"Good Girls Go Bad, for a Day" is the headline of today's "Thursday Styles" front-pager examining why women these days use Halloween as an excuse to dress like sluts, and it's entirely unsurprising such a piece has become the top item on the Times site's most-e-mailed list. The article is filled with quotes from feminist academics and gender-roles scholars, but that's all a bit too high-toned for our tastes. Instead we checked in with New York's Ariel Levy, who examined the rise of "raunch culture" in her Female Chauvinist Pigs — and who's so over feminist shibboleths she actually spent a week with the Girls Gone Wild guys while researching the book.
Okay, so why are women getting so skanked-up on Halloween these days?
There is a huge aspect of generational rebellion to raunch culture: Nobody wants to turn into her mother, and whether your mother was/is a radical feminist or a right-wing Evangelical Christian — both pretty common among baby-boomers — either way it's going to get under her skin if you dress as a stripper to go trick-or-treating. Or if you dress as a stripper to go to junior high.
What about the insidious machinations of the patriarchal, capitalist Skank-Industrial Complex?
Yes, it also sort of is the patriarchal, capitalist Skank-Industrial Complex. We're very obsessed with immediate gratification in America, and we're obviously really into fame and celebrity — which we've completely divorced from virtuosity. So, in that context, you can kind of understand why teen girls are posting pictures of their tushes on their MySpace pages and looking for the sluttiest possible Halloween costume.
Are you going to be skankily dressed this year?
I'm pretty sure I'm not doing a costume this year, but you never know. I didn't think I would do it last year, and I ended up in a fairly elaborate elf suit. I think when I was in like third grade I was a bag of jelly beans for Halloween. My mother engineered the costume by filling a clear plastic garbage bag with lots of different colored balloons, and me. By the end of the night, a lot of them had popped. So I probably looked both skanky and deflated.
— Ben Mathis-Lilley