Feminists should still feel empowered on Halloween

By Abby Weber, Columnist

You’re at a Halloween party. There are women dressed as cats, witches and superheroes; all of these are scant and revealing costumes, as is the Halloween tradition nowadays. Behind the mask, can these women be feminists? Or are they exactly the opposite?

Feminism, simply put, is the equality of women and men. Period. A concept so simple and straightforward has been so skewed and so misunderstood over the past century that its core intention often gets lost in translation.  

Feminism is not a disguised front for an all-women overthrow of the world. Feminism is not a springboard for women to use to jump over men. And most importantly, as said by Emma Watson, “Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with.”

If feminism is about freedom of equality and freedom of choice, then why shouldn’t women be able to dress provocatively without threat or criticism? Dressing promiscuously does not lower the worth of a woman. Believing that a woman who wears a short skirt or a low cut top is less of a woman than someone who dresses modestly is the root of the problem. Perpetuating this problem are women that justify their self-worth by comparing their modest actions to others that are considered deviant to the proper woman stereotype.

Young girls are taught to cover up and be ashamed of their bodies. Over-sexualization of body parts like ankles, shoulders and breasts — all of which are not even sex organs — are taught as things that are only shown by immoral or impure women. For centuries, women have been told what to wear. For centuries, women have dressed rebelliously as a form of empowerment.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

From the bikini to the pantsuit to the mini skirt, women have always challenged gender stereotypes and used their wardrobe to send a message and feel powerful. Women wore pants to work during World War II, showing they could do the jobs only men were once thought capable of doing. Women wore button-down shirts for the ease of being able to breastfeed in public.  Women wore fitted dresses to flatter the figure they were finally proud of and not ashamed to have and show off.

In an ideal feminist society, women may dress in whatever way empowers them — whether it’s going without a bra, by wearing a hijab or by wearing fishnets and a short skirt — without their worth being questioned. This goes for Halloween costumes as well. The women on Halloween dressed in lingerie deserve the exact same amount of respect as the women dressed in T-shirts.

Halloween in America for children is a time to feel powerful, whether it’s by dressing as their hero or by being the scariest kid on the block. For adults, Halloween has become a time to reminisce on childhood fun and to party with friends. For women, if dressing provocatively on Halloween is what makes them feel fun, sexy or powerful, then they have every right to do so and every right to still call themselves feminists.

So yes, those women dressed as cats, witches and superheroes you see at Halloween parties this year are women that can be, and likely are, feminists. The freedom to choose how spooky or sexy one’s costume is encapsulates exactly what feminism is about.

 Abby is a sophomore in LAS.
[email protected]