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Halloween Costume Political Correctness on Campus

GMTplus7GMTplus7 14270 replies297 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
Here we go again…
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/us/cultural-appropriation-halloween-costumes.html?ref=us
Pocahontas, Caitlyn Jenner and Pancho Villa are no-nos. Also off-limits are geisha girls and samurai warriors — even, some say, if the wearer is Japanese.

As colleges debate the lines between cultural sensitivity and free speech, they are issuing recommendations for Halloween costumes on campus, aimed at fending off even a hint of offense in students’ choice of attire.

The video issued by the University of Washington shows students from various ethnic groups and of various sexual orientations saying that almost any portrayal of them can cause a wound: For example, dressing in drag can denigrate the struggles of gay and transgender people.

Fraternities, in particular, have been warned.

“Dressing up as Pocahontas (or Sexy Pocahontas, let’s get real), is offensive because it takes the whitewashed version of a whole group of people that have been victimized and abused in their own land,”

Some schools advise that borrowing from any culture is demeaning and insulting unless the wearer is a part of that culture. In other words, do not put on a karate outfit with a black belt, the University of Washington advised in the video it sent to students, unless you actually earned that belt.


What politically correct or politically incorrect costume are you wearing today? Or are you handing out candy, or just plain hiding?




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Replies to: Halloween Costume Political Correctness on Campus

  • jeremyjjeremyj 206 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    We live in a society right now where we have to literally fight for the right to be forgotten (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_be_forgotten). I fear that it won't be this generation that learns this lesson, but once they become parents themselves -- they'll understand. Please take a moment to just remind your child that Facebook or Instagram popularity comes at a cost and they should be respectful and always err on the side of caution. Schools do check Facebook and blogs and Instagram. Zombie brides never go out of fashion and let's hope the undead never make it to an admissions committee.

    Every single recruiter I know will Google an applicant. Most say just because they can. They hide behind altruistic justification (e.g. we wanted to see if he/she had done any work for Habitat for Humanity), but it can drastically and severely hurt not only someone's educational, but professional, opportunities.


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  • cobratcobrat 12207 replies78 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    In a similar vein, I recently read a heated online forum exchange debating whether it was "un-PC" for one to wear a US armed forces uniform as a halloween costume even if the wearer was an honorably discharged veteran.

    Some also cited a military regulatory code prohibiting the wearing of military uniforms in ways which bring discredit and disrepute onto the US armed forces though there was a fair amount of debate as to whether that code applied to civilians and honorably discharged veterans who aren't receiving veteran's benefits/pension*.

    Debate seems to be divided into the following camps:

    1. No, it's never ok for anyone to wear a US military uniform as a Halloween costume.

    2. It's only ok for honorably discharged veterans provided they're not using actual rank/branch of service insignia/patches he/she didn't actually earn unless they're ficticious(i.e. Non-existant award or unit patch)

    3. Those who believe while it might be of arguably poor taste, First Amendment rights to free expression means everyone has the right to wear a US military uniform even if they were never serving members, didn't serve in that particular branch of service, or earn the actual rank/branch of service insignia/patches. Some in this camp also argued regulations prohibiting wearing of uniforms in US military regulations doesn't apply to civilians as the Uniform Code of Military Justice doesn't apply to them.

    * I've read and several forum posters involved in the debate cited that honorably discharged veterans who receive veterans benefits and/or pensions are still still subjected to being under the UCMJ as if one was still in the service.
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  • jeremyjjeremyj 206 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    I totally agree. There is really nothing, however, a military court can do to punish a civilian who decides to get something from the army surplus store.

    When in doubt, go with being a zombie. Or something from a horror movie. Or I hear Donald Trump is big this year - when else are you going to be able to wear a huge floppy orange wig and a suit you can use to interview in? :)
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  • jeremyjjeremyj 206 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    Dressing up at all would be an insult to solipsists everywhere. And down the rabbit hole we go :)
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  • maya54maya54 2025 replies85 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,110 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    If you were a member of the military, your service uniform is not a costume. Just as if you are a doctor scrubs are not a costume. And the military code not only has no application whatsoever to civilians but attempting to apply its uniform regulations to civilians would violate the First Amendment. A costume is worn specifically to portray something one is not. With the exception of instances where the costume itself is or has been used specifically to demean a group of people ( blackface, for example) the PC police needs to go away.
    edited October 2015
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  • mathyonemathyone 4191 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    It's not the costume that is insulting, it's whether the person wearing the costume is doing so in a mocking kind of way. I mean, why is it ok to wear scrubs, isn't that insulting to medical personnel? Why is it OK to be a zombie, isn't that mocking persons who suffer from Parkinson's disease and are struggling with a stiff, slow, shambling gait? Why is it OK to dress up as a bride, isn't that demeaning to all religions which regard marriage as holy?
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  • emilybeeemilybee 13127 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,162 Senior Member
    Bill Maher did a very funny "new rules" on this topic last night.

    Dressing as a hobo was on one of the no no lists because its disparaging to homeless people. As a slacker mom hobo was my go to for S many years.
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  • mathyonemathyone 4191 replies34 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    Just had to add, dressing up as a witch, isn't that offensive to wiccans?
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40168 replies320 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    I know for sure my D had a Pocahontas costume for Halloween when the movie came out. Oh no, Disney characters.

    Since I have them on hand, scrubs are my go-to costume if I need a costume in a jiffy.

    These people can get over it. Being offended doesn't equal the power to bully others.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76098 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,761 Senior Member
    Fraternities, in particular, have been warned. The North-American Interfraternity Conference said in a message to its members last week that they should take “necessary steps to ensure that member organizations make responsible decisions regarding event themes, costumes and social media.” It added, “Our goal is for fraternities to avoid promoting concepts that reinforce historical stereotypes and mock or offend various cultures, races, ethnicities or identities.”

    Perhaps that in particular is not too surprising, since they do not want to deal with the bad publicity of a poorly behaved chapter's actions hitting the news...
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  • JustOneDadJustOneDad 5726 replies119 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,845 Senior Member
    This is getting confusing. What if a notable Native American princess is in your family tree? Could you wear an Native American princess costume then?

    And, whats with the prohibition on Martial Arts' costumes? How does it matter to the viewer if the costumed person is/isn't of the indicated rank? And, what does that really mean? Your uncle could start his own martial arts studio and hand out black belts for a week of work. Would that be an allowed costume?

    And, who is going to speak for the REAL ghouls and zombies out there, considering their reluctance to do it in "person"?
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  • CCDD14CCDD14 1082 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,084 Senior Member
    Just dress like an animal. NYT does not accept animal writing for publication yet.
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  • whenhenwhenhen 5530 replies111 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,641 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    This opinion piece was published in my school's newspaper. According to the author, wearing an afro in an attempt to dress up as a disco star from the 70s is cultural appropriation.
    A couple nights ago, I went to Wal-Mart with a friend to get the finishing touches for our costumes, and as we walked down the costume aisle, we spotted an afro wig. The worst thing about this afro wig is there were white models on the packaging depicting what the wig would look like. I wish I could see the appeal to afro wigs, but I don’t.

    I wish Halloween costume manufacturers could understand the years of self-love I had to experience to love my afro and embrace who I am as a black woman. Yet, I guess a non-person of color would consider it “trendy” to be a 70s disco dancer.

    My hair is not a costume.

    Btw, my boyfriend, a military vet, went as a zombie war hero last night. I'll have to tell him that he dishonored the military and to respect the troops next time I see him.
    edited October 2015
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