Many of you might have missed the latest spectacle of the cosplay scene involving comic book creator Tony Harris having a rather ignorant and misogynist rant directed at female cosplayers. This is not the first time men from the comic fandom say such things, but it is the firs time a (previously) well respected comic creator goes out against fans in such a manner. Here is a link thanley.wordpress.com/2012/11/…
Now, the many reasons why this piece is completely ignorant and based on assumptions have been listed on multiple blogs and I do not feel the need to address them. Mr. Harris has issued a follow-up statement denying that he is neither sexist, misogynist, ignorant or hateful while somehow managing to not only avoid actually explaining why his statements are none of these things, and in the process trying to place the blame on the people "spreading hate" and even insulting us cosplayers some more in the process....impressive...www.bleedingcool.com/2012/11/1…
Now, I actually am quite personally involved in this as it not only irks my inner feminist something terrible but also has a great deal to do with some of my more recent cosplay experiences. So this is me telling my story, meant as an open letter to Tony Harris and any who might share his views, although considering the amount of anger he has received after making this statement I'm guessing he's stopped reading the stuff people send him by now.
So, I'm a cosplayer from Norway, a small country where cosplay is a relatively new thing. I've been cosplaying for some years now, but mostly done anime/manga/game costumes. When I moved to London for uni and got the opportunity to go to the London MCM Expo comic con I was of course very excited, and decided to make my first superheroine-cosplay, as the focus on superheroes is a lot bigger here than at cons back home where the focus is mainly anime/sci-fi/fantasy. Now I am not ashamed to admit that I do not have extreme knowledge of comics, as that is an expensive hobby and a bit difficult in a small country like Norway. I would love to start reading more now that it is more easily available.
I am, however, an insanely big fan of the recent live-action movies, the x-men series being my definite favorite. And even more I enjoy the different animated x-men series! I decided to do Rogue, one of my favorite characters (the other, Nightcrawler, being a bit to difficult the very limited time I had before expo). Now, X-men evolution is my favorite series and I really like the way it portrays Rogue even though I do know this is not how she is in the comics (because I actually did a lot of reading up on her character and different versions of it before making the cosplay). If you think that makes me a fake fan, please consider if your attitude is a little bit elitist.
Now, I made the costume and had lots of fun walking around in it, hanging out with other x-men cosplayers, flirting with Gambit, stealing peoples powers, including another Rogue and generally having a great time. And yes, I did get quite a bit of attention and pictures taken of me, especially when I was together with other x-men cosplayers. Because large cosplay groups are really cool and awesome and stuff. Nothing of this was different from other costumes I've made of popular characters.That is, before the pictures go online.
When i posted them on deviantart they immediately seemed to be a bit more popular than my other work, which I figure is due to to Rogue being a more well-known character. However, looking through the favs and collection folders it had been added to I often saw it grouped together with what I'll describe as "inspiration for adult entertainment". Now this initially puzzled me and weirded me out a little (I honestly don't care if people want to use me as "inspiration", but I would prefer not to know about it I think). But later I've come to understand it a bit more.
You see the thing about X-men evolution is that it has managed the miraculous feat of keeping nearly all it's female heroes fully dressed in the same fashion as the men. My Rogue cosplay is shows far less skin than most of my other cosplays, and my breasts are even covered by an armor plate. Sure it's tight fitting like most superhero costumes, but while I consider myself suitably thin I'm suppose I don't live up you your standards of "really HOT" and my poses are far from revealing. So why does this costume get so much more sexualized attention? I understood some of it when looking at the other contents of mentioned favorite folders/collections. With those that had more photographs than mine, when it was not straight out pr0n it was always other female cosplayers, always cosplaying superheroes. Sometimes in revealing costumes and poses, sometimes not. Other folders were filled with super heroine art of a sexual nature.
My conclusion is that female superheroes have been so sexualized that they have become symbols of desire not even based on their dress or pose anymore, just on their existence itself. There are plenty of insanely revealing and provocative cosplay images, why would you add mine to your pr0n collection? Because it's Rogue. You claim you don't support this practice and that gives you points in my book, but no one can deny that this is a negative trend in the comic industry.
And this might be why some comic fans look at female comic cosplayers as walking, talking images of what they have been made to see as sexual images from comic books. Do they believe we are there only to tempt them because that is in essence the role of the female superhero? If so, the problem, so far as there is one, does not lie with the cosplayers but with the industry and the people letting themselves be so affected by it.
Of course, I find very degrading the way you portray male geeks as "afraid to talk to women" as well. None of the geeks I known have this problem, at leas not with geek women. Possibly there are some over there in the very large U.S, but I do not believe it is the norm. Personally I get all the sexual attention I need from my also very geeky boyfriend.
So my point is, why are you blaming female fans for what is in the end an industry problem? In your original rant you said this was a comment on the norm, so you made it out as referring to most female super hero cosplayers. You say you're not sexist, but saying it isn't enough, especially when you burden us with yet more usage of the "fake nerd girl" stereotype. You have absolutely nothing to go on for making that assumption, there are thousands and thousands of cosplayers out there and you have no way of knowing their motivation. We want to express our love for the character by dressing up as them, weather that means showing some skin or not. of course cosplay is to some degree about attention, you want to show of your work, but just about every cosplayer I know would rather be complimented on their good craftsmanship or representation of the character than that they are "hot". In fact, that beeing the first thing brought up can even make some cosplayers uncomfortable because that was not what they wanted to focus on with the costume. Just because someone gets a lot of sexualized attention you can't just assume that's why she's there. She might well be enjoining it, I mean, everyone loves compliments, but not to the degree that they will spend tons of money and weeks of work just for a couple of them. And honestly for those who actually don't even want the attentions it's more than a bit difficult, because apparently dressing as a female superhero makes you a sex symbol even if you manage to find one that doesn't have cleavage to her stomach. And do not tell me that if we don't want that kind of image we should just stop cosplaying female superheroes. Again, it is not us that are the problem!
There are lots of female nerds out there, they exist, and they cosplay for their own sake, not your or any mans. get over it.