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The Reveal

Provocative Halloween costumes belittle and objectify women

The Battalion

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:10


Graphic by Autumn Rizzo

As a woman, when I go shopping for Halloween costumes my choices are something like this: a sexy nurse, a sexy zombie or a sexy piece of fruit. The variety of characters available to me fills an entire warehouses, but they all have one thing in common; every costume is intended to render me as a sex object.

The fact that my choices are slim bothers me. I feel like I should at least have an option of whether I want to look provacative or not. It wouldn’t be so bad if next to the dirty cop costume there hung an innocent – I don’t know -  Cowgirl costume. Or maybe a Rosie the Riveter get-up that doesn’t require a garter and fishnets. Anything. Just Anything. Because really, I’d rather not be a blow-up doll for Halloween. (Yes, blow-up doll costumes do exist.) When manufacturers eliminate my choices, it makes me feel like I don’t have control.

In my opinon, the stores and manufacturers who sell the perverse and often bafflng costumes are promoting the objectification and sexualization of women. Instead of trick-or-treating for candy, women are now expected to be the candy. I’ve noticed that men’s costumes are in no way as provocative; they usually aren’t sexual at all. But even if they are, they don’t imply weakness or vulnerability. Most of the time, they’re just comical. Why is it that only women have to suffer the blunt? Not that I advocate sexism, but if we’re going to objectify, lets do it all the way. Why can’t we see men in lace aprons and thigh-highs too? I guess it’s not their place. Instead, it’s mine.

The problem escalates when provactive costumes are marketed for pre-teen girls. It’s as if once a young girl begins puberty, it’s time for her don her first push-up and slap on the lipstick. I have a problem with this because it encourages girls to view their bodies as sex objects, meant for the pleasure of others. Why can’t there be doctor or astronaut costumes for girls? Is it so wrong to encourage success and an attractive mind instead of sexualization?

And I know in the end, it’s my choice. I can choose to wear lingerie in public or I can forgo the experience and just make a costume at home. But let’s say that I was proud of my body and wanted to wear something revealing for Halloween. I would still be labeled as a slut and some would even say that I would be deserving of the hungry-eyed gazes and drunken slurs at Dukes. The pretend of the costume would become my identity and that isn’t ok either. A woman should be able to wear what she wants on Halloween and not be put under fire for dressing up as a make-believe character. Her body is her own and sometimes, she dresses for herself, not for the pleasure of those around her.

Bottom line, the lack of respect towards women and girls in the context of Halloween costumes is only getting worse. From the objectification of women by costume sellers to the slut-shaming of women who choose to be in costume, Halloween has become nothing more than a giant misogyny parade.

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