This all started with a Buzzfeed article titled “15 Women Who Would Like To Remind Everyone That Cosplay Is Not Consent.”
When Al and I were preparing for Tidewater Comicon in May, I remember asking Al one specific question:
“Do you think I should wear my black leggings with my Ghostbusters costume?”
You see, the reason I asked Al that question is because the Ghostbusters costume I have is “sexy.”
The costume dress is low-cut and the hem stops around my knees.
In answering my question, Al said that I should wear the leggings, to be safe.
When I first read the Buzzfeed article, I was horrified. I’m glad I was sitting down, otherwise I would have fallen down. These women had hear and experience terrible, unwarranted, blatant harassment from men, all at San Diego Comic Con. I felt disgusted. I felt violated for them.
It made me think back to Tidewater CC in May. I’m glad I wore the black leggings. I’m glad Al was with me the entire weekend.
More so, I’m glad that my first cosplay/comicon experience was a positive one.
I recall everyone who wanted to take a picture of me – And there were a few, it was so flattering – ASKED me first. That’s key. I never mind, and I always tried to thank the person for asking. It’s so important.
I put out a call on Facebook for pictures and stories and opinions on this issue. I received several responses! I’ll start with Kristi, one of my friends since childhood:
Kristi had this to say about cosplay:
“As for the topic, cosplay is an art form that can be enjoyed in many ways. Some people like to create exact replicas of costumes, some more inspiration-based. For me, I like to take characters and really mold them to fit my body type. I like to be creative in what I create and still have the essence of that character visible. Cosplay is for everyone, though there have been times I had to step away because of ridicule. I’ve always struggled with my weight and there were some who flat out told me I had no business dressing up because I was fat and unattractive. Even though I consider myself strong, those comments will cut into someone’s soul and even an art form they once loved would get tossed by the wayside. However, I still dabble from time to time and get a rush from creating something amazing.”
And her thoughts on consent:
“Being part of cosplay since my high school days, I have witnessed much at conventions especially through the years. People will snap a shot without permission and though some would consider that an innocent act it can turn into a hellfire. I’ve seen people appear on slander sites, their picture passed around with horrible strands of ridicule thrown about targeted at them. I’ve seen photos become a tool for sexual harassment and worse. And it’s not just photographs you have to worry about.
There were times where people would touch me and my friends inappropriately without consent and even with a push to tell others about the violations, it would be played off as just something that happens at conventions. From recent conventions I’ve gone to, the community seems to better handle such cases but all-in-all I don’t think we are where we need to be. I don’t care if they are in an outfit showing off a lot of skin. I don’t care if they are fully clothed. Man or woman, I do not care. Consent, in a convention setting and a setting in the world beyond, is key. If you have no consent, don’t do it. Don’t keep pressing buttons, don’t try and sneak it in later, just don’t do it. It only takes one time for someone to toss away something they love for fear of what could happen. Just be accepting, have some respect for everyone, and let’s all be geeks and nerds together without fear.”
Knowing Kristi for many years, reading that she has been harassed because of her struggles with weight made me fucking pissed. I get angry when people around me make snide, unwarranted comments about people who are heavy. I have several friends who continue to struggle with their weight, and it hurts me deeply. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Our friend Justin has been to many conventions in the last several years, his favorite being Katsucon.
His thoughts on cosplay and consent:
“Cosplay is something that should be enjoyed by everyone, and there are people who ruin that by trying to get their pics in when they are not allowed. Apparently no one told them ‘no’ or they don’t think it applies to them. I can’t stand people who try to sneak a pic in of a cosplayer, especially their crotch, chest, or butt, without their consent just because they want it. It’s rude, disrespectful, and just wrong. Cosplayers don’t mind if you want a picture. Just ask and be polite. Hell I’ve had people take many pics of me and they were all polite and asked me first. I try to extend the courtesy to them as well. No one wants to see their friend/spouse/girlfriend or boyfriend get harassed and then lose all spirit in cosplaying. It affects more than just that person, it can affect a group of others. When one person gets harassed, their friends may not want to come back to the convention either. We all have each others back, and people need to learn that. It’s 2015, you are all human beings, act civil, dammit.”
Justin recently told me the story of what happened at Katsucon 2013. The convention center was hosting two conventions that weekend – Katsucon, and a religious leadership convention for young adults.
The kids attending the leadership convention were in absolute awe of Katsucon and all the activity, especially everyone in cosplay.
However, the adults were far less kind. These adults, put there that weekend to guide and lead these kids in the ways of their religion and better themselves, unfortunately started behaving badly. The adults violated multiple people of their privacy and made astounding comments to the cosplayers, many times in front of the children they were leading. Justin was horrified. When he told me, being a Christian woman, I was astounded.
“If you don’t wanna be stared at, stop dressing the way you do at conventions.”
That’s a quote that’s been seen many times, at different conventions.
Justin said, with complete sarcasm, “You know, it’s totally your fault that guys will come up and snap pics of your boobs and ass without your consent.”
Unfortunately, no matter how shitty that statement is true, some do think it’s true.
Here’s some other articles that are publicizing this fight:
- Cosplay Is Not Consent: The People Fighting Sexual Harassment at Comic Con
- Cosplay =/= CONsent
- ‘Cosplay Is Not Consent’: Anime Conventions Attack The Problem of Harassment
All of these articles were either published in 2013 or 2014. This has been a problem for a long time, and I, for one, am very happy to see this fight.
Harassment is ILLEGAL.
Moreover, it’s WRONG.
Despite this negativity, I’m holding my head high. I loved going to Tidewater in May. I cannot wait for the next one. I plan to cosplay as Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore) next year.
I’m happy people are standing up and trying to fight harassment. Unfortunately, people will continue to say their thoughts and opinions, without a filter, and usually without using their brain.
However, I’m a geek and a nerd. I love conventions. I love cosplay. And no brainless, spineless comment will deter me.
Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂