Tart & Soul

A Search for Meaning and Connection

Tart & Soul

Tart & Soul
December 31
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NOVEMBER 9, 2010 2:34PM

Happy Harlot-ween

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Halloween Costumes


What’s up with Duke University?  Seems every time there’s a scandal around sex, violence or sexual violence in academia, Duke’s the institution in question.  A mere month after the leak of Karen Owen’s thesis listing and rating the guys she’d slept with while a student at Duke, the university is once again playing shame-faced host to more sexual ridiculousness.

Apparently, a bunch of jackass frat boys sent three hundred girls Halloween party invitations that read, “Whether your [sic] dressing up as a slutty nurse, a slutty doctor, a slutty schoolgirl, or just a total slut, we invite you to find shelter in the confines of Partners D…come and show off the costumes you put more thought into than your major.”

Gee, I don’t know what’s more shocking: guys in fraternities spewing foul, misogynistic dribble while trying to score some tail or guys getting into Duke University without knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

My college was one of those small, artsy fartsy places where the Greek system barely existed.  The biggest fraternity was made up of film students and future record label execs, not jocks or soon-to-be Fortune 500 suits.  Yet, at one of their parties, I overheard one frat bro say to another, “these girls are so drunk, they won’t even notice when we rape them.”

It was then I understood one of the great truths of American society: frat boys are meatheaded, beer-ponging idiots.  Their good looks, coupled with a childhood of popularity and privilege, fuel their hormones and turn them into Neanderthals.  This is why we should reprimand them for being pigs, but not waste any time wondering why they’re so darn piggy.  Not all of them, of course, but definitely the ones who keep getting into trouble.

Still, creepy as they are, these Halloween shindig hosts at Duke have a point.  What’s with all the “slutty,” “naughty” and/or “dirty” costumes?  It’s as if young females pick an occupation or personality, slap the word “slutty” on it, then consider themselves costumed.  Slutty pilgrim, slutty parking lot attendant, slutty pancake.  The possibilities are endless.

I was a teenage girl once.  Then I was a college chick and later a twentysomething woman.  So I know what it’s like to want to be smart, successful and accomplished, yet also wildly attractive to boys.  I wore low-cut shirts and talked openly about sex, both because it gave me a charge and because I thought men would be more intrigued.  And I was as excited by the men who thought I was sexy and someone worth getting to know, as I was confused by the guys who couldn’t take me seriously.

Now, I’m one of those wise women who watch younger generations of women stumble around bars in six-inch stilettos or shiver in the winter cold in their mini skirts and slinky tops.  I see them in clubs undulating against the crotches of men they don’t know.  I overhear them bragging about guys they got drunk with and screwed at parties only to wonder why they haven’t called the next day.

And this past Halloween, I saw legions of slutty witches, slutty pirates and slutty cheerleaders giddily heading to holiday parties.  I’m not sure if these girls do these things because they’re harboring a massive sexuality that still lacks the maturity to manage itself, or whether they’re following the lead of a Girls Gone Wild culture.  Either way, I want to pull these ladies aside and say, ‘he’s not gonna call after you bone him at a party then puke Woo Woo shots onto his bed.’  And, ‘sorry, doll, if your breasts are falling out of your shirt, that’s all homeboy’s gonna notice.’

It ain’t fair.  Some men haven’t gotten with the program and accepted women as their sexual equals.  But some women may need to start realizing being the hottest chick at the party is easy when you’re barely wearing anything.  Besides, being the hottest chick may get you laid, but not much else.  As the Duke boys so graciously revealed, even if the hottest chicks at the party are gifted young women, brilliant enough to get into one of the nation’s top universities, ‘we still think you’re dumb sluts.’

And that’s something no Naughty Girl Scout costume will ever change.

*Photo taken from azcentral.com.

**Reprinted from Laura K. Warrell's blog Tart & Soul at www.TartandSoul.com.

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one of them better run for public office!!! or, maybe they should. the world is messed up
Duke needs to change the cover of its brochure to the photo you used. I haven't seen it, but it probably features a group of intense young scholars studying their textbooks.
Excellent piece.
I shivered reading this. And not just because it's cold. The questions that keep exploding in my head for all these kids is, "where are the parents and why is this okay?".
I bet one of them will one day run for office, Elijah Rising. And you're right, Blumenthal, Duke would do well to consider a more accurate and sexier representation of the educational experience they offer.

Cartouche, I don't have kids yet, but I think if my daughter dressed like this for Halloween, I'd have to wonder what I might have forgotten to tell her or instill when she was a girl.

And Will, you've got me thinking about how the French maid costume, uniform, whatever you want to call it, has become such a huge piece of popular culture. There's gotta be a blog post in there somewhere!
maybe sex is natures way of getting anonymous strangers to meet.
"‘we still think you’re dumb sluts.’"
think you're being a little too hard on the guys here and a bit misanthropic yourself. they didnt *say* that. think about it like this-- if sometimes guys are like neanderthals, then maybe its the girls "trick" to train/domesticate them. or, girls can throw parties that they think are more appropriate. ps does the term "sex positive" mean anything to you? if so, how would it show up in college?
ps you may or may not be interested in the recent Social Network/facebook movie... which had some scenes like this at the beginning & various other parts. also a lot of male/female dynamics that Im sure you wont exactly be praising. but maybe not so inaccurate a picture of both facebook & college etc.
Hi vzn, I think you're right about women being at least partly responsible for reshaping how men see us. To me, there's no harm in a sexy costume, I don't even think there's anything wrong with a woman creating a list of her "conquests," though I think it's unfortunate that it was posted online. However, I think young women are misunderstanding the concept of sexual empowerment, though that would take a whole other blog post, perhaps an entire book, to discuss.

I am sex positive and have always been, yet, I've realized the consequences of those attitudes in a culture that isn't so positive about it. How do we treat our girls to value and even assert their sexuality in a culture that still objectifies and devalues it so much?