How to Behave Like a Human Being at Conventions

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article that blew up the internet. Well – it blew up the geeky, feminist, angry sector of the internet. I posted it on my personal blog, The Geeky Peacock, but it was shortly picked up by XOJane and Think Progress. Obviously, what I wrote about hit a chord in a lot of people. I received rape threats, hate mail, but above all, an outpouring of support.

The topic of this article was one I am very familiar with – the objectification of cosplayers as “pieces of meat”, there to fulfill convention goer’s fantasies. I relayed one of my many negative experiences with cosplay: I had dressed like Knockout from the Female Furies at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, and essentially had more photographs taken of my ass than of my front. I had men trying to force their way by my friend who was acting as my unofficial butt guard. I also had an experience like that this year: a man photographing my butt without my consent as I walked through the halls dressed as Dark Phoenix.

A lot of people told me I was “asking for it” by dressing like sexy characters. A lot of people claimed that since conventions are a public place, con goers can do whatever they damn well please. A lot of people suggested: “if you don’t like it, maybe you shouldn’t cosplay.” But yet, other people shared their own stories, their own negative experiences as cosplayers. They relayed reports of bad behavior – some creepers even came forward to admit that in the past they had creeped on cosplay girls, but that they were so socially awkward that they didn’t know it was wrong. This is obviously a huge, re-occurring problem. The majority of my hardcore cosplay friends have encountered sexual harassment in some form of another. It seems that conventions breed bad behavior, and that a staggering number of people find it totally okay to objectify a woman who is dressed in superhero garb.

I am here to tell you that this is not okay. Being at a convention and seeing a hot babe in a tight spandex body suit does not mean that all semblance of human decency and politeness goes out the window. It does not mean you can make sexual allusions at her, take photographs of her butt to post on websites later, or talk loudly about how you’d “hit that” to your friends. Just because a woman is in costume, does not mean it’s okay to grab her butt when you pose for a photo with her, or ask her the size of her breasts (as experienced by cosplayer Mandy Caruso). Basically, in the words of Wil Wheaton: “Don’t be a dick.”

Below I have outlined some “good behavior” rules for conventions – for attendees and cosplayers alike. It is my honest belief that some people just don’t understand that this behavior is not okay, so I am here to spread awareness of this problem and to offer some small solutions.

Attendees

If you saw a stranger on the street, would you behave this way towards them?

You’re out to coffee, and you see someone who interests you – let’s say it’s a pretty lady wearing a Spider-man tanktop with a pair of short shorts. You find her attractive, and you are instantly drawn to her geekiness. Would you pull of your camera and start taking close up photographs of her breasts or butt? Would you cat call her or disrespect her? The answer to these questions is probably ‘no’, but for some reason convention culture makes even the most polite people into objectifying jerk faces. Use common sense and check yourself before you wreck yourself – or you have a cosplayer’s boot somewhere you don’t want it to be.

Are you sexualizing this person in any way?

It’s okay to admire someone’s physique – it’s another thing to ONLY see them as a sexual object. This sort of viewpoint leads to the sort of bad behavior that cosplayers are increasingly speaking up about. I can assure you that women (and men!) do not cosplay for you – we are not dressing up to fulfill your fantasy. We are dressing up to show off our handiwork or to embody characters we love. Respect that we are fans, just like you, and not sexual objects for you to think of later when you’re alone in your hotel room.

Ask permission!

Seriously, it’s just common courtesy to stop a cosplayer and ask their permission for a photograph. If the cosplayer is already stopped and posing for other photographers, that’s one thing. But if they are sitting down and eating lunch and you snap their picture, chances are it’s going to be unattractive and weird. You may find it amusing, but we as cosplayers, who put a lot of time and effort into dressing up, do not. If convention attendees ASKED if it would be okay to take a photograph of my butt, I WOULD TOTALLY BE COOL WITH IT. It’s the principle of the creepiness – the inherent feeling of “I’m doing something wrong” – that makes these creepers snap ass shots and slink off. Like upskirt photographs – not illegal, but not really okay, either.

No touching!

I’m actually a little shocked as to how many times when I pose with someone that they grab a little too close to my butt or clutch my waist too tightly. I’ve had strangers run up to me and hug me without asking first. For some reason, cosplay makes people see you as a character: “I WANT TO HUG WONDER WOMAN!” Just remember we are real people, just like you, and we don’t want to be touched by a stranger unless explicitly stated.

Cosplayers

If you feel uncomfortable, speak out!

A lot of my female cosplay friends have admitted to being so completely flabbergasted when they were sexually harassed in costume that they had no idea how to retort or respond. I can certainly relate to this feeling, as we are conditioned to be polite and courteous. But if you’re in costume and someone is making you feel uncomfortable, SAY SOMETHING. Tell them hands off, that’s not okay, or grab the latest authority figure and get them on your side. Even a loudly proclaimed “you’re being a creep!”, or “I’m going to tell your mother” (this idea courtesy of Jill Pantozzi) will probably disarm and confuse the perpetrator enough that the situation will be diffused very quickly.

Be polite!

Not all convention attendees are monsters who come with the intention to take photos of every cosplayer’s butt. There are a lot of genuinely amazing people who are there for the culture and geek experience, just like you. If they are polite and courteous to you, return the favor. Thank people when they photograph you or ask your permission. Reward good behavior and good behavior will become more prevalent.

 

I hope that in the future I will begin to see a shift of behavior towards cosplayers and in the convention community alike. Until then, I will continue to write articles about my experiences and hope that other people will do the same. I will continue to offer suggestions and speak out – and I hope that someone out there is listening.

 


Molly McIsaac knows the truth is out there. You can follow her on twitter or check out her geek lifestyle blog The Geeky Peacock.

Comments

  1. k5blazer k5blazer says:

    I’m not a cosplayer but rape threats and general disrespect of women like that is NOT cool! If I was at a con and saw that I would kick the guy’s ass then throw him out of the building. There is NO room for behavior like that and it won’t be tolerated.

    • kzap kzap says:

      I agree, especially when it comes to the rape threats.
      That said from a strictly legal stand point you would be in the wrong for physically assaulting the guy and (unless you worked at the convention) kicking him out.
      I’m also a firm believer in the idea that violence doesn’t solve anything.
      Sadly (and this may change depending on what state you’re in) it’s also not illegal to take pictures in a public place no matter what those pictures are of. That’s why disgusting paparazzis can make a living lying in the gutter outside a nightclub taking up-skirt shots of whatever celebrity happens to be casually walking past, now they could only print those pictures if it was “in the public interest” (read “of someone famous”) but there’s no law against taking photos.
      I’m not saying it’s cool, in fact I’m explicitly sating it’s not cool but you would be the one breaking the law in that situation.

    • k5blazer k5blazer says:

      In the strictest sense you are right, but each case is different and I am fairly confident that any DA would decline to prosecute or offer a small fine for it. Also defense of others is always a valid defense to a crime if it factually lines up. And in a circumstance like that I would be willing to take my chances. Guys who are about violence against women are reprehensible and if I have to face a misdemeanor charge to prevent a rape or attempted rape then so be it. Zero tolerance.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Oh I totally agree if it’s to prevent rape or assault, definitely! But if it’s just general creepiness or taking photos without permission I’d say a verbal “hey dude don’t be a dick” warning would suffice. In fact they may apologize and not do it again, whereas if you assault them they’ll may be angry and try to be sneaker next time.
      I’m more for warning and learning not punching and kicking unless someone is in direct danger but to each their own.

  2. kzap kzap says:

    Really good article. I always look forward to reading what Molly has to say (even when I don’t agree with it).
    I’d not read that original article on Molly’s blog before but reading it now I feel physically sick at what people think they can get away with.
    The points themselves are really good and it’s such a shame we live in a world where they have to be stated.
    However it’s important to remember that a lot of people who go to these cons are socially awkward, they may even be a little autistic and not completely versed in social cues.
    That’s obviously not an excuse for certain behavior but I know many geeks (and I use that word lovingly) that wouldn’t know how to behave if they saw that person on the street and they’d probably just avoid them and not make eye contact at all.
    They see conventions as an opportunity to “be themselves” and sometimes go a little overboard when it comes personal space (which is something they’re not used to).
    As for dressing up as a female character, it’s such a shame society make the connotation that: little clothing = sexually promiscuous or okay with being sexualised.
    But it’s pretty engrained in people physiques at this point, they probably don’t even realize what the connection they’re subconsciously making is wrong.
    Personally I think companies need to produce better female characters (and to an extent male character) that are empowered without be sexualised.

  3. RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

    Wow. Rape threats? I’m sorry that happened. We live in a disgusting world.

    This is a tricky subject. It’s very unfortunate that there aren’t as many fully-clothed female characters that one can dress as. And really, it’s not just about risque costumes. A woman covered head to toe in a Catwoman costume, bearing no skin other than her face and neckline is subject to the same amount of creepiness with the pictures and whatnot.

    Unfortunately, many of the socially awkward attendees at these cons fantasize about many of these female comic/pop culture characters. Their lack of social skills, coupled with their excitement of seeing a physical embodiment of such characters results in creepy behavior, picture taking being chief among them. They might ask if they could muster the confidence (or even willpower) to talk to a woman, let alone one dressed in a sexy costume.

    Of course, none of this is to say that such behavior is excused, but it is, unfortunately, par for the course. It always has been, and will likely always be that way, and is a risk that one has to assess when deciding to cosplay at conventions. Hopefully this article will reach at least a few of them, and inspire proper etiquette among con-goers.

    • kzap kzap says:

      “Their lack of social skills, coupled with their excitement of seeing a physical embodiment of such characters results in creepy behavior”
      You said something I was trying to far more eloquently than I managed. A lot of the time there isn’t any harmful intent behind it (although sadly some of the time there is) I agree it doesn’t excuse certain things but it’s hard to prevent something people aren’t doing on purpose or may not even know they’re doing.

  4. rockingeek rockingeek says:

    I’m sorry but half naked people in ridiculously sexualised super hero/fantasy costumes not wanting to be sexual objects is really funny.

    • But surely you can see the distinction between a “sexy human being” that has feelings and deserves to be treated with a basic level of decency, and a “sexual object.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to look sexy. Clearly, many cosplayers are trying to look sexy. Sexy people like being appreciated, no doubt, but no one likes being groped by strangers or have lewd comments made.

    • I don’t think the sexual aspect specifically is the issue. Obviously, people want to be notice if they have the physique, but this doesn’t give another the right to cross the line with uncalled for behavior or words.

    • Bryce31 Bryce31 says:

      Yes they are dressed in an outfit that may show off their figure, but to touch them inappropriately, take pictures of their lady parts, and treat them horribly is wrong.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Why?
      I understand society has conditioned you to believe that but society is wrong.
      The percentage of fabric covering your skin should have nothing to do with whether you want to be sexualised or not.
      People have the right to wear what they want without being treated differently.
      It’s pretty much accepted that women who wear bikinis at the beach aren’t “asking for sex” just because they’re covering up just as much women in their underwear, people understand the context for what they’re wearing, it should be the same at conventions.
      Personally I’d like to live in a world where outward appearance isn’t judged at all and people can people just wear whatever they like (which includes being a nudist) without being treated differently because of that but sadly this shitting society we’re part of will never happen.

    • rockingeek rockingeek says:

      For sure, but I’m sure you see the irony. I’m not saying that I don’t agree with the article, but its still funny. When I’m at cons with my 9 years old geek girl and she sees girls dress like that, I’m very incomfortable. I don’t know what to say to her. I’m ok with sexy, but some of those cosplayers are part of the problem. Am I wrong?

    • rockingeek rockingeek says:

      The rape thing or the touching or any kind of harassement is wrong and I’m againts it. Just to be clear.

    • kzap kzap says:

      “but some of those cosplayers are part of the problem. Am I wrong?”
      I would say you are wrong but I’d also argue society is part of the problem.
      I hope that one day in the highly evolved culture that supersedes us will look back and at our prudishness towards nudity the same way people in the west view women being forced to wear Burkas.
      For the record I have no problem with women who choose to wear Burkas but it’s sucky some people live in a society wear it’s expected, in the same way it’s sucky we live in a society were people are treated differently because they choose to show more skin.

    • If the concern is for your daughter, then tell her what you believe to be appropriate or not for her, but it is a different thing for adults. That’s your right as her father to instill your views, morals, and so on.

    • rockingeek rockingeek says:

      And I just said that I find it funny. Not that I was for rape or sexual objectification.

    • kzap kzap says:

      I got that but my worry is why you find it funny?
      Perhaps I’m wrong but I assumed from your phrasing that you though people who dress in a sexualised manner shouldn’t be annoyed when they’re sexualised?
      People have the right to be half naked (or completely naked) and not want to be sexualised and there’s nothing funny about it.

    • rockingeek rockingeek says:

      @Treeofthestoneage: She knows my point of view, but still the fact is that I’m still not convince that the sexual objectification comes only from the guy or girl looking at the half naked cosplayer or the playboy/playgirl bunny or the porn star or underwear model. So thats why I find it funny. I don’t know, I maybe wrong???

    • rockingeek rockingeek says:

      @kzap: I have a very dark sense of humor. You got to understand the fact that I’m not for sexual objectification, I’m just not sure where exactly it comes from? see my last comment.

    • @ rockingeek: Having read your comments I recognize what your saying. This is your view of a particular type of cosplayer and accept it because I’m not a member of the Thought Police. We know (this includes you) there’s a line not to cross when dealing with a hobby /activity that people enjoy.

    • rockingeek rockingeek says:

      @Treeofthestoneage: Exactly.

  5. This is a fascinating topic to me because I’d imagine that comic book fans /geeks would be more sensitive the courtesy for others.

    I went to the Big 4 concert last year. It was a spotlight on the trash metal bands that created the genre; Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Metallica. I bring this up since the metal community still has the stigma of being viewed as low-life, beer chugging jerk-offs who don’t know to treat people with respect. Anyway, at the show i saw all the things there was to see, including the people. It was a warm day so, of course, many women wore tight shorts or skirts and tops and I didn’t ONCE see nor hear a inappropriate comment or unwarranted picture taken. To be fair we’re talking 50,000+, and naturally I didn’t meet everyone personally, but that behavior was not present as far as I could tell.

    Which brings me back to what happens at these cons: I read this kind of story, of women cosplayers especially, being mistreated often. Why does this occur within our community in such frequency? Its embarrassing to be honest.

    • nbcabaniss nbcabaniss says:

      Misogyny is rampant amongst the comic community, unfortunately. Our hobby attracts socially maladjusted males, so I suppose it all boils down to fearing and hating what you don’t understand. It is embarrassing for the rest of us (not that I’m Mr. Smooth, mind you) – I remember watching some reality show with my lady friends back in school, that paired geeks with beautiful girls (Beauty and the Geek, maybe… ?) Anyway, they had a geek from different subcultures – there was a LARPer, an IT guy, etc etc. Anyway, all of them were a little odd and fairly awkward, but still relatively polite… except for the comic geek, who was just this total prick. I just kept sinking into the cushions of the couch…

  6. ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

    It’s sad that this is still an issue…Can people not control themselves? Is the rush of attending a Con that much that people think they can get away with anything??

    Looking at Molly’s Knockout, she’s wearing pretty much the same ammount of clothing as a bathing suit. And yet, I’m sure if she’s at a pool or on the beach, no one’s coming up and grabbing her. Why do people do it at cons?

  7. adrianrigter adrianrigter says:

    If people threaten you they can sometimes be traced and prosecuted. it happened on Twitter not too long ago where a guy was making threats to female comic creators.

  8. wow, i had no idea it was that bad. Admittedly i pay no attention to this scene, but i know its a big part of the fandom and the con experience. Everyone should feel safe at a con or other geek event. Guys need to chillax and remember how to be human.

    There is some sort of strange, primal mob mentality when you put enough people in a room with any kind of festival vibe in the air. its as if we all forget how to be civilized humans. It seems that it all goes out the window for no real reason. Doesn’t take much to separate us from the cavemen huh?

    Its important to remember that costumed people, are just that. People.

    Guys, Stop being asshats and creepazoids. You embarrass our entire gender and prove the worst stereotypes about comic culture to be true.

  9. mrmarky mrmarky says:

    I’m not defending bad behaviour in any way, but going to a comic book convention dressed in a costume that shows your lady parts to the world is sort of like going to the dog races dressed in a suit made of sirloin steak.

    Until we live in a society where the majority of teenage/twenty something hormone driven/socially awkward men are capable of self restraint in the face of someone who is dressed up as a character from their spank bank, I am pretty sure you can expect to be treated badly in these situations.

    Unfortunately “behaving like a human being” is exactly what these jerks are doing. Why do you think there are so many old men sitting in rocking chairs with shotguns yelling “get off my lawn!” People are annoying and do rude things.

    I am not justifying the behaviour, but I am pretty sure there isn’t going to be some imminent transformation in human society that is going to suddenly make hormone filled males surrounded by other hormone filled males suddenly act like gentlemen to scantily clad women.

    am not justifying the action, and obviously people need to be responsible for their own behaviour, but going to a convention in a costume with your butt hanging out and then complaining when people look at your butt is just stupid.

    • mrmarky mrmarky says:

      I should add that what I said doesn’t apply to physical assault (which touching without permission amounts to) or rape threats. Those are criminal actions and should obviously be treated as such.

    • kzap kzap says:

      I disagree. It seems a little like the sexist argument “I’m not defending the rapist but if you go out in a short skirt down a dark ally what do you expect?”.
      People have the right to get annoyed, yes society isn’t going to change any time soon but it won’t change AT ALL unless people take a stand. Men can dress up as their favorite heroes, women should be able to do the same without being treated badly.
      As soon as you say “it’s expected” you’re normalizing it and taking the blame away from the guilty party because “hey that’s just how horny teenagers act” and they always will as long as it’s expected.

    • mrmarky mrmarky says:

      I thought someone might respond with the “defending the rapist” line of thinking. I am not saying the behaviour is acceptable or that anyone should be considered anything but a jerk when being a jerk, but , taking photos in a public place or saying rude things to people isn’t a crime. Its a jerk move, but its not a crime. Inappropriately touching someone or threatening to rape them is a crime and should be treated as such and no one is justified for doing so.

      Perhaps if the comic industry didn’t dress their female characters the way they do then women would find it easier to dress up without having to put their butt on display to the world. The fact is, the industry continues to sexually objectify women and so when you get a bunch of horny teenagers together who spend their whole lives reading comics that sexually objectify women, you can expect the behaviour that you see at conventions. Getting mad about it is treating the symptoms rather than the cause and the fact is, women dressing like the sexually objectified characters in comics is part of the problem. There are lots of female comic characters that women can support both in the comics they purchase and the costumes they wear that aren’t sexually objectified.

      If a woman dresses like a character whose whole purpose for existing is to turn on teenage boys to sell comics and then complains when teenage boys treat her exactly as the character design was meant to, I am not sure they have a justifiable reason to complain.

    • kzap kzap says:

      I agree it’s not a crime, in fact I stated this unfortunately fact earlier.
      That doesn’t mean it’s right or acceptable. What you’re doing is accepting that behavior and it’s never going to change if you do.
      I totally agree, part the problem is the characters in the comics (I also made the point earlier that we need more empowered female characters that aren’t sexualised) but the ROOT of the problem is with society, we accept sexualisation of women and men, and treat people differently because of how they look (which includes what they wear) and that (in my mind) is wrong.
      If anyone is being treated badly they have a right to complain it doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re wearing (or not wearing as the case may be).

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      @mrmarky I agree with you insofaras, the title of this article certainly should be “How to Behave Like a Gentleman at Covnventions” rather than Human Being (certainly the problem doesn’t come from ladies being well behaved :) ) And yes, most certainly young teenagers might be forgiven for “acting a fool” when there is a pretty girl in a sexually stimulating outfit. But I believe the real issue is that these aren’t teenagers Molly is complaining about. They are GROWN ASS MEN that should know better.

      Also, regarding your comment about “going to a convention in a costume with your butt hanging out and then complaining when people look at your butt is just stupid.” Molly says in the article, “If convention attendees ASKED if it would be okay to take a photograph of my butt, I WOULD TOTALLY BE COOL WITH IT.” She’s not delusional. She’s not saying, “Don’t look at my BUTT!!!” She’s saying, don’t be a CREEP and take a picture of her butt on the sly….and definitely no touchy! Taking a picture implies that you are going to be looking at it again…and again…and again…and…well, you get the picture.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      Let’s say a creepy nerd takes a candid butt shot of a cosplayer, then retreats to his hole and does what he does with it.

      Conversely, let’s say a creepy nerd asks a cosplayer, “excuse me Miss, may I please take a photograph of your posterior?” Then he retreats to his hole and does what he does with it.

      Assuming the cosplayer takes Molly’s particular stance on butt photos; what’s the difference? It’s almost more ridiculous to say “it’s totally cool to take a picture of my butt if you ASK” than it is to say, “Just because I’m dressed this way does NOT mean you can take pictures of my butt”. It doesn’t change the creepy nature of wanting a picture of the ass of someone who you don’t know.

      It’s obvious that being a female and dressing as certain characters at conventions is going to illicit a certain response. Do you think that sort of thing happens to girls who are dressed as Ramona Flowers, or Buffy? Probably not. Is it right? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But it is what it is.

      There are certain areas of town I stray away from at night when I’m alone and on foot. Why? Because I’m well aware of the risks involved. Should I have the right to walk through any part of the city that I pay taxes to any time I want with my wallet taped to my forehead without worry of what will happen to me? Absolutely. But if I do, and someone tries to take my money, I knew what I was subjecting myself to.

      *This isn’t a “don’t wear a mini skirt if you don’t want to get raped” argument. Obviously (and as I stated in a previous comment in the thread) there is never an excuse for rape. Period.

    • kzap kzap says:

      @RaBoogie
      “There are certain areas of town I stray away from at night when I’m alone and on foot. Why? Because I’m well aware of the risks involved. Should I have the right to walk through any part of the city that I pay taxes to any time I want with my wallet taped to my forehead without worry of what will happen to me? Absolutely. But if I do, and someone tries to take my money, I knew what I was subjecting myself to.”
      Good analogy, if you did walk through that part of town and some took your money you would still go to the police right? You would still complain about it. If no one who got robbed ever complained the police wouldn’t do anything about it and perhaps if enough people did complain then the police or local community just might do something about that area.
      If no one complains about this behavior happening at conventions then it normalizes it and nothing will ever change.
      You accept that it’s wrong, but instead of just saying “it happens that’s just the way it is” perhaps it you encourage people to stop it.

    • @ RaBoogie

      The difference is consent. Consent is the clearest difference between sex and rape and it is the difference between it being okay to take an admiring picture of a woman’s appearance and not okay.

  10. I totally agree! But I’m kinda of a hypocrite in this matter cause I met my wife at a con and my first atraction to her was her comic/cosplay interest, but I dont think I was creep about I was polite obviously cause we stayed together all this time and getting rape threat are totally inpropiate and for men out there imagine if it was your younger sister getting hit on or grabed by some a**hole you would want to kick his ass.

  11. Its funny: While reading these comments I’m listening to the song See How We Are by X.

  12. Xybyt says:

    I think it’s great that you’re presenting such a thoughtful, insightful and often amusing point of view on this. I’m from Australia and we frankly shudder at all the ‘legitimate rape’ kind of comments we hear from the US and I think it’s important that people stand up to this kind of inane stupidity and make their voices heard. Meanwhile, social awkwardness as an excuse to violate someone’s privacy? I don’t think so! This illustrates the need for what I call the ‘regentrification of masculinity’ – it seems a lot of gentlemanly behaviours have fallen by the wayside in the wake of feminism and nothing has stepped in to replace them but the continuing oversexualisation of society. Hence people feeling they can do what they like at cons. Hmmm, now I’m getting all ranty.

    • mrmarky mrmarky says:

      Aren’t comic book heroines and cosplay a great example of “over-sexualisation” of society?

    • kzap kzap says:

      I agree, although I think the gentlemanly behaviors of the past are sexist, patronizing and just all around bad gender roles.
      Social awkwardness isn’t an excuse for anything but if someone doesn’t understand personal space, they can break it without realizing, that doesn’t make what they do right but it’s different to someone who knows about personal boundaries and just ignores them to cop a feel.

  13. JesseCuster says:

    Any aggression towards women is outright wrong.
    I have been to conventions where some ladies have been mobbed because of their costume and its ridiculous.

    At the same time, you don’t jump into shark infested waters with a bleeding wound. In no way am I making the woefully ignorant “you done asked for it lady” excuse. No, there is no excuse for bad behavior and there is no defense for it… but it still equally as ignorant to believe you won’t be harassed by some bad apples at all.

    I also must point out… I remember attending cons back in the day where you didn’t see a SINGLE costume except for models that were PAID to be there. I know we all want to sit here and say ‘Why can’t we all get along’, but Cosplayers ruined, not enhanced, my con-experiences… and it seems to me maybe there should be a divide between them. A cosplay convention for cosplayers, while a separate convention where no costumes are allowed. One of the reasons I don’t go to Cons anymore are cosplayers.

    Its one thing to want to go to the con FOR the con and you decide to dress up. Its a whole other thing when one’s motivation to attend the con solely for the attention whoring ‘look at me in my costume’.

    Think of it like this: You go to a Yankees ball game. There a man and a woman there drressed in some wild, over the top and scanty Yankees costumes. They don’t give 2 craps about the game, they just want everyone to see them and their costumes. Who respects that?

    • JesseCuster says:

      I think, what I’m trying to say in the 3rd paragraph is:

      When you all ruin something for other people, you shrug it off, point out they are the minority, and maybe even think of some insulting adjectives and claim your right to do whatever you want and those people need to deal with it or get out (in my case, I just got out).
      Yet, when faced with the potential of some people ruining something for you, rather than ‘deal with it’, you write blogs telling people to stop. Is that how life works?

    • mrmarky mrmarky says:

      No kidding…gone are the good ole days of comic conventions being about comic artists and comic sales. Now its all about celebrity guests that have nothing to do with the comic industry and women who want to show off their bodies and then complain about how people aren’t oogling them in the correct fashion.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Oh no people aren’t celebrating comics properly. How dare they!
      On a serious note I think if there’s a market for it someone should start a “traditional comic convention” like they used to be. I agree Comic Cons have turned into pop culture exhibitions but I don’t see cosplay as part of that problem (if it even is a problem).
      But if there’s enough people want a specific type of convention and are willing to pay for it, then you’d think it would be good business for someone to start one.
      Finally the statement “women who want to show off their bodies and then complain about how people aren’t oogling them in the correct fashion” is ridiculously sexist. They may not “want” to show off their bodies, they may just want to want to dress up as their favorite characters and you seem to be implying that doing so means they have no right to complain about being “oogled” and that is just terrible.

    • @ JesseCuster

      How do you jump to a conclusion that because a cosplayer is in costume they don’t care about the “game” of the convention? I see plenty of cosplayers in artist alley and in panels. And even if that isn’t part of someone’s interest, a convention is about different things to different people. Why is one person’s interest better or more real than another’s?

  14. LucasEwalt says:

    I’ve never been to a con, but I have to admit, I would probably stare before doing the little mental “snap out of it” move in my head. That said, I really can’t understand how it would be that difficult to NOT take pictures, be vulgar to, or touch another person.

  15. daningotham daningotham says:

    I totally agree with this article. And it’s not just geared towards men. Yeah, this article was written by a woman. But I have seen women act twice as crazy when a guy shows up wearing a costume half dressed and has real 6 pack abs. They are hugging on him and grabbing his butt and taking pictures with him too. It’s not just a one way street.

  16. USPUNX USPUNX says:

    Touching or taking someones picture, especially what is clearly a creepy picture of a private region, without consent is just wrong, and in terms of touching, illegal. I’ve only ever been to one con, NYCC three years ago, and had no idea this kind of behavior was so common. I really don’t even remember seeing all that many sexy costumes. The only cosplay pictures I took were of a full costume and make-up Predator and a full costume Darth Vader, both were movie quality stunning.

    However, I’m also a little torn about this. All actions have consequences, and though I find it to be a sad statement about our society, dressing in a revealing manner is going to draw the creeps to you. To be clear, I am saying this is wrong, ugly, and frankly disgusting behavior, but it does happen. And based on your stories in this article it has happened to you more than once. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Being sickened and saddened by this behavior is correct and natural, but pretending like it doesn’t happen is naive.

    All that said I just want to make it VERY clear that I find the reaction you received on your blog to be abhorrent behavior. The fact that someone would threaten rape or any kind of physical harm is incomprehensible and a sad reflection of the society we live in. I thought this article was very well written and addresses a topic not often seen on comic sites.

    • daningotham daningotham says:

      +1

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      Very well said.

    • Pragmatically you have kind of a point but from a moral standpoint there is nothing here. One of the most persistent forms of sexism is the compulsion when a woman is sexually abused or exploited to point out how she is somehow responsible for it since she was available to be abused or exploited.

      Why focus of what the victim has done wrong (nothing from a moral standpoint) instead of what the abuser has done wrong?

      I don’t want to discourage people from pursuing a completely innocence hobby rather I would like to see a focus on stopping the actual bad behaviour.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @nick: The fact that you see nothing here “from a moral standpoint” just means you don’t know how to read. My entire point has based on how morally wrong this type of behavior is so what the hell are you talking about? I was making the point that people need to live in the real world. I specifically stated, several times, how disgusting I think this behavior is and my comment was sparked by how idealistic and unrealistic many of the comments in this thread are. Just because I was pointing out that, yes, this problem exists and maybe people need to understand that when they choose a costume, does NOT mean I was blaming the victim. At all. Anywhere in my comment. You can try to create a false argument out of non-existant examples if you want but that’s really all you’re doing.

      I’m just going to go ahead and take your “argument” point by point to illustrate what a false premise you’ve created here.

      1) I agree about the type of sexism you are talking about, it is pervasive and wrong. I was only pointing out that women should be aware it exists when they choose a costume, never once, anywhere, did I defend it. Show me where I did.

      2) I never once said the victim did anything wrong, again show me where I did. I repeatedly stated how ugly I find this behavior.

      3) I never once discouraged anyone from not dressing up at cons. Never anywhere in my comment did I do that. I simply pointed out that certain costume choices might have negative consequences in regard to the behavior we are discussing here, and that women should take that into account. The focus should of course be on stopping the bad behavior but until that happens, until we can eliminate creepy guys at cons from acting this way, completely realistic goal by the way, I just think people should be aware of what dressing in a sexy costume might mean and the uncomfortable situations they might be in.

      Just because I’m saying we all need to live in the real world and accept that a problem actually exists does not in anyway mean I am defending that problem. In the future I would encourage you to read a comment a little closer before you respond.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      @UNSPUNX: I ran into the same issue. I basically made the same points you did, and the “blaming the victim” argument came up. It’s frustrating to have your words misconstrued in that way.

      I think there is a very fine line between “blaming the victim” and saying “hey, don’t position yourself to be a victim”. And I think people have a hard time seeing that line.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @raboogie: Yeah I think you’re right. People have their own agendas and sometimes, as in this case, they extend your point to fit into that agenda. It’s just frustrating to have your words intentionally misconstrued in order for someone else to make their point.

    • @UNSPUNX You seem to have taken my comments more harshly and personally than I meant them. I apologize.

      Your pragmatic point is fair, a woman wearing an attractive costume to a convention is running a higher risk of being sexually preyed upon. If your intent is to protect and warn cosplayers of this, hoping they will be careful, that is a very fair and good point.

      I was attempting to say that it is a pragmatic point not a moral one. The central moral principles I am bringing to the discussion, you can call them my agenda if you like, are something like this:

      1) To sexually objectify or exploit someone without consent is wrong. (I know we all agree on this one.)

      2) Someone who has been wronged or is being wronged has the right to defend themselves, fight against that treatment and protest that treatment. (Again I think we are all on the same page here.)

      3) What a person is wearing or where they are standing does not change points 1 and 2. (Maybe we agree here too.)

      So again your pragmatic point is good but that pragmatic fact does not change the above moral issues and the validity of Molly’s points in the original article.

      If your only point or intent was to be pragmatic and/or protective then I did get things wrong. It seemed to me you were taking issue with a woman like Molly protesting her treatment when she wears sexy clothes or costumes. If I had it wrong and my words offended you, again, I sincerely apologize.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Yeah I’m not sure how you could possibly think I was taking issue with a women protesting her treatment when I said, in pretty much so many words, that treating women like this is wrong. I did take issue with your comment because I see no way you could have come to the conclusion you did unless you intentionally misinterpreted my comment. Saying to someone “If you dress in a sexy costume, someone might objectify you” is not at all the same as saying “If you dress in a sexy costume you deserve to be objectified.” Not really even that thin of a line.

      Once again, my comment was in response to the naivety of many of the other comments in this thread. Molly has an absolute right to dress however she pleases and has the right to not be harassed for doing so. If she is harassed, she has the right to confront that person in the hopes of fighting against this type of behavior. However, being surprised you are being harassed, especially when it is apparently a very common problem and has happened to you personally many times, is ridiculous.

      Just to be clear this creepy behavior is very wrong and it needs to stop, but acting like it is a surprise every time it occurs does no one any good and actually works counter to solving the problem.

      And what about the double standard inherent in this article? What about men who dress in costumes that show off their muscles or bodies? Several people in this thread have shared stories about guys that have dressed like this and been hounded by women wanting picture with them. Is this okay? Are we know just assuming that guys want attention from women no matter what? Isn’t that just as sexist as what you were taling about in your comment? Not even a mention of that in this article. It’s unfortunate Molly seems so outraged by women being objectified but has no outrage towards women who objectify others.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      And also, what if I’m offended by a sexy cosplay costume? Am I allowed to speak up? Most cons are all ages affairs and many parents bring their children to share in their love of comics. If I’m at a con someday with my kid (just to be clear I do not currently have a child) do I have to just put up with men and women strutting around half naked? Is it inappropriate for me to say “Hey, you mind putting some pants on so I don’t have to explain to me six year old what a g-string is?” Or is that not okay? Am I just supossed to deal with the fact that I and my family are uncomfortable in order to not tread upon the sacred right of cosplay?

    • Like I said, I didn’t intend to characterize you or accuse you of something, only debate a point. I wasn’t trying to twist your words nor to deliberately misconstrue your meaning. Hopefully you can see I am making an effort towards at a calm and reasonable discourse. Obviously we both have strong feelings and opinions on the subject and in text it is easy to misread the subtext of something stated forcefully.

      I think it is fair to point out that the experiences being discussed can and do happen to men as well. You’ll notice in my three points above I was careful to use “person” and “someone”. I am not sure that anyone was trying to deny that the reverse can happen or was intending to set a double standard. I’d call it an oversight, a mistake that you have fairly corrected.

      I am personally pretty liberal about things like sexy cosplayers but I can recognize and respect that other people feel differently. I think it is fair to suggest that some cosplayers might go too far in what is supposed to be a family friendly environment. Where the line is and why it should be respected is a worthy conversation. Not the same conversation as the one brought up in the article but related and very fair.

      You may also be right that it is a bit naive to be surprised that the bad behaviour Molly described above, though that is a very sad commentary on the state of the world. What I would say, and I think you agree (please tell me if I’m wrong), is that it isn’t at all silly, ridiculous or naive to go online or elsewhere and be pissed off about the bad behaviour and ask that people cut it out and try to act in accordance with some simple principles of respect and courtesy. Fair ball?

      Hopefully we are resolving something here and I am not just pissing you off even more because that is the opposite of my intention. If I am just making it worse tell me and I’ll stop responding here.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      @nick: Totally agree with what you said and let ME apologize for reacting in what was clearly too harsh a manner in my previous post. As I said above this is a very worthy topic and its great, and based on the insane threats she received very brave, that Molly can broach this and hopefully start to change the terrible behavior described in her article.

      I guess my main gripe boils down to personal responsibility. Too many people, grown adult people, have far too little personal responsibility. I’m 30 years old and I live and work in a college town so part of my feelings on this matter are very much influenced by my environment. I guess for me it comes down to this. Every action has a consequence and whether those consequences are right or wrong, which in this case the consequences are VERY wrong, they still exist. And even when those consequences are wrong, the person that puts his or her self in a situation to face those consequence is still partially responsible. To knowingly go into a situation that you are fully aware will bear out certain consequences and accepting those consequences is personal responsibility. There is no defending what happens to women, and some men, who choose to scantily cosplay at cons, but there are certainly consequences for doing so. I’m sure to some people this sounds like victim blaming, and it is admittedly a somewhat of a thin line, but an important one if we are to combat and eliminate this problem.

  17. glennsim says:

    I’m reminded of a few months ago when I went to my first really big con. I was talking to some women I was standing in line with (they were not cosplayers) and we were looking at some cosplayers and I asked the ladies “what is less creepy – asking to take a picture of a girl in costume or asking to be in a picture with a girl in costume.” They replied “Either way, it’s pretty creepy.”

    So I decided not to go either route…

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      Yeah, but just because they thought it was creepy, doesn’t mean the people who cosplay would think that.

      They clearly enjoy being “seen,” otherwise, why bother. The problem is when you try taking pictures of them without them knowing that you come off as creepy.

      I personally would rather take a picture of the cosplayer w/o being in it myself. The picture is about them, not me LOL! Unless of course it was a friend of mine, or maybe if I myself was cosplaying as something related to what they were cosplaying as.

    • glennsim says:

      Well, my thought process was that it was sorta like the difference between going to see a famous statue and then taking a picture of said statue vs. having a picture taken of yourself standing next to said statue. The former sorta says “hey, I liked this statue” but the latter says “look, I traveled to the place where this statue is,” which is rather more impressive, but at the same time more invasive (and more trouble).

    • I tend to take only a handful of cosplay pictures over the weekend of a con. One has been a steampunk Buzz Lightyear, another guy with a chair for a face and, yes, some are female cosplayers. I doubt anyone will think the char-faced guy is a creepy picture so why are the ones of women necessarily creepy? It is only the intent you bring to the picture that makes it creepy or not.

  18. concolor22 says:

    Ya know what? I almost thought you were serious. Until:

    “Being at a convention and seeing a hot babe in a tight spandex body suit does not mean that all semblance of human decency and politeness goes out the window.”

    I agree with all your rules of conduct. I abide by all of them. Know why? My wife is a “hot babe”, or as I prefer to say when I want to be taken seriously, an attractive female who cosplays. My friend’s wife and another friend who has a boyfriend also fall under that category.

    How many of your cosplays are because you love the character? If so, what percentage of the characters you happen to love just happen to wear skintight / skimpy outfits? Are there no characters for you to cosplay who do NOT dress provocatively?

    I have noted an, aheh, odd proportion of females who complain about this problem only cosplay ‘sexy’ characters. The “there is noone else for me to dress as” is BS. My wife has several trophies to prove this. Now if only some of your cosplays are ‘sexy’ cosplays, you have a leg to stand on. But if you ONLY cosplay the sexy angle, you argument holds no water whatsoever.

    You just like the attention, and you like complaining about it. Which is fine since this is America. But I won’t shed a tear for you.

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      I recommend that you read Molly’s blog post which is linked at the beginning of the article.

      From that article:
      “I’ve been cosplaying for many years now, but it’s only been over the last couple of years (coinciding with my acceptance of self as a sexual being – not feeling awkward in my skin anymore, essentially) that I have stopped wearing floor length robe cosplays and moved onto superheroines with costumes that are like a second skin. These were always the characters I wanted to cosplay, but as a socially awkward geek my entire life it took a lot of maturing in order to become comfortable enough with myself to embody these pinnacles of badass femininity. Characters that I had grown up with – characters that taught me to not take shit from anyone.”

      She enjoys dressing in the sexy outfits, and they make her feel good about herself. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to take pics of her ass, or touch her without her permission. That is the complaint here. Not that there are guys just looking at her.

    • Just because a woman is sexy or makes a special effort to appear sexy or even enjoys the attention of being sexy it does not make her fair game or any less deserving of the right to demand to be treated with respect. What about a woman being attractive or enjoying that fact makes them less worthy of basic human consideration?

  19. This is a disturbing topic of discussion. What happened to common sense? Look but don’t touch and keep your mouth shut if you don’t have something nice to say. Grandma whould whoop my ass if she found out I did these things to females. It also shows a serious lack of character.

  20. Kross says:

    The way I see it is similar to how you would get treated if
    You wore a Broncos/Giants/Cowboys jersey to
    an Eagles game in Philly.
    Is it fair, right, moral or humane? No.
    Is it expected? Unfortunately
    As long as there are idiots there will be bad behavior.
    The saddest thing is that someone felt they needed to write this
    article to teach people something that is obvious to most people.

  21. well put! I dont think anyone really has put out a con ettiquette article!

  22. Plasmaboy Plasmaboy says:

    seriously? some of these girls literally walk around half naked at a comic cons, what did you think was gonna happen? if I was your mother or father i’d slap the shit out of you for walking around in public like that.

    i don’t personally agree or condone the behavior you speak of, nor would I ever do something like that myself. however this behavior is nothing new in our society or any society.

    personally I am a male and I find it a little uncomfortable when I go to a con and there are random half naked young girls prancing around. I also feel bad for them, because I know they must be in a poor mental state to want to walk around in public like that and are obviously in need of attention.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      Or, just maybe – we don’t cosplay for attention. Maybe, JUUUST maybe, we cosplay because we LOVE THE CHARACTERS. Because we are FANS JUST LIKE YOU. Knockout is one of my favorite characters OF ALL TIME. She is kickass, doesn’t take shit from anyone, and is generally all around empowered and cool.

      She also happens to wear a thong.

      OH GOD MY DADDY DIDN’T LOVE ME ENOUGH SO I WANT TO WALK AROUND IN A THONG WAAH.

      Wrong. I am a secure individual who loves comic books and wants to embody characters I relate to. Contrary to what you may believe, we women don’t live for your attention and approval :-)

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      Seriously? Racism was (and is) nothing new in our society either, but that doesn’t mean we should just shrug our shoulders and say “meh, what’re you gonna do?”. No. However they may be dressed, they are still actual people. Like, real people who are choosing to show their enthusiasm for something that we all enjoy, but in a creative way. Yes, they wan people to look at them because that’s kinda the point of putting work into a costume and walking around in it. And also, the main point Molly is making is that she doesn’t have a problem with people looking at cosplayers nor does it matter what thoughts are going through their heads. The point is, how you act towards them as, again, actual people. Go ahead and look, nothing wrong with that! It is not, however, a invitation to turn into a cigar smoking 50′s sales exec on an airplane pinching a flight attendants ass. Nowhere in Molly’s post does it say ‘I wish people would stop looking at me and thinking things about me” she’s saying “please don’t treat me like I’m a fucking object that is dressed up to fulfill your own private fantasy’. Of course people who dress up in revealing clothes know the risk of people staring and what not, sure maybe that’s the appeal for some, but at the end of the day the basic point is, grow up and learn how to treat people especially when you are in an environment that is supposed to be a group of people coming together over shared interests. Yeeeesh.

    • @Plasmaboy: I think you have a more reserved outlook than most people. Most people at cons are not made to feel uncomfortable by cosplayers and are instead entertained and impressed. You accuse cosplayers as being in a poor mental state, but I personally find your frankly prudish attitude toward harmless sexy costumes as having more potential to represent an unhealthy state of mind.

      @Molly: I take you at your word that you are not out for attention, but I would counter that even if you were, there is absolutely nothing wrong about it. Most people like receiving positive attention, and there is nothing unusual or unhealthy about it. No legitimate psychologist would agree that dressing in a sexy costume somehow equates to having “Daddy issues.” Personally, I find Plasmaboy’s insinuation to be pretty ridiculous.

  23. nbcabaniss nbcabaniss says:

    NO touching!

    …sorry. I’ve been rewatching Arrested Development lately.

    • TA TA says:

      Thank you for offering advice to both attendees and cosplayers.

      I particularly like your sections “Ask Permission!” and “Be Polite!”

    • kzap kzap says:

      “they don’t allow you to have bees in here”
      Arrest Development is full of great advice for Comic Conventions.

  24. ed209AF ed209AF says:
  25. krippy2k says:

    Sorry but while I agree that touching is inappropriate, and being outright rude is inappropriate, I don’t think you have much room to complain about being sexualized. The characters you are dressing as are designed around a culture of sexualization, where “superheroes” are essentially wearing lingerie. They’re meant to be sexually suggestive, and if you are a fan of them and dressing like them, then you really have no room to get mad when people look at you the way your character is meant to be looked at. That’s like somebody wearing a scary Halloween costume and getting mad if somebody gets scared.

    • redgirl001 says:

      No the difference is no one is running up to either superman or batman asking for a picture and then getting their junk grabbed by some socially awkward guys fulfill their fantasy off meeting/being their favorite fantasy.

    • kzap kzap says:

      No one is arguing they shouldn’t be looked at in a certain way.
      What they’re complaining about is how they’re treated.
      To use your Halloween costume analogy, it’s perfectly acceptable for someone to get scared, that’s a natural response and probably the one the person intended when they donned the outfit but if they then started beating that person because they’d always fantasied about hurting that character we have a problem.
      It’s the same when guys cop a feel or secretly take a photo without the persons permission, because of their love for the character, that’s taking it too far, there’s a line and they crossed it.
      Basically just be respectful, just because a person is wearing lingerie doesn’t mean they stop being a person.

    • kzap kzap says:

      It’s okay to think of someone as a person who looks sexy but it’s wrong to think of them as just a sex object that’s sole purpose is to give you a boner.
      It’s pretty simple stuff, as long as you remember they’re a person and treat them as such you should be okay.

  26. 4iiii says:

    Yeah that’s bullshit though, I am one who is all for freedom of doing whatever the hell you want as long as it doesn’t bother anyone else but when it comes to personal space and feeling violated it just shouldn’t happen. I saw the bullshit some dudes were writing in Molly original article she posted and its bad on me for keeping quiet but the fact that I DO have nieces who want to cos-play one day and go to conventions makes me think that I don’t want them subjected to this kind of treatment.

    Right on Molly, You tell them. Just cause you are dressed a certain way doesn’t mean you aren’t a person. Its disgusting if this is the mentality that some of these dudes think, and no I am not white knighting right now, I know tons of guys who feel the same way.

    Always keep it professional, and shes right NO TOUCHING.

  27. eddie3429 eddie3429 says:

    @krippy2k i think you might have missed the point of the article. It is ok to looked at by someone and be found attractive or even sexy . It is a complete other thing to be treated like a sexual object. By blaming the cosplayers for quote unquote “asking for it” you are putting the blame on the victims and taking away from the horrible acts of the perpetrator .

    Great work molly, hopefully with pieces like this cosplaying will be a better place for cosplayers at future conventions

  28. I don’t doubt cosplayers admire the character they choose to personify, yet to argue that they don’t do it for attention is faulty. The very act of dressing in attire that is out of the ordinary (indeed extraordinary) makes for an automatic beacon to others. How does one not get noticed? They have to go into the making of a costume with the thought of how good he /she will look in it and how those around will react. I say this without any spite or accusatory tone, but at the same time I expect that wanting attention is part of the mission. Does every cosplayer have this attitude? No, but I have to believe there are definitely those who do.

  29. redgirl001 says:

    The major difference is not a costume issue but a gender based problem-yes I admit that most female characters within the fantasy/scifi genre are scantily clad but we dont seem to have a problem with fans running around taking sneaky pictures of or groping men dressed like Wolverine/Batman/Superman…these characters all wear tight fitting clothing or have their underware on the outside. And yet it seems to be ok to treat a women in costume In a way that the character she is fulfilling would not only be against but in which said superheroine would break noses over……basically treat each female cosplay with the same respect you would treat her comic-counter part…….because you never know she might be able to kick your sorry ass!

  30. RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

    I think we’re all missing an interesting facet to this conversation, which is: can one dress as they’re favorite character without objectifying themselves? YES.

    I understand that there are purists out there, and that accuracy is a big deal in cosplaying, but so is individuality. These costumes are being handmade anyway. So, rather than dress as one’s favotire character with buttcheeks on full display, why not design a version of the costume that is still representational of the character, but not as revealing?

    I’m an artist, and I really enjoy putting a different spin on costumes. When I draw Wonder Woman, for example, I try to embrace the Greek warrior aspects of her. I give her metal shoulder gaurds and paneled leather skirt (similar to Brad Pitt in “Troy”). I put her in flat boots, as heels are impractical. If one were to dress in something like that, they would garner more respect and admiration from fellow con-goers on a job well done, and less “ooh, look at that skimpy costume”. They would also be setting a better example for younger girls at the shows.

    Just a thought.

    • kzap kzap says:

      If people want to choose to go for a difference interpretation of their favorite character that’s fine but they shouldn’t have to just to avoid being objectified.
      I personally like it when people go for their own little twist on a costume but it’s wrong that women who cover up more are more respected than women who show more skin. That’s pretty archaic thinking and something we should be moving away from.
      Everyone should be worthy of the same respect whether they’re in a bikini or a burqa.
      As for setting a good example for young girls, that’s partly the responsibility of the companies as well and I don’t see how dressing up accurately as a character is setting a bad example, although the way people react to it could show young girls the unfortunate truth about the world.
      I’m all for choice and I wish these companies would publish more books about strong female characters who wear less revealing clothing not because women should cover up to be empowered but to show that clothing (and your body) doesn’t effect your ability to kick ass and to give women who want to show less skin but also stay accurate the source material the opportunity to do that.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      Kzap, you are an idealist, my friend, which I respect a great deal. We would all be better off with having your views on this topic.

      The points that I’ve been making in this thread have all been under the umbrella of realism in the current status quo of society. I do think that there is a difference between what SHOULD happen (the way things “ought to be”) and the more idealistic ideas that are also being represented here. It’s unfortunate that changing the way shitty people act is, and always will be a Sisyphean attempt, (not to say that there isn’t nobility in trying and making at least a small difference).

      As nerd culture continues to seep its way into the mainstream, we can hope that our crowd becomes more of a diverse mix of better adjusted individuals. I think no matter how far in that positive direction society moves, unless there’s a huge cataclysm that wipes out the centuries of humanity’s perception and objectification women, there are always going to be a plenty of creeps out there.

      And those creeps are going to take pictures of exposed butts without asking.

    • kzap kzap says:

      I agree I’m an idealist and take it as a compliment, so thank you for that.
      I can see you’re point that there are realistic alternatives to take if you want to avoid this sort of thing happen, no one should have to take them but I understand why someone would choose to.
      Being realistic is good, I accept that taking a realistic view, the situation is pretty shitty and will take a lot of work to change, hell it will take a lot to make some people realize there is even a problem.
      But that’s doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, didn’t Dumbledore say “nothing worth doing is easy”?
      Articles like this outlining the problem are a great start, and clearly looking at the number of comments they’re popular.
      All revolutions start with a few people taking a stand.
      What we should see is a change in the of the behaviors of those doing wrong not a change in the behavior of the victims (which is what you’re suggesting).
      It would be like telling a kid at school who’s bullied for being gay to “pretend to be straight”, it might be a realistic solution, it may even be the most practical thing to do in the short term but it’s not morally right.
      It was realistic for Jews in Nazi Germany to go into hiding, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t complain about their situation or hope for change.
      And seeing as I’ve just evoked Godwin’s law I don’t think there’s much more I can say on this topic.
      Thanks for being reasonable, I love that even in a debate no one on this site resorts to name calling.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      @kzap:
      ” What we should see is a change in the of the behaviors of those doing wrong not a change in the behavior of the victims (which is what you’re suggesting).”
      I’m not suggesting that at all, (though I can see how it may have been construed that way.) I’m merely saying that, unfortunately, it’s going to happen. It’s not right, it shouldn’t happen, but it does, so expect it. Hopefully we’ll reach a point someday where that isn’t the case.

      Does that mean they should sit back and take it? Hell no. Should they call out the behavior when it happens, absolutely. Should they be surprised that it’s happening? Not at all.

      But other than that little bit, I agree with everything you said. It’s been a pleasure reading all of your comments and exchanging points with you.

  31. xoman xoman says:

    All for being respectful in public, but it’s okay to drool over cosplay hotties while alone in a dark room right? If not, I have A LOT to answer for…

  32. mrmarky mrmarky says:

    I just want to add that while it may not be interpreted as such by everyone, some people think that it is a total dick move to dress in an inappropriate fashion at a comic convention. Comic conventions never used to be about Cosplay and dressing up so that people look at your half naked body. It used to be about comics. It used to be kid friendly. Now comic geeks have to walk through a slough of attention whores showing off their bodies and the idiots jeering at them just to find deals on comic books for their collections.

    Just because you have a nice body does not mean you are doing the world a favour by taking your clothes off.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      That’s a good point. It’s also important to remember that much of this phenomenon can be attributed to the hiring of “booth babes” at cons, which is arguably what paved the way for “sexy cosplay”. So, participating in something that automatically puts one in the realm of “girls who are at the convention to look sexy and be objectified”.

      I’VE never had a picture of MY butt taken at a con… Just sayin.

    • The constant new excuses for shoving blame onto cosplayers that keep popping up are hysterical.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      No one is excusing the behavior. Mrmarky and I have both posted several times in this thread about how unwanted touching is INEXCUSABLE. It’s the picture taking I’m speaking to.

    • The word whore is vicious and I am sad to see it used here. Just because a woman is sexy or dressing in a sexy way does not mean by necessity she is objectifying herself. It doesn’t even mean she is doing it for attention and it certainly doesn’t necessarily mean she is doing it for the attention of men.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      @ Nick, he said “ATTENTION whore”. Which applies to EVERYONE, not just women. I think you were a bit unfair there, and reaching.

    • Whore is a vicious word whether it is directed at women, men or both together. If the point is that sexy cosplay is a vain thing to do and you don’t respect it on those grounds that is one thing. Using the phrase “attention whore”, especially given the context of this topic, seems out of line and unnecessarily crude to me.

      I thought and think it was offensive and was trying to say so in a measured and not harsh way. If it was read as harsh I apologize. If you think I am wrong then we can, I hope, respectfully disagree.

    • mrmarky mrmarky says:

      I never realized the term attention whore was offensive. Sorry.

  33. @mrmarky: So you are saying that dressing up as a comic book character at a comic book convention is “inappropriate?” Pray tell us, where would be the appropriate place? To me it seems like the natural context, much like bathing suits at the beach, and nothing to be upset about. And you act as though the cosplayers are playing red rover and linking arms to keep you away from the comic book tables. You will make it to the tables and be able to buy comics, I promise!

  34. RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

    Can we stop drawing the comparison of wearing swimsuits at the beach to wearing scantily clad costumes at cons? It just isn’t accurate.

    People wear bathing suits at the beach because, 1) it’s hot, and under the sun, and 2) because they’re typically getting into the water. Those two reasons are WHY PEOPLE GO TO THE BEACH, and so bathing suits are standard attire.

    The large majority of people at cons are there for purchasing comics and comic/pop culture goods, and meeting the people who make said comics/goods. One doesn’t need to wear a bathing suit to that. Revealing costumes aren’t the standard attire for conventions. They’re a flashy (and perfectly fine) choice. But as a standout, and wearing considerably less clothes around a crowd that has a significant number of weirdos, you’re going to have your picture taken whether you want to or not. It is baffling that anyone would be upset about that.

    Obviously, touching is inappropriate, and everyone should know that. It hardly warrants a “how to” post. People learn that shit in kindergarten. Those who violate that aren’t going to read this article and have an epiphany.

    • Hmmm…by your argument I can infer that water and heat were introduced to beaches around the same time that two- piece bathing suits were in this country, if heat and water is indeed the two reasons why many women today wear bathing suits that amount to being “scantily clad” by your standards.

      I think most well-adjusted individuals have moved beyond the “beclothe thyself, strumpet!” attitude of the Victorian era, and have no weird animus toward women who enjoy cosplay.

      You claim that this post is unwarranted, but it currently has 80+ posts, many of which are yours I might add, so seems to be a fairly popular post. Websites generally like having articles that people read, and the vast majority of posts seem to support the premise that the author set forth. You seem positive that no one will be educated by the article, but etiquette is not always instinctive, and I for one do not remember learning about the how-to’s of proper comic-con cosplay photography in kindergarten.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      “Hmmm…by your argument I can infer that water and heat were introduced to beaches around the same time that two- piece bathing suits were in this country, if heat and water is indeed the two reasons why many women today wear bathing suits that amount to being “scantily clad” by your standards.” –You’ve inferred wrong. Frankly, that didn’t even make sense.

      “I think most well-adjusted individuals have moved beyond the “beclothe thyself, strumpet!” attitude of the Victorian era, and have no weird animus toward women who enjoy cosplay.” –That’s exactly what I’m saying when I make the point that the post isn’t really necessary. She’s speaking to a select group of people who have a complete disregard for others. As such, they won’t read this article and think “Wait! It’s NOT ok to touch women when it’s unwarranted?! Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

      Unwarranted posts spark discussion all the time. That’s no credit to it’s validity. NOW, if the post had been a call for convention goers to keep an eye out for that kind of lewd behavior, and step-up and defend someone who’s being mishandled, then yeah, great article, thanks for the heads up. But it’s not. It’s preaching to readers as if they are the offenders. And again, if you’ve done this before and didn’t think it was wrong, then I’m of the opinion that this article isn’t going to change your ways, because you should have learned that it wasn’t okay a very long time ago.

      “….I for one do not remember learning about the how-to’s of proper comic-con cosplay photography in kindergarten.”
      –Read what I actually wrote before trying to be funny and clever, because otherwise you just look like someone with poor reading comprehension.

      ISAIDGOODDAY!

    • “you just look like someone with poor reading comprehension” Nice.

      You just look like someone who results to insults in an otherwise polite and good-natured discussion, so I will agree with you on your last words…good day.

    • Molly McIsaac Molly McIsaac (@MollyMcIsaac) says:

      Just to interject here: In my years discussing this subject (writing several articles, speaking on panels, and even hosting a panel myself called “how to talk to girls” back in the day), I have found that a LOT of socially awkward penguins DON’T know they are being creepy. Weirdos see pictures of cosplay girl’s butts on websites like tumblr and thinks it’s okay, so they emulate that behavior. A lot of people don’t actually stop and THINK – thus my constant need to make this a topic of conversation. I have had several people tell me they used to creep and don’t any more thanks to things I have talked about.

    • @Molly: I would add that your advice to cosplayers, i.e. how to best react to unwanted creepy behavior, is also quite relevant.

      @Master Destructo: in your last comment you said “results to insults.” Nice malapropism, I think you meant “resorts.” Probably a symptom of your poor reading comprehension.

      Also, @skydog, dude, “potato sack” is not the preferred nomenclature. Burka, please.

    • RaBoogie RaBoogie says:

      @Molly: I stand corrected

  35. skydog skydog says:

    As a red blooded male, I get excited when I see hot cos play chicks at conventions; strippers at clubs; naked girls with body paint on at car shows; Bikini clad volley ball chicks playing at the beach; cheerleaders, etc. I have to remind myself to play it cool like a Hippie. If I go around with my periscope up, I may as well be carrying around a picture of Chairman Mao -cuz I aint gonna make it with anyone anyhow! It’s a treat to get to look at near nude chicks and if we dudes can’t handle it, we’ll collectively end up like the poor chaps in the middle east who have to fantasize about what women look like under those potato sacks they are forced to wear. The American male is probably the most spoiled and oversexed man in the world. It’s ours to lose by acting like clods.

  36. jonnyflash jonnyflash says:

    The rules can be simplified by using the closest similar situation: treat it like a beach or the pool. Every day of the year there are beautiful people wearing almost not clothes on beaches & at swimming pools. When you are at a con just act they same way as you would around someone in a bathing suit.

    The sad thing is that the people who will take some “rules” like this seriously aren’t the people who would act this way in the first place. And they get away with it because other people at the cons won’t say or do anything.

  37. Why is it that when a women expresses her sexuality, or just doesn’t seem to be being modest enough in our eyes, do we seem to think they make themselves objects or less than deserving of simple human respect and dignity? I think that when we see someone who provokes a baser instinct in us to essentially use them as a sexual object, even if we know better than to act on that instinct uninvited, the sense of that person as an object remains because on some level we desire them to be an object for our use.

    In parts of the world women are required to wear burkas because, as I understand it, males are unable to control their desires and hormones and the woman is to blame if she provokes such impure thoughts in his head. A woman who does not practice extreme modesty at all times is a whore and is inflicting her sexuality on the males around her and polluting them with sinful thoughts. The men, of course, are blameless. Women are to be blamed for the response, thoughts and actions of men.

    In our society this same sexism is more subtle. It is found when a victim is accused of provoking rape or should have known better than to be sexual or immodest in public. I concede that it is a fact that there are more than enough, knowingly or unknowingly, exploitative men in the world that a woman who dares express her sexuality or be immodest is likely to be victimized. But that pragmatic fact in no way makes the bad behaviour any less wrong and in no way should take away a woman’s right to demand it stop. As decent people who want a better, fairer world how do we not say that it is a fact of life that needs to change?

    When a woman complains that she is being victimized or exploited and has the strength to complain and demand it stop, why do we tell her it is what she should have expected? Are we telling her to stop provoking the big, bad men and put her burka back on?

    .

    Molly, if you are still reading these comments, as a man about to be the father of two girls, I want to say how sad and sorry I am to hear about some the treatment you have received online and at conventions. I applaud you for speaking out. I have read about enough incidents in recent months to understand the kind of backlash and treatment you risk by doing so. I hope you persevere and that the good experiences outweigh the bad.

  38. APoetSomeday APoetSomeday says:

    OK, I wasn’t gonna, but now I feel like I should weigh in on this one. I cannot believe that it is even a debate, to be frank.

    Firstly: I am not a cosplayer and I don’t know any cosplayers.

    I’m a heterosexual male. I am 27 years old. I love the company of Women and I am an unrepentantly sexual person.

    If I went to a ComicCon and saw a bunch of scantily clad girls running around, I would look. They would have my attention. I wouldn’t be able to help it, that’s just nature. However, I’ve been to nightclubs that were chock full of Women wearing far less than the average ‘sexy’ cosplayer and never, EVER have I touched anyone up or taken a creepy photo on the sly. I WOULD look, but I WOULD NOT touch or take photos without asking. Come on, its creepy! She’s totally right!

    Guys – it is NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OK to take dirty pictures of, (or touch up – for Goodness’ sake) a Woman without her express consent. I don’t care if she’s running around stark bollock naked, you have no right.

    Whether a Woman is dressed up for attention or titillation or even (shock horror) because she loves comic heroines is really not the issue. Don’t go touching people you don’t know! Jeez!

    I HATE guys that go up to girls in crowded places and touch them inappropriately. The only problem I can see is that some girls put up with it rather than giving the bloke a swift ‘fist o death’ in the jaffers.

    Don’t take photos of, or touch up Women who don’t want to be touched up (or photographed on the sly) if they want to be touched up, I’m quite sure they’ll let you know.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      I think you missed the point of the debate. No one anywhere on here ever said it was okay to touch a woman or take her picture without consent. Not a single person anywhere in this thread or on this entire site has ever said that.

    • I haven’t read the bombardment of comments in this thread, but this is a bit funny to me. I’m pretty sure everyone with half a conscience knows those things are wrong. You don’t need to tell them it’s wrong. Unless anyone here is a sociopath, I think the thread was good without that lesson.

      and honestly, if a girl is in scantily clad attire you do have a choice in looking at her. It’s may be nature, it may instinctual, but there is a decision involved. It’s our instinct but we don’t always have to follow that instinct. I don’t HAVE to look at her, I choose to. I choose not to pay attention to a great deal of booth babes, even though they are half naked most of the time. I didn’t come there to look at them, so I don’t. Anyways this is personal taste, but I find the skimpier the outfit, the more unflattering. I find leaving something to the imagination, much sexier. Not sure why but I do, that’s just me. There are ways to be sexy without wearing an outfit that Emma Frost would’ve during New X-Men. Not that there’s any problem with dressing that way, but it’s just my personal taste in….sexiness lol.

    • APoetSomeday APoetSomeday says:

      - Biologic. lol, seen. However, I’m not talking about staring. Women catch your eye, that’s what I mean. I make a choice not to stare out of respect, but noticing is instinct. At least that’s how it is for me. I agree about sexiness.

      - USPunx – Read the comments (and the wider debate online, to which I was mainly referring) there are a lot of people exhibiting an unhealthy ‘they’re asking for it!’ attitude. That’s what I was upset about. Peace.

  39. USPUNX USPUNX says:

    @apoetsomeday: Believe it or not I have read all the comments in this article. So please quote the name and comment of the person you are referring to who defended, in your words, “to take dirty pictures of, (or touch up – for Goodness’ sake) a Woman without her express consent.” Please show me, specifically, where in this tread that happened.

    Also you never once in your original post mentioned you were commenting on the larger online debate. You didn’t even really imply it anywhere. In your first line you said “OK, I wasn’t gonna, but now I feel like I should weigh in on this one.” This one pretty clearly implies ‘this article’. I guess by “this one” you must have meant “the larger philosophical and ongoing debate spread across the internet on various blogs, comic sites, and news feeds.” That really what you were implying there? You expect anyone to believe that? In the future, just say what you mean, or maybe even start by simply reading the article your commenting one. Either one would be a big step. PEACE.