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Costumes & Consent: A call for a safe and inclusive Halloween

Halloween is a time of fun and creativity, with people of all ages donning costumes to transform into superheroes, mystical beings, and terrifying creatures. However, despite their playful nature, Halloween costumes are often weaponized to perpetuate sexual violence. 

Revealing Costumes Are Not Consent

One of the prevalent and damaging myths surrounding Halloween costumes is the notion that provocative or revealing attire equates to consent for sexual advances. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The clothing someone chooses to wear, whether on Halloween or any other day, is a matter of personal expression, not a signal of willingness to engage in sexual activity. Consent is an active, ongoing, and explicit agreement between all parties involved. It cannot be assumed based on attire.

No one should ever be touched, groped, harassed, or objectified, regardless of how they are dressed. Dismissing consent based on attire is not only disrespectful but also perpetuates a culture of victim-blaming, where survivors of sexual violence are unfairly blamed for their clothing choices rather than the perpetrators being blamed for their harmful actions.

The joy and creativity of choosing a Halloween costume should not be tampered by fear of objectification, harassment, and assault. We must dismantle the dangerous belief that dressing provocatively is an invitation for sexual harassment. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe and respected, no matter what they wear on Halloween or any other occasion.

Costumes Should Not Sexualize a Group of People

Another key issue that must be discussed is Halloween costumes sexualizing a community or a group of people. This can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and objectification. Costumes that draw upon cultural, ethnic, or gender-based stereotypes are not only offensive but can contribute to a hostile environment, furthering the normalization of sexual violence.

Choosing costumes that celebrate one’s creativity without sexualizing groups of people is an important way to foster a respectful and inclusive Halloween atmosphere. Everyone should think critically about their costume choices and avoid those that exploit, trivialize, or sexualize groups of people, especially communities that they are not a part of. Halloween is an opportunity for imaginative self-expression, not a license to demean or devalue anyone’s identity.

When selecting costumes, consider the message they convey and the impact they might have on others. Engaging in open conversations with friends, peers, and family about the importance of choosing costumes that respect diversity can help change this harmful precedent. Doing so promotes an environment where everyone feels comfortable, valued, and safe during the festivities.

All of Us Have a Role to Play

We all play a part in shaping the culture of Halloween. We can either perpetuate harmful myths and behaviors, or we can champion a more respectful, safe, and inclusive celebration. We should all take the necessary steps to ensure that our costumes and decisions are thoughtful this Halloween and in all festivities. 

Interested in other ways to prevent sexual violence this Halloween ? Click here for six tips to prevent sexual violence this spooky season!

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