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Dear Cosplayers: Yes, men can say “No”.

Recently, we talked again about how cosplay is still not consent.  As we get into the full swing of con season, especially with San Diego Comic Con, DragonCon and a few others coming, it’s a somber reminder that people still have to be told to keep their hands and some of their unwanted comments, to themselves.

There is however, one other common sense reminder that must be mentioned and that is harassment happens to men as well.  The reason why this must be brought to everyone’s attention is when the topic of “Cosplay is not Consent” comes up, many times the focus is on women.  In many forums, if anyone brings up stories about men being assaulted, it sparks debates about double standards, taking away attention from women, and more.

One of the biggest reasons why it’s a challenge for men to speak out on sexual assault is that society presses upon them that they should strive to be masculine, and dominant.  Many feel like that a man should be “able to handle it” and be happy for the attention given to them. They should be strong not just in body but mentally and be able to defend themselves.  Men should never be seen as weak. To speak out against any harassment is seen as “being sensitive” or “overly PC”. Worse, if a male cosplayer doesn’t like the attention that a woman gives, then he is either gay or afraid of women. No one from either gender should ever have their orientation questioned because they say no to unsolicited attention from the opposite sex.

The bottom line is regardless of who you are, harassment is harassment.  As with the prior article, many men have mentioned things that have happened to them.  Some have been groped while in costume, others propositioned, some have been body shamed because they didn’t look like the character. Many have remained silent because “that’s what a man is expected to do”.

Here are a few examples:

“There was one time I went to a con and I was dressed as Spartacus.  A lady asked to take my pic so my wife obliged, took the lady’s camera and snapped the picture.  After it was over, she continues to rub my chest and squeezed my nipple…in front of my wife.  She laughed and said that I should be used to it as she walked away.  I never felt so embarrassed.”


“I met this young lady via a cosplay forum and all we did was talk shop.  We would chat for hours about designs and show each other pictures of our works and couldn’t wait for a con when we could hang out. We finally met and instantly we hit it off.  We strolled the con floor for most of the day and at some point I told her I wanted to go change and we went back to my room. As I was changing, she playfully touched me inappropriately a few times and I asked her to stop. We got into an argument about it, I told her I was uncomfortable with her being around me and I put her out of my room and continued to change.  I didn’t see her during the rest of the con; however a few weeks later, I got served a court summons for attempted rape.  It turned into a huge ordeal for my family and I nearly lost my job because of it but thankfully the charges were dropped not only due to lack of evidence but also because supposedly she had tried this stunt on someone else as well. “

To all, the same rules apply:  NO MEANS NO regardless of who you are.  There have been too many times that we hear people say “Well, you are a man, so deal with it.” A lot of men don’t come forward because they are ashamed of being ridiculed or seen as weak for letting someone else take advantage of them.

Before you denigrate a male cosplayer, please remember, sexual assault can happen to ANYONE regardless of age, sexual orientation, or gender.  Also, those who assault the victim are likewise the same.

Just a few general statistics you should keep in mind:

54% of all assaults happen to people age 18-34

2.7 million US men have been victims of attempted or completed rape

1 out of every 10 rape victims are male

Again, it bears repeating, when going to a con, be very aware of your surroundings.  If you see something inappropriate, report it to con staff, travel with a friend if possible, and take care to not be alone with someone you don’t know.  Also, don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself if something happens that you don’t want to happen.  This goes for EVERYONE.

We all should be able to have fun and enjoyment without someone ruining it with inappropriate gestures and comments.  The more we keep pushing the message that no means no, regardless of who you are, the less that these incidents should happen.

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

Male Survivor



Also a new organization on the west coast is taking aim to keeping EVERYONE safe at cons and gatherings. Check out The Backup Ribbon Project for more information.

About Armand (1268 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill

6 Comments on Dear Cosplayers: Yes, men can say “No”.

  1. I appreciated this article, a great deal.


  2. I wanted, first off, to start my comment by saying you are absolutely right-no means no and it doesn’t matter who says it is important that we all respect each others boundaries. I did want to address one point that you brought up, and that was the reasoning behind only addressing female cosplayers. For instance, the guy who was fondled and had never felt so embarrassed in his life-imagine if this were your everyday life. If members of the opposite sex felt at any time they had the right to grope, fondle or sexually harass you any time they wanted. This is what women put up with almost every day. Whether it’s being catcalled, insulted or followed as you walk down the street (or on the bus…you get the point) or groped “innocently” by a family member or a coworker, or are subject to far more embarrassing situations than the gladiator found himself in. As women we live our daily lives in fear that one of those men harassing us may, if we ignore him, become violent, rape or even kill us. In that sense, it may be the reason behind focusing more on female than male cosplayers. And yes, it’s likely that the belief that as men you are stronger and more able to take care of yourselves could be a deciding factor. I do know that men are assaulted and raped (I know a couple) but statistically, more men in this society commit violent crimes (including sexual assault and rape) than women-and those statistics are only moderately accurate because of under-reporting that happens on BOTH sides. As to the woman who falsely accused the man of rape, those women make it harder for women who have actually been raped to be believed, and her behavior is disgusting. Please understand this comment isn’t male bashing, just an attempt to possibly come up with a reason why the focus was on female as opposed to male cosplayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tracy, thank you for your well thought out comment, please also take note that we have covered BOTH end of the spectrum as Doug Toyryla did an article last week on that which you speak of. Please don’t feel like you are being shut out, we have and will continue to cover this topic when possible, not to mention invite your voice to write as well if you ever feel a need to write out your thoughts. Thank you
      . ~ Harry


  3. This applies to leaf blowers and kilts as well. It’s not funny, I used see it yearly at DragonCon, (we don’t go any more, but I imagine it’s still happening) and it needs to stop. Kilts ALSO do not equal consent.


    • I have heard of that happening at DragonCon. A blog I used to read talked about it, and how the blog author looked forward to it. When questioned, the blog author stated that the guys getting their kilts blown were all consenting to the act. Or at the very least, she was under the impression that they were. Unless there were random people running around using leaf blowers on every kilted man they saw, the whole thing the blogger was talking about was an informal event, with consent given all around.


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