Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent Oct09

Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent

Geek culture provides safe spaces for a lot of people; friends and fans alike can get together and enjoy similar interests. I have personally enjoyed many board game nights, trying out tabletop role playing games, watching superhero movies, and talking about favourite books with others. I have never felt unwelcome or unsafe. Geek culture has become mainstream enough to the point where many geeks and nerds who previously felt maligned by greater society have now found a place for themselves within it. Unfortunately, many women haven’t had the same experiences. I like to think of Comic Con as the ultimate fan experience and it is a dream of mine to visit San Diego’s one day. But sexual harassment is a huge problem at cons. A 2014 survey of con attendees reported that 13 percent of respondents said they received comments of a sexual nature at a con and eight percent said that they had been groped, assaulted, or raped. If 130,000 people attend a con (which is the average number of attendees at SDCC), 13 percent is 17,000 people. A woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her. One of the main reasons for the large amount of sexual harassment at cons is our society’s general acceptance of rape culture. Rape culture blames rape victims rather than their attackers and teaches women that they are responsible for the abuse that men visit upon them. It also teaches men that they are entitled to women’s bodies. Nowadays, when we hear of a woman being raped, the first questions often asked are, “what was she wearing?” and “was she drinking?” When a boy pushes a girl on the playground and it gets passed off as “boys will be boys,” it teaches him that his violent actions don’t have consequences. A push on the playground may seem insignificant, but a lifetime of passes builds up. “Cosplay is not consent sign, Javitts Center, New York City, New York, USA” by flickr/Cory Doctorow. It’s been difficult to make any headway in addressing this issue because many are quick to dismiss it. In 2014, a group called Geeks for CONsent began a petition calling for SDCC to create a formal, visible, anti-harassment policy, including on-site support for people who report harassment and signs throughout the convention publicizing the policy. In an interview for Comic Book Resources, [http://www.cbr.com/comic-con-responds-to-anti-harassment-petition-safety-and-security-is-a-major-concern/] Marketing and Public Relations Director David Glanzer responded that such a policy was already included in con pamphlets. But, he also said that their policy was deliberately broad and that, if they drew attention to sexual harassment, the media might think that there is a problem: “I think the news media, might look at this as, ‘Why would you, if this wasn’t such a bad issue, why do you feel the need to single out this one issue and put signs up about it?’ I think that’s a concern.” Others who dismiss the problem of sexual harassment at Comic Con often blame revealing costumes as the reason for comments and groping. This has led to a new movement called “Cosplay is not consent,” which endeavors to teach con attendees about appropriate contact—a woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her without asking first. New York Comic Con started putting up signs displaying “Cosplay is not consent” in 2014. Rape culture blames victims rather than their attackers. SDCC took a small step forward by sending out its anti-harassment policy in an email to ticket holders in 2014 (though, the policy is not available on SDCC’s website). But until more is done to curb harassment and assault still present in geek culture, women will continue to feel unsafe at Comic Con. Education about consent is vital to combating rape culture. Someone I know once said, “there is always one jerk who you just have to ignore,”...

Life Lessons I Learned from a Cosplayer Jun09

Life Lessons I Learned from a Cosplayer...

A short video popped up on my newsfeed today and I’m glad I decided to watch it. Yaya Han, a professional cosplayer, shares her journey “from amateur to cosplay queen”. As a cosplayer myself, I found Yaya Han’s story inspiring. Here’s a few things I picked up from her video. 1. Be dedicated It has taken her a very long time and lots of dedication to get where she is now. It did not happen overnight and It means that I can take a breath and go at my own pace. Like any sort of art form, cosplay takes time and practice to get good at and there’s always room for learning and improvement. 2. Do it because you love it We are so used to instant gratification that I often find myself getting impatient with my own lack of “cosplay fame.” I can get discouraged when only a few people like or comment on a new photo I post, or when no one asks to take my photo at an event. I compare my creations to the professionals and feel inadequate or that I can never measure up. Yaya’s story reassures me that cosplay is a journey just like anything else worthwhile in life. I don’t have to produce super-intricate folding wings, light-up helmets, or doorway-defying ballgowns in order to be a good cosplayer. I don’t need 5,000 likes and my own YouTube channel. I just need to love what I do and have patience. 3. Find confidence in who you are I can identify with Yaya’s story of growing up an outcast and finding cosplay as a safe place to express herself and build confidence. Yaya says, “I can dress up as a character that is stronger than me, that is more...

Fiction on My Skin: Connecting through Cosplay Dec07

Fiction on My Skin: Connecting through Cosplay

When I was seven years old, I made a tail and hooves out of my dad’s tube socks and went to church as Philippe, Belle’s horse from Beauty and the Beast. When curious passersby raised their eyebrows, my father (the very proud assistant pastor) would point at me and say, “Ask her!” And I would happily tell anyone who would listen that I was masquerading as my favourite steed. On the Disney scale of heroic horses, from one (Samson) to ten (Maximus), Philippe is in the negatives. But in retrospect, I think that’s why I chose him as my first (unofficial) cosplay. I saw myself in every wide-eyed balk and panicked whinny. The moment the shadows in the creepy forest started moving, I knew I’d dump poor Maurice on the road and run away too. If Phillipe’s cowardice drew me in, though, his strength is what kept me infatuated. He had the biggest hooves I’d ever seen—so big that, in my little mind, only my dad’s enormous tube socks could possibly do them credit. Philippe’s big hooves protected Belle from wolves until the Beast could make his heroic entry, and they rushed Belle to the Beast’s Castle just in time to save the cursed prince from giving up on life and love. These realizations only come to me now that I have the vocabulary to express them, but, in hindsight, I realize that Philippe taught seven-year-old me that even cowards could be heroes. Each time I pulled on the tube socks (and stuffed one in my pants for the tail), I felt a little of Philippe’s fight-or-flight courage brace me for my next battle with the boogeyman. Cosplay isn’t escapism; it’s a means to explore who we have the potential to be. I don’t stuff tube socks in my pants these days, but I still make a habit of dressing up as my favourite characters in public. Through cosplay, I find the ultimate creative challenge: embody the experiences I’ve had with a character or story and impart a little of that cathartic magic to others. Subconsciously, though, cosplay is a dedicated drive to become a little bit more like the characters I admire. Growing up, I loved to play “make believe,” pretending to be a knight or a dinosaur or Sonic the Hedgehog… I didn’t realize it then, but every time I set aside “Casey Covel” and became someone else, I was figuring out who “Casey Covel” actually was and who I wanted her to become. It’s been a while since I’ve run across a playground Sonic-style, but putting myself in the shoes of a fictional character is something I still do every time I open a book or power on a video game. By diving into the souls of characters from all walks of life, I take on foreign perspectives and expand my own. Sometimes, like C.S. Lewis, I find myself gawking, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” Fiction rarely provides direct answers, but always provides reflections—about the journey I have taken through life, about what I believe is true, and about what I want to change within myself. My life is a timeline of transformations influenced by the imaginary. Certain characters have lingered in my mind years after I finished their final chapters—from Matthias, who taught me that even a little mouse could triumph over evil, to Zack Fair, who hammered home the power of a life built on daily sacrifices. When I lose myself in fiction in order to gain the psyche of its characters, I engage in what psychologists call “experience-taking.” Cosplay takes that character-consumer relationship and articulates it as a cooperative performance. It says, “Yes, we all know and love this character’s story. Now let’s add yours to it!” L Lawliet, Death Note’s hunchbacked, sweet-toothed detective, is a relatively simple character to cosplay, making him a popular choice at events....

Episode 7 – Sword Art Online / Casey Covel Nov17

Episode 7 – Sword Art Online / Casey Covel...

Hot off the digital press, it’s Infinity +1. This week Jason, Allison, and Kyle ask the big questions about perception and reality. They talk about their favourite music scores and why music is so important in great music and games. Make sure to give your favourite score in the comments. Then in the second segment, Jason and Allison chat with Casey Covel, one of Geekdom House’s anime and cosplay experts. They talk about what makes anime so intriguing and the value of supportive parents. Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes...

Episode 5 – Fears / Cosplayers Nov03

Episode 5 – Fears / Cosplayers...

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Infinity +1! In this very spooky episode, Kyle, Allison, and Jason talk about their greatest and silliest fears and remember their favourite scares throughout the ages. Then Jason chats with Sarah Friesen and Charles Smadella about the ins and outs of cosplay, empathy, and being the hero (or villain) to kids. Check out their work at the links below: Charles Smadella / Kid Remington Sarah Friesen / Silvan Cosplay Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes...

All I really need to know I learned from COSPLAYING May07

All I really need to know I learned from COSPLAYING...

Part of being in Geekdom House is participating in the geek culture and community. This past Tuesday (because Dawn always gets in trouble on Tuesdays) was an event that we simply could not miss: Sing-A-Long with Feeling, Once More! It began as a dream of one die-hard Buffy fan, Kendra Monk, and turned into something best described as a Rocky Horror Picture Show showing, except it was comprised of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog and the musical Buffy episode “Once More With Feeling.” The night was made complete with mini-PhD degrees in Horribleness (that we were given to wave around at the appropriate time) and paper hearts that loudly snapped when you broke them (to use during those times when Spike gets rejected). The event was a smashing success. Given the relatively smallness of the event (and the promise of prizes), I decided to give my first go at this thing called cosplay. My first idea—a cardboard adaptation of the Serenity ship combined with a long black haired wig and a name tag that says: “Hi my name is River Tam”—did not work out. Plan B: I thought I could pass for Wash and it was off to MCC Thrift Store and Value Village to make that dream come alive. Along the way I learned a few things about cosplay and about life: 1) Life (like cosplaying) starts with the joy of an idea. Joy in life starts with a day that has a specific purpose and direction. 2) Life (like cosplaying) is better when you’re not comparing yourself to others. It is bad to compare your outsides to other’s outsides but it is infinitely worse to compare your insides to other’s outsides yet for some reason we all do it far too often. You will always fall...