The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Halloween costumes: why the uproar?

This week at SMU we’ve been celebrating “Love Your Body Week,” which has been promoted by various organizations including Tri Delta sorority and serves as a program to encourage a healthy body image around campus.

How fitting that this week would fall right around Halloween when many of us will be inhaling all sorts of cheap sugary candy (especially the day after Monday when grocery stores mark the prices down dramatically). If you can love your body after you’ve eaten half your weight in Twix and Sour Patch Kids, then you can love your body any time.

Halloween also encourages some people to love their body in different ways: namely, showing it off in some kind of scantily clad costume at a party. It amazes me that people can take traditional outfits from some of the most innocuous professions (nurse, librarian, even schoolgirl) and make them so shamelessly provocative.

Also, it amazes me even more that this practice is almost always limited to women’s costumes. Last year I decided to expose the double standard by going in full drag as Lady Gaga (no meat dress, unfortunately). I received a lot of puzzled and perturbed looks, as I expected. One group of people did a double take as they walked by me, and I heard one of their members whisper to the rest of them, “I think that was a dude.”

Granted I might have received equally as vexed glares if I were a woman dressed as Lady Gaga since that’s kind of just how she is, but my point still stands. Men should be able to wear the same sort of risqué costumes at Halloween too; we don’t want to discriminate now, do we?

Moreover, the more I think about the provocative way in which many women choose to dress around Halloween, the more difficulty I have coming up with reasons to condemn the practice.

Who am I to say that a rationally minded adult person can’t choose to portray herself in the way she so desires at Halloween? Just because I wouldn’t run around in my underwear for a night in the name of some pagan holiday doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be allowed to do the same thing.

But what of shame and decency, you might ask? What does it say about us when we essentially encourage girls to dress up as sluts? To that I would respond, what exactly is wrong with being a slut? I really hate when people use that term pejoratively.

One phenomenon I’ve become increasingly attuned to is a tendency to “slut-shame” women. We often view women who have frequent sexual encounters as “loose” or immoral to some degree (while often glorifying men who do the exact same thing) and we associate damaging presuppositions to women who might dress in a certain way.

Such behavior is conducive to rape culture, which involves a tendency to blame victims of rape for their own behavior rather than condemn the act of rapists. While I’d seriously doubt anyone would say that a woman deserves to be raped, people become noticeably more tolerant of the act when they can point out that a woman was “dressing slutty” and looked like an obvious target.

Let me be abundantly clear: rape is a horrendous crime that should be vilified in all circumstances, no matter how “slutty” a woman might be dressed. There’s nothing that comes close to justifying the crime.

So this Halloween many women will probably continue to dress in ways that a lot of us might not approve of and their behavior might not conform to our own idea of sexual morality. And that’s completely fine.

One of the best ways that you can love your body is to be in complete control of it and express yourself with it (I should be careful saying that because “expression” is a loaded word), and if a woman feels that she can best express herself through clothing that might make her look like a “slut,” then I say more power to her. The same goes for a man who might go in drag. We don’t have to keep it classy, but we should at least keep it egalitarian.

Brandon Bub is a sophomore majoring in English and edits The Daily Campus opinion column. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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