O’Donnell is a senior secondary education major and can be reached at email@example.com
Ah, Halloween. My favorite time of year, full of candy, haunted houses and the age-old Halloween tradition: slut-shaming. It’s this paradox: women are expected to dress as sexy versions of a nurse, a bumblebee or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. And then when they do attend their local wholesome Halloween party dressed as such, there’s this weird objectification/“judginess” that takes place. In terms of costumes, you’re either a prude (because you really wanted to be a realistic-looking bunny) or a slut (because you feel pants are overrated). There’s no winning.
A costume-less example of this paradox: A recent Times-Delphic editorial under the pseudonym Jane Hoe insinuated that women exist to be sexy for the men (“So what do we girls have to do? Give them head!”), and a Drake professor’s response explained that if we hook up, we must not respect ourselves (“There will very likely, and rightfully so, be feelings of regret and guilt”). Are we seriously narrowing down women into either virgins or whores again? That’s some 15th century moralizing going on right there.
Because I am seriously not interested in wearing a chastity belt as part of my costume, can we please stop pretending that A) women are defined by their sexuality and B) costumes are there to illustrate said sexuality? To be clear: my costume length is in no way proportional to how much I “respect myself.” Nor, on the other hand, should I feel like the only option I have is to be a sexy (fill in the blank). And to address this fear that women must dress revealingly to be wanted or attractive, have a little faith in yourself. My first-year roommate dressed in a penguin suit a la “Happy Feet,” and she looked damn fine.
For the five people who read this and are like, “That’s totes not true! Women can dress however they want, and societal expectations have completely no impact on me and/or my view of women!” congratulations. For everyone else who has a basic understanding of reality, here are your three rules for Halloween 2012:
1. Dress modest! If you decide you want to dress in something clever and cool and it also happens to cover a significant portion of your body, you rock it, man. Don’t let anyone pressure you into being sexy Amelia Earhart when you think historically accurate is better. You go be your bad self.
2. Dress sexy! In underwear! Or nothing! If you decide that you are going to dress in something that is showy and skimpy and fabulous because you want to, you do it, girl. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you are less than wonderful. Bring a jacket so you don’t get hypothermia.
3. Stop being a creep. Hello. I know this zombie costume is somewhat limited in coverage, but you still have to look at my face. And if you touch my partially covered body without my permission, I will cut off your hand for my zombie prop. My costume does not equal my consent.
I will put in a caveat about skimpy costumes: Please, for the love of God, don’t be a “sexy Indian.” I KNOW your Native American costume is probs super cute. I know. Sorry, but you don’t get to narrow down thousands of years and tribes and cultures into one offensive stereotype that’s more or less racist. You wouldn’t go out dressed up as “Hispanic,” right? (Please say right.) If you already took the tags off your “Pocahottie” costume, burn it.
Beyond that, though, wear what makes you happy. Wear it because YOU want to and it makes you feel good about life/your body/playing dress up in college. Remember to be nice to the other girls. We’re all together in this glorious fight against sexist Halloween expectations, and you making fun of the sexy toothbrush doesn’t help. However you dress for Halloween, go do awesome stuff with awesome people and have lots of fun. No chastity belt required.