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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…

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…

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.
  • Listening to: Ruby
  • Reading: Media studies texts
  • Watching: Firefly
  • Drinking: London tap water...ewww
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abbyicebox Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012
I know I'm late to the party but I came across this because it was linked to someone else's "rant" about what Tony said. Just wanted to give you the thumbs up.

Also, hooray for Firefly!!!!
Theriza Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, The rage died down, but the issue is still relevant, and it's nice to know that people care ^^
SharkSmirk Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The worst thing is, that the girl you might consider "fake nerds" who only dress up to get attention, are called "booth babes" and ARE HIRED BY YOUR INDUSTRY, TONY!!!! Seriously, I don't even frown upon booth babes as such, they're just some girls trying to get payed, I do frown upon the person who told them "Hey, dress skimpy and smile for 10$ an hour love, 'cause sex sells! Them nerdy virgins won't know what hit them!" (also, nice way to offend male geeks as well)

I saw another rant a while back about how some "fake nerd" cosplayer girls are only failed models looking for attention, well guess what: if people stopped treating every female cosplayer as a sexual object and showering her with (largely unwanted) creepy looks, those girls wouldn't even come to comic cons because they wouldn't have an audience. You slobber over unrealistic sex objects and yet you cry when you realise that the only attention you get is from women looking to gain somethings, because any normal girl would avoid you in a 5 mile radius.

But the fact that this post is getting so much negative attention gives me hope :)
Theriza Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't know much about booth babes because we generally don't have them here in Norway (there would be an offended outcry if it happened I think). I should imagine though, that these don't wander around the con but, as their name implies, stay at the booth to attract customers. And so it should be easy to figure out who is who, and in the end they really have nothing to do with it because they are not actually cosplayer (don't get me wrong, I completely respect them, it is just a job and since they themselves didn't chose to wear the costumes out of their own want for it, I don't define it as cosplay)

I think the problem lies with the fact that "geekyness" used to be kinda male patent. Now that more and more women are becoming part of geek culture it is expanding. Now most people don't have a problem with this, but some people have probably enjoyed the tight-knit, outsider aspects of the geekdom more, and don't like the group getting bigger and therefore less specific and harder to identify with.Of course when you identify so strongly with a group, identifying with other groups become more difficult. So possibly the people with these attitudes are the ones who actually do have problems speaking to women, can't relate to them and see them as threats to their community. I think the "sexy for attention" and "fake nerd" things are just the most convenient excuses they found to make their views reasonable for themselves, playing on overused stereotypes about women.

Now of course this is just a theory, but kinda based on the fact that in my almost eight years of going to Scandinavian cons I have never even heard of attitudes like this. Scandinavian cons are newer, and I think had a close to equal percentage of both genders almost from the start (at least in Norway I know this to be true). Also, the cons here are less comic based and more japan/sci-fi/fantasy based, supporting my earlier argument.
SharkSmirk Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
As for boot babes, I just took them as an example of geeky hypocrisy - these girls are largely there only because they were payed to be sexy, and nobody has a problem with that because their job is to be chatty and friendly (again, because they're payed to be). But get a real girl in a costume who reserves the right to ignore you if she doesn't like you, and all of a sudden she's a cold bitch or a fake nerd. This means that, in the end, it doesn't matter if a pretty girl is a real nerd or not as long as she panders to you and behaves like a sex kitten.

I think it comes down to the fact that for a long time society has taught males that girls are like prizes and/or status symbols. Even in those teenage films about nerds, when the nerd gets the girl in the end, it's the cheerleader, not another nerdy girl, because a girl who only has looks is still seen as a victory, while a nerdy girl is seen as a "downgrade". That's why some guys are so entitled and get pissed off if a girl won't talk to them - books/films/games promise them hot girls, why doesn't life work like this? ;) And I agree with you, this is all made worse by the fact that "geeky" as seen as a guy thing. To be fair, most of my guy friends are normal and open-minded, but I've met my fair share of weirdos (mostly from older generations). I agree with you, this is (thankfully) less present among new generations, or smaller groups.

And I think money is a big motive - it all boils down to what sells best. For women, if you want them to buy something, make them insecure. As for guys, make them feel like the universe revolves around them. And after years of the (comic) industry pandering to them, reality comes as a shock.
Theriza Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sadly you are very right. Luckily it still seems like it's only a smaller percentage of the population that are really bed when it comes to this, and we can only hope it will become even better...scratch that, fuck hoping, we can verbally destroy these people who have absolutely no valid reasons for their opinions and therefore really can never win an argument about it, so that people in the future might not have to go through this BS ^^
SharkSmirk Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's the way, sister! :clap: :highfive:
Theriza Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Girl power moment, yeah!
Karasu-Players Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
This. Thank you. Especially the bit about cosplayers wanting recognition for their work and not their looks. You phrased this very well.

I'm going as Harley Quinn to Comic-Con this year and because of the fact that females in the comic book industry (and media in general) get sexualized so much, I'm honestly a bit worried about wearing it. I'm also worried about people calling me a "fake", since I don't know that much about the Batman universe besides what I've seen in the movies/video games and what I've read up on Harley Quinn.
So far, I've only been to cons in anime cosplays and typically in crossplay (and of the 2 female cosplays I currently have, one in genderbent and the other is conservative, 18th century London) so I haven't had to face this problem yet.
Anyways, with all the attention this issue seems to be getting lately (at least on dA), I hope that there may be a change coming soon.
Theriza Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you ^^

I find it quite ridiculous how someone who basically makes a living from the attention his creative work gets can have a problem with others getting attention for their creative work just because theirs is clothes on their bodies and not on a piece of paper. xp

You just go right ahead and cosplay Harley! No one can say their fan-ness (is that a word? xp) is any more valid than yours just because you like the movies and haven't read the comics. That would be like complaining that you are cosplaying/watching an anime and not the manga it's based on(when you put it like that you see exactly how silly it is). If anyone gives you any trouble (they probably won't, it's mostly just a small number of hardcore, oldstyle comic fans that think like this, and most will only mention it when hiding behind a computer screen online) just remember the response to this an that nearly everyone else is on your side. or, if you have the hammer, just hit them on the head with it ^^
Eternal-Wake Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012
Huh. I don't know what else to say but AMEN, SISTER!
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November 14, 2012


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