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Theatre company takes back Halloween

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, October 30 2014 —

Ditch the push-up bra and catsuit this Halloween and join feminist theatre company Urban Curvz for a night of feminist-positive shenanigans.

On Oct. 31 from 7:30 p.m.– 9:30 p.m. at the Hillhurst United Church, Urban Curvz will host Take Back Halloween, an evening of feminist-themed fun.

The Calgary group is looking to change the sexy narrative that clutters Halloween by promoting diverse costume ideas for both men and women. The event is designed to relieve the pressure women feel to wear sexy costumes. Extremes of the trend can be seen in the sexualization of inanimate objects such as pizza slices and tacos.

Take Back Halloween was founded in 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins, a  writer and feminist who specializes in women’s history. This event is part of the Real History Project, which presents a contrast to the “dead white male version of history.” The website offers costume ideas from categories such as glamour grrls, goddesses and legends, notable women and queens.

Jacqueline Russell, artistic director for Calgary’s Take Back Halloween, says the holiday has become cluttered with sexist and racist imagery.

“We wanted to create an event that encourages people to think about Halloween costumes in a little more creative way — a way that doesn’t take women and put them in a box saying, ‘you are purely sexual beings.’ Women are many, many things more.”

The event includes a patriarchy haunted house, poetry, song parodies, short theatrical comedy pieces and concludes with a feminist costume contest. The group’s Facebook page encourages contestants to “be creative and brave” with their costumes. “Feminist costumes do not appropriate cultures, are not racist and are not misogynistic, while at the same time they are not slut-shaming” the page claims. Prizes will be awarded to the top three costumes.

A feminist documentary, Wonder Women – The Untold Story of American Superheroines! will be shown at the event. The documentary explores the evolution of female super heroines since the 1940s.

Russell says it’s important to provide alternatives for both men and women to celebrate the holiday.

“We are trying to promote costumes that are creative and culturally sensitive and empowering, to say, ‘hey, there are these really wicked awesome women out there in history and the world that we can dress up as, so you know, why choose to be a sexy ladybug?’” she laughs. “That’s kind of boring.”

Admission to the event is $10. All proceeds will be donated to the Women’s Centre of Calgary.

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