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Cosplay Doesn’t Equal Consent, and Why Would it?

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hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women

If we’re going to be talking about this, I figure we should be clear on the definition, and with Comic-con season starting up, it is a good time to address misogynistic attitudes, because it results in the actions that are sexual harassment/assault and simply violations of the law.  If you show no concern for women, you cannot convince me you are capable of loving, liking or trusting women. Or as I like to think about it, roughly 50% of the world. 

Comic conventions are fun, and one of the aspects I’ve always enjoyed is wandering through a large open space populated by characters I’ve known and followed for decades (yes, I am an old nerd).  The costumes vary in quality, most of the cosplayers are pretty nice and will allow you to take a picture of them, or even pose with them. Despite this, it’s not uncommon as some leans into a female cosplayer so they both fit in the frame, he grabs her breast or ass?
“Cosplay is not consent” is an ongoing movement that I support, but should never have needed to emerge. Without taking the polling data, I’m willing to bet the person who just accosted this pleasant friendly cosplayer knows this is not something she wanted, and he did it anyway.  Purposefully treating her like this is misogynistic. She was doing you a favor and you screwed her over.

What happens next? Usually the woman brushes it off,  trying not to let it ruin her day.  This is something she should not have to do.  Or she finds a security guard who at best tosses the guy out.  I don’t like either of these options.  The man broke the law, and charges could and I believe should be filed.
What would I like to see happen?  I’d like to see Black Widow and The Punisher step out of the crowd grab the guy, drag him to security who holds him, identifies him, collects witness statements, gives the information to the woman who was accosted and let her choose what should happen next.
Here in lies my point. While it is only a slim minority of attendees that behave this way, the people who witness this generally take no action.  We are not policing our own communities; through apathy, we are allowing this to happen.  Younger attendees watching this are learning that if you act this way…NOTHING will happen to you., and maybe you don’t physically grab her you instead make some unpleasant sexual statement directed at her. This is still completely unacceptable. When this happens what is the defense I generally hear?

                                                       “Look how she was dressed.”

2011 NY CC

                                                  My response is that is  f***ing stupid. 

Look at the attire of most female characters in sci/fi fantasy. As a woman enjoying this genre, written and designed mainly by men, that is what the character looks like. Many articles have already broken down these costume elements, so I won’t rehash that here. I will, however, mention an interesting interview Charlize Theron gave about her costume in Aeon Flux.  She said she would have been willing to wear a version closer to the cartoon, but with the combat scenes the time, what it would take to disguise all her bruises would be too costly as it slowed production.

So a beautiful woman dresses in a costume of a character you’ve followed forever that puts a great deal of her body on display, and you want to treat her badly for this? What is wrong with you?  I just don’t understand this mindset.  Every costumed participant that posed for a picture with me was doing me a favor, they owed me nothing and they were kind enough to grant my request. At no point did I ever consider treating them poorly for this. My only thought is only, “I hope I’m not leaning in too much and making them uncomfortable.”  I knowI’m a bigger guy and my size can make people uncomfortable.

aeon cosplay
Please note that I know that male cosplayers are also subject to sexual harassment, and while I do not want to diminish what happens to them, I chose to address the misogynist towards women as it is more prevalent. In theory, I feel the same actions that would be taken in my hypothetical scenario could apply to them as well.

We need to lead by example. When someone harasses a cosplayer, it should not be her who is most disgusted, but those who purport to be inspired by fictional heroes.  Comic-cons are environments we as a dorky/nerdy community have created and it is time to take responsibility for them.

S#!T Talking Central

  • TheGoddamnBader

    Thanks for this! You touched on all the important stuff. Especially with how you didnt ignore the existence of male victims and everything. Well said!

    • Wherethedead FeartoTread

      Thanks, Always worried I’ll miss something with an article like this…