SDCC14: Cosplayers and Boundaries, Something has to Change
This is not the story I thought I would be starting my day writing but after much thought it needs to be. It is a topic that came up in to many random conversations during SDCC which goes to show just how big a problem this is becoming.
How many times did I see somebody taking “butt shots” of a cosplayer without their knowledge? How many times did I spot one being filmed without her knowledge? How many times did I hear snide comments or crude ones over the past week? The answer to all of those is … TOO MANY!
To make matters worse the stories that are now coming to light about certain incidents that occurred during the weekend are depressing and heartrending when we know that we are all there simply to enjoy a good time around ‘like minded’ people. To enjoy our geekdoms without being made fun of. This is not a place where you expect to hear of people being harassed, attacked, molested. But just like with the rest of our society it happens. And just like with the rest of our society it needs to stop.
By now if you follow Comic-Con, Adrianne Curry and/or Cosplay you have heard about what happened in San Diego. Adrianne, cosplaying as Catwoman with her bullwhip no less, jumped to the defense of a fellow cosplayed that was the victim of inappropriate behavior by, I can’t call him a man, a man-child who though it would be fun to put his hands on Alicia Marie who was cosplaying Tigra. While I applaud Adrianne for coming to Alicia’s defense it should never have happened.
You probably have even heard of the more serious attack that left a cosplayed bloody and unconscious on the side of the road. Police are investigating and asking for the public’s help.
— The Big E (@SaintEhlers) July 29, 2014
But this doesn’t stop there. I’ve heard of at least one artist and his wife, who was dressed in street clothes not cosplay, made to feel uncomfortable by comments made by men to her. I’m intentionally not mentioning their names as I have not asked their permission to share the story. Am only mentioning it to point out that this goes beyond cosplay. There is something fundementally wrong in our society, and in the geek/nerd community too, when women or men are made to feel uncomfortable by the words or actions of others toward them.
As I have been reading posts the past two days I have been shocked and dismayed by the number of comments regarding the women basically asking for this by dressing in such revealing or provocative outfits.
This is the same as saying a woman asked to be raped because she dressed in a certain manner or had one to many drinks or even let you buy her a drink. These are excuses used to justify bad behavior by the perpetrator not the victim, it is victim shaming. All of this needs to stop.
It isn’t strictly harassment of the women. Among the many comments there was one of a young Dr Who cosplayer being harrassed:
“When I was walking back to the Hyatt from the gaslamp on Saturday .. There were four stocky muscle douches harassing this rather young and nerdy Dr Who cosplayer. They were getting in his face and pulling him off the sidewalk to take a picture with them. The one guy was trying to get him to “dance” or whatever. They we’re making fun of him, plain and simple. I totally freaked out and yelled at them to fuck off and leave him alone. In fact many words were exchanged.”
While we have no way of knowing if some of these attacks were by attendees of Comic-Con we do need to keep the conversation going so that change happens. We need know that when we, or our loved ones, attend Comic-Con, in San Diego or elsewhere, that they will be safe. That we are one family watching out for each other and keeping everybody safe from those that lack the social skills of knowing when it is ok to say/do certain things and when it is a violation of another.
Before you get the wrong idea, while this is happening I did witness the protectiveness of each other occurring too. I watched as Marc Silvestri intervened in an interview of two cosplayers when what he overheard being asked struck him as being out of line. Sadly I was not close enough to hear what had been asked or to catch who the interviewers were with (yes I would have gladly shamed them for it) but to see the protectiveness displayed renews some or my faith in the act that not all the men there are man-children. Some of them are mature and show common decency. There were also the two men, probably in their twenties, that I was chatting with at one point that brought up the topic and seemed to be discussed by some of the behavior they were witnessing. We all agreed that it was not strictly a problem with men getting out of line with women, but the other way around too There is simply no excuse for it, but as long as we are talking, as long as we intervene, there is hope that we can make changes for the better.
My heart goes out to those that were harmed physically or emotionally by these events, but one good thing is coming from them (if there can be such a thing as a good thing from these) people are talking. People are voicing their opinion that this has no place at Comic-Con or in our society. People are becoming aware. These are all first steps to making the changes that are needed.
To those that have spoken up, acted, prevented or otherwise intervened when they saw or heard something that was wrong, you are heroes and are to be applauded for being there to keep others safe. We need more of you.
Edit: Over the past week information from the police investigation into what happened to Milly Makara has indicated that her injuries were the result of a fall from approximately 6 feet, most likely from an attempt to climb over a fence.
Reprinted with permission from MetalLifeEva