I’ve been cosplaying off and on as a hobby for over 10 years, but only recently launched myself publicly in the industry. Since my launch, it’s been a journey into the unknown as I try to build up a small career in a trade which requires no educational background, no preset path to success, and where a person does not need to be skilled in everything required for the job.
Cosplaying is a relatively new and evolving industry which offers opportunities for those who cosplay and those who work to support cosplayers, among which include photographers, videographers, prop builders, seamstresses, wig makers, and convention staff. It is not for the faint at heart and only a few of those who are willing to work relentlessly for their passion ever come out the other end as what most would consider a “Professional”.
But regardless of the caliber of skills, the level of fame, age, gender, body type, there is an ongoing movement which, since its start in 2013, cannot be promoted enough. I am, of course, talking about “Cosplay Is Not Consent”.
I’m sure by the name you can gauge what this movement is about, regardless of whether you follow cosplay or not. Sexual harassment is obviously not exclusive to conventions and cosplayers alone. However, there are those that seem to feel it’s acceptable on the show floor to make lewd comments or actions to a girl because she’s emulating a character that shows as much skin as one would at the beach. Men are not immune to the harassment either if they are acting as someone very charismatic or walking around with their shirt off, displaying the abs they worked so hard to achieve in order to execute a character to perfect standards.
It seems there are event attendees who either see cosplayers as the characters they’re portraying and not as human beings, or feel that because of the way they are dressed, that they’re asking for that kind of attention. This kind of thinking and this sort of harassment needs to stop and, thankfully, there are many major conventions and events, such as New York Comic Con, that are taking a stand and putting in measures to promote the “Cosplay is not consent” movement.
I’m choosing to pursue a passion of mine that happens to outwardly affect my appearance a few times a year and I consider myself very lucky that I have yet to have my own stories of harassment. But it’s a real shame that for every event I attend, I have to mentally prepare for the chance that I might be victimized.
Maybe this is all common sense, but clearly it’s not obvious enough for some as this is still an ongoing issue. It’s unfortunate that it’s becoming a requirement to have bold signage and security in convention spaces as a constant reminder not to sexual harass other people, regardless of what they’re wearing. Our only hope, as cosplayers, is that more events will support this movement and promote a zero-tolerance policy in the effort to end sexual harassment at cons.
J. Tanooki is a Contributor for aybonline.com. She has been a lover of cosplay for over 10 years and regularly works on new and exciting cosplay projects. She actively posts about her cosplay plans, progress, and random shenanigans on her Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. Her opinion is her own.