The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The costume conundrum

Written by: Kara Hemphill
With Halloween just around the corner, there’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot more strange outfits in the next few days — be it at parties, trick-or-treating, or elsewhere.

Some favor scary costumes, while others go for the lighter or more comical. Kids run around as cowboys, superheroes, princesses and cartoon characters, among other things.

But in the midst of all this creativity, women are left 
in a slump. Particularly those of us in the college-age range.

It’s a common complaint among women that costume choices for us are limited, namely to the notorious “sexy” versions of everyday things like food, animals or the same cartoon characters we enjoyed when we were younger.

Not that there’s anything wrong with dressing up in one of these things — we should be free to wear whatever makes us comfortable and feels good. But not all women want to be Officer Frisky or Nurse Hot Shots for Halloween.

The reason the woeful lack of normal Halloween costumes is relevant is that it perpetuates the notion that women are objects for sexual consumption. Even as we’re encouraged not to look like we’re “asking for it,” we’re aggressively marketed almost exclusively revealing costumes and encouraged to let out our flirtatious and sensual sides for a night.

There’s a clear double standard here: one that tells women they should want to be looked at while, at the same time, blaming them for unwanted attention, even of the violent sort. We’re shamed for dressing “slutty” and looking “easy” while also being encouraged to draw attention to ourselves.

Meanwhile, men can find a wide variety of safe costume choices — even if some of them do look a bit silly.

A Tumblr blog, aptly named “F— No Sexist Halloween Costumes,” has been chronicling this contrast by posting the same costume in male and female versions, side by side. This often yields hilarious results: the sexy clownfish, for example, or even sexy Sonic the Hedgehog.

“While a man can find a costume ranging from revealing to completely covered, the latter isn’t even an option for a woman,” said the owner of the blog in one post.

This is my main beef with women’s Halloween costumes as well: there is a woeful lack of variety in style.

Again, this sends the message that women are meant to be looked at. We don’t have much of a choice but to go for the sexy option, or else try to piece together our own costume.

Those who want to cover up more should not be forced to buy an ill-fitting men’s costume or choose from the three or four “modest” options in front of them in order to feel comfortable.

The prominence of sexy Halloween costumes is certainly not the be-all and end-all of sexism; it’s just one small thread in a much larger society. But like everything else, these costumes do contribute to harmful ways of thinking, and they do reflect larger problems in our culture.

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