about dressing up and hooking up. Well, if you are a grown up, that is. I suppose if you have children and live in a country which participates in Trick-or-Treating, you’re probably somewhat forced into a rather unsexy ritual of candy-begging which has its own type of associated fun.
For those of us childless-adults, the holiday, whether we like it or not, becomes much more of a fertility ritual. Depending on social group or outing or gender, spooky costumes can be rare, replaced by much more revealing fare. In fact, the amount of skin on display prompted American journalist Dan Savage to compare Halloween to a straight pride festival.
Savage’s article (linked above) is convincing and well worth the read, but not immune from critique. The crux of his argument relies on our acceptance of the fact there should be a straight pride- a very contentious idea indeed. However, I tip my hat to Savage in that he doesn’t attempt some well-intentioned-but-offensive, apologist, ‘we will only truly be equal when…’ statement, but rather appeals to the reader’s sense of pure hedonism. He writes:
You move through life thinking about sex, constantly but keenly aware that social convention requires you to act as if sex were the last thing on your mind. Exhausting, isn’t it? It makes you long for moments when you can let it all hang out, when you can violate the social taboos you honor most of the rest of time, when you can be the piece of meat you are and treat other people like the pieces of meat they are.
Whilst I won’t go as far as to start calling the 31st of October Heteroween, nor will I ever argue for a straight pride in any context because I believe straight people have many opportunities in daily life to seek out and express affection, I do think there is a nugget to be gleaned from Savage’s argument. Halloween functions like Mardi Gras, Carnival, Fasching, and any number of other holidays wherein people are encouraged to act mischievous, overindulge in food and drink, and flaunt their ‘pieces of meat’. It is an opportunity for socially-sanctioned dark play and it can feel as liberating as dancing half naked on a float at Pride… That is, if you find dancing half naked on a float at Pride to be liberating. 😉
Actually, I take issue with the term ‘liberating’. Liberating implies some kind of long term, freeing effect which I don’t necessarily think can be gained from booty-shakin’ on top of papier mâché. Doesn’t mean it isn’t fun or pleasurable though. But aside from pointing out the hedonistic aspects of the holiday, the Dan Savage article also does a good job of pointing out its historical significance for the LGBT community. He writes:
Back in the bad old days—pre-Stonewall, pre-pride-parades, pre-presidential-gay-history- month-proclamations—Halloween was the gay holiday. It was the one night of the year when you could leave the house in leather or feathers without attracting the attentions of the police.
To this argument I want to add that Halloween is also the goth holiday. It is often called ‘goth Christmas’ because it is the one day a year where those who prefer black, leather, corsets, make up, and other chosen trappings of the subculture can also leave the house without attracting unwanted attention. So the idea that Halloween is both the gay holiday and the goth holiday makes sense. Both are subcultures which wear their sexuality on their sleeve- or rather incorporate sexual symbols into their dress for special occasions. Particularly for goths, the leather, zips, chains, and corsets evocative of bondage and fetish gear evoke both the sexy and spooky. And both are threatening to how sexuality should be expressed in daily life- which is usually not at all.
Hope you all have a wonderfully sexy Halloween. Until next time,