This is a bit of an unusual break from the political events of recent days, but with recent happening in a community I’m involved in, I wanted to write this post about another issue: sexual harassment in the cosplay community.
For those who are not aware of nerd culture, cosplay is a nerd culture revolving around making and wearing costumes of characters from film, television and video games. It’s become extremely popular and I’ve recently started work on a cosplay myself, with the help of a friend. However, while it’s extremely fun to do and they’re a fun sight at any convention, namely Armageddon, there have been problems facing cosplayers, and this was recently highlighted yesterday in Armageddon in Dunedin.
Victoria Ransom, a cosplayer attending as Harley Quinn, girlfriend of the Joker as she will appear in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, was recently harassed by a teenager, around 15-17 years of age, when she was pinched in an inappropriate area. In an online forum, she talked about the attack and tried to notify security. While staff members were notified, security was not and the culprit went unpunished.
Another cosplayer, an extraordinary craftsman named Warren Goodwin experienced the same treatment. As a genderbent Rey from the new Star Wars movie, he too was enjoying the convention, having created a fantastic model BB-8. This same person was staring him down and said to him in a threatening tone “I’ll see you later,” He later confessed on the same forum he’d been scared by him.
This issue is not contained to New Zealand or Armageddon. One ‘photographer’ in the States has contacted cosplayers, stating their interest in photos of them, but requested that naked pictures of them be taken too to get an idea of their modelling. Some people even interviewed cosplayers, who gave stories of their experiences, people asking to touching their butt or breast, cat-calling, being handsy and other general perversion and threats. While women have been the subject for sexual harassment, men too have been harassed.A member of the famous 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars cosplayers, said that during an event, a group of boys approached him, thinking they wanted to take a photo. The group proceeded to beat him physically.
The result of this has been a kind of movement in the community called “Cosplay Is Not Consent,” a backlash from cosplayers and fans, male and female, against harassment of any kind. I’m glad to add my voice to the movement. I’ve spoken out against crony capitalist deals, harassment, unfair copyright systems and am proud to add harassment against cosplayers to the list. It’s supposed to be a fun time, a gathering of nerds and fans from across the country to meet icons, get merchandise and show off their amazing costumes, but the culture is under threat from perverts and bullies who care little for the fun that Armageddon brings with it.
Two final points. The first is a request to any convention attendee, cosplayer or otherwise. If you see any of these heinous acts being carried out, report it immediately. Take a photo, or go in groups if you feel afraid to go on your own. And to those who have been the victim, I am proud to take the stand with you. Basic human dignity is threatened and that is something that we must fight.