This project was inspired by a friend’s initiative at A-kon to turn something negative about conventions into a positive. Anytime she was sexually harassed while in cosplay, she was going to donate $1 to the local women’s shelter. Even though she was in a ballgown, she still raised $30.
She made me think about how the issue of sexual harassment has affected my cosplay choices and my enjoyment of a convention. Sexual harassment, bullying, and general disrespectful behavior is rampant at cons, and that is not okay. For some reason, attendees think real world rules and manners do not apply to them at a convention. I know people who had half of their elaborate costume ripped off by an overzealous glomper, who were pressured incessantly to have their picture taken (even when not in costume), who were bashed on-line for no reason other than they didn’t fit someone’s definition of “pretty”, and who endured physical harm. These are girls and guys of all ages, and when I pass along these stories, I often hear in response “I didn’t know that kind of stuff happened at a convention.”
It’s time to get these stories out in the open so that people know that racism, bullying, inappropriate physical contact, slut-shaming, and even rape is present in the cosplay world. So that “I didn’t know” can no longer be an excuse for someone’s behavior. I want to interview cosplayers for this blog and get to know them beneath the layers of fabric (the title is also a pun off the Japanese term for cosplayers). Many “Cosplayer of Month” features seem to be focused on attractive girls with modelesque physiques or people who happen to look like the characters. Cosplayers deserve recognition for their skill and dedication, and they deserve to be heard. I want to see what they have to say about the issues of harassment and bullying and to remind readers that they do have the right to say “no” to requests for photos or fanservice. Even if we’re pretending to be a fictional character or some celebrity, at the end of the day, we’re unique individuals who deserve to be treated respectfully.
Please let me know if you’d like to help out. I want perspectives from all ages, genders, and genres. In the future, I hope to incorporate perspectives from steampunks, Lolitas, and maid cafe members because let’s create a welcoming environment for all con-goers.