(image from geekxgirls.com)
So, it’s that time of the week again, where I take on a geeky feminist issue, write an article, and hope that people get into a debate. People seemed to like last week’s, so I have decided to make it a weekly thing. This week I’ll be talking about something that is fairly close to my heart.
I’m only just starting in cosplay, which is the art of dressing up as characters from film, TV, games and sometimes even novels and musicals, whatever floats your boat. I’ve already done Elphaba from ‘Wicked’ for a fancy dress party, and that went pretty damn well, and will probably rock her again soon. I’m also having a Robin costume made for me (will have to research the Robin I want to do) and am nearly finished with my Femme Doctor costume (I’m officially going to be a gender bending cosplayer, which means that I will make a female costume for male characters).
I didn’t know about cosplay until I went to Eurogamer last year. I might actually get some of those photos from then and pop them on here, but that’s going off topic. Josh (my partner) and I went on press passes on behalf of a gaming website that our friend runs, and we had the run of the place, getting free games and other treats (writing for a gaming website has it’s perks!). I started noticing that people had come in costumes of various things, which was rather odd. They were pretty cool, and I asked our friend why they were dressed up. He explained to me that they were cosplayers, and as a hobby, and sometimes as professionals will create costumes and wear them to events and conventions, like Eurogamer. I saw a guy in a L4D2 band top, which made me squeal like a girl, and I also had my photo taken with an assassin from Assassin’s Creed 3 (Josh still has the snap as his wallpaper on his phone).
Then I met Georgie. She’s the same age as me, and has been cosplaying and attending events for a long time. She’s the girl who really introduced the world of cosplay to me. When Josh and I met her, she was with her cousin, and they were doing a Portal style cosplay, with him as a scientist, and Georgie as a Companion Cube. We spent quite a lot of the convention with them, and I watched with interest as I watched people take Georgie’s photo, and was happy when Josh and I posed with them before we all left. Everyone was courteous and lovely, and we decided that the next convention we would go to we too would cosplay. I liked Georgie’s Facebook and I still follow it now.
But one day I was online, and decided to start looking up ideas for my cosplay future, and came across the Cosplay does not equal consent campaign. It’s an international campaign that is spreading awareness about harassment in the cosplaying world, where photographers and some fans will sexually harass cosplayers, examples of abuse will feature sexual conversation that is highly inappropriate, sneaky sexual photographs taken without the consent of the cosplayer (I read about a lass who actually had a photographer take a photograph up her skirt!) and general harassment that is upsetting to the victim.
There have been as many incidents, if not more, than there have been hot dinners made in this world. And it’s highly wrong. We make a stand for victims of harassment who are not cosplayers, the ones who get molested in other scenarios, and that’s great. But what about the cosplayers? What about them? Some people use the rape apology argument, and blame the cosplayers, saying that they should expect the harassment because they are portaying characters that dress in a ‘sexual’ manner i.e mini skirts, crop tops, tight fitting lycra, etc.
Rape apology is unacceptable in any circumstance, so why it’s been seen as okay to do it to the cosplayers, I haven’t a clue. I’ve never personally experienced any abuse, but seeing that other women, and some men have to put up with it is completely out of order. Cosplay is an art form, it’s a hobby that these people spend a lot of time in perfecting and getting right. They spend money and time to get the costumes ready for conventions and shoots, and it’s a passion that everyone can enjoy.
And it’s also something that we need to help. If you’re at a convention, and you see harassment between a cosplayer and, lets say, a photographer, then go up to them, and politely tell the harasser to back off. Or inform an official about the problem. These days conventions have a zero tolerance policy for this, so the situation can be dealt with properly. If you are a photographer, think about how you would feel if someone came up to you and asked you for the style of photograph that you would want to take of this cosplayer. If the answer is no, then don’t take the photograph.
Cosplaying should be fun for everyone. No one should ever be worried about whether they might get harassed for the costume they want to wear to a convention. They should be happy to have their photograph taken with fans as well as for you personally, it gets them out there and gives them presence. But harassment can ruin it. Just because they are cosplaying, it doesn’t mean they are consenting for you to treat it in a sexual light. They are there to show off their talent, skills, workmanship and passion.
So, do I support Cosplay does not equal Consent?
Hell to the yeah!
Stay tuned for next week’s geeky feminist issue, as well as the cosplay progress!