Rape culture: the true terror of Halloween

As October starts to roll out, Halloween is upon us and we’re all riled up and in the spirit of spookiness. Whether we’ve been going to haunted houses, watching horror/thriller movies or helping our friend pick out a really creepy costume, we’re all in the mood to get a little scared. And it’s all for fun.

Unfortunately there’s a darker side to Halloween than all the ghosts, ghouls and goblins. The ever-present threat of rape culture heightens during holidays like this. Suddenly a person can’t look at a potential costume and just ask themselves, “Do I like this and will I look good in it?” The question asked—even if only subconsciously—is “Will I look like I’m ‘asking for it’ in this costume?” And fear sets in.

As people, we all want to present our best selves to the world around us. It’s perfectly natural that we all crave to feel good in our own skin. And, especially in our time of life in college, we don’t just want to be accepted by others. We want to be desired. One of the ways we try to manifest these results is to dress “sexy” and Halloween is one of the opportune moments we have for this.

But wanting to be desired—or even just wanting to look good—does not automatically mean a person wants to have sex. Never.

I saw a quote written in chalk on a sidewalk on campus last week. Among other things it said that “Consent ¹ My Costume.” This is a fact. It should not have to be an opinion to say that women—and men too!—should be able to wear whatever they want without fear of sexual harassment and especially not sexual violence. On a night dedicated to fear in the name of a good time, there should be no reason for anyone to actually be afraid for their safety.

Unfortunately, there remains a stigma against people—especially women—who attend Halloween events more scantily clad than others. But what those who prefer a more modest dress-code and also ask of a victim “What was she wearing?” don’t know is that they are indirectly perpetrating rape culture. As horrible as it sounds, it’s true. We as a society need to get beyond victim blaming and get to the root of the problem: the attackers.

So as you go out this weekend, wear what makes you proud to be you. But remember that others do not see you and your costume the way you do. You are more than your costume, but don’t let that same costume deter you from the holiday completely. No one should have to actually be afraid on Halloween.

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