The conversation about female cosplayers, their motives, their sexual nature, their “bonafides” have all come up all over the internet for some time now and we know it’s a touchy subject, however a recent event at PAX East may be one of those tipping points that may change things for the better.
If we take the huge lesson in the words of one of the cosplayers who was harassed.
Meagan Marie is the is the Community & Communication Manager at Crystal Dynamics (the developers of Tomb Raider) and they held a Lara Croft cosplay contest at their booth.
During that event, a member of the press (who also had a camera man with him) made a comment to one of the cosplayers to the effect of “How does it feel to be at a convention where none of the men could please you?”
Meagan only caught part of what he said, but after seeing the reactions from the others, she got an explanation and then went and tracked him down and confronted him. At which point he said a lot of (stupid) things and used the “Cosplay is Consent” argument that some of us have become far too familiar with. On her Tumblr blog she wrote:
I moved in closer and inquired “Excuse me, what did you ask?” with a forced smile on my face, so to give him the benefit of the doubt. He laughed and didn’t respond, moving a few steps away as I repeated the question to the group of women. Turns out he’d probed what it felt like “knowing that none of the men in this room could please them in bed.” Yes, I’m aware it’s a poor adaptation of a gag told by a certain puppet dog with an affinity for insults. Lack of originally doesn’t excuse this behavior, however.
My anger flared upon hearing this, and for a moment I almost let it get the best of me. I attempted to calm myself down before walking towards him and the cameraman, and expressing that it was rude and unprofessional to assume that these young women were comfortable discussing sexual matters on camera. I intended to leave the conversation at that, but his subsequent response escalated matters quickly and clearly illustrated that this ran much deeper than a poor attempt at humor. He proceeded to tell me that “I was one of those oversensitive feminists” and that “the girls were dressing sexy, so they were asking for it.” Yes, he pulled the “cosplay is consent” card.
At this point, as he snaked off into the crowd muttering angrily at me, I was livid.
She then spoke to the PAX East team and they followed up and have now banned that individual from returning to PAX. Kudos to PAX for that, BTW.
But what struck me is that Meagan went on to say that, had it not been another woman — if that comment had been directed at her, she might not have reacted the way she did. Where she’d defend another fiercely, she might not have defended herself. After this incident she vowed to be just as fiercely protective of herself as she is of others and I think that’s the take away here.
Speaking up is the key. If you’re disrespected, say something. Share the experience, help others feel supported in standing up for themselves.
Female cosplayers are beautiful, strong, empowered individuals who put themselves out there in a very real way. I hope that, with situations like this, they’re able to find their voice in the face of ignorance and maybe educate idiots who use the “cosplay is consent” argument along the way.