Cosplay Is Not Consent: Women Fight Sexual Harassment At Comic Con

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“I was taking a selfie with someone and after he took the selfie, he kissed me and then ran away. That was sort of this horrifying, gross experience — and I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”

 

Thousands of attendees take part in New York Comic Con every year and put a lot of effort into dressing up as their favorite characters from movies, comics, TV shows and video games.

At Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan, a huge sign welcomed people at this year comic con that read “Cosplay Is Not Consent.”

The signs, which first emerged at New York City comic con in 2014, are aimed at addressing sexual harassment that female cosplayers face. These signs also draw attention to the city’s anti-harassment policy, which doesn’t tolerate intimidation and stalking.    

People who take part in the comic con dress up as their favorite fictional character. Therefore, female attendees tend to wear dresses that are elaborate and revealing — which makes some misogynist people think is an invitation for sexual harassment.

It is not.

“A couple years ago — this would have been in 2015, after the signs went up — I was taking a selfie with someone and after he took the selfie, he kissed me and then ran away. That was sort of this horrifying, gross experience — and I don’t want that to happen to anybody,” said Liz, a cosplayer dressed as Wonder Woman.

She further added, “I do now take care to not wear cosplay that’s too revealing, which is something I wish I didn’t have to do because it’s accurate to a lot of superhero costumes, that it’s form-fitting or whatever. But I’ve had a really good time this year. There hasn’t been an incident that’s stuck out to me as gross.”

Another female dressed as Prompto from “Final Fantasy 15” said she isn’t wearing revealing costume this year as she was sexually harassed for wearing such clothes in past years.

“Honestly I’ve never had the experience [of being harassed], mostly because my costumes are bulky and not particularly attractive. I look like a crazy person in 90 percent of them, so I don’t really get weird handsy people. But, I have seen certain cosplayers that do, so I get it,” said Raquel, dressed as Avatar Kyoshi from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

In 2014, when the signs were first erected on the entrance, some eight cases of sexual harassment were reported by females. However, most harassment went unreported.

Kristina Rogers, event manager for NYCC, said, “We don’t want [harassment] to happen, obviously, but we want people to have a way to report it and to know that they can. I think that the signs, having [harassment reporting] in our app and having it in our program guide and talking about it on our website lets people know that you can [report it] and you should feel comfortable doing this and we are a safe place to go to and we actually care."

The fact that women are targeted in places even when they are displaying art is condemnable itself. The entire motive of coming out and dressing up for their favorite character seems to be lost as they are more worried about how they dress up.

The harassment has gone to such an extent that attendees make sure they choose characters whose dresses are not skimpy — hence taking away the liberty of women to choose freely.

According to stats, one in three women between the ages of 18-34 has been sexually harassed at work. Women empowerment is so often under discussion, yet we still deal with situations where females are sexually abused over what they wear. 

Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Stephanie Keith

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