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Personal Experiences with Sexism in the Cosplay Community 

It’s like there’s a sudden rash of sexist fuckboys in my little corner of the cosplay community. Over the past week or so, I’ve been met with some sexist bullshit over my own cosplay (and in one case, someone else’s) more than usual. I usually just brush them off with a callout, a meme, or a block, but this time those morons are getting their own special post. Aren’t they lucky?

1. I was super proud of my first attempt at making EVA foam armor, and so I show one of the guys from a cosplay group I’m in. The armor in question are these weird knee pad things; he knows that’s what they are meant to be. His reply upon seeing them is “Those cover your boobs? Lol jk”   

But it’s not fucking funny; no “lol,” no “jk.” It’s just rude, sad, and very telling of the fact that he, and guys like him, don’t take lady cosplayers seriously. Sandwiching your bullshit between insincere compliments doesn’t really make it any less shitty.

I worked hard on them, yet my efforts are reduced to some stupid fucking tit joke. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good dirty joke, but goddammit if nearly everything I do as a woman who cosplays isn’t turned into some bullshit about my looks or anatomy by a fuckboy who can’t control himself or his words long enough to make the decision not to be a fucking dick. I love being cute. I love being sexy. I do not love every thing I do being sexualized and trivialized just because I’m a woman. Nothing about my craftsmanship. Nothing about how long it took or any technical aspects. Nope. Just titties and sex, all the fucking time. This isn’t the first time he’s done this either. I tried to give dude the benefit of the doubt, but that was the final straw. A similar situation happened before, when I showed him my Mary Jane cosplay.

mj1

Again, he focuses on “anatomy” (read: breasts), and then tries to clean it up with a half-assed compliment. I’m not here for it. At one point, I considered this guy a friend, but he’s proven himself to be hopeless. Don’t get me started on the time I spent trying to educate him own his own messy sexist views. I thought he’d made progress, but progress is actually learning, not putting icing on a turd and hoping nobody will notice that it’s still just shit. The act of throwing in a “compliment” when I don’t respond shows that he knows he said was wrong, yet instead of owning up to it, he thinks saying something “nice” will somehow distract me or make it better. It doesn’t.  That brings me to…

2. These assholes, who have probably never painted or stitched or contoured a day in their lives, and also had something to say about my Mary Jane cosplay.

First there’s this guy:

mjg1

And then this guy:

MJfb1
The cosplay in question involved a lot more than meets the eye, but because I had the audacity to show any amount of skin, although it is faithful to the source material, my efforts are once again trivialized and overlooked.Guy number 1 epitomizes the odd tendency of some men within the cosplay community to simultaneously lust after and rebuke female cosplayers. Guy number 2 went the same route of trying to hide his shitty behavior and attitude with a compliment, but he couldn’t hold it together. He set out to bash me and wanted to pick my cosplay apart because to him, I’m just some dumb whore looking for attention. Nevermind the fact that that’s probably one of the most easily recognizable and iconic pictures of Mary Jane, and any other effort to cosplay her would probably just be mistaken for regular street clothes. Double nevermind the fact that the sole purpose of me cosplaying her had to do with fighting back against the racist backlash from people who mistakenly thought  thatthe latest Spider-Man reboot would be featuring a black Mary Jane.

The lack of basic respect a lot of men (no, not “all” men, so please don’t send me angry, hearltfelt emails about how you’re the exception) in cosplay show to women cosplayers stems from them viewing any girl who dares to visibly take part in cosplay (or any other “nerdy” activity) as attention whoring fake fans, talent-less sex toys, and pretty much everything else but fellow fans. It’s nothing new; thousands of others have written about this issue before me, but that doesn’t make it any less fucking maddening. Cosplay is not a hobby for the faint of heart. No matter how you slice it, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money, it takes a lot of effort. For some random crusty dude to imply or outright state that a woman is pouring valuable resources into recreating a character just to impress or excite him and his legion of moronic horny douchebags? It’s laughable. Female cosplayers aren’t cosplaying for your pleasure or your consumption. It’s as though these guys never got the “cosplay is not consent” memo and assume that all women who cosplay are automatically sexually accessible and exist for entertainment. And that’s where incident number 4 comes into play.

4. This guy found out that I’m a cosplayer, and decided it’d be appropriate to ask me to pose for pics for his “personal collection.” He’s not a photographer. This was our first (and last) encounter. It doesn’t take a super sleuth to figure out what kinds of pictures he wanted, and when I declined, he oh-so-generously left the offer on the table, making sure I knew that I could easily get “$500” out of it (insert eyeroll to the heavens here). I have nothing against sex work or sex workers, but I have a major problem with the fact that, upon realizing that I’m a cosplayer, he felt it would be ok to proposition me in such a manner.

convo1
Honestly, if a legitimate photographer with an impressive portfolio and a good reputation asked me if I were interested in doing a paid risque cosplay shoot, there’s a good chance I’d be into it. I love pictures and it sounds like it’d fun in an appropriate setting with a professional. But some random creep on the internet, with absolutely no credentials, who I had “known” for all of 15 minutes, assuming that I’d be down with catering to whatever his fantasies were based solely on the fact that I’m a cosplayer just doesn’t sit well with me. It creeped me out, particularly the “this would be just for me” bit. I highly doubt he’d have asked me about doing some sketchy personal shoot had I never disclosed the fact that I’m a cosplayer. The implication is that there’s something inherently submissive and sexual about women who cosplay, and that’s just not true. Even if I’m wearing a sexy cosplay, I’m not doing it for anyone but myself. Women cosplayers are not walking fan service. They are not fuckdolls designed to sexually entertain you. They are skilled fellow fans who work hard to create the characters they love, whether they’re covered from head-to-toe or doing a bikini cosplay, I am here to tell every single idiot guy who feels its his duty to disrespect female cosplayers: We are not doing this for you. At all. You are not important. You don’t matter to us. If we’re showing skin, it is because that’s what we wanted to do; we aren’t doing it for your validation or your pleasure. Nobody gives a fuck about your boners, man. If we’re in layers of fabric and armor, it is not for you to pat us on the back for whatver your stupid fucking idea of “real cosplay” and ‘moedsty” may be. It’s still just for us. We cosplay for us. Not you. Here’s a guy who didn’t get that memo:

5.This woman recreated the controversial “Harley Quinn’s bathtub suicide dream” scene. The cosplayer is clearly recognizable as Harley. The concept is well-executed.

Harley-Quinn-Suicide-Liz-Katz-1

Cosplayer: Liz Katz

Somehow, though, because of implied nuditity, it’s not “real” cosplay according to one infected dildo of a man, who describes himself as a “real cosplayer.”

harleys
The irony in the fact that a lot of the guys “complaining” about “sexy” cosplays aren’t complaining about the character designs these cosplays are made of is not lost on me.  But I digress, because even when I’m doing something pertaining to cosplay that wouldn’t normally be considered sexy, somehow, somewhere, some fucking loser with blue balls wants to make sure I’m aware of the fact that he’s got titty tunnel vision, and will never see my work, or another cosplay girl’s work, for its craftsmanship. And that can be annoying, disheartening, infuriating, and any other unpleasant feeling for a lot of us.

So, when you look at a female cosplayer and the first things that come to mind are

  • Absolutely nothing about her craftsmanship or execution because you’re hung up on gender and anatomy
  • She’s just doing this for attention!
  • She’s not even a real fan because bippity boppity boobs!

You can at least keep your comments to yourself. I’m sick of hearing them, and I know everyone else is too. If you’re one of those shitty guys, and you find just can’t help yourself, please know that:

  1. I think you’re super fucking pathetic.
  2. Most decent people probably think you’re super fucking pathetic. That’s a lot of people.
  3. You aren’t going to keep me from doing what I want.
  4. I’ll continue to try my hardest to make sure you don’t stop anyone else with your sexist bullshit either.
  5. Half the time, y’all aren’t even cosplayers, and the other half, you aren’t even particularly good cosplayers, so you really should be quiet unless you’re looking for unwelcome, harsh criticism that will probably make you put down your glue gun forever and never step foot on a con floor again. I believe in keeping unkind, unsolicited criticism to myself, but if you all are going to keep fucking with me and other women in the cosplay community, I will not hesitate to give my honest opinion on what  I really think of your janky looking Mario or half-assed Deadpool.

To other women cosplayers currently dealing with similar frustrations, please know that

  1. I think you’re great
  2. You should keep doing whatever you’re doing
  3. Stupid comments from fuckboys should never discourage you, but motivate you to keep doing. Call them out, block them, laugh at them. They’re nothing. <3

~DeLa Doll
facebook.com/deladollcosplay/
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0 thoughts on “Personal Experiences with Sexism in the Cosplay Community 

  1. Dina Farmer says:

    I don’t understand what is wrong with people sometimes! It is crazy how they suddenly feel empowered to say crazy things just because you are a cosplayer. That doesn’t mean you are suddenly up to fulfilling their fantasies because you dress up.

    I’m so sorry you have experianced this!

  2. B says:

    What the hell is wrong with people? I think your armor looks great, as does your MJ cosplay. And I agree. That guy whining about that Harley photo probably wasn’t whining about it when it was in a comic. Why do people act like it’s impossible to comment on something without being a weirdo? There are hundreds of things you could say instead of making a tits comment. Or hey, if you can’t for whatever reason, keep walking and keep your mouth shut.

  3. For me, I don’t really cosplay so I don’t really get these comments from other dudes. However, I did at one point game a lot. I played Xbox Live a lot and men would demean me all the time through that. Sending me messages when they found out I was a girl. Then I would win and then the comments turned grossly offensive.

    I read your entire post and it identified with me about how I have been treated by the opposite sex. For me it wasn’t in the cosplay area. For me when someone says these comments I basically call them out. Then they apologize saying they didn’t know it was offensive. It’s so hard to believe that they wouldn’t know it’s offensive….

    I’m sorry you experienced this. The armor is super cool btw!! 🙂

    1. DeLa Doll says:

      I’ve experienced the same thing when gaming! My screen names are usually not telling of my gender, and I tend to play with male and female avatars, so sometimes things will be cool for a while and then someone finds out I’m a girl and it all goes to shit with weird messages and harassment -_- Not every time, but more often than not. And I agree; they definitely know they were being offensive most of the time and just feel comfortable acting that way because they aren’t used to being called on it

  4. You can’t have it both ways. People will either comment negatively or positively on sexuality they see (and cosplay is just one of many examples, anywhere fashion or clothing or bodies are involved is included in this) if they comment negatively, they’re a prude who can’t appreciate hard work, and if they comment positively, they’re a pervert.

    You can’t honestly take that reference photo of Mary Jane seriously, I mean good lord look how sexual it is. That character drawing is literally rolling in sexuality. I’m surprised her nips aren’t drawn on as well. Is that bad or good? Do you want people to see you as sexy or cute, or womanly, or do you want them to see you as a plastic sexless barbie doll? I mean, again, what are people supposed to comment on?

    Men and women get criticized for their bodies (or praised, or leered at, blah de blah.) I don’t see any of it as sexist because it’s not just one sex attacking the other, it’s just people who are ignorant about the craftsmanship in general and like to be critical or give out comments that don’t really strike the fancy of the artists receiving the comments. I mean if somebody showed me photos of a motor they had built I’d be ignorant and say something like “cool haha very shiny. pretty car.” I don’t know shit about car building. What am I supposed to comment? I think this is more along the lines of ignorant comments and opinions that, like every single opinion on earth, do not matter. Including my opinion on this matter.

    1. DeLa Doll says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “you can’t have it both ways”
      When and where did I ask to have something “both ways?”
      I never implicitly or explicitly called anybody prudish. I don’t typically care that people comment on my looks or my body, but when they do so in a way that is meant to disrespect me, belittle me, or be dismissive of my work based solely on the fac, then of course I’m going to take issue. And I never said I had a problem with positive comments. In fact, I fucking love positive comments! Several men and women on the same Mary Jane post the other screenshots from commented on my looks and it didn’t bother me because they
      1. Weren’t disrespectful
      2. …that’s pretty much it! It’s almost as though it’s possible to make comments without being an ass. Crazy, right?

      “What are people supposed to comment on?”
      Anything, really. It’s not like there’s suddenly nothing to talk about if you can’t spout off about TNA. I don’t even have a problem with people talking about it; it’s only an issue when the nature of it is rude and comes from a negative place. But I guess you missed that?

      Being ignorant about craftsmanship == Guess I gotta say you didn’t bother putting in effort because I can see cleavage! And the majority of the comments posted came from other cosplayers. If anyone is going to be “ignorant about craftsmanship” it probably shouldn’t be them.

      Finally, your comparison of someone showing you a motor they built and you not knowing what to say to me showing a fellow cosplayer (one who happens to be really into armor and “craftsmanship”) armor and him making it about my breasts despite the fact that I’m not even seen in the picture and the armor in question was fucking knee pads doesn’t even make sense. Just like his reply didn’t even make sense. A more accurate comparison would be if someone showed you a picture of a motor they built and you replied “haha you gonna stick your dick in that?” But that’d just show how fucking ridiculous his comment was, and since you’re clearly hellbent on being willfully obtuse, we can’t have that.

      The men in the comments aren’t random people who know nothing about cosplay; they’re actual cosplayers. So your excuse about it just being people who don’t know anything about it and are at a loss for words doesn’t really work here, but like, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I always welcome different perspectives and feedback, even if I don’t personally agree with them.

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