Hooray for my debut article for GayGeek! My name is Mina Nevada and I’m excited to be a part of the team.
My topic of choice is, appropriately, my favourite hobby; cosplay. Specifically, I’m talking about a social media campaign which has garnered a lot of attention recently: Cosplay ≠ Consent.
For those unaware, ‘cosplay’ is a hobby comprised of ‘costume’ + ‘play’, which refers to dressing up in character-accurate costume and taking on that character’s persona. Cosplay is unique in its performative nature and the attention ‘cosplayers’ place on costume accuracy. While it’s great fun, it can sometimes come with a few unsavoury experiences; those particular experiences are what this campaign wants to address.
Cosplay ≠ Consent, or CONsent, is the movement started by Sushi Killer over at 16-Bit Sirens. Primarily based in social media, the campaign seeks to change attitudes about acceptable behaviour toward people in costume. Essentially, the aim is to stop stories like these from happening.
The idea of CONsent doesn’t only apply to overt, unashamedly hurtful actions: it breaks into the largely-ignored territory at the centre of the ‘bad experience’ spectrum. There’s a lot of neglected space between no-harm-at-all and full-on sexual assault. Given that the latter is relatively uncommon at your typical convention, most negative experiences fall into this middle category.
So what exactly sits at the centre? It could be that little comment about how brave you are to “dress outside your body type”. That hug which ends with a ‘casual’ pat on your backside. That one photographer who gets right in your face and takes a candid photo without asking permission.
The bulk of negative experiences which can put a sour edge to your day are these little things. The perpetrator might not fit the description of your typical creeper – they might be totally unaware that their conduct has caused offense or discomfort. When these are your circumstances, you might even feel like the bad guy for speaking out at all.
CONsent is about starting that conversation: empowering cosplayers to raise issues which might be hard to articulate. It’s about highlighting what might otherwise go unchecked because ‘there wasn’t any touching’ or ‘it was just a harmless joke’.
Why is a campaign for CONsent necessary? Because women in costume are still passed off as ‘exhibitionists’; dressing up solely for the fleeting attention of male attendees (the context of Harris’ rant can be found here). We need CONsent because assumptions like “they were dressed in showy costume; they should expect this” are used to legitimise unwanted advances and inappropriate behaviour. Because we still assume that cosplayers are dressing for our approval and assessment rather than their own enjoyment.
Because we still struggle to get our heads around the fact that clothes are not a valid source of consent or information about the person wearing them.
The unique feature of cosplay – the ‘-play’ part – is also its most enjoyable. I love adopting a new persona for a day. I enjoy having people address me as that character and interact with me as if I truly am that character. But how far should that go? Is this an excuse to treat cosplayers differently in costume? Some answers don’t come easily, that much is clear. But where individual preferences vary, one thing remains constant; cosplayers are not really that fictional character. There is always a person behind the persona.
It doesn’t take much to tell the difference between reality and your fantasies and to understand that they do not always line up.
There is only so far you can take a fantasy. When you perpetuate these unsavoury behaviours, you steal away your fellow geek’s humanity. When you reduce a person to their costume and your arbitrary ideas of what that costume or character is all about, you deny them that status as a person. They become a fictitious identity; barely half a person.
It’s much easier to degrade or bully a piece of fiction than to do the same to a human being.
We need to debunk these harmful assumptions. Conventions are meant to be safe places where fans can meet and share mutual love for a show or an icon. They should not become battlegrounds for bodily sovereignty. Cosplay ≠ Consent is about making people feel safe to speak up if a line is crossed – and to ensure those who do are met with support instead of silence.
Respect your fellow fans, speak up for yourself and call out con-creeping – in all its forms. You might feel a bit awkward bringing it up, but it sure beats the discomfort of pretending nothing’s wrong. Protect CONsent!
Even if your name is Fan Service Renji, you still deserve dignity and respect.
What are your personal experiences/thoughts on Cosplay ≠ Consent? What is ‘too far’ in your view? Share your thoughts on CONsent below!
In my recent article ‘To Love a Villain’, I wrote about fans and our weird attractions to villainous characters. But where does the wider Australian population stand on dastardly villains and dashing heroes?
To coincide with the release of new game Injustice: Gods Among Us, NetherRealm Studios (creators of the Mortal Kombat franchise) conducted a study of a little over 1,000 young Australians to garner their opinion on some of DC’s most popular characters. The results are as follows:
Most Fashionable Superhero: for the women, we have Catwoman, closely followed by Wonder Woman. Most fashionable male superhero is (unsurprisingly) Batman.
Sexiest Superhero: Catwoman and Wonder Woman tied for the top place, with Batman again number one for men.
Classiest Superhero: This category had no clear winner, with Batman, Catwoman, Superman and Wonder Woman all very closely tied.
Most Evil Villain: The Joker won out the top spot, closely followed by Lex Luthor, Bane, Deathstroke and Harley Quinn.
Ugliest Villain: The Joker again had the dubious honour of taking top spot in this category, with Bane, Cyborg, Lex Luthor and Solomon Grundy as hot contenders.
Some of the results are also looking at how the individual states view certain characters. Apparently Victorians are the most likely to have a crush on a superhero – or super villain. Western Australians are into Catwoman in a big way, rating her highest in all categories, while people from South Australia are more afraid of Bane than any other state.
These results are interesting both for the general Batman character preferences and for the categories themselves – it says a great deal about the company and the gaming industry as a whole that categories like ‘Classiest’ and ‘Ugliest’ are considered important. It also says a lot about the Australian public and how we prioritise certain qualities and concepts of attractiveness.
Although I might take issue with some of the questions, Injustice still looks like a pretty great game. The character renders are dynamic and interesting, and the female characters are sexy while still looking powerful and generally not ridiculous.
Who’s your favourite hero/ villain? Let us know in the comments!
Kids are pretty adorable. They can also be brats, and do bad things, but we still think of them as innocent, un-corrupted. We project all of our fears onto children, building up bogeymen that are so much worse than anything that could be hiding in the cupboard. Every moral panic that floods our reason and chokes our sanity has one desperate scream at its centre: won’t somebody think of the children?
Canadian photographer Jonathon Hobin has created a wee bit of a frenzy with his series In The Playroom, which uses children to recreate some of the worst headlines from the last century of news. The series in intended as a critique of the way in which the media treats the news, sensationalising it and appealing to our basest interests. Some of the images are disturbing, made more so by the use of children as subjects. Much of the feedback has been typically hysterical, vilifying the parents of the models and panicking about the potential mental trauma for the children involved.
Sometimes, when people are morally offended, it has nothing to do with some kind of boundary being crossed. Offence is caused because on a subconscious level, we say to ourselves there is truth in this, a truth about me, and I don’t like that. Which is not to say all offensive matter is grounded in truth, or that we have to relate to something to be offended, but that in certain cases we react defensively about things we don’t want to admit to.
We gobble up sensationalised news stories like candy-coated painkillers, dumbing ourselves to what they actually mean for the people involved so we can get in a few dramatic gasps at the grisly details before switching over to X-Factor. We have been taught not to analyse or critique, only to watch news like we watch movie trailers – until the people in the stories stop being strange adults we’ll never meet and become children. Children, who we must protect. Children, who we must save from the horrors of the world. Children whom society must protect, not just police or politicians or the armed forces.
Hobin’s series forces us to think again about the news and how we consume it, how we talk about it and how we sympathise. And if that offends you, if you can’t look past the kids doing things you don’t like the idea of kids doing, then you aren’t thinking hard enough.
See a slideshow of some of the photographs and read an interview with the artist here.
What do you think of these photographs? Crass, artistic wankery, an ethical disaster, or a thought-provoking series? Let us know in the comments below.
So much more respect for Chris Evans (aka Captain America) when seeing his response to Ben Shapiro’s twitter posts. It went something like this:
This week Jason Collins came out as saying he is proud of who he is, a black christian gay basketball player. He also came out in Sport Illustrated, so in print! This is a big moment for him, after all it is hard to be a christian gay man in a field where being ‘a man’ is determined by how many chicks you score, and where locker room bonding is a thing.
So then Ben Shapiro had to be a douche and say these things about him:
The outlined bit is where I have a problem. Society in general make sportsmen and sportwomen out to be heroes, there are many young men and women, as well as adults who look up to these people and have them as their personal heroes. Okay so you may think that he isn’t a good player, well that is your opinion. The fact is however, to some people he is a great player and that he has the courage to stand up for himself and use that status as a rolemodel to do something like this should be applauded, especially in a field of work where people are mostly uncomfortable with playing alongside homosexuals.
But this isn’t even the worst of it! So Mr. Shapiro was getting a lot of hate from that, which I thought was a little unfair as he was trying to say that we should idolise players based on their skill and not on their personal lives (essentially). I felt a little bit of sympathy with him there. But then he had to be a sarcastic ass about it.
Okay, I get it, you are frustrated that people aren’t getting the real message, but don’t antagonise people and don’t make it into a ‘leftist’ statement.I am a leftie, but I know people who are conservative and still have issues with what you have said. Also, by grouping people like that you are doing exactly what you think they are doing – you are turning into the type of person who sees a sample of people and labels everyone who identifies in some way with that sample as being the same as that sample – you become ignorant to individuals and to the truth. It is a darn shame that you can’t see past it, because if you can you might be a happier person.
What’s really ironic is that by having this outburst, he has painted himself as the conservative caricature, or the “stereotypical Right wing man”. This in turn make us ‘lefties’ more unlikely to want to listen to what you are saying.
For everyone that has continued down to here, I would like to say that Ben Shapiro says he isn’t a homophobe – he was making a comment on what should really be valued in sports and what becomes a ‘sports’ star. However, I will disagree and say that what separates a run of the mill sports idol to a great hero isn’t just skill. It’s their strength of character, about doing what you preach even if it isn’t the popular way, trying to improve and better yourself and knowing that because you are in the lime light you have the opportunity to change perceptions and lives that not everyone has, as well as the determination and hard work they bring to their jobs. Not every celebrity has to do this, of course, and I’m not saying that they must. I’m saying that to be a hero worth following, it takes more than being famous and a hard worker. They are called heroes because the path they have chosen isn’t easy.
Ben Shapiro wants to voice his opinion and to have some sort of impact and possibly change some people’s minds. I have to say that you aren’t going to do that by telling people what’s wrong with them and how they need to change. You change people’s lives by modelling your values and becoming an inspiration to others. People aren’t stupid. If what you are doing is a perferable way of life or the ‘right’ way, then people will follow. No one wants to be aggressive and antagonistic.
After all theese tweets Chris Evans, Captain America, took one look and simply said:
Which, after how Ben Shapiro has reacted, I would have to say I agree.
To see more of Ben Shapiros reactions simply go to his twitter here: Ben Shapiro
By the way, let’s not all hate bash him. Don’t sink down to aggressive behaviour because I have a feeling what he has said in the first place was misconstrued (even though I didn’t agree with that statement in the first place) and he acted out of frustration. Let’s not fan the flames, but pour some water.
[I will like to very immaturely say that Ben Shapiro was figging OWNED by Captain America. In that one statement.]
After watching this video (sorry, we can’t seem to embed it so please watch it on Huffpost first!), what you should feel is anger and outrage. Oh and a spot of dark hilarity at the end. I’m refering to the ‘love people’ comment at the end and ‘speak truth’. By doing that you aren’t loving anyone. You are saying ‘this is wrong’, ‘you are wrong’ and ‘I don’t like you or your lifestyle’. How I know this and not think ‘but you are presenting observational facts’ is that you are taking the facts out of context.
Now I don’t believe anger solves anything, and in fact I believe it leads to a darker place, however I want to scream and punch, kick and yell, when I read supposed “facts” that homosexuality is “dangerous”. There seems to be a trend in the world of homophobia that smoking is healthier then being gay. I am ashamed to say that Jim Wallace, the
(dick) Head of the Australian Christian Lobby goes to universities and spreads out-of-context facts about how homosexuality is even more dangerous then smoking. And I quote:
“I think we’re going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community’s own statistics for its health — which it presents when it wants more money for health — [include] higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide…it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years…The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn’t smoke.”
So homosexuals have a higher rate of suicide and drugs you say? But why?! Could it be because the people around them don’t accept them for who they are and they feel overwhelming pressure to be something they aren’t. Or could it be because they are told that they aren’t “right” that what they do is “wrong” and “sinful”? Could it be that LGBT groups want more money to educate people and to teach children and adults about becoming accepting? Could it be that a large percentage of LGBT-related suicides have an underlying issue of acceptance, which directly contradicts your argument? What. A. Shocker.
A part of me is sorry that I am sinking down to a sarcastic level, but it just gets me so mad!! The whole story is: gay males have a higher suicide rate then straight males, this is mostly due to societal pressures and feelings of social exile and inadequency. THEREFORE the correct conclusion is to teach people to accept, not only tolerate, everyone for the way they were born. The incorrect conclusion is, therefore we need to exile them further and teach them how wrong they are and make them feel horrible about how they were born.
You see how that works, Jim Wallace? Also by university-level anyone with a brain can see you are full of bias. Smoking is actively engaging in a lifestyle, taking something into your body and proved to be toxic by its very components, as well as addictive. Being gay is something you are born as, it is being in a consenting relationship and like other ‘straight’ couples is none of your business, there is nothing harmful about being gay or engaging in a gay lifestyle (or any of the LGBTQI letters). Tell me, can I become bodily ill by standing next to a gay person? Can a pregnant woman be harmed by being in the presence of a gay person doing ‘gay activities’. Is there something biologically harmful about JUST being gay? Do they spread disease that a straight person can’t? I don’t think so! So don’t give me poppy cock about AIDS!
This post really isn’t anything new but I do want to say one thing that might be a little out of the box. I don’t believe in crazy Christians, but crazy people. Christianity is a wide spectrum and I feel that there are groups of Christians unfairly represented by those that are advertised as “those crazy Christians”. This isn’t a religion problem, it is a people problem.
Educate people and the problem becomes easier to solve.