Friday, July 26, 2013

Cosplay Is Not Consent (swiped from Anime USA)

 So some time ago I saw this on Anime USA's facebook page. So I though I would post it here incase some missed it on their page... I think this makes a great point. As a female con goer I fully agree with this...

"Cosplay Is Not Consent
Recently there have been many stories coming to light about cosplayers and the harassment they are facing. It has always been a serious issue but is recently gaining more attention. What exactly does “cosplay is not consent” mean? As more stories come to light about the harassment cosplayers often face at events, "cosplay is not consent" means that no matter how a cosplayer is dressed, it is not an invitation to inappropriately touch, or use crude speech to them, or as well as take inappropriate photos of them. This could be sexual harrassment-- or anything that makes a cosplayer feel uncomfortable in any way is inappropriate. 

We recently interviewed several cosplayers, both male and female, and asked them if they had ever encountered harassment or uncomfortable situations and to share their stories and their advice. One cosplayer, Ena, told us about an incident where she was doing a raver version of Panty from "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt". She told us she was approached by several gentleman who asked for a hug. They started asking her some questions and pretty soon the questions turned personal. She stated that she has gotten these type of questions before, she said, but this time these men began to get "grabby-hands" with her. When asked how she handled the situation, she said she left and went up to her room, and that one of her close friends followed her up to her room when she went to meet some friends to make sure she arrived safely and no one followed. A second cosplayer, Aaron, told us that on several occasions he he has had incidents where he hads been called “gay” or other slursnames but he doesn't let them affect him. Another cosplayer, who wishes to remain annonymous, told us about an incident where she was being grinded on by someone at a convention's late night dance. It made her really uncomfortable so and she told them that she had to go and quickly left. When we asked, she said she didn't report it but she tells us that she wishes she had. 

How should these situations be handled? Cosplayers both male and female were happy to share some their advice on how to handle people that are making you feel uncomfortable. Scruffy Hawkeye told us, "Every situation is different, but most of these guys who say the lewd comments or touch the women are looking for attention. The best way is to shrug it off and ignore or yell at them to correct them. If someone gets called out in a public situation then it can warn others about their behavior. There is no reason for anyone to accept sexual harassment beyond their tolerance level." Shlii wrote, "My advice is to always be with a friend when you're at a convention, because even though the harassment can still happen, it's good to have friends to back you up and possibly protect you if it comes to that. If the harassment doesn't stop, write down the harasser's badge name or take a photo of them and go straight to the convention staff."

We also had the opportunity to talk to cosplayer Allen Ryde. Allen is known for Disney cosplays andas well as crossplays. He told us of a recent event where he was cosplaying Flynn Ryder from Disney's Tangled andwhen a couple of guys came up to him and started stroking his face as well as saying inappropriate things. At another event he also recently cosplayed Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz where he says he was "molested/harassed/assaulted 3-4 times throughout the day, by either someone grabbing my ‘"bust",’ or grabbing my waist with their arm, kissing my lips against my will, or grabbing at my skirt hem and commenting on my ‘"beauty.’" of some sort. The Dorothy costume has multiple layers of clothing and has a blouse that goes up to the neck in a collar and the character is supposed to be 12 years old. Both of these costumes are not examples of scantily-clad or revealing outfits-- in fact both are very covering and I do not conduct myself in a flirtatious sexy voluptuous come- hither personna in either of these costumes, yet I still got molested/assaulted." When we asked how he handled the situation, he told us that he politely and tactfully removed himself from the situation and controlled the impulses to strike out violently against the offenders for fear of police involvement and being arrested. He advises people in similar situations to be calm yet stern ands well as report it to security with a description of the incident as well as the perpetrator. He also says not to let the creeps get to you and keep you from cosplaying someone you want too.
We at Anime USA want to make sure our attendees know that we do not tolerate harassment of any kind and if reported to us, we will handle it to the best of our ability getting hotel security and proper authorities involved if needed. We want a safe and enjoyable convention for all our cosplayers. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, please speak to the closest staff memeber or go to Con Ops so it can be addressed and handled promptly."


Now as I said before I am a con goer and sadly I've also had one of these experiences...  The best way I have learned to handle this is be nice ask for a pic of the person who is getting grabby (a good 95% of the time the person will be in costume and so they will happily pose for you.) Then excuse yourself to the bathroom. Instead of the bathroom haul your butt up to the nearest con staff member you can find and report exactly what happened and show them the pic of the offender. 

As someone who has also worked con security having a pic of the person in question is a lot easier to deal with rather than a random description of the offender (It really helps to know what the person we are watching out for looks like rather than hearing "It was Naruto" There is like a hundred Narutos here this weekend we will not be able to deal with them if we can not find them.

If someone is making you feel uncomfortable in any way whether it is touching or whatever please remove yourself from them and find the nearest staff member. And if it is possible always try to travel to cons with friends. 


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