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REPOST: Don't dress up like what you think is a Jamaican this Halloween.

REPOST: Don’t dress up like what you think is a Jamaican this Halloween.

Or an Indian, Chinese, Native America, Mexican …

There’s another post on my fl list that says puts it even more bluntly, but its locked. However, I found another blog that breaks down the sentiments quite nicely. My identity is NOT a costume for you to wear! (The Native American via Ancient Eygpt costume is in a class by itself. Jesus!) Halloween is for fantastical fanciful monsters creatures of myth and lore and legend. Insulting caricatures of minorities do NOT fall under that description. And YES, it’s insulting, NO its not fucking respectful, or fun!

17 comments to REPOST: Don’t dress up like what you think is a Jamaican this Halloween.

  • Anne

    Word.

    And definitely a large part of why I stopped liking Halloween.

    A couple years ago, I invited a guy I’d just met to my roommates and my Halloween party. He showed up dressed “like a retard,” complete with diaper, helmet, and a “my mommy loves me” shirt. He then proceeded to attempt to get me drunk and sleep with me (we’d just met that day–so this was very very unwanted, ESPECIALLY after his costume choice). Luckily, while I did get drunk, I had people looking out for me, as well as distinct disdain for him even while intoxicated. So that’s a good warning story for myself, to remind me to a) not invite stupid boys to parties, and b) that it’s a great idea to have awesome friends to help you. Also my sister :).

    Great post. I wish more people would realize that things are hurtful. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s usually white males that I hear whining that things are too PC and people need to just grow thicker skin or something.

  • Leigh-Andrea Fernandes

    You’ll hear women like me – who don’t need to turn everything into an issue to whine about sexism – complaining about the tyranny of political correctness. While I agree that it’s insulting to dress up as a “black” or “indian” or whatever other race, most people don’t do that. They usually use Halloween as an excuse to dress in ways they wouldn’t; to adopt the traditional dress of various oountries. What’s wrong with a white girl deciding to go as a Flamenco dancer, and painting her lips red while wearing a black wig to look more like the typical – and easily recognizable – representation of a Latina. As someone who is part hispanic, it does not bother me to see someone trying to look more “typically” latino (dark hair and eyes, light to medium skin tone) to carry off their costume. Why do you think Lady Gaga impersonators have blond wigs? Because they’re closet racists who hate blondes? Or to make their costume obvious?

    I also don’t agree that Halloween is just about “scary” or “mythical” creatures nowadays. The way it is celebrated today, it is more about stepping out of your everyday reality and indulging your fantasies. Are you going to argue that slutty nurses/policewomen/french maids/etc should be banned because they degrade women in these careers? Come on, that’s ridiculous. These are just girls looking to have some fun and maybe satisfy some fantasy of a boyfriend; maybe he has a boss-secretary roleplay fetish. What’s the problem with that?

    • Anne

      What’s wrong is that people ARE offended. Just because you aren’t doesn’t mean others should just suck it up and move on/get over it. There are plenty of costumes that don’t blow chunks all over actual cultures that can be fine. My sister went as Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (I went as Arthur Dent, mostly because I got to wear pajamas and a robe and not change out of a costume at 4am).

      Dressing up as a specific person, like Lady Gaga, and trying to look like her is not the same as dressing up as a caricature of an entire people, or a bunch of people lumped into one category, a la Native Americans.

      Honestly it kind of seems like Halloween has become a way to wear blackface and the like and argue with people who find it insulting “because it’s all in good fun.” For some people, it’s not good fun–it’s who they are that’s been appropriated and bastardized. And before someone says the Native American myths aren’t harmful to perpetuate, give me Pocahontas’ real name, tell me her real story, or whether you think the noble savage is an accurate portrayal. Tell me the story behind Thanksgiving and what Columbus actually did. If you can’t, well, it’s because we’re perpetuating these myths. Part of that is in the social representation of people, including on Halloween.

      There’s indulging fantasies, and there’s perpetuating fantasies.

      • Leigh-Andrea Fernandes

        I don’t see what’s wrong with people “dressing up as a caricature of an entire people” if that caricature is an accurate one. I am also part-Indian and it is a fact that the saree is traditionally worn by Indian women. I cannot see what is offensive about dressing in a saree for Halloween; most people won’t get another occasion to wear traditional cultural costumes. And sure, some costumes might be a lot more revealing than the real thing, but that’s the case with Halloween versions of so many other things; I mentioned before the “slutted up” nurse, police officer, secretary (and so on) outfits. I would say that many girls use Halloween as an excuse to wear more revealing attire than decency commonly allows. I do not think that they are mocking people’s ethnicities anymore than they are mocking career women. Would you say that Celtic Halloween costumes are derisive?
        And yes, you do have to “suck it up” if you don’t have a valid reason for being offended. If we censored everything every time somebody got offended, we would never say or do anything. People get offended for idiotic reasons sometimes and some people just want to stir up a fuss; crazy Christians who think Harry Potter is a training book for witchcraft, xenophobes who don’t want any immigrants – should we give in to all tantrums? I think that getting offended over Halloween costumes that are in no way offensive is being childish. Funny how free speech must be defended when it’s something that upsets Christians/conservatives but should be censored the minute a non-white gets his knickers in a twist.

  • Anne

    I think you’re making a strange assumption that what someone does is equal to who someone is. Women dressing up in revealing clothing for Halloween is not the insult, the insult is that that makes them “slutty” in some fashion, as though simply showing skin means they sleep around and that sleeping around is an oh-so-bad thing.

    As for who someone is: do you really think that holding a job as a police officer/nurse/talent/whatever is comparable to BEING a member of a race/ethnicity? Seriously?

    I think you’re misunderstanding the meaning of the word caricature: “1) a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect. 2) The art or style of such exaggerated representation : there are elements of caricature in the portrayal of the hero.
    3) a ludicrous or grotesque version of someone or something : he looked like a caricature of his normal self.”

    By its definition, it’s inaccurate. Every Halloween costume linked to in the original blog entry is a caricature, not accurate.

    And yes, I’d almost especially say Celtic Halloween costumes are derisive, considering Halloween itself is a kind of appropriation of Celtic traditions, and this time of year is still part of Celtic tradition as “a holy time of the year.” It’s like meta-derision. “Ha-ha, corporate USA appropriated what was traditionally yours and now we’ll celebrate by dressing up like how we decided would be cool for Celtic people to look and we’ll parade around as that!” I don’t know any Celtic Reconstructionists, so maybe they have a good sense of humor over it. Maybe some don’t. Since I don’t know, I’m certainly not going to dress up “like them.”

    Also, as for people not “get(ing) another occasion to wear traditional cultural costumes…” They aren’t usually wearing traditional cultural anything, they’re wearing store-bought stereotype costumes. I think this is especially evident in the “geisha” costumes linked to, especially the one which is tied incorrectly–it’s tied in a way that tells people someone has died. And they’re selling a mock-kimono for people who want to dress up as what they think Japanese prostitutes looked like, but they’re going as a geisha in mourning? Where’s the joke in that? So either they thought it was clever (death=Halloween! amiright?) or they didn’t even realize it was wrong.

    I’m wondering what YOU would consider a “valid reason.” Every link above is a very valid reason to be offended. Some of the costumes I saw when I went out on Halloween were perfect reasons to be offended. I don’t understand how you can compare Harry Potter outrage and anti-immigration to being offended by people appropriating other cultures…oh wait, I do know how. With a straw man. Or straw men, I guess, since you have more than one.

    If your claim that they are “in no way offensive” were at all accurate, no one would be offended. Since people are, we have discourse about it.

    I’m also confused as to how free speech comes into play here. I mean, no one is campaigning to have government intervention on Halloween, making it illegal to be racist or offend anyone. And why should the freedom be for the people being racist or offensive? Do you not see how telling people to “suck it up” (which sounds like a euphemism for “shut up, I disagree with you, how dare you be offended”) is exactly what you think you’re arguing against? People have the freedom to dress in racially and otherwise offensive garb on Halloween. People offended by this have the freedom to point out that they were being racist. See how that works?

  • Leigh-Andrea Fernandes

    Blah blah blah…If you want to think that a Halloween costume is “cultural appropriation”, continue getting yourself worked up for nothing. My anger is directed at those who make a career out of moaning about things no one else finds offensive (a little like spoiled brats throwing tantrums) when they should be sweeping streets.

    And yes, I do think that it’s slutty to run around in a little more than a bra and panties. When you had stockings and high heels to that mix, you are literally crying out “Look at me. I’m just dying for attention and looking for a one-night stand”. I find it unlikely that a woman would run out in her underwear, get piss drunk and shriek all over the place if she DIDN’T want attention – male attention specifically. So yes, it’s slutty, I don’t see what’s wrong with calling slutty behaviour what it is. I also think there is something wrong with sleeping around; sure, you’re free to do it but not all of us agree with it (just like you don’t agree with certain Halloween costumes). Women just don’t have the same psychological make-up as men do and generally don’t cope well with one-night stands. It is my opinion that there is something wrong – some kind of disorder or maybe a problem – with someone who can sleep around carelessly. Besides, what kind of woman just sleeps with anyone? Talk about being easy and not making any demands on men. Men don’t respect women who sleep around; they like a bit of a challenge. Women don’t respect women who sleep around because they make women who don’t sleep around seem uptight and “boring” for wanting their partner to be faithful or wanting some amount of decency in society. It’s just cheap and pathetic for a woman to sleep around…sex is really the only power that women have over men, and for women to give themselves up so easily is to give up that power.

    • Anne

      And…I have no idea where you’re going with this argument now. You seem to just be ranting about women in general, and especially women who have opinions and express them publicly–when they don’t fall in place with your own opinions.

      It’s also telling that you place this much judgment on women who have many partners. And that you play internet psychologist and fabricate a hypothesis involving a “disorder.” If I don’t like what you do can I say you have “some kind of disorder or problem,” just ’cause?

  • Leigh-Andrea Fernandes

    It isn’t just my opinion, it’s also the hypothesis of others who aren’t necessarily brainless just because you don’t like the way they think. I believe that women who have many partners have a problem. I don’t think that healthy women are equipped to deal with casual sex (emotionally) the way men are. How many women are really happy screwing around with no strings attached? Hopping into bed with the first man who winks at her? Right after the first date – when she barely even knows the person? In my experience, most women do not want to engage in this sort of behaviour. When they do, it’s because feminists have pressured women with a ridiculous notion of “sexual liberation” – as if if you don’t sleep around, you’re repressed and uptight. Many women sleep around just for a chance to get noticed; there has been research into this, so while I’m not saying that it’s an absolute, I am not the only one who believes it. Our cultured is highly sexualized, and many women feel that to get any attention, they have to behave with no decency and go against their values. I remember at one talk we went to, one of my friends said that she felt that she felt the choice was “either be slutty or be invisible”. As a college student, I would say that on campus this notion is reinforced by frat houses and parties. To get in, you have to look “hot”; and “hot” means having a certain body type as well as dressing a certain way (almost no clothes). I don’t see how any of this is empowering to women. Most do things they don’t want to in the hope of not being ignored and then regret it in the morning. This is not liberating and I do think there is somethig wrong with a culture that pressures women to behave in a way that is not conducive to their physical and mental well-being. The reason I place so much judgement on the women I described as “slutty”? They reinforce this demand on women to behave like this. If these women didn’t go out dressed like whores (and literally behaving like them), the rest of us wouldn’t be held to that “standard”. I do recognize that the men who encourage these women are the root of the problem but I also think that women contribute to their own oppression. You see it in sororities – they pick the “hottest” girls at rush so that the “top” frat will want to have socials with them, boosting their reputation. Sororities are literally brothels and their presidents madams. So while I think we can blame men for some of our problems, we can also recognize the role that other women play in keeping them alive.

    • unusualmusic

      How on EARTH did you manage to morph a conversation about cultural appropriation to anti-feminist slut-shaming and other distorting information? Good heavens!

  • Hey thanks for adding my post to your site! I’ve been a long time reader of Angry Black woman..hence the name Angry Navajo/Indian Girl! Glad my blog is bring awareness to racist halloween costumes!

  • G.K.

    @Leigh Andrea-Fernandes

    Believe it or not, yes, there ARE women who don’t mind sleeping around (not with EVERY guy they get with,mind you) with NO strings attached, simply because women enjoy having sex too, men alone don’t have a claim on getting sexual pleasure for themselves. Also,what do you care whether other women on campus sleep around—that’s THEIR problem, not yours. Another thing—-men who sleep around are straight-up whores themselves, just as much as the women they like to call whores that THEY themselves sleep around with. Young folks make stupid mistakes in college and hopefully learn from them—unfortunately,some don’t. Usually women (or men) who sleep around too much definitely have some major self-esteem issues, and drug/alcohol problems, too. If you’re with one of these whores, as you call them, tell them to get help before they really screw themselves up.

    About the costumes—if someone dresses up as something or someone that is offensive to me as a black woman, damn right I’m gonna call them out for it. Get this straight—who the hell are YOU to dismiss our being offended by stereotypical costume, or a sterotype, period,as if it’s NO big deal just because it dosen’t bother YOU in the least bit? People of color have been typically stereotyped throughout our entire existence in the U.S., and because OF those stereotypical assumptions, we were discriminated against and denied every damn opportunity to become full and participating human beings, which is why we had to fight every step of the way for it. The days when white folks could not only offend/flat-out disrespect black folks and other people of color, but run them off their land, kill them and get away with it, deprive them of the right to vote, weren’t that damn long ago to begin with. So if we are offended by a stereotypical anything, it’s because for too damn long stereotypes were used to justify treating us like s*** and less then human. There is no “tyranny of political correctness”—fine if it’s not an issue for you, but don’t sit up here and blow it off because it’s an issue for US, not you.

    • Leigh-Andrea

      Soooo…let me get this straight
      (1) You agree that it’s a “mistake” to sleep around
      (2) You agree that there are self-esteem/substance abuse issues surrounding promiscuity
      And yet you have a problem with me calling these women whores?
      I stand by the argument that men and women are biologically different (brain differences included) and that some behaviour will not negatively affect men while it will hurt women.
      Just as you are allowed to complain about things you don’t like, I can work myself up about trashy good-for-nothing whores.

      As for the rest of your post – blah blah blah – it boils down to the same tired useless argument: I’m a victim and I have a right to whine about things that rational human beings don’t find offensive. I’m a victim and everyone’s out to get me. I’m a victim and because you’re not black, you can’t form an opinion that’s contrary to mine. Only I’m right because I’m black.

      By your logic, we need to experience everything we discuss. Plenty of people haven’t experienced rape, we still talk about it. Plenty of people weren’t slaves, they’re still very vocal about slavery. Are their opinions without value because they were slaves or rape victims themselves?

  • G.K.

    Oops—meant to say if you were friends with one or some of the whores, regardless of gender.

  • Leigh-Andrea

    Why is disagreeing with you “hateful”?

    • Anne

      It’s not. Spouting hate and vitriol towards sexually active women with multiple partners, usage of gender essentialist (and utterly fallacious) arguments, slut-shaming, and claiming that those who are insulted are irrational is.

      You’re also making the (untrue) claim that only those whose identities are directly and specifically called out (i.e. your “I’m a victim and because you’re not black, you can’t form an opinion that’s contrary to mine. Only I’m right because I’m black.” argument and your “By your logic, we need to experience everything we discuss.” “arguments”) because it’s not as though there are not allies who whole-heartedly agree and want to end the insistence upon insulting and perpetuating stereotypes and prejudice. There’s this great thing called “empathy,” that is sorely lacking in the thought-processes you’ve written down here.