Trigger warning: slut-shaming, fat-shaming, nice-guy-ism, other assorted nastinesses, strong language
So my good friend Kaoru Negisa wrote this thing here, and of course I have to respond to it.
And here is what I have to say in response:
…Ok, ok, no. I have more things to say, and they mostly boil down to “It’s not all about you, asshole!” (Well, and maybe just a little BITCH YOU DON’T KNOW ME.*)
“Waah! A woman is attractive in my field of vision but won’t have sex with me!”
“Waah! A woman is dressed revealingly but I personally do not find her attractive!”
“Waah! Someone came to a convention who isn’t a geek in the EXACT SPECIFIC WAY that me and my friends are!”
OBVIOUSLY THEY ARE ALL UGLY NEEDY SLUT-TEASES.
Ok, look. I can’t speak for all cosplayers, but a) I am a woman who enjoys cosplay, and b) my former roommate LOVED cosplay. I have plenty of friends who enjoy cosplay to varying degrees, and here’s the thing: male attention while in costume pretty much runs the gamut from “a nice bonus” to “a mildly annoying side effect,” depending on the respect level of the dude and how comfortable the woman is with it. It’s hardly the main draw. Oh, sure, sometimes attention can be fun – costumes take a lot of work, it’s nice to see people appreciate the result – but that’s not why we dress up.
What is geekery? To me, it’s yearning for something beyond the workaday world. Some people find it in comics – fantastic stories of larger-than-life characters doing larger-than-life things. Some people want to explore other worlds, of starships or spellcraft or both. Some people look for it in roleplaying games, creating characters to test their skill and creativity or tell stories and explore situations unlikely to come up in real life. Some people find that joy in aspects of the real world, delving into science or history or arcane computer skills that few can even understand, let alone replicate.
To me, and to many others, cosplay is just one more type of geekery. So while, for instance, some cosplayers are also comic fans, you don’t cosplay BECAUSE you love comics. You cosplay because you love cosplay, and comics are a venue in which you can express that love.
I like fanciful costumes. I like finding, buying, making, and combining various costume pieces to either recreate a well-known figure or (more often) creating something interesting and original. It appeals to my artistic/crafty side, to my silly side, to my expressive side. I wear very little makeup in my “normal” life, but I love spending more than half an hour giving myself age wrinkles or realistic scars or an otter’s face or a sparkly mask. I love wearing an outfit, love seeing how it feels to move around in something I wouldn’t normally wear, love turning myself into something weird or beautiful or bizarre or quaint. I love the thrill of finding that one accessory that pulls it all together and makes it a costume, not just a random assortment of odd clothes.
And I’m a mild cosplayer! I know women with closets full of clothes and wigs and jewelry from every social caste and period of history and fantasy setting. I know women who spend half a year or more sewing elaborate outfits to wear to ONE convention.
It’s an odd hobby, like all geekery. Like all geekery, it’s something we take pride and joy in, and yet mainstream society wouldn’t get it in the least. And like all geeks, we’re drawn to gather with other geeks, where we can celebrate our weird hobby with others who have hobbies just as weird, and understand where we’re coming from and won’t judge us.
…Oh, that is until Asshat McGee up there shows up.
Because Asshat McGee doesn’t care how many hours we spent painstakingly combing thrift stores, sewing a costume, gluing feathers to a hat, creating elaborate props out of basically fluff and nothing. He doesn’t care that this is one of the very few occasions where we can take our creations out and show them off and actually enjoy them in public. He doesn’t care that we’re having fun and revelling in geek culture. In his mind, we are there to titillate and satisfy male geeks, and if we fail in either of those directives, we are terrible human beings.
Because it is ALL ABOUT HIM.
And the thing is, we can’t win! If you are, like me, NOT skinny with big boobs, COVER YOURSELF UP NOBODY WANTS TO LOOK AT YOU WHY ARE YOU EVEN OUT OF DOORS?? If by some magic of the gene pool you ARE skinny with big boobs… well, he MIGHT allow you to consider yourself hot (though probably not, since he wants to keep you in your place), but if you’re hot, then you better be ready to reward those hordes of slavering geek boys with the sex they so richly deserve, otherwise you’re just an attention-whoring cocktease. But wait! What if you ARE hot, you DO dress revealingly, and you actually DO end up having sex with a guy (or even – GASP! – more than one) at a con? Well then, you’re just a slutty slutty slut, Queen of Slutsville, now aren’t you?
…oh and of course my favorite bit: if you’re going to a comics convention, make sure you pay homage to your lords and masters, the creators of said comics. They, not the fans, are the most important people there, and your ability to have fun at the convention must pass their approval, otherwise no fun for you. Under no circumstances may you enjoy comics or conventions on your own terms or for your own reasons. (This, by the way, isn’t misogyny, just general-issue douchenozzelry.)
Listen up, Tony “Effing” Harris. My body is mine, to display or not display, to have fun with or hide away, as I choose. My body is not decoration. My body is not a promise of sex. I will not cover it up because you don’t think it’s attractive. I will not cover it up because you DO think it’s attractive. I will not, in fact, hold myself responsible for anyone else’s attraction or lack of attraction towards me. I will not allow you or anyone else to tell me who I should or should not have sex with, nor allow myself to feel guilty for not having sex with someone who finds me hot. I don’t owe them jack. I don’t owe you jack. It is not all about you.
*A side note: I understand that a lot of feminists find the word “bitch” sexist and belittling. I disagree, and unlike other problematic words (I swear I really am trying to get “retard” and “crazy” out of my vocabulary, truly I am!), I AM a woman, so I get a say in the discussion. I like the word “bitch” – it’s evocative, it has good mouthfeel, it’s versatile, and I’m sorry, BITCH YOU DON’T KNOW ME is too good and useful a phrase to give up.
Edit: Oh hay, some random transphobia to boot. Man, this guy is just a peach.