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COLUMN: Sexist party themes could spark a new kind of feminism



When you can be a spandexed '80s queen on a Tuesday, a flanneled ranch hand on a Thursday and a fringe-loving hippie on a Friday, you learn to come with a lot of costume changes. 

Neon ski goggles for Blizzard on the Beach. A dancing lobster onesie for Under the Sea. And lest we forget, that awkward pit in your stomach for CEOs and Office Hoes, King Tuts and Egyptians Sluts, GI Joes and Army Hoes and, well, you get the picture.

As college-educated women, obviously we’re smart. We see what’s going on here. These themes are blatantly demeaning, and we can’t be sitting around thinking of new slut rhymes for the theme of next weekend's outing.

You see my confusion then as to why so many of us not only allow this kind of sexism, but wear and endorse it.

I’m not here to judge – a few years ago, I made these decisions. Even still, I can’t help but think there’s more to the situation than crying “patriarchy” and moving on. I may sit high and mighty on my feminism pulpit, but am I missing something?

To begin, let’s go over feminism’s initial red flags with the situation. The basic formula of Golf Pros and Tennis Hoes is pretty obvious, but we can still review: Men tell women to dress hypersexualized. Men tell themselves to dress normally.

Huzzah, inequality.

But next, let’s take a step back. Realize we’re not talking about the costume but the costume theme, which was probably copied from the bottom bullet point of an Odyssey listicle.

In the scheme of things, this is only a drop in the bucket of sexist themes life throws our way. What we should actually discuss are the choices we make in response to them – how do our decisions contribute to the conversation?

Instead of rocking a power suit as a CEO, maybe you choose to loosen a few buttons and roll up the hem of your skirt. Rather than going in the gown of Cleopatra, you go for the bodycon of Tut’s side chick.

From one vantage point, these choices say we’re OK with this kind of treatment.

Sure, we may spend $20,000 a year pursuing higher education, but we’re fine being told we’ll never make it behind the CEO desk. During the daytime, we expect to be treated fairly in the classroom, but during the night, it’s fine to call us names and expect us to play along.

You can view women's choices through this perspective, but to me that just doesn’t make sense. Much like their right to run for office, their right to birth control, their right to an education or their right to vote, they have the same right to a knotted blouse and knee highs.

As feminists, we may parade the word “choice,” but we don’t always recognize that some women’s choices may be different than our own. The way women decide to dress isn't defined by the theme of a party, and honoring women for making their choice is the best kind of banner we can wave.

Will the dressed-up golf pros recognize your short tennis skirt as a beacon of the Second Wave? Probably not, but I will, and I’ll commend you for it.

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