2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Are sexualized Halloween costumes bad?

Yes, because that’s the only option women have

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, October 23 2014 —

I’m all for men or women who want to dress up in a sexy costume this year. Adults can wear whatever they want. Your clothing choices shouldn’t come with any value judgments and people aren’t more or less worthy of respect because of how much skin their costume shows.

The problem isn’t that sexualized costumes exist or that adults wear them. It’s that these costumes are more available than less sexual versions, even when it comes to children.

Costumes for young girls are overtly sexualized. Consenting adults can wear what they want, but children should never be exploited, especially as part of a holiday that’s about pumpkins and candy bars.

If you walk into a costume shop and browse the men’s section, you’ll notice a lot of scary looks — blood-streaked masks or scythes with brains splashed on them. Darth Vader costumes have light-up red lightsabers and helmets with voice modifiers that project his infamous drawl.

A quick scan of the women’s section reveals that your choices are between a sexy nurse, a sexy pumpkin or a sexy police officer. And Darth Vader? Women don’t get a costume that fits a little better in the arms and hips, they get a sexy version with a miniskirt and no lightsaber.

No one should be judged for wearing a sexy costume. The problem is that women don’t always have a choice, no matter their personal preference.

Making informed choices requires options. It’s hard to make the argument that you’re reclaiming your sexuality when other choices weren’t presented to you.

Our personal decisions take place in a context. They’re affected by the world around us. And the world around us says that women can be a sexy version of whatever costume men are wearing. Costumes that suit everyone’s choices should be readily available. Dressing up is in the spirit of Halloween.

Wearing a sexy costume on Halloween is a personal choice. And it’s true that your Halloween costume isn’t a reflection on decades of feminist movements. But womens’ personal choices aren’t truly personal until we’re given more options than a sexy nurse or a sexy schoolgirl. Women deserve a full range of choices in their lives, including Halloween costumes.

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No, women should be free to wear whatever they want

By Hayden McBennett, October 23 2014 —

Halloween is a night for partying with friends and playing dress-up.

The holiday is rooted in the idea of indulgence. Whether that means scarfing down candy, getting a thrill out of scaring others or dressing immodestly, it’s all part of the fun.

Women can use feminism as an excuse to judge other women. But putting yourself on a pedestal by deciding that your clothing choices makes you more worthy of respect than other women is dangerous.

Both men and women can be judged on their appearance. But when men dress up in revealing costumes, their choices aren’t seen as representative of men in general. Likewise, it’s not feminist to denounce other women for their personal choices. If any clothing choice is feminist, it’s the one that respects the decisions women have made.

Dressing sexy has been called degrading, but the opposite is true. The notion that a woman’s clothing and the amount of skin she chooses to show are defining factors in her character is belittling. It’s impossible to
understand any person by looking at what they’re wearing.

Insisting on modest dress is rooted in ideas of purity. The idea that women need to cover themselves to remain unsullied for a particular man is inherently misogynistic.

A woman’s ability to choose her clothing reflects her freedom of personal choice. The choices of one woman don’t reflect the morals of all women. Clothing is a personal decision, nothing more.

Women should be treated with respect. How we dress doesn’t act as a measurement of how much respect we’re owed.

We need to stop judging one another based on shallow standards and start respecting each other’s personal choices. It’s important to build strong bonds between women and combat the effects of sexism in a powerful way. Squabbling over what our Halloween costumes look like is counter-productive.

You should wear whatever clothing you feel best in. Confidence is empowering. If putting on stockings and a short dress makes you feel good, then enjoy yourself.

Women are sexualized no matter how they dress. Reclaiming sexuality is a way of reclaiming power. There’s nothing sinful or immoral about a basic part of human nature. Women shouldn’t have to apologize for embracing their own sexuality.

Embracing sexy clothing is a way to make sure that sexuality is shared between men and women, not only enjoyed by men. This Halloween, dress however you like. Just spare other people your judgment.

If you don’t like sexualized costumes, don’t wear one. Recognize that your personal choice is just that. Modest dress doesn’t make you a moral arbiter.

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