Sexism and Cultural Appropriation: The Real Horrors Of Halloween (CultNoise)

24th October 2015

One of the most globally celebrated holidays is coming up: Halloween. Along with the pumpkins, trick or treating, and general merriment comes a much darker, scarier side, and I’m not talking about ghouls!

The biggest issue with Halloween is the costumes. They’re extremely problematic in so many ways. For some reason, people think cultural appropriation is fine to commit because hey, it’s Halloween! Question yourself with the following: is this part of my culture or heritage? Has this ethnic group been oppressed? If it’s not your culture and that culture has been oppressed, do not do it. The most common faux pas (which is an understatement) is people dressing up in knock off Native American costumes. Native Americans have been systematically oppressed, and are still raped and murdered disproportionately to their population size. They have been oppressed for centuries for celebrating and protecting their own culture, and when you  wear an imitation of their culture as a costume it is highly disrespectful. They are still being persecuted for their culture but, because you’re not a Native American yourself, you will never understand what it is like to be persecuted for your way of life.

No culture is a costume. No culture is a fashion accessory. You cannot cherry-pick parts of a culture for a costume, and yet when someone of that culture goes out in traditional dress, you are the first to look at them in disgust. Halloween is for make-believe and scary stuff, and if you’re appropriating another culture through your costume, you’re making a real nightmare come true.

Another grievance I have with Halloween is costumes for females. Everywhere you go, there is a stark difference between the male version of costumes and the female version of costumes. The difference? The amount of fabric and the fact that it’s always a ‘sexy’ costume for women, but not for men. If, for example, you want to go as a police officer or a soldier but you’re a woman, you’re lucky if it covers your boobs and your bum. I can assure you, the words ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ will be printed on the packaging of the costume to assure you that you must be sexualised whilst dressing up for a holiday. Can the same be said for the male equivalent costumes? No. Every single female-targeted Halloween costume is sexualised, whereas none of the male costumes are (unless you’re going to don a mankini).

Believe it or not, women and girls want to dress up in a costume and just enjoy themselves. We don’t want to be sexualised for no reason. I am all for women dressing sexy and going for those costumes, but these ‘sexy’ costumes shouldn’t be the only option available if you are a woman. It’s becoming increasingly hard to find non-sexualised female costumes for Halloween. Why are women treated as an object for male consumption for Halloween? Why can’t we go out and enjoy Halloween without being sexualised in an unwanted way?

The real horror of Halloween is not the superstitions and gore that come along with it. The real horror is the costumes that are marketed to people. They are full of cultural appropriation and sexism.

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