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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Angry Rant Sunday: Reddit’s Disgusting New Pro-Rape Message Board

 

It’s time for angry rant Sunday.

I’d like to thank the author of a Reddit ‘pro-rape’ message board entitled “The Philosophy of Rape” for turning a lovely Sunday into a pile of poop.

This message board was set up two weeks ago and the creator has posted a disgusting welcome post which essentially explains that rape has a “very important function in mitigating female behaviour and keeping it in check.”

But oh no, it doesn’t just stop there.

Messages go on to compare women to children with “absolutely no boundaries and no discipline” to targeting “selfie taking, filthy, unmitigated, sluts” before suggesting it is “for the good of society these women need to be raped.”

And what’s easily the most horrifying sentence in the history of ever, “It’s not only morally justifiable to rape such a woman, it’s brave.”

Trust me, it gets worse.

The board even claims to be the place that will teach you how to do it safely. That’s right, there’s such a thing as ‘safe rape’….‘Rape boldly, rape bravely, But when you do it, rape safely!’ and ‘Study reveals female rape victims enjoyed the experience.’

WHAT EVEN IS THAT? THAT IS NOT A THING.

I’m just… I’m baffled.

Fortunately, the majority of those who have joined the message board did  with the best intentions, to shut the board down. One member even claimed they reported the board to the FBI.

Thank heavens there are still sensible people in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this message board is really an example of rape culture at it’s finest.

What on earth possesses someone to think that RAPING SOMEONE is BENEFICIAL to society. It makes me so mad that there are people out there like this that think this is perfectly okay, and have reasoned in their heads that this is a good thing to do.

It just sickens me!

What do you think of this horrifying message board?

 

It’s Not Just Women: The ongoing struggle of male sexual assault victims.

Most of the discussion around victim blaming is heavily focused on women. I myself am guilty of focusing 90% of my attention towards women with regards to sexual assault and rape culture.  However, it is important to understand that men are also victims of sexual assault and harassment and are even less willing to report their assaults because of their fear of humiliation and shame.

Did you know that:

  • 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
  • 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

More than half of military sexual assault victims in the United States are men. According to the Pentagon, thirty-eight military men are sexually assaulted every single day and very few survivors speak out or report their assault.

Why? For fear they’d lose their job, be persecuted against by their peers or simply no-one would believe them.

In a recent GQ article, one survivor admitted to feeling responsibility for his attack, claiming he believed he was responsible because he could have stopped it.

“I still don’t believe I didn’t bring this on. I keep telling myself, If only I hadn’t had a few beers that night. If only I hadn’t invited him back to my room. I tried to resist. He was just so f******g strong,” Jones said. 

It’s these kind of internal thoughts that survivors suffer with after their attack that are repeatedly perpetuated not only by the stigma surrounding the reporting of the assault and how little the military actually do for survivors of assault, but also the consequences on career and personal life that are just too much of a toll on the victim.

Recent studies show that military men are assaulted more than women with nearly 14,000 cases of male sexual assault in 2012 alone. And what makes this situation even more horrifying is that prior to the repeal of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” by U.S. President Obama in 2011, male-on-male-rape victims could actually be discharged for having engaged in homosexual conduct. While these actions are no longer undertaken, the damage has already been done and the numbers show that men are still afraid to report being sexually assaulted.

As the GQ article explains: “An overpowering shame prevents many enlisted men from reporting an assault—a sense that they must somehow be complicit in what has happened to them. Straight men often question their own sexual orientation, while gay men may struggle to find intimacy in relationships because they don’t trust other men (or their own judgment). Telling the secret ruptures families and friendships. So does not telling.”

It’s also a case of the military shoving these issues aside and simply not willing to deal with them. In the article one soldier admits that upon his examination from a doctor after he mentioned his sexual assault, the doctor said to him, “Son, men don’t get raped.”

It’s this blatant ignorance of the issue regarding male sexual assault and sexual assault as a whole in the military that perpetuates this notion of silence where the victim is too afraid to speak out, giving power to the perpetrator and shedding all responsibility from the rapist.

Under no stretch of the imagination is this okay. The military needs to be more proactive in their stance against rape and actively enforce harsh penalties for the perpetrator, NOT the victim.

However, the responsibility does not solely lie in the hands of the military system. People need to be educated about the seriousness of male rape and how prevalent in our society it really is.

We need to teach consent and reiterate that in no way does another person have a right to violate a person’s body or mind without their consent.

For more information visit: http://www.gq.com/long-form/male-military-rape

What do you think about this issue?

Do you think enough is being done to educated people about male sexual assault?

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.

California passes ‘Yes Means Yes’ Law. How will this affect rape culture?

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In a fantastic move towards defining consent in sexual assault cases, California has become the first American state to clearly define when people agree to sex, and when they don’t. 

This law tackles the ambiguities of the original ‘no means no’ standard which made investigations of sexual assault cases difficult.

So what does this mean?

Basically, the law states that a “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent,”  “nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”

This means that ‘affirmative consent’ cannot be given if someone is asleep of incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

This is a fantastic move for lawmakers and enforcement who struggle often in determining positive outcomes for the victims of sexual assault cases, particularly when involving alcohol intoxication.

There is an obvious problem within universities and how they handle rape and sexual assault accusations, and this law seeks to improve their systems by requiring the use of  policies from protecting privacy to training campus officials and providing counseling for victims of sexual assault.

“The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug,” Sen. Kevin de Leon, one of the men in charge of passing the bill, said. “We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice, and healing.”

“Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy.”

Yay California!!

I think this a definite step in the right direction, albeit a small one. If the rest of America and the world can adopt such laws we could really shift the conversation surrounding sexual assault, especially in young people.

What do you think about the ‘Yes Means Yes’ law? Will it make a difference?