Three years ago, a nameless student argued in The Daily Tarheel that if a woman did not “want” to be harassed at Chapel Hill’s Halloween festivities on Franklin Street, she should go dressed up as a “polar bear.” Because the best way to avoid being sexually assaulted, obviously, is to dress up as a furry Arctic mammal threatened with habitat loss and extinction.
While perhaps humorously naive at best–and dangerously glib at worst–this misstatement exemplifies a dangerous and disturbing popular attitude when it comes to sexual assault. It blames the victims of harassment instead of the perpetrator, and also perpetuates the fallacy that assault can be stopped by simply “bundling up”–a fallacy which is not only unsupported by evidence, but actively contradicted by an entire canon of research on domestic violence and sexual assault.
Nevertheless, as flawed as the article’s reasoning was, at the time it did succeed in raising dialogue and awareness about several important questions pertaining to society’s perception of women, particularly society’s perception of women’s attire and dress. To promote such dialogue, Project Dinah (a safety and empowerment initiative on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill) decided to send a message to the community that women should be allowed to wear whatever they want on Halloween–or any other day–without worry of harassment or sexual assault.
In keeping with this message and its ensuing tradition, Project Dinah’s 3rd Annual Halloween Fashion Show will be held on Friday, October 29th, from noon-1PM in the Pit. The show will present people dressed in a range of costumes (usually the ones they plan on wearing to Franklin Street), flaunting their costumes and holding signs that promote their safety and autonomy, regardless of the clothes they wear.