Halloween, while one of the best holidays of the year, can be problematic. A universal problem is cultural appropriation in costumes. However, chances are if you’ve found this post, you’re not planning on dressing up as a terrorist or Boston Marathon victim this year. And that’s huge. But the fight is not over yet. People are still wearing cultures as costumes, and Halloween in our society is still incredibly mysogynistic at its core. Here are some ways to bring some equality to this joyous holiday:
Be a slut, or don’t be a slut, but don’t slut shame. Body image is a huge issue for many women. If a woman decides that for one night a year, she wants to show some skin, respect that. It’s her choice. Some women, maybe because of occupation or familial issues, may use Halloween as their one night to let loose. If you choose not to dress in a risqué costume, I’m sure the scantily clad women will respect your costume, too! One caution here, if you know you will be seeing children in your costume, before you leave the house, ask yourself this question: “Do I look like a role model?” More than anything right now, boys and girls alike need to stop being fed the ideal that women are sex symbols to be put on pedestals. Along that same line, don’t sexualize children’s popular characters around children. At 18+ events, it’s totally valid to bring out slutty Elsa. However, if you’re taking your niece and nephew trick-or-treating before you party, put hoochie Hello Kitty in a bag until you get there.
Ditch the witch this year. If you’re going out to buy your Halloween decorations, try not to buy any ugly or dead witches to put on your lawn. Unless you happen to find some ugly, dead male witches too. But therein lies the ultimate problem. Witches started as symbols of goodness, until Christianity came into popularity, and turned witches into scapegoats. The Salem witch trials are perhaps the most famous instance of this, with women turned into symbols of evil so others could escape their own guilt. There are plenty of ways to decorate for Halloween without having a dead woman on your lawn. Bats, cats, and owls can all be adorable if that’s what you’re going for. If you want spooky, go with gender neutral ghosts and skeletons. Or just make sure male and female figures are equally represented in your decor.
Cross-dressing is not humorous. I anticipate a sickening number of Caitlin Jenner costumes this year that are not just terrible, but horrendously offensive towards trans individuals. Please do not confuse this with crossplaying, gender bending, or doing full on drag. Those are perfectly respectful means as dressing as another gender. But if you’re a guy and you’re thinking, “hey! I’m going to put on a wig, stuff a bra, and put on a mini skirt! It will be hilarious!!” It won’t. Half the population are not hilarious in our existence, so stop pretending like we are.
If you’re a parent our guardian and your kid wants to cross-dress, let your kid cross-dress. Captain America is a valid girls’ costume. Tiana is a valid boy’s costume. Feminism is all about equality, including gender equality. A costume is a costume. End of story. If you’re not a parent, don’t judge other peoples’ kids for cross-dressing. Support the gender equality.
Mostly, have fun! Stand up for yourself! Love your costume! Eat candy!
Take Back Halloween is an awesome resource if you’re looking for a powerful woman to dress up as for Halloween. The site is full of women throughout history who did amazing things. Once you find your inspirational woman, you can find tips for how to put the costume together yourself.
How are you going to bring feminism into your Halloween experience? Share in the comments!!