Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Double standards and Halloween costumes for women

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(Tom Waterhouse/ Flickr)

I hate Halloween. No, I’m not some kind of fun-sucking cynic who thinks it’s dumb, I just hate how there’s a constant pressure to either dress sexy or be revealing with your costume. At the same time, if you dress too conservative, you’re a prude. On one hand, sexy costumes on Halloween are great for women because they can be an opportunity to feel confident and seductive—feelings that might otherwise be seen as taboo any other time of the year. But that isn’t a reason to pressure women.

In reality, people like me aren’t the ones ruining Halloween; it’s the people who judge and mock women for wearing sexual costumes who stamp out the fun spirit of the holiday.

Sitting in “Late Night” at Berk with my friends, I couldn’t help but note the number of stares and gawks we received. We just wanted to eat our pizza in peace after a long night, but that was never going to happen. Everywhere we went there were heads turning and whistling—apparently some guys have never seen a girl in spandex before. Their lack of composure was shocking. One man even came up to my friend and yelled, “Sexy maid, love it!” as if she didn’t already know what her costume was. Thanks for the very public reminder; our pizza wouldn’t have been the same without the side serving of sexual harassment.

Women should be able to confidently wear what we want, and we shouldn’t have to worry about getting the “up-down” while walking back to a dorm or swiping away the hands of a guy who reaches for our backsides when we dance. It’s degrading and, quite frankly, not seducing in the slightest. Just because I might have bunny ears and a tail on doesn’t mean that I should be treated like an animal.

When you go out on Halloween, girls in costumes are exchanged as currencies. Your group’s male-to-female ratio and attire may determine where you can get in and which places tell you to get lost. The problem is that if your costume is deemed too sexual and over the top, you are looked at as “slutty” or “hoey,” which makes absolutely no sense. If a guy were to wear tight flashy shorts and go out without a shirt, he’s not seen as slutty. He’s the life of the party. But why?

For guys, these kinds of costumes are meant to be comical, and that’s great. A good laugh means a good time. But we don’t laugh at women’s costumes; instead, we shame them. This concept isn’t new. Women have been held to conservative double standards throughout history. Even in high school, what did they tell us? “Make sure your skirt isn’t too short, and try not to show your shoulders. We wouldn’t want the boys to get distracted.” But this message doesn’t go away after graduation.

Still, the tide appears to be turning. Most girls dress for themselves and wear whatever makes them feel good, not for guys. That’s how it should be. Clothing does not equate to consent, let alone judgement. If you want to wear your one-third-of-a-shirt Halloween costume because it makes you feel sexy and great, you should do it. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.

What people are forgetting is, at the end of the day, Halloween is just one night, and these are just costumes. When we get home, we take them off. A costume is not an accurate representation of anyone’s lifestyle choices (which shouldn’t be judged regardless), but a simple matter of fun and expression for a night. That’s all a costume is, and all it should be taken as.

At the end of the day, whatever clothing a woman decides to wear and be comfortable in is good enough for her, and it should be for you too. Women are allowed to wear as much (or as little) as they please without the fear of being labeled as trash. If you’re not the person wearing the costume, then it’s absolutely none of your business. Want Halloween to be fun again? Stop handing out judgement like it’s candy.

Gretchen Keller is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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