Costumes Are Not Consent: Combating Cosplayer Harassment

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Costumes are not consent. It’s a phrase you may be hearing a lot lately, and one we need to keep talking about. In the past few weeks, the internet has exploded with women speaking up about the treatment we receive at conventions and online. This isn’t a new problem that has suddenly presented itself. The issues have always been there. What is happening now is we finally feel we are allowed to speak up, that doing so will not result in us being ostracized from our community – because we are now acting as a community, a support structure, to create a safe environment for all costumers and convention goers.

A few weeks ago at PAX East an incident happened that would open the door for many costumers to come out and speak up. Meagan Marie, known for her amazing costumes as well as her presence within the gaming industry, encountered a situation that opened up many eyes to the way women are treated at conventions. During a press event, featuring several Lara Croft costumers, a journalist began asking some lewd questions of the ladies. When called out for his actions, he put the onus on the girls; saying that because they were dressed sexy, they were obviously okay with such questions being asked.

This inspired Meagan to write an amazing blog post titled “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid” which explored how she felt it was time to stand up for herself and begin speaking out about the treatment she has received in both the costume and gaming industries. The blog inspired many other women to do the same.

At DragonCon last year, I witnessed a guy take photos of a girl’s backside at a group photo shoot. So many people were so involved with their own stuff, they failed to notice. But I sat there and watched as several people looked on at this guy and they said nothing. I broke off from my shoot and stood in front of the guy taking the lewd photos and confronted him. He took off before I could get any information about him. The girl had no idea she was even being photographed.

It’s easier to look the other way. Standing up and saying something means you have to get involved, you have to put effort into your actions. You may even come across as the bad guy. But standing up means you may save someone’s day.

The ladies at 16 Bit Sirens started an initiative to combat this very problem. CONsent seeks to bring awareness to the way costumers are treated at events, and online, by having them pose with a sign that reads “Costumes =/= Consent” and sharing their stories across the web. Bringing light to this situation, creating a community in which women can feel safe, and giving us a voice to speak up about the treatment we receive is a great step towards educating people about this problem.

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It’s not just women who endure this harassment. Last week, at my Cosplay in the Media panel at MTAC, I had several guys chime in about their own experiences with women touching them inappropriately or making lewd comments to them. Just because this happens to women doesn’t give us the license to treat guys in this manner. One guy shared his story about how women would come up and grab his nether regions while dressed as a particular character. He told us how it made him feel ashamed and upset, and how he had a better understanding of women in similar situations.

As the issue grows, groups and conventions are taking action. Last year at Convergence in Minnesota, the con staff posted signs across the event stating how “Costumes Are Not Consent” as a reminder to treat those dressed up with respect.

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Another show I recently attended, however, did not take the complains of convention goers seriously. Two of my friends, one not even in costume, were assaulted by attendees. My best friend was threatened with “having the shit beat out of her” because she ran into a guy in a crowded area. Another friend was shoved to the corner of an elevator and spit on after she accidentally ran into another guy; all while his three, female, friends looked on. I was told by my friend who was spit on that the hotel would not allow the convention access to the security cameras to identify the man who assaulted her, and the issue didn’t go further than con-ops.

How do we change this? It has to come from you. As con goers, and with our fellow costumers, we have to take the first step to make sure these things don’t continue. If we  see someone harassing a costumer (or anyone, for that matter), taking inappropriate photos, or if we encounter a person who makes these lewd advances – it is up to us to stand up and say something. We need to look out for each other. We are a community, a wide and vast family of people who have come together for our love of geeky things. We need to treat each other as such, look out for one another, and stand up for each other – and most importantly, ourselves.

[Photos Credit: 16-Bit Sirens]





147 Responses to Costumes Are Not Consent: Combating Cosplayer Harassment

  1. I find it very well timed that this was posted during April, because April is Sexual Violence Awareness month. A fact I know because I volunteer at an organization that helps sexual assault survivors. I am not at all surprised that convention goers take sexy costumes as consent to do or say sexual things to the people that wear them. One of the excuses that rapists often give is that they lost control of themselves when they saw the rape survivor wearing some kind of seductive clothing, which is ridiculous. I am glad that people are speaking out against the sexual assault they have experienced while in costume at conventions. From my volunteer work, I know that survivors often feel a lot of shame and fear that the secret of their assault will be found out. These people are survivors, and are very brave to do this. I stand with them 100%.

      • There are only twelve months and soooo many things we need to be aware of. Some of them have to overlap. April is also autism awareness month.

  2. not to mention girls of different sizes being openly criticized for “cosplaying out of their body type” or skinnier ones being told they’re cosplaying for attention, just trying to show off their ass or boobs, or a whore. This stuff isn’t limited to just advances and physical harassment.

    • I agree and it does go both ways as far as size and cosplaying outside there body type. I am a bigger guy or as some one told me a bhm which I had never ever heard before. I would love to cosplay more but don’t because I have a beer belly and I have dressed up once or twice for dragon con only to hear the comments about being the fat version of “superhero here” its that kind of thing bigger people here in there daily life let alone want to hear in a place of fantasy.

      • Touching – definitely no-go without consent. But voicing an opinion on costume or wearer? …perfectly ok – if you don’t want to be judged on your outfit and how you look, stay at home, though I know how unpopular that’s likely to be with all the sensitivity fascists these days who like to legislate everything anyone can and can’t say.

    • If the object of cosplaying is to pretend to be a character, and your body doesn’t look like that character, it seems fair to me to say that they’re cosplaying out of their body type, no? It shouldn’t be a derisive thing, but I think it’s at least a factual thing, on some level. Don’t you?

      • When you pretend, you can be anything you want. Your body shape, your gender, your ethnicity, none of that should matter. Yet there are people out there who insist that these things do, and that actually would limit cosplay for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. Once, I was even told I shouldn’t cosplay a character because I didn’t know his sport…

        So, no, it isn’t factual, it’s just rude and inconsiderate.

        • As much as it is about the cosplayer having fun, isn’t it also about looking appropriately like the character? I wouldn’t care if you could physically do all the things that character does, but if you’re trying to imitate something and look effective you’re best choosing something closer to home.

        • @Rory and Asheesh: It shouldn’t matter if they fit the character because the character is not real but a loose concept by the creator, Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman and others have said when it comes to Cos-play that it’s the spirit of the character that matters, they only give a body type so that people can conceptualize what he or she kind of looks like. It is unfortunate that they are always either well built or skinny in the comics or movies but that shouldn’t stop anyone from dressing up as their favorite characters. If you are going t o be an asshat and make a rude comment then maybe you’re the ones that should stay home.

        • You can dress whatever way you want, have fun enjoying the spirit of the character. I just identify with characters as I’ve seen them portrayed that’s all. My comment was in no way rude and you are bang out of line. In no way was I saying people can’t dress as such, just that in my opinion it doesn’t always work.

          Ps. Closer to home is a common expression meaning closer to you, not staying at home…but you knew that right ;)

        • As for Rory, it’s not just about showing off the character to other con goers, sometimes it’s just for the fun of dressing up, and if you’re hefty, you’re extremely limited on who you can accurately dress as. There are almost no large figured characters out there in any fandom, no “real” figures as some might want to say. It’s mostly effectively kept me from doing something I enjoy, dressing up as someone I’m not. When I got down and thought hard about what I COULD believably do, all it came down to was a fricking humanoid Ivysaur. How do you think that feels for some of us? Sometimes someone just wants to join in on the fun, no matter what they look like. Why should society looking down on a person’s form stop that?

        • Not to mention society at large looks down on grown men and women dressing up in costumes except at halloween.

      • If you’re a grown ass adult dressing up as a cartoon character, you don’t have the right to criticize anyone else for what they’re wearing.

  3. Seriously this shouldn’t even be an issue.

    I *ask* people if I can take pictures of them, all the time.

    Admittingly, I did get a weird (you must be kidding) look when I asked a cosplayer to turn to her side for the photo, because she thought I wanted a picture of her butt, but her cosplay had a really cool backpack! I explained that to her, and she was like “Oh, okay, that makes more sense”, and posed.

    -Techderp.net

  4. you need to tell that one lady who was spit on, in Indiana, that constitutes as Harm with Biological Weapon (saliva contains std and other germs) and is a Class b Felony which can carry 20 years. Con-ops nor hotel security won’t help? PHONE THE REAL POLICE ASAP IT”S THEIR JOB!. hope she’s feeling better! sorry you guys go thru this, is this why I have a hard time finding good cosplayers for real photo shoots, are their that many scammy pervy dudes out there scarring girls during shoots enough that i can’t book clients now? this is getting out of control.! Let’s all at least take a stand!

    • Yes there are tons, I very often cosplay as an anthro female raccoon and my outfit is very firm fitting but not revealing and I am always getting people patting my bottom claiming my tail was coming off or just plain old grabbing me! I don’t dare cosplay without a partner so we can watch each other. I am not a stunning beauty rather just happen to be ample where it counts. I can only imagine what some of these amazingly beautiful girls go through!

    • The other thing that I would have suggested if the hotel pulled that crap is that someone from Con Ops talk to the management about booking the event at a different location next year and black flagging that hotel as hostile and uncooperative. That kind of behaviour is something that hotel security should have been all over. I should as heck wouldn’t ever stay there or let any of my friends or family stay there if they couldn’t be bothered to provide assistance for that kind of bad behaviour.

    • Thank you Skinny Larry. That was my exact reaction to reading about the spitting incident. The hotel will definitely let the police view the video. If someone spits at you or puts hands on you in a way that you did not consent to, call the police.

    • While I agree with you on the topic of unnecessary sexualization when the focus should supposedly be on something else (in your example, costumes / tattoos), I also think that the costumes itself are overly sexualized, both male and female (although female costumes really take the cake here). It stopped being “geeky” a long time ago.

      You see, there is only so much cloth you can remove before the relevant characteristics for sexual arousal are in the spotlight, which will, therefore, in a large part of population, generate varying degrees of heightened interest from the opposite sex. This is not an issue of what is considered “normal”, but a simple issue of biology. Yes, I know it is also coupled with cultural stereotypes of sexual/non sexual, but mind you, we’re not talking about Muslim women concealed from head to toe, but of almost an exact opposite in a society that is generally “free” in its sexuality.

      You might be led to think that I’m against that kind of clothing and opting for a conservative view of decency, but I assure you that I’m not. In fact, I think it is entirely a positive trend that males and females are able to go out in the world flaunting their sexual appeal. It serves to desensitize us to the “sexual pull” (both for males AND females, mind you, just in case those popular quasi-feminist buzzwords start to fly), which is one of the strongest social/biological urges humans can experience, and accept it as something normal. It is truly liberating in all its senses.

      So what’s the issue with the article?
      It is not the physical harassment (grabbing the “nether regions”, boobs, butt i.e. primary and secondary sex.characteristics) – I am firmly against it, for it is a physical contact unacceptable in most societies in the world, and accepting it carries the implicit acceptance of getting physical. If that is not the intent of the “costumee”, this should not be done, and should be fought against.

      It is the issue of “verbal harassment” and “lewd actions” that gets to me. This shows a knee-jerk type of reaction where everything and anything is lewd or pervey, which is a path you should not be taking. First of all, characterizing taking butt photos as lewd, while also wearing something that fits the definition of lewd even more (or vulgar, which it fits even better) is utterly hypocritical. No amount of “geeky” connotations and excuses can mask the fact that your butt or genitalia (ESPECIALLY male) shows very clearly through the costume, which generates heightened sexual interest blah blah as I’ve noted before. Again, I don’t have an issue with vulgar clothing, but please let us not pretend that it’s the same as wearing a loose shirt and baggy pants, please.
      Classifying that person as a pervert (and I cannot stress this enough, it applies to both male AND female), while wearing something that also fits the definition of pervert (believe it or not), is also nothing but hypocrisy.

      So what should one do? Just accept upskirt shots like nothing happened? Accept insulting comments, for only sticks and stones can break our bones? Well, no.
      I’m of an opinion that what eyes are allowed to see, so is the camera. Period. Don’t want your butt to be photographed? Can’t stand the looks? Well, then you’re obviously not ready to cope with the pressures of being the object of attraction.
      If the comments are insulting, put them down, and stand firmly against it, for the person they come from is an idiot. No one should be insulted for their looks. If the comments are generally positive, well, learn to accept them. Smile. After all, you’re flaunting your sexuality, and it’s not the time to “go puritan”.
      Also, since this happens mostly to the costumes that are revealing, if you’re not ready, wear something less revealing. simple.

      You see, you’re pushing the boundaries here (in a good sense, as in progress) and riding on the edge of sexuality. You will generate some more or less extreme behaviour from a _small_ amount of population. Stomp the unacceptable (physical contact, undergarment shots, insults), deal with positive. This is not “blaming the victim”, for I am against actual harassment. To reiterate yet again, I am against the knee-jerk reaction of labeling everything as pervert or lewd. This is basic human biology. It’s normal. People are being attracted to you.

      If you can’t seem to understand it, and even take offense, you’re as backwards as those that actually harass.

      • So, if you were walking down the street wearing normal clothes, and a complete stranger walked up and snapped a close-up photo of your butt or genital area without asking, that would be okay, because “the eyes can see that region too”?

        • I believe that is exactly what fleciboj is saying is not acceptable. but a whole body shot? or ½ body, that is different.

          Dress for attention, and your going to get it. But there is definitely a line between attention and harassment. and some people cross over into assault. When someone cosplays they are inviting you to look. not Stare, and not Touch.

        • Well, yeah, after reading it better, no, a crotch shot would not be acceptable. In the same way it wouldn’t be acceptable to run up to someone half an inch from their interesting parts and stare at them. Or getting a frog’s eye view of someone’s skirt. That is bordering on harassment.

          Sorry ItalianDragn, you were correct :D

  5. I can only suggest more security at events to prevent unwanted touching. A stranger touching you in such a provocative way is assault plain and simple. Photography is a little more hard to handle. Paps are always taking inappropriate pictures of celebs so I don’t see how you could stop people taking them, other than confronting them directly (kudos). With characters like Lara Croft being originally directed at the male demographic, particularly hormone crazy teen boys, one can see how easy it was for her to become something of a gamer sex object. But the problem is, she is a character, these cosplayers are real people, and people need to grasp that impersonation doesn’t mean they’re consenting to the abuse you’d give a game character. That said, sometimes women can dress slutty, very slutty, slutty to the point you’d think she was indeed wanting to give away the farm. That doesn’t mean she does however. Or even if she does, maybe it’s not to you. Nothing personal. So unless you get permission, hands off.

  6. You are disgusting for blaming the victims. Despite you listing behaviour you say is not okay, if you start making up excuses for assault, then you are nothing but scum and most likely would still support rapists with excuses about dress-style. Victims should NOT be blamed. Overreacting is not an excuse. Threatening someone with bodily harm is never alright. Do not ever pretend otherwise.

  7. As someone about to attend their first event AND in costume, I can tell you I really debate why I am about to do this to myself reading all these articles. I am not skinny, will I be made fun of? The costume I have decided upon is not something form fitting but something I will be comfortable in, something I love, something I know will be recognized, and I’m good with it, but I have all these doubts after reading all these articles. The one thing I do know, I am a strong person, I have a mouth on me and if someone feels the need to be rude to me, God help you cause I will tear you a new one and you better pray I can’t physically reach you cause I will make you miserable when I “all up in your face” making you feel like a small little man.

    • I’m heavy, very heavy and I have been in costume to several conventions. I have never once been openly made fun of. No one called me bad names and I have never been mistreated, but I have always had fun.

    • dress for yourself, not for others.

      there are assholes everywhere, and while nearly all of the people who attend alongside you will be totally supportive, please allow their voices be drowned by the few who may not be.

  8. I had a guy put his hands on me at a convention once. I was wearing a collar and he grabbed it, yanked it and groped my breast. I am sure he assumed because I had a collar on I was fair game to treat like a slave. I grabbed him between his legs, clinched and twisted until he scream and dropped to his knees, I then kneeded him in the face and broke his nose. I did this after I very sternly and very firmly told him I was in costume and he needed to let go of me. Anyone who puts their hands on you and is told NO but still continues deserves whatever treatment they get.

  9. I agree.. cosplay shold be for “looking only” you wouldnt walk up to a stranger in other situations and grab body parts. I know a lot of cosplayers are very friendly and get excited to see their favorite characters and will come up and hug you – even then i think you should ask permission so the costume isnt damaged. Although on the other side of the fence there are some women cosplayers who know they are simply advertising their body to become popular, one that comes to mind is Ivy Doomkitty who seems to feed of the attention of men to her large chest and rear.. so much to the point that she sells herself in prints to make money naming the prints “marvel – Ass” etc but even so – she should not be touched just because they might as well be doing porn… they are quite aware they are selling their body or at least images of it. It is those types of women who make it troublesome for everyone else, even though they are very nice and well liked.. they object themselves to men / women.. nothing wrong with being a sexy geek but there is a time to draw the line.

  10. Normally I find when these kind of issues are raised, it tends to leave out the fact guys experience these things too and some women are just as lewd and perverted as men, if not more so. It’s nice that this article addressed the issue for both genders.

    I have to agree with this article. I hope to be a regular cosplayer one day, and one of my big worries is that people will give me the wrong kind of attention for it. I won’t mind if people look, or if they do express to some degree they think I look good, but there’s a line that clearly needs to be drawn by the cosplayer community and convention staff. I’ll be lucky since I’ll probably be with my two guys and I doubt anybody would be stupid enough to try anything stupid with them around. Others won’t be, so I’ll be happy to hear when this kind of thing doesn’t happen, or that if it does it will be dealt with.

  11. It certainly does go both ways. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten pinched, prodded or fondled by female cosplayers who want some piratecake. I’m just an average guy who cleans up OK in a pirate outfit, not some hunk of a guy with a 6 pack – and it’s still out of control at some bigger cons. The assumption here seems to be that pirates are all about rumming and wenching, so it’s OK to drape yourself all over any random pirate cosplayer that comes your way and copping feelies is some kind of bonus.

    And gods forbid you wear tights for some renaissance era cosplay. That seems to be raw, 100% cougarbait.

  12. When i do my zombie costume at next years sci fi weekender girls can come over for a grope whenever they like.
    On a serious note though its personal space some girls/guys like the attention some dont its always going to be an issue and its sad that its spread to the geek comunity, I honestly thought of us as a chosen few free from violence harassment and bullying

  13. While I agree that it’s not consent, it you dress / act sexually provocatively, people will treat you as such. Just like if you dress like a douchebag, people will treat you like one – or if you dress in a suit and tie, people will treat you with more respect.

    You can argue all you want about how “fair” it is, but it’s a basic fact of human nature that people will change their perception of you and their attitude towards you based on how you dress.

        • PAUL! Don’t know you that since the Female Irresponsibility Act of 1984 females are not responsible for the consequences of their actions? What a horrible man you are to think that women are capable of looking at the consequences of an action before performing said action! That’s so oppressive! It’s only fair that women should be allowed to do whatever they please without ever having to face negative consequences of their actions!

      • Pointing out that actions have consequences is not “victim blaming”. Yes, you have the right to wear whatever you want. However, being a responsible adult means realizing that certain types of clothing tend to attract jerks who will give you unwanted attention. No one does cosplay without wanting attention – not all of it is going to be good. If you are unwilling to accept the small percentage of negative attention that results form the choice to cosplay, then you shouldn’t do it. Don’t make excuses for not wanting to accept the consequences of your actions.

    • The first part of your first sentence negates the second half. If it’s not consent, it’s not consent, and any actions taken in violation of that lack of consent are, at best, harassment, and at worst, illegal. A person’s choice of clothing may or may not be a display of desire or request for sexual attention, but there is a very simple way of determining that without harassment: ASK FIRST.

      I was going to write something here about all the different reasons for cosplaying and why someone might wear something “sexually provocative” without wanting to be “treated as such”, but really, it boils down to this: If you can’t understand that clothing choice does not have anything to do with sexual consent – that, in fact, a person may be naked and still not be asking to be treated as a sexual object – then you are the reason for all these campaigns to stop harassment at cons.

      • Really?
        An inability to more-or-less successfully gauge how you’ll be perceived in a society indicates some kind of a social dysfunction. Since 98% (pulling this from my behind, means most) of people don’t have any kind of social dysfunction, I think i’m right on track when I say that when people dress provocatively, they do it to raise their attractiveness. Which, guess what, attracts the opposite sex. So yes, clothing has everything to do with it.

        What shouldn’t be done nor tolerated is harassment. And please, do us all a favor and learn to identify correctly the actual instances of harassment, instead of someone photographing your whatever you don’t like to be photographed.

        Thank you.

    • I just want to point out that this is the same excuse Muslim Men Extremist use to cover women head to toe and guess what women still get sexual harassed and raped when they are covered completely. So it has nothing to do with what a woman wears. Stop blaming the victim. Period.

    • So what should a woman wear to get respect because I can guarantee if she wears a suit and tie, it won’t work.

    • By your logic, every time that I have appeared nude for artists, I should expect to be harassed and treated in a sexual manner because I’m exposed in what you might deem a sexual manner. I highly disagree, as women (and men) can’t control how other people perceive the way they’re dressed, or undressed. As a westerner, I don’t see a long skirt (to my ankles) and a wrist length blouse as extremely sexual at all , kind of frumpy even, yet while I was in Egypt, I was on the receiving end of cat calls and two marriage proposals from men I didn’t even know.

      Some women are extremely curvy and many men seem to think they are purposely being sexual when their bodies just make clothes fit a certain way. I personally think that a set of Army blues are incredibly sexy on nearly any man, but it’s still just a garment, and I’d never grope a man wearing them.

      I agree that it’s a basic fact of human nature that a person’s perception of you depends on how you dress, but it’s not universal how multiple people will perceive how you dress. I’ve never felt more safe with both men and women than when I’ve been in the nude in an artist’s class, and the one time a man stepped out of line, I was proud to see all the artists both male and female didn’t stand for his behavior and immediately escorted him out. Just because I was naked, most emphatically did not mean that I was a sexual object, and at no point had I consented to being treated as one.

      As my grandfather used to always say, “Don’t blame me because you feel guilty.”

      • So, even in a small, extremely controlled setting like artist’s class, exceptions to the “correct” behaviour emerged? Well of course.

        No one is saying that because you were naked it is OK to harass you. Why do people unnecessarily make victims of themselves when no one is saying that? As you had the chance to experience, for 1 idiot, you had 15 other people who weren’t and who stood on your side. But I bet they weren’t ALL necessarily completely cool-headed about you being naked, even though they got used to watching naked models.

        No one is also saying that it is universal how people will perceive you on how you dress, but there is a statistical certainty that more people will perceive you a certain way if you dress a certain way. Not necessarily a majority, but some will. That’s it.

        This whole thing gets overblown and men (remember that there were also MEN who were harassed in the original story, and I’ve yet to hear from MEN mounting such an offensive like you gals did, or hear from YOU stepping up for them?) end up being some kind of universal 4ssholes who only view women as objects to strongarm into sexual relations. It is funny, cause it’s the same stereotyping that puts women in their kitchen.

        I’m not saying YOU did it, but it is a fact that it gets done.

  14. I agree. This applies to both men and women: If you do cosplay, be prepared to be stared at (even at a con), because you are voluntarily making a spectacle of yourself. That’s kind of the point. Otherwise you’d dress normal. :)

    And if you happen to have done an exceptional job on your cosplay, or are very beautiful, or sexy (again, this applies to men and women), then expect people to be attracted to you. It’s human nature. And not exclusively in a sexual way (altho that might be flattering for some). But as a man, if I see a beautiful woman, cosplay or not, my eyes will probably linger, because I appreciate beauty, symmetry and poetry in motion. Coincidentally, my eyes also linger on sunsets, delicious plates of food, hot air balloons, Ducati motorcycles, and fat babies.

    All that said, even if you are Jessica Nigri (who dresses provocatively specifically BECAUSE she is trying to make a sex symbol/brand of herself), nobody deserves to be harassed, groped, or put on the receiving end of immature and suggestive comments. It’s crude. People need to get a filter on that whole head-to-mouth/hands thing.

    • “Coincidentally, my eyes also linger on sunsets, delicious plates of food, hot air balloons, Ducati motorcycles, and fat babies.”

      You sir have won my entire evening.

    • There is a difference between staring and admiring and staring and being creepy. The best compliment I ever received was when a man kept glancing at me. At first I was uncomfortable but then I just smiled, he smiled back and I just left it alone. He came up to me a little later and said “Sorry I stared at you you’re gorgeous” and then ran off. It happened so quickly I laughed and took it for what it was. But a lot of times you can feel the difference.

  15. I am anti Sexual Harassment as much as anyone, but I do have one problem this.

    If you CHOSE to dress up in a revealing costume or for that matter even clothes and then CHOSE to go to a public place you are submitting yourself for any pictures regardless of if the person asks or not. Remember most cons are open to the public (for a price) not private. It’s no different than if a celebrity walked down the street and someone took a picture of them. Is it creepy? Yes. But, every time any person choses to go into a public space, be it the streets or an event, dressed in costume or street clothes, you are submitting yourself for people unknowingly taking your pictures. I can be out on the road with one of my bands and then pictures will show up with me all over the place that I didn’t know were being taken, but so fucking what.

    Onto the other side, I completely agree that verbal and physical harassment in a place like a con to people wearing costumes to help enhance the environment is scummy and disrespectful. I can’t stand cons because of the people that go to them, so it doesn’t surprise me that this happens at all.

    Summarizing this whole thing, pick your battles. I feel this will be far more effective if you focus on the actual harassment as opposed to watering it down with something that isn’t technically harassment.

    P.S. thank you for helping re-confirm my dislike of cons and the people that go to it

    • “If you CHOSE to dress up in a revealing costume or for that matter even clothes…” Here is a question, aren’t MOST of the costumes for woman created to be sexy? I mean Wonder Woman? Cat Woman? so saying they “choose” to dress like that when they are just emulating the characters they love and dressing as they dress (oh and created by men might I add), is again, blaming the victim.

      You are once again saying “she wore a short skirt so she was asking to be raped.”

      • As you can see, I’m pretty interested in this topic.

        But tell me, for goodness sake, why can’t you say that their costumes look skimpy and that they might expect a lot of attention and some inappropriate behaviour (which should be dealt with), without it being equaled with the person approving of rape?

        He did not say “she wore a short skirt…” It is a slippery slope. It is beyond my comprehension (ok it isn’t really, buzzwords and conformism are to blame) how anyone can jump from something even they experience, that is, attraction, to rape?

        By using a similar logic, since he noted the sexiness of the costume and you agreed with it, and ended the scenario in a rape, you must have a thought process that equates sexiness with rape. I mean, really?

        And yes, women chose to dress like that. If they were trying to emulate some particular scene from their pornstar, it would be pretty weak to counter any objections, comments, or whatever with “she was just emulating”.

        And replacing “choosing to dress like that” with “emulating” really just makes it “choosing to emulate a particular character” which includes dressing like that, which is in essence, choosing to dress like that.

        Also, wouldn’t their inability to choose (or “choose”, as you’ve put it) to dress like that point to some kind of mental retardation, where, you know, you can’t choose for yourself?

        I mean, some people really surprise me.

        • Please keep in mind that rape, groping, and sexual harassment/abuse are NEVER about sexual attraction or an inability to control one’s lust. It is ALWAYS about POWER. The fact that one can do so at a whim without reproach is viewed by the pervert as an act of power by taking action without consent. I hope this helps in some way.

        • Agree Deegzy

          It is about power.

          But the original poster was writing about pictures taken being ok, while agreeing with harassment being wrong.

          Then the apologetics and rape speak came in, and it went downhill.

  16. I simply don’t understand the mind of the bully/attacker/assailant/harrasser/douche-copter.

    Why would anyone abuse such a beautiful gift of …well…beauty? The topical intersection of nerd culture and seemingly unattainable gorgeous bodies, costumes, and attitudes.

    I understand how the ‘perfection’ mixed with the coveting and out-of-reach gems incite certain feelings of unworthiness and jealousy – and jealousy is a leading cause of bullying – bring people down below your level – and the only way is to be a douche.

    Call them out. band together, and united we shall rid the world of the doucherty.

  17. It is funny – I was actually helping out a friend who was wearing a rather skimpy outfit and people were taking pictures of her ass – I stepped in front of the guy and said “there will be none of that” – he got REAL mad and almost started a fist fight with me.

    Being a girl, you have advantages over a guy who is being a creeper – they NORMALLY wouldnt punch you – but this guy had no problem wanting to punch me for not allowing him to produce a spank bank.

    • Yea, by wearing a costume to a Con, you’re giving consent to have your picture taken. You were the douche in the situation, not the guy taking pictures of someone who wore an outfit with the intention of people paying attention to her and taking her picture.

      • So it’s okay to create a spank bank of someone without EXPLICIT consent, and then wank at how one did so without the persons consent, thereby allowing oneself to feel powerful by degrading said person? You sir have never been on the receiving end of any degradation, or have you?

        • Of course it is ok.

          You can stop the relations with said person if you find it objectionable, but you shouldn’t stop him because you want only select people to masturbate over you.

          I, for one, wouldn’t mind it.

          What is next, thought policing? Really, is one able to masturbate with mental pictures? You know how many people are actually fantasizing about their friends while doing that?

        • Ok, some shooting from the hip I did over here.

          If it is indeed a spank bank of one person over a course of some time, then the person being photographed has much bigger problems than being “degraded” – it’s being stalked, and I, you, and I believe even the Law are on your side.

          If it’s a spank bank of general ‘Con, well, the person obviously has a fetish. Who am I to say what should he/she be turned on by?

          What I’m not against is taking pictures. If someone took a few pictures of me standing there, I could care less what he/she did with them in their own home. If someone was actively stalking me, I would take notice, not because I’m offended, but because I’m scared.

    • Some people are just creeps, who think they can, and should, get away with anything. Taking ass pictures is both creepy and offensive; if you want a photo it is always best to ask first and then let the costumer(s) pose who they prefer.

      Good of you for standing up for your friend.

  18. First of all, understand that this comes from a girl who has survived sexual assaults, and is a strong believer that the way a woman/man dresses should not be a reason for a man to attack her.

    I have no comprehension of the reason this is being made out to be strictly a cosplayer problem. My mind floats back to Halloween…. This is a constant battle for every woman, not strictly cosplayers.

    While physical contact, or threats, are one thing, punishing photographers is ridiculous. You are in PUBLIC. Welcome to America, people. Read and understand your Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech. Every single day, when you step outside your home, you subject yourself to the possibility of being on film, be it deliberate or not, or with your consent or not. So, do not complain to the photographers, complain to the organizers of the event. You want it be completely private, it is THEIR responsibility to create that very strict environment. Which means banning every single mobile phone, and camera, and your changing within the privacy of specific areas.

    This being said, I am also a little disgusted by the recent usage of the word “cosplay” lately. Cosplay is dressing to LOOK LIKE A CHARACTER. Not a few pieces of scanty clothing that mildly resemble tiny bits of the overall character (example – a woman in a white bikini and helmet parading herself as a stormtrooper). That is a deliberate sexualization of the character, and the individual dressing as such should not be shocked by the hungry stares of onlookers. Just as every single woman who dresses as a “firefighter” at Halloween, when all she is wearing is a tiny skirt, bikini top, and wearing a helmet.

    If you did not want to be admired, then why are you dressing like a knowingly sexualized character to begin with? Some women could wear clothing short of a birka and get admired and leered at. Every woman deals with this.

    • ACTUALLY, conventions are on private property and you have to purchase a badge and adhere to convention policies, so no, they are not at all “public.” The guy mentioned in the article at PAX? The convention banned him. You also need to familiarize yourself with actual laws, because harassing others is 100% not protected, and you are not guaranteed the right to photograph others without their consent.

      You really need to stop victim blaming, stop accusing the cosplayers of being at fault because you personally don’t like their costume. Most of the “Storm trooper” ones you talked about? Those are probably the female part of the legion, might even be from before their armor was done. They also might be at a convention like Dragon*Con, where they wore the armor ALL DAY and feel like having fun with some friends. You act as if your bs definition of “modesty” is somehow universal, when not only is it not, the definition changes on an almost daily basis.

      Your entire comment was misogynistic bullshit. I have worn full length, neck to toe costumes that did not reveal anything, and have had men LEAN OUT OF THEIR CARS to holler disgusting shit at me. THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE. Your entire argument is flawed, sexist, and invalid.

      • oh jeesh, enough with the “victim blaming”.

        She’s not blaming the victims. She’s telling it as it is. More sexualized costume = heightened attraction. It’s really as simple as it is. Basic human biology. If she’s accusing cosplayers of being at fault for being photographed, then you’re accusing the entire human race of being at fault for being attracted to what it’s meant to be attracted, which is also VICTIM BLAMING. That, my friend, makes you hypocritical.

        In fact, I think you didn’t even read the post properly. She clearly says that punishing photographers who do no physical harm, but photograph what eyes can see, is wrong. Yet, you somehow presented it as if she’s supporting violence and, oh here it comes, the dreaded rape.

        I think her observations regarding costumes are correct – costumes are skimpier, and the whole thing is sexually charged that it doesn’t resemble “geek” anymore. So, unless you’re assaulted or insulted while in costume, deal with attention or don’t do it if you’re not ready. In fact, I’ve written a post a few ones above, which sums up my thoughts on it. Feel free to read it.

        You think you are progressive and liberal, but in reality that’s sheepish, backward thinking.

  19. No one is taught to respect others any more. This more than anything else, IMO, is what’s wrong with out society. When you don’t have the respect of another, you treat them as trash or your personal plaything ready to be tossed out. So that’s why these people treat cosplayers with that type of attitude, they don’t show respect.

  20. I feel this is much more of an issue than just average skimpy everyday clothing. Being a cosplayer and attending cons mean a place to feel safe; to be yourself OR your alter ego. No one gets harassed for their choice of costume while there; at least thats the way it should be.
    Shame on those people.

  21. I had a man come up behind me and grab my breasts. I elbowed him in the stomach. He touched me in a way that made me uncomfortable. I just returned the favor.
    He did apologize, said it was just a joke, I told him he wouldn’t be laughing when the next girl he gropes aims lower.

  22. If a hotel would not allow a convention access to security footage in a case of harrasment, I would take the complaint higher up in the hotel ownership, to a district manager or higher. The hotel has a resposiblity to the safty of all people on it’s property.

  23. If you ask me, a few too many non-geek attention whores as of late. I’ll just keep digging through my $1 box comics and ignore them.

  24. This is not something I’m sure I can agree with. The characters in the shows these women are emulating are sexy in those shows, because sex sells. If these women don’t want to be ogled, do not want to be photographed, DON’T make and wear sexy costumes, because sex sells.

    Y’know, you ladies out there may not like that reasoning, but you actually are bringing it on yourselves. If your boobs are hanging halfway out of your bustier, and you’re dressed like one of the characters in these sex-sells anime’s or shows you love so much, then do you actually have a reasonable expectation that some sexist, chauvenist piece of dirt is NOT going to do these things to you?

    I’ve not been to a convention, period, let alone seen cosplayers in any way other than in videos and photos on Facebook or YouTube, but a lot of the costumes you wear these days would make the ladies of burlesque from the 30s and 40s blush!

    You DO NOT have a right to complain, or take up ANY case, nor a reasonable expectation as to your physical safety or personal rights to NOT have images of you, from ANY angle, taken if you dress up like this and then submit yourself to the horny male-dominated crowd at a convention. What is WRONG with your head that you could even think that you’re right to think this way? You have no legal case, no precedence, and no judge would look at you in your sexy costume, in court, or in pictures or video from the internet, of you at a convention with young men who are comic book, anime, computer, and console game geeks, and do anything but throw this out. You are your own victim, in that instance.

    Could guys be a little nicer, a lot less intrusive, and a lot more appreciative of what you do? You bet they could and, perhaps, it’s time to teach them a lesson, by covering your skin and acting like young ladies, rather than getting dressed up in skimpy, purposefully tight costumes designed to emulate those from television shows that get these young men pumped up in the first place, then when they see their dream anime girl is real, they pop their cork right then and there.

    How utterly silly could you be?! Enough is enough… THINK!!!

    • Never an excuse for being a jerk. Just because it is easy or opportunistic doesn’t mean it is justified. Granted, the rate of improper behavior increases as women’s clothing decreases, but a creepy look (while ewww) isn’t a straight forward accusation of whore or physical assault. I can’t stop a creeper from creeping, but we can all keep our hands off the ladies until given permission.

    • Yes, I totally agree that enough is enough. Think.

      Think.

      How dare you go and pin assaults back on the victim? Is is the victim’s choice to grab? Is it the victim’s choice to make perverse comments? Through your logic we can even go further into violence against women and say it’s the victim’s choice to be raped because she was just dressed like she wanted it. Where do you draw the line that comes between saying the victim brought the crime unto herself and that the assailant is fully accountable? Answer, the assailant is always fully responsible and to be held accountable for their actions. The assailant is responsible for maintaining control over their mouths and motor skills, not anyone else, if they decide to harass someone they think is sexy or scantily clad, that is their decision, no one forced them. No one grabbed their hands and put them on a woman’s breasts or hips or buttocks. No one held them at gun point and made them say lewd and other outrageously inappropriate things. Nope, not a single other person was involved. They accomplished that all on their own like the big grown-ups they are. Or are at least supposed to be.

      The idea isn’t don’t be a victim, the idea is don’t be a victimizer. Have some self control. Honestly, it’s insulting to men to say they can’t hold control over their own decision making abilities whenever they see a pair of breasts they like.

      Is it wrong to dress freely? No.

      Do women who wear conservative clothing like ankle length skirts or religiously based garments such as the hijab or even the burqa face sexual assault and lewd comments just as much as women who wear hotpants and bikini tops? Yes. They do.

      Is it too much to expect a little common human decency from other people no matter how you look? Never.

      The people at conventions are the same people we pass on the street in our daily lives, every single one of those con-goers, they don’t disappear. You say to expect this at a convention, you imply also, “Expect this on your way to buy some milk, and no complaining.”

      So where do you get off saying that women have no right to complain when these things happen to them?

      Because enough is enough. How silly can you be?

      • This irks me:

        “Do women who wear conservative clothing like ankle length skirts or religiously based garments such as the hijab or even the burqa face sexual assault and lewd comments just as much as women who wear hotpants and bikini tops? Yes. They do.”

        No, no they don’t. In fact, not even close. Those women are opressed. They face a situation potentially a million times worse than “lewd comments”. The women that we’re talking about here are not, because they won’t get beaten for showing “beautiful” eyes and being without a male companion. Holding “our” women in equal position with “their” women is outrageous. Your relativization of their position is an insult to their plight. It is also people like you who are making victims of themselves when they really, really should not be.

        Let me say it again, what you just said is an insult to women around the world who live lives with far fever rights than you can ever even imagine, and who actively try to improve their position in a society, an undertaking that is often a failure. And yet, you have the nerve to complain about “comments” which, according to you, equals you with them.

        While the original poster did come off as rough, he is right in that whoever (although he referenced only females) dresses provocatively, should expect that people are going to be attracted to them. To reiterate for a millionth time, simple biology. You flaunt your sex appeal, you turn heads. Mind you, I’m not talking about physical and verbal harassment (which is not OK, and which is NOT staring at your butt), but healthy, normal human response to attraction. Some people are more expressive in this regard, while others are not.

        As I’ve said before, this all can’t a person dress whatever he wants without being looked at for more than its clothes all does sound progressive and liberal, but it is actually backwards thinking that curbs sexuality and actually forces into a kind of repression.

        Being a sexual being is great. Try accepting it.

        • just to clarify, it may look like I missed the fact that you’re saying that the hijab/burka women ALSO face lewd comments, as do “our” women. I did not. Those women’s plight did not start because they dress how they dress. It goes much, much deeper than that, and it is inappropriate to use them as an example of oppression i.e. whatever you dress like, you’re gonna get oppressed. It is not like that. It has nothing to do with the way they dress. It did not start because of that.

          THIS situation, OTOH, did.

          That’s the difference.

    • WOW, just wow. “You DO NOT have a right to complain, or take up ANY case, nor a reasonable expectation as to your physical safety” WHAT WORLD DO YOU LIVE IN???? I live in the United States of America. I have every right to expect physical safety and a reasonable expectation of it.

      I also have a brain in my head and keep my head up when I leave my house, look around and make sure a car isn’t barreling down the road to run me down while I’m backing out.

      But that fact that I have size G breasts EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE doesn’t give you a RIGHT to grope them, stare at them, But according to you, if I wear I shirt that is low cut and tight (and yes, if I wear a shirt that fits me I can guarantee it would be inappropriate to leave the house in according to YOUR rules) I should expect to be treated rudely by the males in this world. GUESS WHAT, it doesn’t happen that way. I work in a male dominated field, I can wear a shirt that low cut and not have them staring at my chest while I’m having a conversation with them.

      GROW UP, Enough is Enough, stop acting like a 12 year old going through puberty and control your stupid hands!!!

      • Completely agree Carrie, as another large chested lady.

        But as some guys have found out if they make lewd comments to me or try to grab me they get a swift kick between the legs.

        I was a ski racer so I have very, very strong kicks :)

        %ssholes you have been warned…like you fleciboj…

        • why me?
          In fact, I’m calling for such measures exactly, as they, IMHO, should be preferred before mounting an all out name-calling initiative on the internet.
          It would save us a lot of time and nerves and accusations of rape, perversion, lewdness and a whole other plethora of things which mostly aren’t true for 99% of western population.

          And calling me an asshole, why? because I refuse to bow down to all the rape! harassment! pervert! argumentation, that explains what happens in everyday living with an astounding 0% accuracy?

          No thank you.

    • Paul, that is such a line of bull, I don’t know where to begin. Thus I’ll just keep it simple so you can understand. No matter what a woman is wearing, the proper thing to do is:
      1) Keep your hands to yourself.
      2) Ask before taking a picture, which you then show to the cosplayer.
      3) Be polite if they say no.
      4) Think with your brain, not your dick.

      No cosplayer, no matter what they’re wearing deserves to be groped, insulted, degraded, or having that surreptitous pic of their rear end taken. If your course of response is to say a cosplayer is “asking for it,” then you’re more dog than person.

  25. I find it to be a quite ill conceived notion. When the demographics at ANY comic book convention are males 12-40, it isn’t like they are used to being around girls at all. I don’t think women should be grouped or grabbed, but, if you go to a convention with your boobs hanging out, a thong and who knows what else….YES, you are going to get comments.

    Comments should be expected. To not expect them is to be foolish.
    If I went to a convention dressed as Captain America, and didn’t expect anyone to comment on my costume, I’d be an idiot.
    No, harassment is not okay, grabbing is not okay.
    To expect NO ONE to comment is foolhardy.
    I have seen women wearing next to nothing at cons, and if they think they aren’t going to get drooled over they are either naive, or stupid.

    • Because sexual assault is a first world problem…

      That’s what this problem boils down to, unwanted photographs of sexual nature, lewd and crude verbal comments and physical violations are all forms of harassment and sexual assault. None of those things are isolated to the first world. It’s just that people don’t normally remember or pay attention to the fact that these things happen in a community subculture that is generally expected to have kinder, more aware folks due the the fact that we’re all supposed to appreciate comics, movies, storyline, not to mention heroes and understand the ideals held up by popular characters like Super Man, Wonder Woman, V or Sailor Moon.

  26. Yes, comments SHOULD be expected, but there’s nothing stopping a guy from being RESPECTFUL about the comments they make. “Hey, your costume is amazing, It must have taken a lot of work to put together” is a lot more respectful than “Hey, nice ass!”

    I totally agree that harassment and grabbing are definitely not okay, and honestly, punishment at these events for doing so should be added.

    As a performer at multiple of the conventions, I actually look out for this (I have friends in both the Suicide Girls and Cosplay community, and they both get treated like CRAP, and do what I can to defend them.)

    We are HUMAN. We have BRAINS. Our brains can and will OVERRIDE our instinct and hormones. If you can be polite about it, you can easily treat a cosplayer, whether or not they are dressed in clothes that are exposing their body with respect.

  27. Exactly. Thank you. My friend was walking to the elevators, in a crowded hotel, when she bumped into a person. Maybe I should have been more expressive about the story, but sheesh. I’m so over this victim blaming culture we live in.

  28. I appreciate the comments here where victims of unwanted attentions serve it back at the jerks. Grab a booty, get a boot in the junk. Immediate justice served without going to extremes or involving the patriarchal culture. Circumvent the victim blaming by refusing to be a victim!

    Of course, not everyone is able to fight back with the fluid grace of the character they portray. We all must do our part to adapt the scene to include these confident women who just want to have fun. I’ll never draw a line where a woman dresses “dirty enough” to justify any treatment. The only place that line exists is where SHE draws it and lets YOU know it. Appreciate the expression, respect the person!

  29. I just want to add here, too many of you are focusing on the instance where I asked a Guy With a Camera to stop taking upskirt photos of a costumer. I see a lot of “Well, if they are dressing sexy, of course they are going to be stared at!” Not once did I say that people can’t look. I’m not asking for thought police here. The larger issue is the physical touching, the rude and lewd comments, the things you wouldn’t do in a normal, every day setting, bu somehow feel untitled to act that way at a convention or online. THAT is the issue.

    Of course people are going to look. Of course the medium is full of sexualized characters that we emulate. And there is nothing wrong with being sexy. But there needs to be a line between what you think and what you actually say and do.

    I addressed that issue in another piece over here. It’s more tongue and cheek and an op ed piece. Don’t go looking for my journalistic integrity on this one, guys. – http://takopop.com/how-not-to-talk-to-cosplay-girls/

    • Regarding the upskirting thing, it is not the stopping part that is the problem. I would have done the same, most likely. It is in labeling the guy a “pervert” (if you are the author of a text that is linked in this main text, if not, my apologies) which is, in this context, an imprecise term that can lead to broad generalizations down the line, and actually artificially inflating a person’s offence greatly.
      It is in essence, similar to calling a scantily-clad, flirty women a hooker.

      Also, by that logic, most of the guys at Anime cons are closet pedophiles / hebephiles, because they are attracted to women who dress like 9-14 y.o. girls. And that, I believe, is really far from truth.

    • I was just thinking about that post.

      Some people here need to realize that there is a difference between Looking, Staring and Touching. (and Appropriate/Inappropriate photography)

      I missed the last comicon here in PDX as I had to work, but my friend did go and there was a chick dressed as vamprella whose outfit sometimes showed more than it should… and she kept following him around wanting her picture taken and posing herself inappropriately. She was the exception to the rule, but it does happen.

  30. And it’s not just costumers being harassed at cons.

    I’m an editor, I don’t cosplay, and I’ve been harassed.

    In fact, after several of my female friends and I all had bad experiences at one particular con last year, we decided to light a candle instead of curse the darkness, and thus was born Nerdiquette 101. We attend conventions in the southeastern US and do panels that range from “Hey, maybe you’re not aware that that creepy thing you’re doing is creepy” to “if you’re being creeped on, here’s some steps you can take,” and more.

    https://www.facebook.com/Nerdiquette101?ref=ts&fref=ts

  31. My main point is this: People are not nice, or considerate or polite. I am sure comments are made that don’t need to be, I do not condone the touching…I just can’t swallow this whole “I’m a victim.” routine.
    If someone touches you and they didn’t have permission to, then I say give them a black eye and send them crying home to mommy.
    But, to complain about the comments is futile. I don’t care if it is a man commenting on a woman or a woman commenting on a man, it is going to happen, so put on your grown-up pants and deal with it.

  32. Don’t even get me started on the crap I have to deal with as a Crossplayer.

    It’s either the guys who don’t care I’m dressed as a girl and try to flirt, the ones who think I am and take pics without permission, and the ones who call me names because I’m dressed as a girl.

    Conventions are places of artistic freedom.

    Lets keep it that way.

  33. Happened to agree with this, getting to see the costumes people spend time and money on is great. And having people like this make CON’s even better for people who work CON’s. Nothing is better then seeing people enjoying their time. Its just like any other thing. ASK to take a picture, and mind your manners. Would you want someone touching your child, with out them saying its OK. To all you who bring different charters to life THANK YOU.

  34. Dear Gods, where to start…well photo’s, where I live it IS illegal to take pictures of someone without their permission so it’s not a problem I’ve ever faced, and that includes at the few conventions we have here.
    On comments… It does not matter what I am wearing, if you can’t be polite, then don’t say anything. I could be wearing two spangles and a scarf and you still have no right to verbally harass me (that’s what rude/offensive comments are – Verbal harassment). you also have no right to touch me in any way I don’t want, my clothing, whatever it may be is not an invitation, I am not wearing it for you, I am most likely wearing it for ME and I really don’t care if your about to jizz in your pants because of what I’m wearing, that’s not my problem, it’s yours, if you can’t control yourself in public, then you shouldn’t be in public, end of story, it is NEVER the fault of the person you’re looking at. If you like my costume, tell me you like my costume, don’t tell me you like my body, the first shows an appreciation of the effort taken to make the costume, the second shows that you don’t see me as a person, at best you see me as scenery, at worst as an object solely for your satisfaction. It might seem like a subtle distinction, but it is a huge difference.
    How someone dresses is never an excuse for inappropriate behavior, but even more so at a con. People at conventions are wearing costumes, and it is known that what they are wearing is a costume and as such the only thing that says about them is that they like that character. THAT IS ALL, it doesn’t say that they are soliciting attention from anyone who is interested and it is certainly not an invitation to harass them. Whatever other reasons they may have for choosing that costume are their own and no business of yours.
    At a convention the aim of costumes is to emulate an existing character, as a female, unless I wanted to cross-dress, limiting my costume choices to “non-sexy” or “non-revealing” costumes eliminates at least 90% of those choices, and cons are HOT (I’m talking about the temperature here), given a choice of a full body costume or the aforementioned two spangles and a scarf, practicality tells me I will be physically a lot more comfortable in the spangles. Too be honest I stand in awe of people who wear full body costumes (especially things like animals with fur) and stay the whole day at a con, I don’t know how you do it, I’d be falling over from heat stroke within an hour.
    in the end it comes down to respect, respect the people around you as individuals and treat them with courtesy.

  35. People that will do what are asked generally don’t need to be told this to begin with. The people that do need to be told this generally won’t follow the advice.

  36. Some of the comments on here are disgusting. It doesn’t matter how someone is dressed. It’s about respecting someone you DO NOT KNOW. It’s called common courtesy.
    If someone is comfortable doing something with their friends, that’s one thing (i.e a girl allowing her boyfriend to kiss or touch her). If a stranger tries the same thing I’m pretty sure it would not be a pleasant experience. Why? Familiarity, trust, consent.

    Let’s make one thing clear here, no one is talking about ogling eyes. If I dress as a scantily clad character, I know there will be people looking at me, maybe even say some type of comment when I walk by. I expect this because I know human nature.
    Does this mean I’m entirely comfortable with it? Does this mean I dress that way because I want the attention. Does it mean that I’m asking for it because I like it? Actually NO it doesn’t.

    When it comes to cosplay, there are a lot of different reasons a person may want to portray a character. Considering a lot of female characters, especially in video games, are scantily clad, for men and even women to assume that dressing up as that character means they’re looking for sexual or physical attention is wrong.

    In general, female characters wear revealing or tight clothing in games and even comic books, does this mean that just because she’s wearing a low cut top I don’t like her personality? Or that my hours of reading or playing as this character didn’t make me want to cosplay her? A lot of characters I want to cosplay are from childhood games, and cosplaying them would mean a huge accomplishment for me. It does NOT mean that I’m some attention seeking woman looking for men to harass me or make inappropriate comments,

    Most of my friends are men, and in general I expect a certain amount of respect from them. That means there are certain things that do not bode well with me, and they understand that. Lewd and sexual comments is one of them. So if I don’t even joke around with friends in that manner, how do you think a perfect stranger would make me feel?

    The issue here is that these women are not just randomly deciding to dress in scantily clad clothing. It’s about portraying a character for a reason. Whether the reason is for attention, nostalgia, admiration of a character, or any other reason, no one should assume anything about a perfect stranger. Have some tact.

  37. I am a big fan of this article, as a cosplayer, a martial artist, and a women’s defense/rape defense instructor, and someone with a form of PTSD. I’m a 32 year old male, and in spite of this, I have experienced this when I’ve cosplayed certain characters. I actually have black marks on my record, or have been asked to leave certain cons because I’ve been grabbed, groped, hugged or grabbed by someone who I could not see, etc, and reacted in the way I have been trained/conditioned to, which is to treat such unwanted, unasked for, unwarranted contact as an attack until and unless proven otherwise. I have also had problems because I willingly and knowingly came to the defense of somebody, whether friend or stranger, who spoke up against another con-goer who was behaving inappropriately. I’ve been lucky enough at most of the cons I frequent to know the volunteers, staff, and/or cops, when it comes down to it, but there were times when I actually have come to blows with people over this. I want con-going to be safe for all.

  38. I don’t cosplay, but I have a few friends who do (which is how I found this article). Here’s my thought:

    Bikinis (and the male equivalent, speedos) are they appropriate attire in every situation? No. Are they appropriate in some situations? Absolutely – pools, beaches, etc. When a female is at the beach in a bikini (or a male is there in a speedo) do people think it’s OK to just run up and grab them by their anatomy? Absolutely not.

    What makes cosplay any different? Is an elaborate (even tight/skimpy) costume appropriate for everyday wear? Probably not. Is it appropriate at a con? Of course!

    Now, I think that while this analogy addresses the appropriate standards for physical contact, there is still the issue of verbal harassment and photos, which are probably similar in both situations, and unacceptable in both situations.

    • Surely depends on the beach.

      In fact, some beaches, at certain times are well known for its actual sexual charge, i.e. during Spring Break, or Ibiza during summer. Spain or Brazil, anyone?

      Family beaches are not like that, but fear not that even there there are people taking photos of attractive women, and countless more ogling them.

      Cosplay is sexualized. Regardless of appropriatness, naked skin coupled with tight clothes and/or fetishistic items (garter belts and fishnets, thongs, panties and cape look(also for men)), brings on the sexual charge no matter how much people try to present it as non-sexual.

      I really don’t understand the fuss about photographers, but okay. I, for one, wouldn’t mind it.
      Verbal harassment is vague. People are offended for various, and as much as I’ve read, sometimes trivial reasons that I really don’t give this much afterthought.

      Actual sexual (and by that I mostly mean physical) harassment is inappropriate no matter what.

  39. Hey Guys, I had to delete a comment left by a Troll, which nuked all comments underneath. I’m sorry about that, but I just couldn’t keep that comment there.

  40. I understand how horrible it is to be harrassed by people and treated like an object but I have to say maybe some of the costumes being worn are too revealing. Yes, it sucks that people can’t wear what they want because others are too immature and disrespectful. The best way to avoid lewd comments is to not dress in skimpy clothing, it’s as simple as that! And shouldn’t we be trying to help those people who suffer with seeing others as objects by dressing appropriately? Cosplay doesn’t need to be revealing!

  41. I remember years ago at Comic-Con in San Diego looking down and seeing a guy lying on his back on the floor taking pictures up my skirt. I was so flustered that I didn’t do anything. Other people had to have seen this, because a person lying on the floor is an oddity and pretty noticeable if it’s not sneaking up on you as it was for me. There were plenty of gropings and lewd comments, but that was by far the worst experience of that type I ever had. I don’t care if people are taking pictures without asking, because when you go to a place like that in costume you are part of the scenery, but that was just disgusting.

  42. I regularly attend Phoenix Comic Con, and I completely agree with the standards of courtesy when it comes to those in costumes and others at all times. I apologize if I bump into people, I may stare a little at an attractive young woman, but mean no offense, and I ALWAYS ask if I can take a picture of someone. It’s just common courtesy, and should be applied to everyone. If someone wants to touch me, personally, I always appreciate if they ask first

  43. Have any of you cosplayers actually tried slapping the shit out of a man when they grab your ass or tits in broad daylight around thousands of people? Seriously, stop “talking” about it online. Be a woman and slap the fucking shit out of them if they grab your ass or tits. They are going to be too big of a pussy to do anything back to you and if they did, I’m sure one of the thousands of men, along with security that are there will beat the shit out of him for you if he tries to harm you.

    Happened to me last year at Otakon, Guy grabbed my ass, so I turned around and slapped the shit out of him. He wasn’t expecting it at all and some of the men around us even came over and asked ME, not him, but ME what happened, its like he didn’t even exist. All they saw was me angry, and some pervert holding his face. The pervert proceeded to get dragged out by his hair.

    Dont take shit from these perverts, Don’t even waste your breath on them. Slap them, which makes them look like a rapist in front of everyone, then walk away.

    Sincerely a Female Cosplayer from Philadelphia.

    • Happened to me and I did slap the shit out of him. What happened? The security guard ran to me telling ME to calm down and that I can’t act that way. That severely pissed me off and I went off on him telling him the guy grabbed my boob and then him telling him if ever touched a woman without her permission again and I saw it I would break him dick. It was only then the security guard threatened to throw the guy out but the guy’s face was so red that the security guy looked him over. I told the security that he was lucky all he got was my hand and next time he should be doing his job not checking out the women.

      The guy did apologize and I’m sure he didn’t try that again too soon.

  44. WRONG, photographs are not harassment or assault: if they were everybody at TMZ would be in jail. When you’re out in public you’re out to be photographed- unless it’s an upskirt there’s no legal (and to me, no moral) problems.

    Let’s focus on the actual bad things like lewd comments & the far worse physical/sexual assaults. If I’ve got my ass hanging out I’m well aware people will be looking at it, and I see no difference between a picture and a stare. Take a shot of my ass or cleavage if you really want, touch me and like my girl Daenerys I’ll make sure it’s the last time you have hands.

  45. I would like to ask a question, and I’m being serious here. Have ladies found this to be much less of an issue in Canada? The reason I ask is I once (2002ish) modeled at a convention for a friend who does special effects make up and I was wearing boots, a thong, prosthetic horns and paint.

    I walked around and handed out business cards for my friend and quite a few people (mostly guys) asked for pictures of or with me. I never caught anyone taking my pic without permission and anyone I took a pic with either didn’t touch me at all or only in a platonic way.

    The ONLY distasteful comment I received was one guy who asked “if he licked me would his tongue turn red” and I told him “his eye would turn black”. He laughed and said “Sorry that was kinda rude.” So I just wonder when I read this stuff are Canadians better behaved or has this just gotten worse in the past few years?

  46. This who thing turns into a “victim blaming” flame fest every time this get’s brought up.
    Ladies (and gentlemen) there is a thing called Personal Responsibility.
    Let me brake it down two ways
    While working at a local theater taking tickets a girl came through my line, she had remove the belt strap from her jeans so her butt pretty much fell out of her pants. Now I am male and even though I try not to be quite so caveman about such things this was like a train wreck. I simply couldn’t look away. When she walked past then turned to ask again which theater she was going into she caught me staring. Ok got me, red handed, I stopped but she went into a tare about how much of a perv I was and she felt so victimized. Sorry no, you wanted people to look at your butt, your only a victim because I’M the guy that looked (take a guess I’m not that attractive)
    in the second instance, I took to a local street party one Halloween as Darth Vader. Dressed from head to toe in all black, barely able to see and just there to have a good time with friends. People start taking pictures. I’m ok with this. People start wanting to take pictures with me. Sure. after the 5th or 6th time of some girl grabbing my ass to “see how the nerd would react” I figured it was time to stop letting people take pictures with me. I was still happy to take pictures. Posed, light up a light saber, spent a lot of time in front of a flash. But I did not allow people to take pics with me. I knew my crowd. A few years later at a book store event for Empire’s 30th I was Vader again. I was happy to let people take pics with me. I knew my crowd.
    Long story short. Yes people should be respectful of you in costume, but we ALL need to take a little personal responsibility now and then.

  47. We do not make the costume designs, we don’t decide what these characters should look like. It’s all over video games, even for characters who are not provocative even in the slightest. A costume is not consent in any way, just as normal clothes are not… or wearing a swim suit at the beach/water park. A costume at a convention, isn’t unexpected either.

    We shouldn’t be victimized and afraid to show what we like. Yes those characters might not be the best dressed at times, but why does it matter? Conventions are supposed to be a place to gather. Cosplay originated at conventions as a way to run into like-minded fans. No one wears costumes for anyone, we wear them for ourselves. The pictures, fine, whatever, it’s bound to happen. But you really are clueless, aren’t you? It’s not JUST pictures and comments or side remarks. That’s just the lowest of the “harassment” women cosplayers have to deal with at conventions. It’s not right, but it happens. However we don’t ask for it or anything more. Even if we wear more than the character does, and more than one wears to a water park, we’re still open to harassment thanks to people who think just like you. We ask for nothing, at least not all of us.

    Things have gotten to the point I don’t feel safe at my safe place of conventions anymore thanks to stupid guys who can’t think with their brain and how a human should act and respect others. And I know I’m not the only one. Going to conventions is a way to find new friends, and others who like what I like, not be harassed and have my space invaded by strangers. I shouldn’t have to worry about thinking which costumes I can’t wear to a convention because “oh the top is too low cut” or “I’m going to edit this costume to be more covering, it might not be perfect to the character but it’ll fit in better and be more comfortable.” I’ve never been harassed at the water park, but when I wear more to a convention including pants, with a skirt, like the character does, and wearing more of a top than in the video game, I still get harassed. I shouldn’t have to put away a costume I love, because of those people who can’t respect my space. I wish I could’ve done something, at least get a face but it was way too crowded in that hallway, and I was even with the rest of my cosplay group. It infuriates me, the photos I expect, but not the rest. Believe me I have no tolerance for it at all.

    And before you say “oh it was the top of the costume being too skimpy” one of my friends got kissed, without permission out of the blue wearing costume head-toe with armor. They invaded her space and could’ve or actually did damage her costume.

    Every time I think about a new costume I always think about the idiots who’ll have no respect for me. I shouldn’t be scared to go, and show what I love through costume. We don’t decide how these characters should look. Cosplay, like other apparel, is not consent.

  48. I had a debate about this a few times within the last few months.

    One guy who is very popular – a “IT” guy to know in the pirate community and anyone who is anyone worth knowing adores him otherwise your not cool (average age 40)…. shoved his hand down my corset and grabbed my boob. When I brought it up anonymously online the reaction from men and women were if your a pirate then this is acceptable, your inviting men and women to grab you and poke you however they like and if you say anything against it your a prude and not a real pirate… NO ONE in this group is a “real” pirate otherwise they would be on a Wanted poster.

    Another guy from the same community did the tongue between the fingers at me while drunk. I immediately left and stopped talking to him but the couple of people who know (one being very religious) doesn’t believe he meant anything by it….I’m the problem in both times.

    This is a real problem and real life carries over into cosplay and men who wouldn’t think of doing this to a woman (or a man) dressed in non-cosplay attire suddenly thinks it’s ok to assault or be a complete asshole because a woman is dressed sexier than their everyday attire. It’s never ok – NEVER. Until we don’t accept it in everyday life I don’t think we are going to be able to accept that this kind of behavior is ok in the cosplay life. The only thing we can do to decrease this kind of stuff is stick up for each other when we see it happen and stop worrying about being one of the cool kids.

    • …..and it is because of these last two experiences that I have no interest in dating anyone anymore. I know that not all men are like this but “normal” guys think I’m weird and slutty and cosplay guys is like Russian roulette except there is only one empty chamber instead of five.

  49. I appreciate the last bit, that we have to watch out for each other. There’s no excuse for standing by in silence while someone is wronged.

    Especially if you enjoy going to these events. Otherwise people will eventually stop dressing up. Remember if only takes a few jerks to ruin the fun for everyone but it only takes one person to speak up against it.

  50. This unfortunately is not a new problem with cameras. They have been used to make even innocent pictures into sex pictures. Marilyn Monroe had men take pictures up her skirt, while she was sitting on stage.
    It needs to be addressed by everyone. Especially by women about this being done to women. Not that it being done to men is alright. But women have always been a target for all sorts of aggression and harassment. Just for the fact that they are female.

  51. As a woman I think about the possibility of being harassed when I choose my outfits/costumes. I avoid sexy costumes like Wonder Woman and instead go for not provocative; Pikachu or a zombie.
    Still, I understand that it is only a few unsocialized jerks who make all the headlines and don’t represent the majority of men out there (who are wonderful, btw).
    But think about it this way: If we eliminated the jerks then more women would feel safe enough to dress however they wanted and this would lead to more cleavage displayed! A win for everybody who likes cleavage! FIGHT FOR CLEAVAGE!

  52. Biology and attraction are not excuses for behavior. I’ve heard that same “reasoning” used to defend the actions of rapists. People are more than their base urges, and society should reject the idea that any victim is somehow to blame for being taken advantage of. I don’t care how much pseudo-intellectual garbage you pile into your argument, it is still bullshit.

  53. What i’d like to know is what constitutes lewd comments or harrassement. What’s the line between compliments and lewd comments? Ofcourse touching is out of the question and sexual remarks as well. But is i say something like “That outfit compliments your feminin lines” or “Your outfit has a lot of cleavage, that really looks good on you” am i harassing? Ofcourse when you want to take a picture you ask if thats ok. But if you then see the poses that some do for the picture… You do wonder sometimes. Doesn’t excuse asshole behaviour but some pose as if they’re posing for hustler…

  54. Wow I never seen so many replies to a story on here! ^_^

    I’ve only been to a handful of events that have cosplay going on. Obviously if a woman is dressed as a sexy character then they will get started at by nerds, underage horny boys, perverted men and then the average every day male. I’ve looked too, they look nice. Although I am usually not staring at their chest or anything (well not often). I love seeing all the designs people come up with.

    But people taking upskirt photos and groping the woman is not needed. These are not women that are there to strip. They are there to show off their awesome cosplay outfit they made and/or bought…etc. They need the same respect the men do in their cosplay gear. Sure a man wouldn’t likely complain if a woman if a woman groped him. But thats because men are sexual by nature…sadly. lol

    Heck I’m sexual, being married relives any urges though. ^_^ Point is if anyone goes to a perverse level when they see woman in the outfits then they need to be escorted away. Sexual harassment is still sexual harassment no matter where a woman is at and no matter whats shes doing. So this story needs to be posted and men need to be respectful.

    BTW while I used to stare at a attractive woman before, I’ve always tried to be respectful about it because it does not say “Grade A Meat” on them. They are not sex objects. And being married I don’t even notice other women. My wife is the most beautiful woman to me. I know if she was doing cosplay and some guy groped her I would whip out pepperspray, spray him in the face, then spray him in the pants. Look, don’t lust over my wife.

    Since I am italian we have a saying in the family… “You touch a my wife, I break a your face!”. You have to say it with an italian accent (kinda like mario…granted I don’t sound like that) to understand it better lol.

  55. Wow. Where has the common sense gone?

    Be respectful.

    Treat people how you would expect to be treated.

    Why is this so simple, yet so hard to do?

  56. I agree with the entire start of the piece, but then it degrades, adding in the stuff about hostile reactions for running into people. Please, folks, learn to write. Writing isn’t just forming correct sentences, but sticking to a single topic. Narrowly.

    The main topic was sexual harassment justified by provocative costumes. By adding in the off-topic subject of hostile or rude reactions regardless of costume, relevancy is lost.

    As for harassment, it goes both ways. I get groped (by both genders; Seattle can be a bit TOO “enlightened” at times) even in my regular (non-office) costume of snug 501s or 7s. I usually just sidle away, but when it crosses your threshold, respond loudly, yell “Hey! Hands off!”. Embarrass them and draw attention.

  57. I agree with the article, however I think this is just another symptom of why Cons are not fun anymore. I attended MegaCon 2013 and was miserable. A giant, chaotic, crowded, unorganized mess, only led to short tempers and bad attitudes.

    Photographers constantly taking photos of Cosplayers were rude and annoying. Kids taking pictures with Cosplayers were told to “get out of the way” by men with a photo studio on their back more than once.

    MegaCon was my last and I’ve been going for over 10 years.

  58. I know three sides to this story! Those who go to attract other people, those who dress up because of the love of the character, and those who do it and have no idea why they dress up at all. Sometimes I’m working, sometimes I just go, other times for a guest star. So while some will cry wolf for one camera they are willing to say yes to someone whom they like but has the same creep vibe. I see it and hear it at every convention I go to. Just remember most of these conventions are family friendly so do not wear something that shows something you wouldnt allow your own kids to put on. If your going to wear it anyway, remember America does have “Adults only” conventions. For those who might not be that smart on this yes, Adult movies have all kinds of conventions around the US, I attended one when i was a dancer in the early 90′s in SD, CA.

  59. IMO, one solution would be to get guys into cosplay a little bit more. I mean, one hypothesis I have as to why Kearstin Nicholson has never had some sort of in-person harassment is A) odds are, a 6′ redhead is freaking intimidating in her own right but B) her boyfriend is even bigger than she is, and if someone messed with her, well, there’s a 6′+ dude right there. And at MTAC? That wolverine she was hanging out with? Holy guns, Batman!

    When I was on birthright in Israel, our tour staff basically told us to stay together, and multiple times he told guys to watch the ladies, because there might be some sketchy folks out there. Maybe a bit chauvinistic, but I think would be con-creepers would be a little bit hesitant around someone cosplaying as Vergil (that katana may not be sharp, but I’ve seen blunt ones sold at Philly Comic Con for $25, and I would not want to be on the receiving end of a whack from one of those).

  60. I’d just like to mention that I have been to Convergence many times and I don’t know about other cons, but at convergence there is a super-intense feeling/vibe of sexual energy amond everyone, especially at the late-night parties. I have heard it is the same way, worse even, at Dragoncon. I’m not saying you can just club anyone over the head and have your way with them, but the amount of people looking to party and hook-up far outweigh the ones who don’t. Sometimes making “lewd comments” is just a way of finding out who is dtf and who is not.

  61. It is my opinion that it is past time that cosplayers were given their due as artists. Some of these costumes are intricate, gorgeous works of art into which the individuals have put their time, effort, creativity and hearts. And they should ALL be accorded the respect one gives an artist! No one should be rude or be touching them. Permission for photos should be acquired before taking pictures. They should be accorded simple, human dignity.