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04 Apr 2013 - 18:26100400
Costumes are not consent.
I just finished reading this article.

http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2013/04/04/costumes-are-not-consent-combatting-cosplayer-harassment/

Cosplayer harassment is not anything new but it is some that is coming more often now. Some of the things mentioned here are really bad, and I've stories about people doing some horrible things over here.

I haven't had any real experience of this kind of thing. What is going on over here? And what should be done? What is being done?


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04 Apr 2013 - 18:40100401
I've never witnessed it myself but the stories you hear about it are really bad. Cosplayers are not the characters, if the character enjoys loads of girls/guys coming onto them it doesn't mean the cosplayer enjoys it. Most people cosplay due to the love of the character, the character's personality shouldn't dictate how the cosplayer is treated.

Also the costume itself, so many people have said that a person's clothes is not an excuse for inappropriate actions towards them.

Sorry I don't think I've added too much but I've never seen this kind of stuff happening personally.


04 Apr 2013 - 19:32100405
It's never happened to me but then I don't go for a lot of "sexy" costumes. I think that UK cons are generally less bad for this than the American ones in the article and when it does occur I suspect its at the big events like MCM Expo. Unfortunately I don't think the harassment of women by men (and less frequently men by women) is something that's restricted to the con setting, although perhaps you have a larger chance of coming across those sorts who just don't get social etiquette. Plus in a large enough gathering of people you're bound to find some creepers. Outside of a con setting I've definitely come across people who just don't quite get boundaries (going clubbing on football night as an 18 year old girl is a really bad idea). As to what we can do about it... I don't really know. To me it should be self-evident that taking a picture of someone without their consent is wrong. Perhaps those signs will put people off but its got to be difficult to carry those round all the time. At UK conventions I think the best thing is to refer the incident to a staff member, they're typically small enough to track individuals down. Things like Expo are obviously less easy to police.


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04 Apr 2013 - 20:08100408
Its not just in cosplay. There's a nasty underbelly of misogyny in the wider geek culture. Thankfully it's being highlighted and fought against by people like the article writer, and bloggers like Anita Sarkeesian and MESSAGE (who also commented on this article in the last few hours!)

All we really need to do is encourage people (particularly men and event organisers) to take allegations of harassment and sexism seriously. Once women (and men, and anyone else) can feel confident coming forward and reporting crap like this, we can start tackling it, and dismantling the culture that says stupid things like, "she was asking for it dressed like that".


04 Apr 2013 - 21:19100414
It's certainly a completely inappropriate and totally immature mindset that seems to do those things. Urg. Grow the fuck up already.

I've luckily never encountered it personally; but if I did I know I'd report it instantly and certainly have the nerve to take it further if necessary (helping a friend or if it more unlikely happened to me).

Utterly despicable behaviour. These people deserve to get banned from conventions.


Also I suspect the only reason it might be less common in the UK is there are simply less people attending events. PAX is mega huge, bigger then a few MCM's and other cons put together; the scale is huge. Still absolutely no excuse.


04 Apr 2013 - 23:46100421
One thing I would love to add to this is that it is not just girls dressing is skimpy/sexy cosplays whatever costumes this should apply to everyone

My most recent expo introduced me to this in a shocking way when dressed at a satyr from camp halfblood



I passed a guy and a girl who spotted me so I went over to chat they were saying how cool they thought my costume was and how they did not see people cosplay from the series when suddenly the guy starts stroking the top of my leg. This I could feel and fur or no fur it was not an appropraite place to stroke someones leg.

Shocked I complained and tried to explain that normal social rules apply and to ask if he wanted to feel the fur when he replied that those rules dont apply at a con!
Horrified I looked at the girl expecting her to tell off her friend when she joined in and started stroking my other leg saying it doesn't matter at a con.

At which point I promptly turned and fled back to my friend who had been getting food and did not wander around on my own for the rest of the expo.

Costumes are not consent no matter what type they are!

Edit: For those asking yes I expect some people to want to feel the fur its soft and fluffy XD
What I DONT want is people to think just because its covered in fur its alright to stroke the top of someones leg near their crotch!



Last edited by wolf (09 Apr 2013 - 14:56)
05 Apr 2013 - 01:37100424
I saw the related article here - http://www.16bitsirens.com/consent/, and it made me wonder what it is like here in the UK compared to America?

I have very few friends who cosplay, so I don't know if any of them have experienced such a thing.

Whilst some geeks are not the best socially, how people could think of anyone in a costume is a message to say "Please verbally & physically harass me!" is beyond me!!


05 Apr 2013 - 09:47100426
I have to agree about underbelly of misogyny. I think there have been quite a few sites that have just treated cosplay as 'look at the hot girl', as well just having asses being the way they are online.

One thing I feel is participially bad is that there are some that appear to pander to the misogynists. There's this group on DA called Cosplay Deviants for example. Whenever they post a pic it will make the popular pages easily. What they do is to take a suggestive pic in a costume and then one of the girl in just the wig.

On a related note, here's something else that came up on my FB this morning:
http://eternal0aranel.tumblr.com/post/47139566276/spread-the-word-please
Just shameful.

I guess having a smaller scene helps a bit but things shave happened, and we have to make people realise that boundaries still exist. I'm lucky the closest thing to this kind of harassment was a girl getting a little too excited during the masquerade at May expo last year. While I was on stage she screamed 'You sexey beast'.


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05 Apr 2013 - 09:55100427
Sorry for essay >.< but it's an interesting topic!
This brings up all kinds of issues surrounding cosplay, culture and the wider society. I'm going to try and bring a couple of issues up, not looking for an argument (or to offend people) but please feel free to disprove me if I'm wrong!!

Firstly I'm not going to say that people deserve to be harassed if they wear 'sexy' costumes but it does seem logical that it if you wear sexy clothing you would be more likely to attract that sort of attention? Costumes/clothing should never = consent but if people are worried about attracting this type of attention maybe they could edit costumes to make them feel more comfortable (that is if the environment they are in is not a comfortable one for example large cons).(Having said that I have been harassed outside of a con while wearing non-sexy clothing so I understand that it can happen anywhere while wearing anything and as said I don't think sexy cosplayers are 'asking' for it it just seems that perhaps it would be more likely.) I think at a con we cosplayers feel it is a 'safe' place to cosplay and to about our business, but the larger the con the more members of the 'public' there are and so with the more 'public' cons are we going to have more issues??

(imo) there is an issue with the culture that surrounds cons, they're packed and it's a well known fact that people become 'faceless' in larger groups, they typically feel less responsibility and guilt add this to the fact that online cosplayers are tossed around websites like cans of beer and I think there is a developing respect issue. Let's face it sexy cosplayers get quite a bit of attention online and some people openly encourage this attention having glamour model type websites selling their cosplay shots. Now I don't really want to offend the cosplay community but if that type of thing represents us (and for some people it will) then it's going to be hard to justify costumes not being for other people's benefit.

Do we dress up for other people's benefit as a community? Or do we dress up for own our benefit? I'm not 100% sure on the answer to this question because we wear the costumes to cons were there are people and we post them online were there are people. There is a whole world out there and I guess by cosplaying we're opening up ourselves to that world. I don't think it is right that people can take pictures without people knowing or that people get harassed etc but I'm just trying to understand where it's all coming from. Are we objectifying ouselves by simply dressing in costume? Or is that only one type of interpretation?

Also as people have mentioned we've got the wider social issue of sexism, clothing and women(some men) becoming objects. While sexism has come a long way from women not being allow to work/vote/breathe we've still got women being used for advertisement of new company products or gaining/not gaining particular jobs because of how they look. If women (and men) continue to be objectified within larger society individuals will continue to think it's ok to view them as objects.

As far as con social rules vs non-con social rules go I'm not sure there is a huge difference, I have shamelessly stroked another person for wearing fur outside of a con (I was a teenager ok) and I have been subjected to sexual harassment outside of cons a number of times (although yes it's more likely in places people are drinking). I just don't know how much of a difference there is (maybe that's down to my own experiences because I honestly haven't been harassed/glomped etc ever)

I like the focus on dealing with this as a community, we do need to help one another, if I ever see this happening at a con I'll be stepping in and trying to help the poor soul out, we do also need these issues to be taken seriously by staff etc, posters about costumes not being consent is a step in the right direction!!!


05 Apr 2013 - 11:03100429
Quote Ice-climber:


On a related note, here's something else that came up on my FB this morning:
http://eternal0aranel.tumblr.com/post/47139566276/spread-the-word-please
Just shameful.




That's just terrible...

I'm lucky to have never experienced any of this but it's not right and people should be treated with respect. People should feel comfortable in whatever they are wearing and not be afraid of things like this.


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05 Apr 2013 - 11:04100430
I'm not sure how I feel about the objectification part. If you choose to wear a cleavage-tastic costume, then you do have to be aware that people's eyes will be drawn to your boobs. BUT this doesn't give anyone the right to touch them without permission, to overtly ogle them, or to take sneaky pictures! And its these voyeurs and creepers we need to address. There's too much slut-shaming in geek culture already!

There's also a big difference between offering your pictures for onanistic purposes, and having it taken from your CI profile and reblogged on a smut site, or posted elwhere with a misogynistic caption. How much input do the Cosplay Deviants models have over their images?

(I'm not going to get into whether that sort of site is demeaning or empowering, its far too complex and thorny for this discussion XD)

EDIT: Holy poop! Just read the "stripping interview story". That's appalling!



Last edited by PandoraCaitiff (05 Apr 2013 - 11:11)
05 Apr 2013 - 11:05100431
As far as expecting that kind of attention I think there's a difference between someone "admiring" the way you look and someone touching or photographing without your consent. Whilst they could wear a different costume and possibly avoid the attention, I don't see why someone should have to alter their behaviour to avoid harassment.

I think everyone who said it part of a larger societal problem has hit the nail on the head. It definitely happens to men too but I think there is a higher frequency with which it happens to women (and neither is acceptable).

Actually the couple of times I have been grabbed without being asked first have been by younger girls when I've been dressed as popular male characters, so women can be guilty of inappropriate behaviour too. To the best of my knowledge I've never had anything as bad as what the article describes.


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05 Apr 2013 - 12:31100434
As community is probably the best way to hand it. Although there is what to do about those outside the community (certain low-grade websites like one mentioned in the first article for example). People like that will always be a problem. With those inside we can just ostracise them. Although I think organisers and venues should be doing more (or take action before something happens).

On the why-we-do-it subject, I always thought that those that would seek that kind of attention usually grow up or move on to something else to get it.

Quote PandoraCaitiff:
There's also a big difference between offering your pictures for onanistic purposes, and having it taken from your CI profile and reblogged on a smut site, or posted elwhere with a misogynistic caption. How much input do the Cosplay Deviants models have over their images?

(I'm not going to get into whether that sort of site is demeaning or empowering, its far too complex and thorny for this discussion XD)


No idea on that one. I brought it up as I feel it panders to the kind of person that's causing the problem here. The pics don't seem to be about the costume to me. It's appears to be more about the naked woman. As far I can tell it seems to be small group of them that seem to know what they are doing. I just really don't like what they do, it just gives the wrong impression on what cosplay is and that also gives a bad idea of what is actually acceptable.


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05 Apr 2013 - 12:39100435
I don't normally comment on here, but I notice people saying this isn't a problem in the UK which is not true. I think people may stay quiet about this kind of thing, I know I have done, but if it will help the community understand the problem then I am willing to talk about experiences I've had. I'm only talking about the physical harassment here, which I assume is a lot rarer than the verbal harassment but is still an issue.

At an event last year I had a man come up behind me and grope me inappropriately. I was in shock (and a difficult costume to move through crowds in) so I didn't go after him but just stood there in disbelief. By the time I had realised what had happened and told the people around me, he had vanished into the crowd. I regret not doing anything at the time, I feel I let him get away with it and let him believe that his behaviour was appropriate.

At another event the year before I was with my sister and was asked by a man if he could have a photo taken with us. We obliged, and let him stand between us, as we would normally do. He put his hands around our waists (which were bare and painted bright red, making us uncomfortable to start with) and proceeded to make us lean forward for the photo, which due to the nature of the costumes would expose too much. I subsequently covered myself so he could not get his photo and left, but it was humiliating.

I appreciate that some people will argue that wearing a revealing costume bring this on themselves. True, if you are in a skimpier costume it will draw some unwanted attention, it would be ignorant to assume otherwise, but this gives no right for people to grab at or molest you. For the record both of these incidents have been in some of my more revealing outfits, but it shouldn’t matter what you are wearing, you shouldn't have to expect people will touch you inappropriately or make you do inappropriate things.

So yes physical sexual harassment is an issue, but I am at a loss as to what as a community we can do to prevent this from happening. Obviously if an incident occurs the victim should speak up immediately and tell security, but in a convention like Expo the chances of finding that person again are slim at best. I'm not sure how big this problem is as I've only had a few experiences over the years I've been cosplaying, but it's definitely something for people to be aware of. Look out for yourselves, and for other people too, and don't be afraid to say something!


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05 Apr 2013 - 12:44100436
I was simply trying to open up areas of thought, I think our best way of tackling this as a 'community' is to understand it's origins fully, which is why I wanting to ask the 'Do we dress up for other people's benefit as a community? Or do we dress up for own our benefit?' question. There is a difference between uploading pictures to a community based website like cI and uploading them to somewhere like 4chan (the Mordor of the internet imo). But wherever you upload them do they have the potential to become someone else's property as soon as they hit their eye? And if so how do we protect ourselves from that?

I agree with the wider society issue as stated, that will make things harder to deal with because the wider attitude needs to change in order to change cosplay harassment!

And while I don't think it's right to take pictures/touch another person etc based on their choice of outfit I was just pointing out that type of thing might be more likely to happen with certain outfits/characters!

I think it seems to be down to an individual ideal of why people are cosplaying and who they are cosplaying. If someone thinks you are cosplaying for attention that condones some form of harassment (or because a character is portrayed as that way) then they will think it's ok to treat you like that, I don't agree with it and I think people's perceptions of characters and cosplay needs to change if it allows any type of harassment.

And while we all know it happens to men too but I feel females are over-represented in media as sexy 'objects'; adverts, games, films, anime, manga sure it's never 100% of females but when it's a large proportion of them I think it's not helping the wider issue of respect and objectification (the amount of times I've heard of men playing female characters in games so that they can objectify them is too many). Again I'm open to be proved wrong on this, in fact I'd love to be wrong about this!


05 Apr 2013 - 12:56100438
Eloraborealis I relate to what you said about the 'grope' I reacted in pretty much the same way when it happened to me outside of a con -shock and disbelief! I wasn't expecting that kind of thing to happen and I don't think anyone ever should expect that kind of thing to happen >regardless of clothing.

I also agree that it can be hard to trace people down at a con, same as a night club but I guess people can only try and hope for the best, there is CCTV at these events so with a time/place log of what happened things might be easier?

As for the photo, he was wrong to do that but I wonder why he thought it was ok? I don't think it was anything to do with you as an individual but he obviously either thought that he behaviour was ok or he was just trying his luck :/ if he thought it was ok that's a huge problem!


05 Apr 2013 - 13:03100439
Eloraborealis, I don't think anyone is saying that it isn't a problem here. It's more that these kind of incidents are rarer.


One thing I feel should be done, is for organisers/venues/security to be more on point for this kind of thing. If they are and it's better dealt with, then maybe we can stop things getting to the way it is in America. Ban hammer sounds like a good idea to me.



Some guys are just plain dicks, and will continue to be no matter what.


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05 Apr 2013 - 13:03100440
@Eloraborealis That's awful but thankyou for sharing your experiences, its good to shine a light on this kind of behaviour. To expand on my earlier comment it's not that I don't think it happens here, just that its less common due to cons typically being smaller. I take your point that the other contributing factor might be people to nervous to talk about it.

@Afireinsidegirl It's true that these sorts of things are more likely to happen when wearing a revealing outfit. No doubt some will pick costumes in order to get that sort of attention but others will do it because they like a character and they happen to wear a revealing outfit. The problem is if you fall in the latter camp and don't want to run the risk of the wrong sort of attention you might have to restrict your choices in cosplay (especially since a large number of female anime and comic characters wear skimpy or revealing cosplays).

@iceclimber I don't like it either, partly for the reasons you stated and partly because it seems like women being complicit in their own objectification. I think its wrong to assume that only men perpetuate sexist attitudes towards women.


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05 Apr 2013 - 13:13100442
Quote Ice-climber:
No idea on that one. I brought it up as I feel it panders to the kind of person that's causing the problem here. The pics don't seem to be about the costume to me. It's appears to be more about the naked woman. As far I can tell it seems to be small group of them that seem to know what they are doing. I just really don't like what they do, it just gives the wrong impression on what cosplay is and that also gives a bad idea of what is actually acceptable.


Fair enough. I'm only familiar with the site by repuation. Maybe we need to get the message out that CD aren't reprsentative of the cosplay communiyt. But how do to that without sending new customers their way?

Quote Afireinsidegirl:
I also agree that it can be hard to trace people down at a con, same as a night club but I guess people can only try and hope for the best, there is CCTV at these events so with a time/place log of what happened things might be easier?


Conventions are fairly easy to do this at. Most are residential, and unless tickets are buyable on the door, the organisers should have names and addresses of attendees. Even if its just to send a mailshot after an event asking for witnesses, or for the culprits friends to shop them. Shame the perps not the victims, and remind everyone about respecting their fellow con-goers.

At something like Expo though, its infinitely harder. I escorted a young woman to the Excel help-desk a few years back to help her report a groper. Security was sent out, and I waited until she had called a family member to come and collect her, but there wasn't much more that could be done at the time


05 Apr 2013 - 13:16100443
Carmina I agree with everything you just said.
It is a shame that people would have to change their costume choice because of fear but sometimes it might be a safe option :/
and just for the record I don't think we should live in a world where people have to change their clothing for any type of social pressure! I think it's oppressive and ugly it would be much better for these issues to be resolved (at cons and online) so that people felt they could cosplay whatever they wanted! Let's hope through people raising awareness of these issues change will happen!


05 Apr 2013 - 13:20100444
Quote PandoraCaitiff:


At something like Expo though, its infinitely harder. I escorted a young woman to the Excel help-desk a few years back to help her report a groper. Security was sent out, and I waited until she had called a family member to come and collect her, but there wasn't much more that could be done at the time


Sorry meant expo, picturing MCM London in my mind as that's the biggest one I've been to! I just say con for expo sometimes, I think it's a lazy thing because I don't want to remember 2 words!
Things would be easier to deal with at a con I agree, everyone gets to know everyone (or near enough) through cons as well as the reasons that you've mentioned, expos though they seem more faceless and impersonal, but no matter how hard it is I think it's still worth trying!


05 Apr 2013 - 13:35100446
Quote Afireinsidegirl:
Sorry meant expo, picturing MCM London in my mind as that's the biggest one I've been to! I just say con for expo sometimes, I think it's a lazy thing because I don't want to remember 2 words!
Things would be easier to deal with at a con I agree, everyone gets to know everyone (or near enough) through cons as well as the reasons that you've mentioned, expos though they seem more faceless and impersonal, but no matter how hard it is I think it's still worth trying!


It's fine. Although it's important to know the differences

Maybe we need to encourage MCM (and other show organisers) to make a clear statement on harassment. Even if it's just updating their policies to include what inappropriate behaviour is, what they will do with reports of it, and making everyone aware of this!(They might already cover this, but the MCM site is blocked from where I'm typing)

Those "Cosplay =/= Consent" signs are pretty good though. I might print one and carry it around with me.


05 Apr 2013 - 13:41100448
Quote PandoraCaitiff:
Quote Afireinsidegirl:
Sorry meant expo, picturing MCM London in my mind as that's the biggest one I've been to! I just say con for expo sometimes, I think it's a lazy thing because I don't want to remember 2 words!
Things would be easier to deal with at a con I agree, everyone gets to know everyone (or near enough) through cons as well as the reasons that you've mentioned, expos though they seem more faceless and impersonal, but no matter how hard it is I think it's still worth trying!


It's fine. Although it's important to know the differences

Maybe we need to encourage MCM (and other show organisers) to make a clear statement on harassment. Even if it's just updating their policies to include what inappropriate behaviour is, what they will do with reports of it, and making everyone aware of this!(They might already cover this, but the MCM site is blocked from where I'm typing)

Those "Cosplay =/= Consent" signs are pretty good though. I might print one and carry it around with me.


I guess bringing this up with GG would be a good idea. As this is becoming a bigger concern having someone speaking for cosplayers to the businessmen of MCM would be good.


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05 Apr 2013 - 13:46100450
Quote Ice-climber:
Quote PandoraCaitiff:
Quote Afireinsidegirl:
Sorry meant expo, picturing MCM London in my mind as that's the biggest one I've been to! I just say con for expo sometimes, I think it's a lazy thing because I don't want to remember 2 words!
Things would be easier to deal with at a con I agree, everyone gets to know everyone (or near enough) through cons as well as the reasons that you've mentioned, expos though they seem more faceless and impersonal, but no matter how hard it is I think it's still worth trying!


It's fine. Although it's important to know the differences

Maybe we need to encourage MCM (and other show organisers) to make a clear statement on harassment. Even if it's just updating their policies to include what inappropriate behaviour is, what they will do with reports of it, and making everyone aware of this!(They might already cover this, but the MCM site is blocked from where I'm typing)

Those "Cosplay =/= Consent" signs are pretty good though. I might print one and carry it around with me.


I guess bringing this up with GG would be a good idea. As this is becoming a bigger concern having someone speaking for cosplayers to the businessmen of MCM would be good.


The poster thing seems like a good idea (for expos at least, I don't think it would work at cons as much)! If it's all over the expo a cosplayer could point it out and perhaps feel more confident to tackle this sort of issue.
Also it should be in all con and expo policies really, if it's not it's definitely something that should be encouraged!


05 Apr 2013 - 13:47100451
Quote Ice-climber:
I guess bringing this up with GG would be a good idea. As this is becoming a bigger concern having someone speaking for cosplayers to the businessmen of MCM would be good.


Good idea. He's a very useful liaison between the community and business side of things (and pretty tactful!)


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