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:
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.