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Cosplay is STILL not consent

With convention season in full swing, and the recent topic of Brock Turner’s conviction for the rape of a fellow Stanford student, I wanted to remind you, dear readers, of similar issues facing many of our own fellow geeks, nerds, cosplayers, actors, etc.

Cosplay is, as we all know, a great way for fans of different shows, movies, IPs, etc. to show their love for their favorite characters.  It’s become more & more popular over the last decade or so, and with that popularity comes more & more creativity from the amazing cosplayers who hone their craft every time they build a new piece.  These people are artists in their own right, and deserve a lot of respect for the work they put into their cosplays, and for the amount of patience it takes not only to build their looks, but to deal with the influx of attention they garner – both positive AND negative.

That brings me to the crux of why I wanted to write this article today.  As I am a member of several groups that revolve around cosplay & fandom, I’ve recently seen & heard some things that have been fairly unsettling.  We all know that many female cosplayers have been the victims of unwanted attention, touching, and/or comments from con attendees & people on the street, and those who are usually the offenders cite the way the cosplayers are dressed as justification for the treatment.  Instances like this were also the impetus for the #cosplayisnotconsent movement on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Recently, I was speaking to a cosplayer friend of mine (who has asked that her name & image not be used) at a get-together, and she told me about an experience she had at Awesome Con this season.  She went to the con dressed as Yoko Littner from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and was approached by a random guy who broke the ice with, “Hey, Yoko!  Love it!  How’s it going?”  However, his behavior soon turned in another direction, when he offered to pay my friend a sum of money if she let him spank her.  While she was initially rendered speechless, her reply was simple, yet direct: “Use that [money] to buy a brain”.  Thankfully, she was with friends of ours, and was able to remove herself from the situation before any escalation took place.

In another instance, a comment made online to my friend Laney Jade was that her “boobs are too small” to portray a gender-bent Aquaman.  Laney told me that, since the comment was made online, she initially ignored it.  However, her immediate thought (as she recalled it) was simply, “Men don’t have boobs”.

Laney Aquaman

Laney Jade as Aquaman

Remember, though: things like this don’t just happen to women.   My friend Rahsaan (whom I have known since we were teenagers), told me of something that occurred to him while he was out with a group of costumer friends:

“I was in my Venom costume with a group of fellow costumers on Halloween.  While in one restaurant, three women began taking pictures of my group without asking.  Two of them then came over and began grabbing my arms, tugging on my costume, and trying to sit in my lap & grab the zipper down the back of my costume. I pushed them off and was verbally assaulted by these women with phrases like ‘Oh come on. You really liked it, didn’t you?!’ After I told them “no”, they remarked that I must be ‘some kind of woman hater’.”

Rahsaan went on to tell me that his final response to these women was that he can cosplay “whatever the hell” he wants, and that doesn’t give anyone the right to “try to find out if ‘Spider-Man wears underwear’.“  Evidently, there were more “grumbles and name-calling” from the women, and Rahsaan’s team eventually left.

Rahsaan as Venom

Rahsaan as Venom

If you, or anyone you know experiences harassment/inappropriate behavior from someone because of cosplay or for any reason, remember that it is OK to report it.  Cosplayer Joe Colton had some advice for anyone who experiences any sort of harassment, inappropriate behavior, or touching:

“If it’s harassment like bullying, there are people and groups at cons that are safe places for women. It’s like a sisterhood. I suggest [you] walk away, find a security officer and tell them.  Touching is a whole different thing.  Move away, say no, become loud, and in a firm voice say, ‘Do NOT touch me!’
I [also] recommend all women take a martial arts class.  It doesn’t matter what.  It gives confidence and makes you walk straighter and you know your surroundings.”

I applaud my friends for their ability & willingness to stand up for themselves in the face of such reprehensible treatment, and would like to remind you, dear readers, that this sort of behavior towards cosplayers (or anyone, for that matter) is unacceptable.  It simply serves to diminish the fact that cosplayers are people too, and that they just want to share their love for their fandoms through the creation & display of amazing costumes.

 

The Featured Image for this article is a combination of photos from photographer S. Scott Tilton’s #cosplayisnotconsent photo shoot.

Update: If you’ve been assaulted here are some links to go to for help and counseling: 

Male Survivor

1In6

RAINN

Veterans Affairs

WEAVE

About Doug T. (354 Articles)
A lifelong gamer, a foodie, an advocate for people with disabilities, and an avowed geek. Doug was born in South America, currently resides in Northern VA, and spends the majority of his time indulging in his current passions of gaming & food, while making sure not to take life or himself too seriously.

9 Comments on Cosplay is STILL not consent

  1. Glad to see a comment in this subject from a guy. Rahsaan deserves as much respect as any other human being and I’m sure the “women” in question would have been the first to scream if he had tried to undress them in the restaurant.

    Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i like this article congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your article. It also happens to interpreters at living history museums like Colonial Williamsburg.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one of two reasons I wear boxer-briefs when I wear a kilt at a convention or ren faire (the other being that I have massive legs that grind stone to powder between them, and chafing sucks >.< ). I have had numerous women- and even a few men- just ram their hands right up under my kilt without permission babbling something about "regimental" (and were promptly introduced to my drill sergeant voice). Aside from the fact that I'm Irish, and aside from the whole "regimental" thing being an urban legend that took on a life of it's own, in any other setting jamming your hands down someone's pants or up their skirt would be considered sexual assault. There is no place for this sort of behaviour.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wonderful article and I’m glad you included Rahsaan’s story, as well. Unless you’re invited, do not touch me. I’m planning a crossplay that’s a bit revealing (ironically I suppose), and this among other things is a big fear. Glad to see posts like this are happening, but sad that they have to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Doug T. // June 15, 2016 at 1:41 pm //

    Thank you to all the readers who took the time to comment on this article. It means a lot to me (and us here at PCU) that these points get driven home, as several of us are also cosplayers, or have good friends who are.

    Like

  7. If you are a woman or a man who wears a costume that leaves you half-naked, you ARE going to get attention/noticed. If you are a man in a stuffed speedo, or a woman in a low-cut top and pushup bra, you ARE going to get attention/noticed. This is also not exclusive to cons. This does NOT mean you should be subjected to rude and/or sexual comments, unwanted touching, harassment, abuse, or rape (there is no excuse for those!)… But you will get attention/noticed. Let’s be real here… If you are a man or woman who is going to a con half-naked, you are doing it (at least partially) to get attention. There are a million characters you can cosplay without getting naked, if you are uncomfortable with attention.

    Like

    • Doug T. // June 16, 2016 at 3:13 pm //

      Mr. Kinsley: While I appreciate your feedback, I would ask how you then explain (by the sentiment you just expressed) the harassment that my friend Rahsaan received while dressed as Venom. A body suit that covered him completely.

      Like

  8. The Venom bit only reminds me of how it was when I dressed as a female Venom. I had so many, “venom is muscular/venom is a man” comments, and a lot of people touched my butt. People told me I was wearing a very revealing outfit, which made no sense to me. I had underwear and bra, sports bra, boxer briefs, 2 pairs of leggings and a short leg body suit, on. I was wearing more clothing than I’ve probably ever wore at once. I found it a bit disturbing I had a more positive experience at a bar after than I had at the con, but luckily the positive feedback outweighed the negative.
    I try to stick to creepier cosplays, such as Venom, because it keeps people away from me. I’ve always wanted to accurately cosplay more revealing characters because they’re my favourites, but honestly I want to have fun and not be touched or called a slut, which in my closed-minded town is what every girl deals with. My own friends have been posted on degrading sites like TheDirty, simply because they chose to wear revealing outfits to large events. It’s pathetic. It’s not just girls who deal with this, I’ve seen so many male friends put up with crap they shouldn’t have to, while wearing full outfits. A Deadpool had women try to grab his crotch. A Link had guys push him around until he posed like in the game. One Spartan had a girl try to bite his chest. So, thank you for this article and including male victims, because NOBODY should have to deal with that. Cosplay should be an enjoyable experience for everyone.

    Like

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