sexy cop and robber halloween costume

Sexy Halloween costumes are a time-honored tradition that dates back to whenever it became socially acceptable for women to traipse around in small amounts of clothes while consuming large amounts of alcohol. This is a great thing! When it comes to Halloween costumes, I think everybody should get as sexy as they see fit. Violating indecent exposure laws is a pretty bad idea, but as long as you stay in the legal definition of “clothed,” whatever, right? And while you’re getting sexy for All Hallows’, you should probably consider a sex worker costume, right? Nothing’s sexier than a sex worker costume, right? It’s the perfect choice for everybody.

Except it isn’t. It’s actually a pretty horrible choice for pretty much anyone except maybe actual sex workers.

“But wait,” you might be saying, “in pretty much every column ever, you’ve been saying that sex work is just a normal job that normal people do. People dress up as sexy firefighters and nurses and nuns all the time for Halloween. How is that okay, but dressing as a hooker isn’t?”

I wish it was realistic to draw a comparison between a sexy cop outfit and a stripper outfit–in a perfect world it would be–but sadly this is not a perfect world. The big difference is, as always, stigma.

There isn’t really a stigma associated with being a police officer, fireman, or nurse. Pretty much everyone except criminals, arsonists, and bug chasers regard these professions very highly. Sure, making them “sexy” is a bit silly and may not be completely respectful to the men and women who actually do have such careers, but Halloween is a silly holiday. Unfortunately in my experience, dressing as a sex worker is a different kind of joke to most people. It’s a joke because they would never dream of degrading themselves with sex work, and, of course since Halloween is a party holiday, it’s a great way to get into party mode.

Everyone knows that sex workers are all crazy partiers!

…Except we aren’t all crazy partiers, our work isn’t degrading, and we aren’t jokes. It would be one thing if we were taken seriously on every other day of the year and then spoofed on Halloween, but unfortunately this is not the case. Much of the time, when sex workers are portrayed in films and television shows (and news stories, for that amtter) it’s one daddy issues or childhood molestation gag after another. For most people, dressing as a sex worker for Halloween is just an opportunity to make a whole bunch of those same tired jokes.

That’s the real problem with sex worker costumes, it’s not that they exist, it’s that they are so frequently used to enforce damaging stereotypes and make light of tragic circumstances that affect both civilians and sex workers.

I don’t see anything wrong with going as some type of sex worker for Halloween if you just want to wear a sexy costume, or if you’re going as a character who also happens to be a ho. If you want to wear your regular clothes, claim to be a prostitute, and explain that all sex workers are just regular people, go ahead. Better yet, wear some lingerie and put a sign reading “stigma” over your head so you can be that obnoxious girl at parties with the conceptual costume that deals with real issues (don’t feel bad, obnoxious girls at parties, I am one of you and I know we are actually awesome) and more power to you! However, it is a bunch of different kinds of not okay to go as a sex worker of any type if all you’re going to do is fall back on the same tired bullshit.

So please, for the good of everyone, think before you decide to be a sexy streetwalker this Halloween. If you do conclude the choice is still right for you, use your costume to debunk myths, not reinforce stereotypes or foster anymore terrible stigmas. Remind the people around you that anyone can be a sex worker, and more than that, remind yourself! You never know if the girl at the bar dressed up as the feminine mystique is a whore who’s internally debating whether or not to tell you off for joking about leaving your daddy issues at the club.

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