So a while back I wrote this piece for Geek Pride titled ‘Facebook, Cosplay, Fame and Misogyny’ in which I wrote about the pretty nasty abuse that cosplayers, especially female cosplayers, have to tolerate online, specifically on Facebook pages and the implications this can have in the real world as these things don’t exist in a vacuum. One example being inappropriate behaviour and harassment at conventions. The term “Convention Creeper” is pretty well known by this point, if that doesn’t mean anything to you watch this humourous take on it by Ardella Cosplay, Black Cat & Eve Beauregard. One of the things that inspired me to write it in the first place was seeing all the nasty, spiteful comments on posts from Cosplayers I admired. I found it bizarre that people are actively engaging in the practice of liking something they don’t like, the cosplayers page, in order to leave abusive comments on a page’s posts. Anyone daring to point out that actually that’s not cool was also abused for being a ‘white knight’, if that’s what being respectful is then it’s not much of an insult really but I digress .
In the time since then there’s been a lot of stuff on the internet about misogyny and the way women are treated, not just in the “geek” world but also in the world at large. If reading about the antics of “Manbanter” at New York Comic Con makes you want to bang your head on the desk in despair then I suggest you steer clear of the Twitter feed of the Everyday Sexism Project because it will burn your soul. Seriously.
Then after the recent Elliot Rodgers shooting suddenly talking about the inherent problems of geek culture was like opening Pandora’s box resulting in Arthur Chu’s “Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds” and other more bait worthy pieces with headlines worthy of the The Daily Mail.
So there’s more awareness about the abuse that women face in general but has anything really changed since I wrote that article?
It was only recently that I posted this on Twitter about an upcoming book from photographer Larry Alan featuring numerous photo’s of cosplayer Jessica Nigri, one of the biggest names in cosplay pretty much, it was retweeted by Jessica and Larry amongst many others. One of the things I did notice were the numerous tweets that I was tagged in of people discussing her anatomy, which is apparently a subject of much debate and interest, as though they were farmers discussing a cow at a livestock auction.
There’s an idea that if someone is putting themselves out there in the public eye whether they’re a cosplayer, model, sex worker or something else it’s okay to abuse them because well “they’re asking for it” or ‘they deserve it’ or worse still “they should expect it”. Jessica often makes jokes about the internets obsession with her anatomy, clearly being more intelligent and self aware than a lot of people seem to think, that doesn’t make it okay though.
The idea that callous uncalled for abuse is the perceived norm is part of the problem. There’s a big difference between someone having an opinion which they are entitled to and voicing that opinion in an unnecessarily hostile abusive reductionist manner.
It’s a bit depressing to say I wasn’t exactly surprised to see that spiteful, hateful and misogynistic comments are still a regular fixture on her Facebook page posts.
These were taken from this image.
For anyone wondering, that wasn’t supposed to be Robert Englund’s iconic character from Nightmare On Elm St, which looks like this, but rather a Bishoujo take on the character from Kotobukiya which looks like this . This fact seemingly escaped quite a lot of people commenting on it though.
This isn’t just something that Jessica Nigri has to put up with though. The problems faced by Cosplayers everywhere were highlighted by photographer Food and Cosplay and their #Notacosplayer campaign which highlighted some of the numerous abusive comments that cosplayers are subjected to both online and at conventions.
Cosplay is more in the mainstream than ever before after SyFy’s Heroes Of Cosplay a reality style series which features various cosplayers but has also caused controversy, being accused of misrepresenting Cosplay and also creating contrived drama and allegedly trying to create a sexuality versus talent schism between some of the shows stars. Simply put it’s generating a lot of ill will like this account and cosplayers that have featured on the series are often on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse via social media leading to posts like this one from star Jessica Merizen which is just, well really depressing.
I think it needs to be remembered that any reality TV show is essentially made in the editing and contrived drama and in-fighting is generally more desirable by producers for retaining and increasing viewers and generating a buzz, often at the expense of its stars.
This added exposure has lead to much talk about whether “sexy Cosplay” was ruining Cosplay, it’s not, although Ardella Cosplay makes a valid point about the outside perception being distorted by “sexy Cosplay” which is something I covered in my original article.
There’s plenty of cosplayers out there, some spend months on their costumes painstakingly handcrafting them and obsessing over details, others don’t, some focus more on “sexy” cosplays whilst others don’t, some do both, some sell prints to fund their costume making, some don’t, some compete in competitions, some don’t. All these differentials don’t really matter, there’s no grand arbiter lording over the “rules” of cosplay after all nor should there be. To quote Knightmage,
To ANYONE that’s been told that you’re “doing it wrong”. Whether it be because they think you’re dressing too sexy or not sexy enough. You aren’t the right color, size or gender. Your “skill” level isn’t good enough, here’s what I say. Does what you do make you happy? Does it make you feel good? Do you have fun? Do people enjoy seeing you? Then tell your naysayers……………..Have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up.
Sometimes it seems like the idea that Cosplay should be fun is lost in all the noise .
Whilst the women in cosplay might get more exposure, there’s plenty of guys in the cosplay community too . Really. I’m not making that up, you just don’t see them as often.
I think I need to re-iterate my closing paragraph from my earlier article cosplayers both guys and girls do what they do because they enjoy the experience and not for other people’s gratification. Regardless of whether they have 200 or 20,000 ‘likes’ they are still people, just because someone can’t slap you for being a creep doesn’t mean you should be for all the “drama” contrived or not and the ongoing problems of “haters hating” and trolling and creepers Cosplayer/model/writer Eve Beauregard put it best.