Why Can't Children Be 'Naughty' Anymore? Because 'Sexy' Stole It.


My feminazi interboobs have been hot-flashing all day with talk of a certain “Naughty Leopard” Halloween costume, which reportedly sexualizes youngsters by dressing them up like a sensual, erotic purple cat in a dress. Now, not only am I against both the sexualization of youngsters and dyeing your cat purple and making it wear mary-janes, I am also a staunch advocate of thinking critically about sexist messaging that conditions young women to believe that performing traditional femininity and being one-dimensional sex-chattel is their paramount utility in life.

HOWEVER. I do have one question here. What the fuck is actually sexy about this business? It’s just a kid in a dress with a dumb ear-hat. (Honestly, I’m more offended by what a GARBAGE LEOPARD it is. Hey, Walmart, let me help you out with that.)

According to Feministing, “your small girl-child is being urged by Walmart to invoke one side of the virgin-whore dichotomy whilst dressing up for Halloween this year.” And while I support the sentiment—I’ve got that sentiment’s back to the max!—I’m just not convinced that it applies in this specific instance. Because, honestly, I can’t actually detect anything remotely sexual about the “Naughty Leopard” costume beyond the word “naughty” itself. And is that really enough to condemn it? That one word?

As we all know, “naughty” is a Halloween term that means “sexy, but like a baby.” But if we peer a little bit further back into “naughty”‘s etymological history, it used to just be a normal word you called a kid when it was being a mischievous dickhead! I have proof! This British lady told me! Sure, naughty has had sexual connotations as far back as the mid-19th century, but it’s been used to describe disobedient kids since the goddamn 1600s. So why did we let hornay college chicks hijack the word in all its forms? Why can’t children be naughty anymore?

How do we know that the kid wearing the “leopard” costume didn’t just lick all the frosting off of Nana’s fiber supplement bars, or knock Mr. Wilson off a ladder? How do we know she isn’t naughty? If I call Dennis the Menace “naughty,” am I sexualizing Dennis the Menace? WHEN NAUGHTINESS IS OUTLAWED ONLY OUTLAWS WILL BE NAUGHTY.

Moreover, naughtiness and adult sexuality make terrible bedfellows. For real, I am not even trying to act like we should only be reclaiming naughtiness for the children. We should be reclaiming it because I do not want that concept anywhere near my genitals. Like, okay, I get it if you want to play “naughty schoolgirl” and your “teacher” has to “discipline” you or whatever. No judgment here, beyond predictability (real creative, Marquis de Blah). Do your thing. But, naughty schoolgirls aside, what does naughtiness even mean in a sexual context?

Here are a series of short “naughty” roleplaying scenarios I’ve worked out to explore this concept. Give them a whirl if you want to never get a boner again.

Naughty Nurse: “Oh no! I fink I gave you a oberdose on your painkiwwers! I’m sooooo naughty!”
Fed Up Hospital Administrator: “Sharon, I really need you to cover your vulva when you’re in the sterile field. Wait, you did what!? Get out of the way, Sharon, I have to go call our in-house counsel. Sharon, stop it. Stop it, Sharon. Sharon. Why are you gyrating like that? SHARON. GET OFF ME. A MAN IS DEAD BECAUSE OF YOUR INFERNAL NAUGHTINESS.”

Naughty Scientist: “Whoopsie daisy! I just weweased da ebowa viwus. I guess dis naughty scientist needs a time-out in da autocwave!!!”
Stern USAMRIID Virologist: [Vomits blood and liquefied internal organs like a firehose.]

Naughty Policewoman: “Bang bang! I shooted him because he was bwown!”
Horny Internal Affairs Investigator: “It was clearly an accident. You’re free to go…DOWN ON ME!” #socialcommentary

As you can see, naughtiness is literally the #1 least sexy trait for an adult human to exhibit in the bedroom—less sexy, even, than diarrhea or constantly-sounding-an-airhorn. So why do we cling to grown-up naughtiness like this? Why do we trot it out every Hallowe’en, with the parades of “naughty” costumes getting ever-naughtier, and the ironic listicles about fake “naughty” costumes getting ever-redundantier?

Why don’t we send “naughty” back from whence it came—into the realm of wedgies and spitballs and pies cooling on the windowsill with bites taken out of them!? It’s time, people. You know it is. Take Back the Naughty. For the children.

Image via KATU.

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