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The Rise of "Slut-o-ween": Cultural Productions of Femininity in Halloween Costumes Open Access

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This thesis explores Halloween as a site of gender production through the ritual practice of costuming that reflects society's dominant imagining of what ideal femininity should look like. It analyzes female Halloween costumes from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, identifying a specific progression that serves as training for girls in how to perform appropriate femininity in order to become ideal sexualized subjects as desired by hegemonic gender ideology. The thesis examines costume ads and the models used to sell them to address the reproduction of gender stereotypes and examines issues related to the active/passive dichotomy; the fetishization of childhood innocence; slut-shaming and management of adolescent sexuality; and the sexualization and objectification of women and discipline of non-normative female bodies, all of which are accomplished through costume production. The thesis also discusses opportunities for resistance to gender norms and considers the broader implications that Halloween costumes and other popular media depictions of sexualized femininity have on the lives of girls and women.

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