Love All Cosplayers

Tolerance, Love, Freedom, Laughter, Creativity

Cosplay, Sexuality and Harassment Part 1

Today I want to talk a little bit about cosplay, sexuality and bullying. I am going to use some anthropological definitions of terms to hep clarify specific topics in this entry. First, I want to say that I want to talk about some of the important aspects in the cosplay community that are for some reason often debated about on my facebook feed or at conventions. There are a lot of arguments and put-downing that I see in the community and I would like to point some of these out and give my own two cents. Some of it may sound contradictory, but I express my opinions as well as opposition to my opinions (and understanding the other story). My job is to challenge mainstream-cultures and people who bully anyone who opposes their views. This blog intends on trying to stimulate question and debate about what is right and wrong and who are we to tell others what is right and wrong?

We should accept everyone regardless of the colour of their skin, the size and shape of their body, religious background, heritage, class, childhood upbringing, sex, gender, blood type, zodiac, age, etc etc and understand that everyone is part of the same world. No two cosplayers think alike, look alike or craft alike! 

Sexuality is important in cosplay because it defines and marks relationships between people, cultures, sex and gender lines. When I comment on posts or discussions about gender and cosplay I often see the question, “isn’t sex and gender the same thing?” The answer is NO. They are not the same. Sex is defined by biological parts and functions while gender is the socialized behaviors and roles that are expected culturally of the sexes. For example, you can be male but identify as a woman. You can be female but identify as a man. To be male or female refers to reproductive organs. I am not talking about sex changes and I do not intend to get into that in this entry. This is merely about clarification of these terms because there are a lot of debates that get confusing due to the interchanging of these terms. A normal person interchanges male-man/boy and female-woman/girl and it is confusing for those of us who use the terms as they should be used. American culture in general demonizes sex and sex-parts and makes them a taboo, a shame that must be hidden and not spoken about. American culture also expresses insistence in the “two and only two” rule that there can only be a male and a female and nothing in between or other. This IS changing, but there are still too many who oppose anything other than the “social norm”.   I am not saying that ALL Americans are this way or think this way (that is ludicrous!), I am speaking of cultural norms and expectations from the mainstream-conservative culture.

Sexuality and cosplay involves a whole selection of things: body-exposure, relationships, fan-service, crossplay and cosplay in general. How people stereotype and sexualize cosplayers is a serious issue in our community.

Sexualizing cosplayers is a common thing. Men may sexualize female cosplayers by oogling them in “sexy” costumes or in characters that wear clothing that reveals a lot of skin (like Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2 or a comic book female with a large bust). Women may sexualize male cosplayers by oogling muscles and butt and abs and facial structure and other parts that may be seen depending on the costume worn. People complain and often try to stand up against sexualizing and objectifying, but it is a difficult task to do. A lot of people do this without even realizing it is being done, or they do it because they do not see a problem with it. To them, it is okay to think about cosplayers in a sexual manner.

I am not condoning this, and I am strongly against sexualization and objectification of cosplayers, but I also understand that though I may be against it, some people are actually okay with this. It brings business and increases fan base (and also a fair amount of creepers that these folk have to deal with), but some of these cosplayers also feel better about themselves and their body image. It is nice to be complimented on how you look, no matter what.

Unfortunately, sexualization and objectification does cause a perpetuating stereotype and vicious cycle of sexism and other ‘isms’ and as a community I feel that we can take steps to help eliminate or oppress the negative connotations that come with sexualization of people.

Admiring the craftmanship and the model is a good thing, but there is a thing as taking it too far. While it is okay to compliment, it is not okay to cat call or whistle or touch. COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT. Remember this. Preach it. Act it. COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT NOR WILL IT EVER BE. I love this movement in the community. It blatantly says to others that it is not okay to act on your fantasies or think that you can force your fantasies on men or women in costume. I mean a few things by this.

1). You may think something all you like, but that doesn’t mean you can make your sexual fantasies come true just because he/she is in costume.

2). Keep your thoughts to yourself. Cosplayers do not want to hear about what you want to do with them when they are alone with you, no matter how ‘sexy, hawt, or attractive’ they are dressed. It is creepy, gross and disrespectful.

3). Clothing style not a reason. I hear from people “she asked for it cause of how she was dressed” or “she dresses like she wants something” or “he looks primed and ready to go”. These are horrible thoughts to have and absolutely disgusting. COSPLAY AND WARDROBE ARE NOT CONSENT.

4). Short skirts are no excuse for panty shots. The cosplayer has the right to do whatever they want in their photoshoot, but you can’t go and have a photoshoot of your own without their knowledge or without their permission. Also, it is considered rude to ask a girl for a panty shot. And creepy. (Or guy for that matter!)

5). Keep your hands to yourself. Do not touch the cosplayer without permission! The costume and the cosplayer are at risk when you go about doing this. That costume has to withstand being worn and used and you touching it won’t help it. That cosplayer has the right to defend themselves and not be disrespected. So you lose your hand, its on you.

Among many other points, which I encourage you all to add and discuss!

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Something else I want to talk about is ‘he/she’.

By this, I mean the idea that just because someone crossplays, does not mean they identify as LGBT or Other. It also does not mean that they DON’T. Be respectful . If you do not believe in crossplaying, then don’t do it. This does not give you the right to tell others or ridicule others who do crossplay. Crossplay is another form of art, and is just a branch of cosplay. Regardless if you are a cosplayer or not, you should still be respectful of other people.

I have a lot of friends who identify as LGBT or Other, and they are all great people. They are no less than people. Their sexuality does not define them. Cosplay is something for all people to be part of and should feel part of. It is a community; a sub-culture part of a larger mainstream culture.

Do not assume that a crossplayer is only into members of the same sex either.
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My third thing is sexy cosplayers. Honestly, who cares if there are cosplayers who do sexy costumes or sexy renditions of costumes for attention? We give them degrading names such as “attention whores”. That’s terrible. From what I know, if you are in costume, you want attention and you should expect attention because it is a costume and not something worn everyday or in normal lifestye. What does it matter the type of costume? When you put down others, it is a form of bullying.

I hear a lot of buff about Yaya Han and Jessica Nigiri for their “sexy cosplay attention whoring” and I think to myself, “what?!’. They are in a business, so obviously attention is a good thing for them. Just because they wear or choose the types of costumes that they do does not mean that they think of themselves poorly, are degrading themselves, are desperate for attention, etc. These two girls have excellent craftmanship.

By using these degrading names, it is you who are degrading them and putting these cosplayers down just because you do not agree with their style. Everyone is different, everyone conceptualizes people differently and everyone has their own idea of moral and right and wrong. It is not our job to put these ideas on others and expect them to follow you.
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Instead, I would like to challenge cosplayers and non-cosplayers to try and think outside of their own little boxes and instead of disagreeing, being empathic. 🙂 Cosplay community is full of people of all shades, sizes, cultures, religious backgrounds, etc etc etc. You do not agree with something, just let it go and keep it to yourself. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, own way of life and should be respected for it.

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