Cosplay Does Not Equal Consent

Female attendance at fan conventions is growing rapidly with an estimated women making up an estimated 41percent of attendees at conventions.

Many women are also joining the cosplaying scene and dressing up as fantasy characters, quickly becoming a fixture at the pop culture conventions.

However, many women in the cosplay community identify that fans are taking the fantasy too far with one quarter of the women who attend conventions claiming they have been sexually harassed at some point.

Female fans complain of unwanted leering, groping and catcalling with also shocking reports of fans taking upskirt photos of costumed attendees.

There are calls for conventions to do more with San Diego Comic Con claiming that staff and security guards are on hand to help anyone who is being harassed. And the inclusion of note in the packet given to attendees stating, ‘Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy.’ But is it really enough?

Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con but up a better effort to combat harassment than it’s San Diego counterpart with it’s  ‘zero tolerance policy’ toward harassment. Information about how “Cosplay is Not Consent!” is placed all over their venue, website, and event-guide combined with a hosted panel on preventing harassment.

But the very fact that such measures are necessary and needed is disappointing.

“It makes me sad that you have to tell people, ‘Don’t sexually harass another individual,’” said cosplayer Claudia M., dressed as Connor from the video game Assassin’s Creed. “We’re all here to do the one thing we love, which is just geek out together.”

As a fan of cosplay and occasional cosplayer it is incredibly upsetting to hear about the rise in sexual harassment claims at fan conventions such as Comic Con.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind people that think they can take advantage of cosplayers because they may be wearing a costume that shows some skin.

Women should be able to express their passion in whatever manner and enjoy being part of a cosplay community without the fear of become negatively attacked or harassed for their gender or their costume.

What do you think about the issue of harassment in fan conventions?

 

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Awesome Person Of The Week: Lena Dunham

*Warning: Some descriptions may be triggering*

‘Girls’ creator and actress, Lena Dunham has bravely opened up about her date rape ordeal in college and her struggle with being a rape survivor.

In her new memoir, “Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned,” Lena bravely speaks about her experiences of sexual assault and how she struggled to come to terms with defining her encounter as rape and her original (and completely false) belief that she was to blame.

“All I knew when I stumbled home from a party behind him was that he was sullen, thuggish, and a poor loser at poker. How that led to intercourse was a study in the way revulsion can quickly become desire when mixed with the right muscle relaxants.”

Unfortunately, like a lot of rape victims she was frightened and unsure if what happened classified as rape and immediately assumed it was her fault, a never-ending consequence of the pervasive victim-blaming culture within society.

“I feel like there are fifty ways it’s my fault. I fantasized. I took the big pill and the small pill, stuffed myself with substances to make being out in the world with people my own age a little bit easier. I was hungry to be seen. But I also know that at no moment did I consent to being handled that way. I never gave him permission to be rough, to stick himself inside me without a barrier between us. I never gave him permission. In my deepest self I know this, and the knowledge of it has kept me from sinking.”

Dunham admits it had taken some time for her to come to terms with the fact that she’d been raped in the first place, admitting that for a long time after she was physically and emotionally affected

” I spent so much time scared,” Dunham said. “I spent so much time ashamed, I don’t feel that way anymore. And it’s not because of my job, it’s not because of my boyfriend, it’s not because of feminism — though all those things helped — it’s because I told the story. And I still feel like myself and I feel less alone.”

She goes on to thank her best friend for identifying her experience as rape and legitimising her pain for her, which goes to show the importance of supporting someone who has gone through such a trauma.

“When I shared it with my best friend and she used the term ‘you were raped’ at the time, I sort of laughed at her and thought like, you know, what an ambulance-chasing drama queen,” Dunham continued. “[I] later felt this incredible gratitude for her for giving me that, giving me that gift of that kind of certainty that she had. I think that a lot of times when I felt at my lowest about it, those words in some way actually lifted me up because I felt that somebody was justifying the pain of my experience.”

So much importance should be placed on supporting victims of rape and avoiding the shame or excuse game when survivors open up about their traumas.

Dunham’s story really encapsulates the messiness and confusion inherent in some instances of sex, coupled with a misogynist and prevalent rape culture that surrounds current rape discourse to the point where victims blame themselves or are unwilling to speak out and report their assault. This calls for continuing cultural discourse on the confusing definition of rape and the prevalent misconceptions that surround the experiences of rape culture.

At the end of the day, women like Lena Dunham… who are brave enough to speak out and share their stories are vital for perpetuating a society that refuses to ignore rape survivors and their experiences.

Four for you Lena Dunham.. for being a truly awesome role model for those who have suffered sexual assault!

Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” is in stores now.