Feminist Halloween Costumes 2010

by Jerin Arifa, Co-Chair, Young Feminist Task Force

There has been a lot of discussion within feminist circles about the lack of choices for Halloween costumes for women and girls. Almost every female costume is sexy — whether it’s sexy kitten, sexy cop, sexy nurse, or sexy fill in the blank. There is nothing creative about these costumes that encourage women to fulfill male fantasies.

Oct. 20 marked the 13th anniversary of Love Your Body Day, which is NOW Foundation’s campaign [http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/] to promote messages of self acceptance. With Halloween following right after Love Your Body Day, I wanted to compile a list of feminist Halloween costumes that includes a combination of my own ideas and a compilation from across the Internet — because we must work together to further the movement. The thought came to me because Noreen Connell, former President of NOW NY State, had the great idea last Halloween of us dressing up as historic figures who agitated for health care. We had a blast marching in the historic Village Halloween parade, all while working for a good cause. Noreen dressed up as Francis Perkins, and I was Margaret Sanger.

Here is my list of ideas: (Please comment below with more of your own)

1. Israeli feminists organized an interesting consciousness-raising campaign against human trafficking. To borrow from their idea, dress as a trafficked woman – wear regular clothing and makeup on bruises. Have a price tag detailing age, weight, height, dimensions and country of origin. Wear a sign that says “stop trafficking” on your back, just in case there are perverts who think it’s “sexy.” If you choose this costume, be prepared to engage in educational dialogue. NOW-NYC has great fact sheets and action items here.

2. A Crisis Pregnancy Center worker who tells women they are sluts for having premarital sex, and that condoms don’t protect against pregnancy or STIs.

3. Gender-bender costumes: Have women and men dress up opposite their gender roles to discuss the problems of gender stereotypes.

4. Betty Friedan, founder of NOW

5. Bella Abzug

6. Catherine the Great

7. Anne Frank

8. Helen Keller

9. Wilma Pearl Mankiller – the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation

10. Rosa Parks

11. Eleanor Roosevelt

12. Indira Gandhi

13. A metal hanger: Before abortion became legal, many women bled to death with hangers stuck in their uterus. Although abortion may be legal, access to this medical procedure is limited depending on someone’s location and economic means. Anti-women forces want to take away our rights by forcing women to choose between having to pay for a medical procedure, or pay for other essential needs such as food or education. Be a metal hanger to remind people that the Hyde Amendment is a metaphoric metal hanger for all poor women, and the Nelson Amendment affects middle-class women, also.

From Noreen Connell:

Write/Say something like “We are giving witches a bad reputation–we’re for government surveillance of every woman’s pregnancy, for cutting Social Security and Medicare and against same-sex marriage, the separation and church & state, and gays and lesbians serving in the military.” Works for either person below:

14. Sarah Palin

15. Christine O’Donnell

From NOW’s 2008 ideas (where necessary, slightly adjust for 2010):

16. Safe-sex pusher

17. Back in the Closet

18. Rich Get Richer Woman

19. Alan Simpson with the words “I will send you to the poor house” written on him. NOW recently held our “Tits for an Ass” campaign to highlight his plans to cut social security and send women and children to the poor house. He had the nerve to call social security “a milk cow with 310 million tits.”

From the 1960s, discovered by NOW Action VP Erin Matson:

20. Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, shortened W.I.T.C.H., was the name of many related but independent feminist groups formed in the United States during 1968 and 1969 who were important in the development of socialist feminism. Fopr your costume, you could tackle a variety of issues, from the White House leaving out reproductive rights in health care reform to other scary current issues.

More ideas from:

Democratic Underground

Feminist Philosophers

Planned Parenthood of New York City’s blog

TCU Women’s Network Nothing Elegant Bitch Magazine

Please respond below with more ideas of your own!

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