Harassment-free Halloween?

31 Oct

Walk into any grocery or retail store this month and women and girls have their pick of every “sexy fill-in-the-blank” costume imaginable. The range is endless! Over the weekend, the “sexy” costumes I saw on women varied from the classic “sexy cop” to the historical “sexy pioneer” to the more obscure “sexy Clockwork Orange.” As Lindsay Lohan’s character on Mean Girls reminds us, “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” In reality this isn’t the case, as many people also seem to think Halloween gives them a license harass.

The amount of harassment on Halloween is overwhelming: I’ve seen “Cowgirls” asked if ‘they want a good ride,” a “Sexy Nurse” get her breasts grabbed by a stranger she passed on the street, and don’t get me started on what “Sexy Cats” endure.  But for some reason it’s considered OK to sexually harass strangers and friends in public places. If someone feels upset or uncomfortable about being harassed, they’re told that that’s what they get for wearing a certain costume.

This is not meant to excuse the “sexification” of Halloween costumes. Are “sexy” costumes often demeaning? Yes. Are commercially available costume choices for women often limited to being “sexy” or skimpy? Yes. Do they hyper-sexualize women and girls? Definitely.

                          Does that give anyone the right to harass someone else based on their costume choice? Definitely NOT.

Whether it’s Halloween or a random Tuesday in June, there is never an excuse for cat-calling, name-calling, threatening or otherwise harassing another person. The way that someone dresses and their personal appearance is up to them, and faulting “sexy” costumes is just another form of victim-blaming.

This Halloween, let’s shift our focus to the people who think it’s OK to make someone else feel uncomfortable or unsafe about their appearance or sexuality. Call out harassment and sexist attitudes, even if your friends are the ones doing it. Offer to help a total stranger who’s being harassed. Don’t let it slide, because the best “treat” would be a harassment-free Halloween.

Click here for more ideas about ways that you can help call out harassment, or help someone –including yourself– who’s being harassed.

From Hollaback!: HollabackPHILLY, in collaboration with SPARK and Beauty Redefined has created a unique challenge for people to “create an alternative to the sexification” of Halloween. The competition calls for empowering costumes and there are some great prizes! Check it out here

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