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Slut Shaming on Halloween and Why Your Voice Matters

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November 5, 2013

Halloween weekend(s? – my college had two for some reason) is officially over but the controversies surrounding Halloween costumes persist.  October is always an interesting month to be a social activist on the internet – the volume of posts on the racist or sexist nature of different costumes is astounding and the important conversations that develop out of them commendable.  And today I want to draw attention to another unfortunate American Halloween tradition: slut shaming.

You may have seen the image currently making the rounds of a young woman from ASU who attending a Halloween party in the nude.  While the reasoning behind her costume (costume?) is interesting (did she just not prepare early enough and threw this together last minute? Is she making an avant garde statement about bodies? Or maybe she just likes to be naked, you do you girl) for me the most interesting part of the “conversation” has been the public reactions. 

While perusing responses to the tweet publishing the photo I noticed two in particular, both posted by fellow ASU women.

The first criticized the woman’s appearance:

tweet 1

And the second was violent and disturbing slut shaming:

tweet 2

Both of these responses really troubled me.  As I said above, if a woman wants to go to a party totally naked (jk she’s actually wearing heels) that is her prerogative and I certainly won’t be judgmental.  I honestly firmly and truly believe that women in this world are too restricted on too many levels and I will support any woman in the way she wants to present herself while advocating for a society that will also respect her body and safety while she does it.

However, these tweets reminded me that the social justice dialogue I have with my liberal arts college friends, those conversations where we all agree with one another fervently, is not a given.  In fact, I suspect that the general reaction to this woman’s attire (or lack thereof) would be one of shaming, violence, and disapproval.  And were she to be assaulted I expect that her appearance would inhibit her ability to advocate for herself.

These reactions reminded me why it’s so important that we continue to have these conversations and why we continue to have them publicly.  So keep doing what you’re doing, social justice community.  If you have an option, share it.  If you hear something problematic, challenge it.  Keep in mind the important work that your dialogue can do and remember that every time you engage in a critical conversation about society, you’re getting us one step closer to the world we’d all like to live in. The world where we all go to Halloween parties totally naked.

Wait.  No.

You know what I mean.

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