Some of you–living under a rock–may not be familiar with the term cosplay. If you still haven’t heard of this term in one form of media or another, hop over to our cosplay article to get a real quick primer.
Go ahead…we’ll wait…
Ok, now that you are a cosplay aficionado, you’re ready to graduate. But wait…you’ve seen signs. Big signs. Provocative signs. You’ve listened to protesting. You’ve heard horror stories. You’ve seen it on the news. “Cosplay is Not Consent”
I knew this cosplay stuff was trouble, you say to yourself.
Well, yes and no. You see, cosplay, in and of itself, is a relatively harmless way to express oneself. Just like halloween. You dress up in a costume of an iconic figure from your childhood or adulthood. In some cases you want your craftsmanship to be appreciated by others, just like halloween. Let’s face it, everyone craves attention. Further, you are probably parading around a lot of other people that are dressed up in costume in an environment that promotes it.
And that’s where the harmless nature ends and the potential for disaster begins.
So what does halloween have–at least at the college level and beyond–that cosplay does not? Primarily alcohol. And mostly a 50/50 mix of men and women–many consenting…well…that’s the topic of another discussion.
Cosplay on the other hand, operates in a much different arena. Even if those costumed are half and half, their audience is mostly men–the primary demographic for comic book readers. And while there is not typically alcohol involved, there are still a lot of hormones. So now you have a mix of hormones and comic book icons taking human flesh. Many of the general population at a comic convention could be single, or looking, so when you throw a busty Harley Quinn or a scantily clad Lara Croft in front of that kind of audience…well you see where this is going…nowhere good.
So, in a nutshell, the voice of the Cosplay is Not Consent says that, cosplayers (primarily the women variety) are being subjected to off color comments, advances or other forms of harassment.
But, if you approach a college town during halloween, this is nothing new. And not to take the topic lightly because inappropriate behavior is not acceptable anywhere, with or without alcohol. Discretion may be the saving grace of the whole cosplay movement.
Should cosplay continue to be a viable component of conventions for years to come, it will have to adapt to the venue and fan base. Perhaps a little more cover would be recommended. Not only that, but consider children of all ages will be attending these conventions. And so the same people that are crying foul at certain conventions may have also come ill equipped. Using a bit more thought in the planning stages may have averted the disaster by being a little less revealing in public. Some of those outfits can get a little…risque.
So, please exercise caution when designing your next costume. Make sure it is appropriate for the general audience of the event you are going to. If you have to ask, you should probably tone it down a notch. When you show up to your next convention dressed as a priest or nun and don’t get ogled you’ll know why. Finding that healthy balance between what is socially acceptable and what you are able to do is always a fine line.
Happy Cosplaying and Stay Safe!
~ Joseph A. Michael