It’s that time of the year again–class is back in session. Even better, Halloween is right around the corner! Last year, we published some study material to help you prep for the big day. Before we jump into our freaky festivities, let’s review the material and expand on our findings.
1. Celebrate responsibly (and respectfully).
Magic is in the air! Halloween isn’t just for the kiddos; we adults get an excuse to party too. So if you plan to party, remember to party responsibly: don’t drive drunk, don’t damage your friend’s property, don’t puke all over your awesome costume—but most importantly, don’t sexually assault someone. Sexual and intimate interactions require conscious, enthusiastic consent from all parties. It’s everyone’s responsibility to respect boundaries and recognize when someone is too drunk to consent. Make sure the magic is wanted when you make a move, and communicate to ensure positive outcomes.
2. Care for your neighbor.
Speaking of consent, make sure to keep an eye out for your peers. We’ve all heard the mantra before: “If you see something, say something.” We’ve heard it so much, it can be easy to ignore. However, bystander intervention is really important. It can range from something as small as challenging someone when they tell a rape joke to something more substantial like intervening when someone is harassing or harming someone else. Not only can you prevent immediate violence, you can also set the standard for yourself and your peers that future violence will not be tolerated. Rape prevention is on all of us.
Source: Government of Ontario
3. Costumes cannot consent…
Halloween is the time of year where the wacky and weird are welcome. It is typical to see Halloween costumes that stray from the day-to-day norm, and sometimes different can be downright sexy. But keep in mind, a person cannot consent, welcome or invite anyone or anything with their clothes. Don’t misinterpret someone’s costume as asking for sex (or sexual violence), and don’t shame rape survivors for what they were wearing. Sexy costumes don’t equate to sexual consent.
4. …but costumes can exploit and oppress.
While dressing in costume is an avenue to creatively explore and express yourself, there is no good reason to exploit or dehumanize others in the process. Costumes can’t consent to sex, but they can cause harm. Three types of Halloween costumes to avoid: those that sexualize children, those that glorify violence and oppression, and those that misrepresent and dehumanize by perpetuating negative stereotypes.
Remember: just because something doesn’t harm you or your close friends doesn’t mean it’s not hurting someone else. Halloween is meant to be spooky and scary, but there are real fears and scars that too many people have to live with on a daily basis in our communities. This Halloween, let’s let kids be kids, be mindful of people’s histories of trauma and oppression, and have fun and enjoy ourselves without making others less safe.
5. Communicate with your children and adult peers.
Adults spend a lot of time teaching children how to be safe when trick-or-treating. They explain which candies should be eaten or thrown away. But the conversation shouldn’t just be about the treats—we need to talk about treatment, too. Make sure to educate yourself and other adults about child sexual abuse, and to educate children in your care about the difference between healthy/appropriate and unhealthy/abusive interactions and relationships. This conversation will help them know when to tell you something is wrong if and when abuse happens.
Some of these suggestions may be challenging, but challenge often leads to deeper understanding and a more fulfilling experience. Let’s have fun as a community and celebrate this holiday (and all other holidays) with compassion and respect. We wish you a wickedly wonderful Halloween!