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Cosplay 101: Cosplay Consent

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Hello cosplay guys and gals! I’ve decided to do a column called “Cosplay 101” since I am now officially an author for EvilGeeks.com! I’ll be discussing different points of interest and lessons in cosplay for all!  Let’s get started, shall we?


Our first lesson is in “Cosplay Consent”. This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Boston Comic Con with Big Evil and C-Mart, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Boston Comic Con enforces the “Cosplay is NOT Consent” movement. Everywhere you looked at the convention, big white pieces of paper enforcing the rules of this movement were in your face. Basically, this movement is exactly what it sounds like, it aims to wipe out any and all sexual harassment in a convention setting.
 Conventions are usually a safe haven for many of us nerds. A place to gather, with a common interest, people mingling and getting along. In a convention setting, you may notice that Cosplayers usually get a lot of attention, their costumes are often intricate and well designed, taking hours, days, even years to complete. But what happens when this positive attention turns negative?

Many con goers, in particular, the cosplayers, have become targets for sexual harassment. It’s no secret, at least to anyone who has picked up a comic book, or watched an anime, that many women featured are wearing costumes that are often considered to be on the racy side. Even some male heroes are often pictured wearing tight or form fitting spandex. That’s just the way these characters are drawn, a fact, simple as that, that cosplayers, have embraced in order to step out in a cosplay of their favorite character. Whether it’s an unwarranted or generally gross comment made at you, or an improper touch, sexual harassment doesn’t make anyone feel good. Despite popular opinion, females are not the only victims of “con creepers”, but male cosplayers have to deal with this as well.

So, what exactly do the people responsible for running these conventions have to say about these harassments? They seem to be aware of the harassment happening at their specific conventions. Many conventions are altering their policies to become more strict with harassers, and to encourage the victims of harassment to report it to con staff.

The New York Comic Con harassment policy states, “Harassment of any kind, including stalking, deliberate intimidation, unwelcome physical attention, physical assault and battery, will not be tolerated at NYCC. If it’s illegal outside the convention center, it’s illegal inside the convention center. Harassment is grounds for removal from the convention without refund as well as potential legal action. We want NYCC to be a safe, open and accepting environment for all Fans, and if you find yourself victim of harassment at the convention please come immediately to NYCC’s Show Office.”

Costumes Not Consent 2013 - Connie

Connie, CONvergence’s Mascot is created by Christopher Jones

Perhaps the most impressive work done to prevent harassment at conventions is done at CONvergence, out in Minnesota. On harassment policy, this con states a number of things. They want to ensure safety not just in the convention, on the show room floor, and the like, but also within the entire hotel at all times. Policy says, “If that individual stalks, harasses, or attempts to assault you at the convention itself, you may report that individual to a member of Operations (they will report it to the hotel’s security staff who will get the police involved if necessary) or you may report it to hotel security directly, and the appropriate action will be taken.”

(Pictured, Adrienne Curry (center) and her two friends, including the Tigress cosplayer who was harassed this year at SDCC.)

Many cosplayers were surprised to hear that SDCC does not take a stronger stance on harassment. Less than a year ago, I wrote a research paper on Harassment Policies at Conventions, and SDCC did not have a formal harassment policy at this time. For the first time, this year, a policy has been instituted. There have even been many claims that reporters attending the convention as press are outwardly harassing cosplayers. Others were not so surprised, considering how large the con has grown, many people feel that SDCC is geared more towards celebrities and Hollywood personalities, and the well-being of attendees is often overlooked. Just this year, an incident of harassment occurred at SDCC, where Adrienne Curry of “America’s Next Top Model” fame had to take matters into her own hands. She literally had to beat someone with her Catwoman whip in order to prevent him from putting his hands into another model’s bottoms. Clearly this means security has to up their game. More notably, an incident regarding an altercation involving the sexual assault and brutal beating of a 17 year old cosplayer by the name of “Milly Makara” recently sparked attention from the media. With all these incidents, how can con attendees make sure to feel safe?

Here are some quick and easy ways to combat any sort of harassment at conventions, and to make sure that YOU do your part to make others feel safe as well!

1. Stay in groups and avoid walking around alone if you’re super concerned. Even if you’re with one other person, the likelihood that an incident will happen greatly lessens. If there is an incident, at least you will have a witness or someone to flag down security/con staff.

2. If you see something, speak up, whether or not you know the person being harassed. You never know how far people will go, or if this person will get away with multiple incidents of improper touching or behavior.

3. If you want to take a picture of a cosplayer, ask their permission first! It can be creepy if you notice that someone is taking pictures of you sneakily. Especially if they’re going overboard and taking up-skirts or butt shots without permission. It’s just awkward beyond belief. Most of the time, if you just ask, a cosplayer will respond with a positive attitude, and everyone wins!

4. People are not dressed up for YOUR sake, they’re dressed up because that’s how they choose to dress. They are not your personal property, and if you touch them or give them a hug without their permission, I can promise you that they’re going to be upset. I personally love hugs, but if you’re trying to cop a feel and disguise it as a hug, my Brooklyn rage will come out, and nobody wants that.

5. Keep all comments to yourself. Nobody likes a creeper. It is very rare a girl (or guy) will respond kindly to “I wanna bend you over and bang you here in the convention”, upon your first meeting with them. It’s just weird. (You think I’m kidding, but it’s a thing that actually happened once.) Any type of sexual comment is just…not okay. Please refrain from them so people don’t get uncomfortable.

6. Respect a cosplayer’s personal space. Don’t flip out if they ask you to take a step back or to give them some space. Remember, cosplayers are people too and sometimes we need breaks to get our bearings. Everyone has different levels of comfort, and some things may bother one person that won’t bother others. Be mindful of this and always be respectful!
And finally….

7. Don’t ever, ever, EVER think you deserve an improper touch, gesture, or comment because you’re in cosplay. Like I said, it has NOTHING to do with what you wear. People just don’t know how to act and your clothing is not an invitation for anything like that. Cosplay is NOT Consent!

Do you have any other tips for conventions? Any stories you’d like to share with me regarding an incident in cosplay? Be sure to e-mail me at undiesofwondy@gmail.com. Remember, I’m always here to help my fellow nerds! That’s it for this lesson of Cosplay 101! Make sure to like my cosplay page, Undiesofwondy for more of my daily life, cosplay progress, and convention adventures!

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners. Please click on the “About Us” tab for our takedown policy.

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About Undies Of Wondy

I'm a Magikarp waiting to evolve into a Gyarados...soon.

Posted on August 19, 2014, in Cosplay and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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