Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cosplay is not a Permission Slip: A Rant



It was a gorgeous sunny day in San Diego. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and spandex clad superheroes paraded down the streets. A Dark Phoenix stumbled along, squinting in the brightness, fishing in her purse for the swag sunglasses she has received from Google the day before. Finding them, she shoved them onto her face and groaned, adjusting her skin tight costume.

That Dark Phoenix was me, and I was hungover on the last day of San Diego Comic Con, 2012. But, with perseverance pulled from the well springs of my intense geekery, I stumbled into the convention center and immediately prepared to pose as people approached me, cameras held out. I fiercely popped my hip, put on my best Dark Phoenix "smolder", and put up with many a hover hand as man after man did a thumbs up next to me as their friend snapped a picture.

I've been cosplaying for many years now, but it's only been over the last couple of years (coinciding with my acceptance of self as a sexual being - not feeling awkward in my skin anymore, essentially) that I have stopped wearing floor length robe cosplays and moved onto superheroines with costumes that are like a second skin. These were always the characters I wanted to cosplay, but as a socially awkward geek my entire life it took a lot of maturing in order to become comfortable enough with myself to embody these pinnacles of badass femininity. Characters that I had grown up with - characters that taught me to not take shit from anyone.

The first time I donned spandex, I cosplayed Knockout from the Female Furies. I will admit - I was not entirely comfortable as this character. She wears a leotard with a thong, but she is a complete badass who makes Superboy's knees weak and can punch the lights out of anyone. I say I wasn't comfortable - well, I wasn't comfortable until I donned the costume. The IDEA of wearing a thonged leotard was disconcerting - but as soon as I slipped into that costume and the paint of my face mask dried, I transformed. I became the embodiment of raw feminine power. I WAS this character, this intensely kick ass woman who had life by the balls. So what if I was wearing a thong? Knockout has a GREAT ass from all the butt kicking she does! YEAH!

I pranced out of that hotel room and into the convention hall (San Diego Comic Con 2011) feeling entirely empowered. "THIS is what cosplay is about!" I thought as I high stepped my way across the ugly carpet. As I clenched my fists and furrowed my brows for hoards of photographers. As I searched for a Superboy to kiss.

But then it began happening. A rogue camera flash from behind, a skeevy looking dude slinking off to the side, trying not to make eye contact with me. At first I was oblivious. But my "bag bitch", my dear friend Chris, started getting the sort of look that a mother bear would get if someone was messing with her cubs. He straightened to his full height and began to stand behind me, glowering at unknown forces behind my back. I continued to pose until my legs shook, aware of a growing issue - but I was uncertain what it was.

Finally, in a break of flashing bulbs, Chris informed me that all SORTS of guys had been snapping photos of my ass. While I had been posing for the wall of photographers in front of me, apparently I had also been posing for the ones behind me. He had positioned himself in the line of fire - and he had had men wildly gesturing for him to move. He actually had to put his hand over one man's lens who wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

Okay, look: I know I have a nice ass (thanks mom!). It's round and plump and I can shake it like Nicki Minaj if I want to. I went into the convention knowing I was displaying it for every mouth breather in the world to get an eyeful of. It's not my FAULT that the character that I love so much and wanted to portray was drawn as wearing a thong - that is not a decision I had a hand in.

But the fact that not one, not two, but DOZENS of men thought it was okay to covertly snap photographs of my ass? That does not sit well with me. That does not resonate well with me. That makes me uncomfortable. If a man approached me and said: "You have a nice posterior. Allow me to photograph it.", you know what I'd do? I'd pop my booty with a smile. But what gives people the right to line up behind me and snap photographs of my butt, unaware to me? To me, this is the sort of creepy that upskirt reddit forums tread upon.

After the convention, photographs of my butt started popping up on forums and weird aside tumblrs. "I'd slap that ass so hard", one anonymous man said.
"But that's my butt!" I thought, feeling violated and strange.

This year, standing in the entrance of the convention center as Dark Phoenix, destroyer of planets, I felt the familiar intense excitement of cosplaying a strong female character. Surely no one would be on ass snap missions for me in this costume, right? It has full coverage. And it was DARK PHOENIX. She'd fuck you right up with some telekenetic energy.

I excused myself from a group of photographers and began making my way into the dealer's hall, hoping to run into some friends I still hadn't seen on this last day of the convention. A man stopped me - he was fat, nervous, sweating profusely. He asked me if he could have a photo with him, and naturally I agreed. I am happy to let men pose with their childhood crush or personal fictional character hero.

He handed his camera off to his equally awkward friend, who fumbled with it for a moment as I doggedly held my stance - toe up, hip popped, hands clenching imaginary balls of pure crackling energy. The camera wasn't working, so it was handed back to the man at my side so he could fix it. As he pressed buttons randomly, the previous photographs popped up - and to my disdain, there was a photograph of my ass as I had been walking ahead of these two men.

I didn't say anything. I didn't do anything. A shot of adrenaline hit me like a freight train, but instead I stood there for a moment until the photograph was taken, the air thick with awkwardness. He thanked me, trembling, and ran off as quickly as his pudgy legs would allow.

I kept the costume on, refusing to let that one man ruin my day, but the feeling of empowerment was gone. I felt deflated and drained. I felt sad, and confused, and angry, and a whole mixture of nonsense emotions that didn't belong in a girl who was in her equivalent of Disneyland. I felt objectified.

It took me awhile to get angry. For someone who has been outspoken about the misogyny I have encountered in the geek subculture, this just seemed to go along with everything else I've always had to deal with. But then I started thinking about it more - why on earth WASN'T I angry? Why was I just shrugging this off as a "convention thing"?

Would I be okay with guys taking photos of my butt and then posting the photos online for other creepers to fap to if it had happened to me while I was waiting for the bus? At my day job? Waiting in line for a movie?

Several people have tried to make this argument to me: If you didn't want people photographing your butt, you shouldn't wear the costumes that you wear.

FUCK. THAT. That's like telling women not to wear short skirts if she doesn't want to be raped. These characters are drawn in very little clothing due to art direction and wanting to make sales - and I love them and want to portray them despite what they are drawn wearing. I don't want to be burka Wonder Woman - I want to be Wonder Woman in all her sexy hot pants glory.

We as a geek community have some of the most rampant sexism and misogyny I have ever seen. Women in cosplay are treated as pieces of meat, on display to satisfy a man's fantasy of that character. We are without personality or interests, and there's no way people will believe that we actually know ANYTHING about the character we're dressed up as (especially if we are hot). I don't know the reasons for this - I have theories, but that's for another time entirely. But the behavior I have witnessed over the years is abysmal. And it's not okay.

I know this argument is redundant - these are things that have been said a million times - these are things even I have said before! But if by writing about my negative experiences makes at least ONE person change their behavior, makes ONE person become aware of these issues, then I have done my job.



161 comments:

  1. No, it's more like don't wear short skirts if you don't want guys taking pictures of your legs or trying to take pics of your vag as you come out of cars. I think comparing it to the "dressed like she asked for it" basis is going a little too far when complaining about perfectly legal pics taken in public.

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    1. Sorry, Mr Anonymous (I'm just going to assume that you're male here), but WHAT?! You're saying that there's nothing creepy about photographing women's arses (no matter how attractive they are) without politely asking first?

      Cosplay is NOT 'asking for it', it's dressing up as a character that you love.

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    2. How would a guy feel if he was dressed in some very tight spandex, and people kept trying to photograph his crotch without him noticing?

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    3. No, I never said it wasn't creepy. It's completely creepy. I just don't feel it's fair to compare rape to a photo of a person in public.

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    4. I am going to blatantly generalize here, but I know a lot of men that would not be offended by that at all, at least outwardly. :\ It isn't something that really has come up as an issue with men, so it would be interesting to see what people actually think on the subject or get the perspective of men who have had similar situations.

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    5. You're using a person as a mean to sexual satisfaction without their consent. Sounds like rape to me.

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    6. I should also say I think it's just as inappropriate to take pictures of people from behind for anyone reason...like joking pictures about fat people or awkward pics too. I never said cosplay was asking for it. I was trying to get a more accurate metaphor.

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    7. Personally I completely agree. Taking someone's photo, regardless of the reasons, is not the same case raping them.

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    8. It is a lack of respect for another human being to do anything to them without consent.

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    9. A person's body is their body and they should have absolute say in how it is treated, but I do feel the rape analogy is a bit of an overstatement. What happened to Erin Andrews was much more like a rape---she had no say in the matter. That outfit was one you selected to be seen in---you had some say in the matter. That is not to say you deserved to be objectified, of course. Ideally, you could wear a thong and floss, be proud, feel powerful and everyone would respect your rights as a woman and a human being and treat you properly. We read comics---we know this is not an ideal world. So, continue to speak out definitely and do not give up cosplay, but do plan accordingly.

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    10. "No, I never said it wasn't creepy. It's completely creepy. I just don't feel it's fair to compare rape to a photo of a person in public."

      I am female and I completely agree with this. I had the same reaction while reading this article.

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    11. Hey Starman. Wow, that is powerful stupidity.

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    12. I think it's COMPLETELY fair to compare this to rape. While rape is obviously the worse of the two, both come from men believing they have a right to use women how they see fit. Both also have a history of other people telling the victim that it was their fault because of how they looked or acted. It's all tied to the same problem.

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    13. I think that people are getting too caught up in the word rape here and it is driving the rhetoric toward a place that is actually unfounded. I don't think Molly was comparing this issue directly to rape. What she is doing is tying the two similar misogynistic mindsets toward the victims of either scenario. Both are very similar (i.e. "She was asking to be raped--look at what she was wearing" vs. "She was asking to have creepy photographs taken without her permission--look at what she was wearing"), and both are wrong because it is completely oppressive and directly relays the message that women are inferior/objects. It is an argument that gives men with this mentality the comfort to deny all responsibility while simultaneously placing women as blame worthy, undeserving of being treated as equals, and unable (discredited) to say anything to fight back. So no, rape is not the same thing as taking a picture, but they both promote the same line of thought.

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    14. I agree with Malorie's estimation here. Go back to the article and look at the issue and the mindset of the people that made her feel powerless.

      Sadly, this is why I've never cosplayed as Poison Ivy. She was a very important character to me in my teenage years, but I am honestly nervous about what would happen if I were wearing something so clingy in this environment.

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    15. But women are never raped based on what they wear- rape is about power, not sex.

      By Molly's own admittance, people weren't taken pics of her ass when they were covered in robes. That's because the ass shots are entirely about sex. And the characters are designed that way because of sex. When you buy/cosplay them, you're saying it's acceptable. Don't like it, don't buy those comics or at the very least don't wear the designs in public, when DC/Marvel see those they reasonably see it as validation. Show some creativity, make a modified version. Take a stand with action instead of whining about being objectified while dressed like someone wanting to be objectified.

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    16. You know, you really sound like an asshole when you say shit like that. What if it was your sister, your girlfriend, your mother, a friend? Would you say that to them? What makes it okay to make women feel like shit?

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    17. I don't think the counter-claim is "How would you [a guy] like it if a woman took ass shots of you?" because our culture tells guys that getting attention from women - any women - is a positive thing.

      A much better comparison would be "How would you [a straight guy] like it if a flamboyantly gay guy took ass shots of you? And you knew that shots like that usually end up online for forums full of creepy gay guys to fap to and to chat with each other about what they'd like to do to you if they ever caught you alone in a dark alley?"

      Not saying all gay guys are like that - just like not all straight guys are creepy mouth-breathers - but I imagine the emotional state of the man being photographed would be a lot closer to what women feel when we're in this situation.

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    18. She and her supporters engaging in some serious goalpost-moving in the comments here: http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/10/30/1108631/creepshots-cosplay/

      You see, she never compared taking a photograph of someone's thong-clad ass in public to raping a woman because she wore a short skirt. She compared excusing someone taking a photograph of someone's thong-clad ass in public to excusing rape because a woman wore a short skirt.

      Or something.

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    19. @Wendy, my mother wouldn't dress like that. Partially because she doesn't have psychological issues that seek attention like that. Since unlike you I'm not a homophobe, I would be cool with that: if I'm walking around in the thong I can't demand that only straight women look at it, or that anyone NOT look at it. Since I wouldn't even be aware of it, it's not really an issue. I would know it was a possibility because...I have my ass hanging out in public.

      @Anon, she did say exactly that. There is ZERO similarity between unwanted photographs in public and rape. None, not in any way, shape or form- not even in excusing the action.

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    20. @anonymous No, the author didn't "say exactly that." She wrote, "That's like telling women not to wear short skirts if she doesn't want to be raped." That's not the same.

      Let me try to explain this to you with a simple analogy: "She was asking for it by the way she dressed" : Rape :: "She shouldn't wear that if she doesn't want creeper pics taken" : Taking creeper pics. In other words, it's the argument that's the same, not the act. And, no matter the great degree of violation between those two acts, they both, however, stem from the same root: the belief that men have the right to seek sexual gratification from women without their permission.

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    21. "That's like telling women not to wear short skirts if she doesn't want to be raped."

      The author is making comparison to the excuse, not the deed being excused.
      Critical thinking and english comprehension FTW!

      The claim to defense of the action is the same.
      It is only the severity of the misogyny that differs.

      "I would know it was a possibility because...I have my ass hanging out in public."
      So by that strained logic, it's perfectly fine for a construction work-crew to wolf-whistle a woman because she walks by their site?
      What is this the 1960s?

      I'm of the opinion that if you wouldn't do the same thing to your grandmother, then you shouldn't be doing it to a random stranger.
      It's not a hard concept to grasp - show a little class.
      Similarly, if you wouldn't want random people coming up to you and taking pictures of your junk (if you're a well-built and fit male in spandex, you can assume that other lads of the same-sex persuasion may ogle your butt, this I know for a fact) then how does it make it appropriate to do to a woman?
      Short answer: it's not. Grow a pair and ask them if you can take their picture or at very least be respectful enough to take the pic from the front.

      The excuse of 'well she's wearing X costume, so she should EXPECT that sort of attention' doesn't fly... and hasn't for a few decades now.

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    22. I think what the anon was saying .. is that taking a picture is not effing rape.

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    23. Remember, the opposite of "Misogyny" is "Misandry". It works both ways, people. Show respect to both genders.

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    24. "What if it was your sister, your girlfriend, your mother, a friend? Would you say that to them?"

      I'd say, "WTF, Mom. Put on some god-damn pants." Here's the best analogy. Convention == Walmart

      If you wouldn't wear a thong into Walmart, why are you wearing one at a convention? You are in a public place where not only you know people will have cameras, you EXPECT people to have cameras to take pictures of cosplayers.

      REGARDLESS IF YOU ARE A MAN *OR* A WOMAN, IF YOU HANG YOUR BUTT OUT, PEOPLE WILL TAKE PICTURES. TO EXPECT ANYTHING ELSE IS NAIVE.

      There are many ways to cosplay without showing your ass in public. And if I'm there with my young son or daughter, I'm going to be pretty god-damn pissed that you are shaking your ass in their faces.

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  2. No one needs permission to take anyone's photograph in a public place.

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    1. I could say some insulting things about you feeling the need to photograph up women's skirts because it's the closest you'll ever get to a real woman's underwear without paying for it... But I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to suggest that you go and be an anonymous arsehole elsewhere.

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    2. Actually, depending upon the standards of the convention, it may not count as a public place. And in the case of the covert perverts who were posting their booty pictures on a website, they ARE breaking the law as it is certainly illegal to publish pictures of someone without their permission.

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    3. I never said I did. It's just the truth. It's how paparazzi make their livings. You need permission to print or exhibit the photo. But not to take it. Stop being so sanctimonious.

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    4. Oh no reddit is going to come to the blog and we will all be ruined! Hey anonymous, you are a coward. Also taking a photograph may not be illegal, what you do with that photograph can certainly become illegal. Also, Starman is awesome. Thank you Starman.

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    5. Doesn't matter if its legal or not, you do this then you are a creepy asshole.

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    6. Yes, it's creepy. I don't think anyone is denying that.

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    7. ComicCon takes place on private property. Rules are different, but nice try, lazy internet creepster.

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    8. Creepy, yes, but not illegal, especially if the identity of the person is not revealed (otherwise news crews would be sued all the time for filming unaware passerbys and for doing those belly shots of obese people run with every diet or health story). Also: cameras in stores, street corners, etc. Unwanted attention is probably something that will always be there, along with the attention you do want. If you used a stage name/alias for cosplay, it might allow you some anonymity...and more superheroish!

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    9. I hate these sort of "loophole" arguments.

      Look, legality is *not* the point here. It's a red herring to distract from the topic at hand. There's loads of things people can do legally, but that are not socially acceptable. Just because you won't get thrown in jail or fined for it does not give you a free pass to engage in destructive behaviours that could be damaging to another person. It should not take legal penalization to make people act like decent human beings.

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    10. I think Macabri has the right of it here. There are a lot of LEGAL things I can do that aren't ETHICAL. I sometimes feel like people conflate legal to mean ethical, and then complain that what they're doing is "legal." Well, sure it's LEGAL to do X, but society frowns upon it, as it causes Y and Z.
      Sadly, people often (even if they know legal=/=ethical) use legality as an excuse for despicable behavior. Violentacrez is a perfect example of that mentality.

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    11. so what this dude is saying is pedophiles can take pics of kids in order to jack off to them later

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    12. Macabri, the red herring was started by the people who keep saying it's illegal. It isn't. the end.

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  3. Well said. To be honest, I hadn't realised how sexist geeks/nerds are until I read the stuff you put out there (long before this).
    Good for you that you're not willing to put up with it any more! I haven't been to any conventions yet, but should I do so (which I plan to) I shall be aware of such things and keep an eye out for such bad form if possible.
    Keep up the good work!
    A respectful Man-Nerd

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  4. everything about this post is amazing. as if the thoughts were siphoned from my own brain! thank you for posting this.

    as frustrating as some of the comments are going to be (pervs are always going to take the old "pictures in public are legal" stance ((just as hollow as the "free-speech" argument that everyone uses incorrectly to defend unacceptable behavior)) i am really very grateful that you equated pervy photographs of cosplayers with creepshots. because they are the same. a costume doesn't suddenly make it OK.

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    1. While I'm not a pervert (I don't even own a camera), I dislike your calling the "free-speech argument" hollow. It is legal, though utterly despicable, for me to chant white power slogans in public. This is protected by free speech. You cannot simply ban free speech because it offends someone. EVERYTHING will offend SOMEONE. John's atheistic opinion may offend Jack, who is a Christian, and vice versa. This does not mean that either view should be banned. Should a method of speech, or an opinion, universally considered hateful be frowned upon and shunned? Yes. But not banned.
      In a similar manner, taking pictures (no matter how creepy) of people in public is legal. Are creepshots disgusting? Yes. But they are not, to my knowledge, illegal. However, if creepers are called out, shamed for their actions, creeping will quickly become much less enticing.

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    2. Law isn't the only method a society has of determining the standards it will set for behavior. We have laws to legislate those offenses that are so heinous and anti-social that we need codified, (theoretically) consistent punishments for them. Hard and fast rules, you might say. For those things that come under the heading of free speech--that's where we as a society get to critically think about the context of behavior. The First Amendment was designed so that We The People could criticize the way things are, or so that we can't be jailed for being or believing differently to the majority (except where it crosses the above-mentioned lines of anti-social or dangerous). We're allowed as private citizens to discourage behavior we collectively find offensive, in fact, it's a great mechanism for mobilizing social change. And one effective way to communicate your values and to see if they resonate is to write about them and talk about them with other people. In this case, the attitude that it is acceptable to use a woman's body for sexual gratification without her consent, at every point of the continuum and those beyond taking her photo or raping her. Sure, it's not ILLEGAL to take her photo, it just reflects an attitude that is harmful to women, but difficult to codify into law without jeopardizing free speech. I will defend to my death your right to believe sexist things under the law, but that won't stop me from trying with that same dying breath to change your mind.

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  5. Honestly, people at conventions are so rude about this point. It isn't just the covert perverts snagging upskirt shots - it's the people snagging photos from a distance who can't be arsed to ask you to pose for a photo. While that's nowhere near as serious an issue, it does stem from the same lack of politeness and basic consideration of other people.

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    1. Here's a question. I used to go to Otakon every year like 10 years ago. I recall one time seeing a girl in a cool costume who was already posing for some people who were taking pictures. Since she was already posing I figured it was fine and snapped one too but afterward it felt awkward. What do you think is the etiquette for that? You could ask but obviously don't want to interrupt the posing. You could wait until they're done but then make her go through the effort of posing again.

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    2. You always ask first. If nothing else, it respects the other photographer, who might need a moment to adjust equipment or move and having a bunch of other people jumping in to snag a pic quickly might get in the way.

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    3. I understand what you're saying, when I pose for a picture I honestly don't mind people coming up, signalling at their camera when we make eye contact, and snapping a picture. I usually try to nod alittle but sometimes I just hold the pose. I don't mind that they didn't walk straight up to me and ask for a picture, because I understand, and it doesn't bother me. I still saw them they usually signalled in some way to me they wanted a picture, and its cool. I can't speak for every cosplayer but that's just how I feel.

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    4. starman, i'm not sure you understand that a photog doesn't have to stand where the other is standing to get a photo. Also, you're trolling for love from the ladies, and that's ok. I don't disagree that these guys are creepers, but I'm not going to fill out a release form to shoot cosplayers, women or men, at comiccon just because you think it's creepy to shoot from across the room. I may never get the chance to shoot them again and i may not be able to make it through the crowd.

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    5. Remember, 'asking' can entail catching the model's eye, and pointing at your camera. Though, I will admit, if a model is already posing, and I can take the shot without getting in anyone else's way, I'll tend to do so...but I also tend to let the person photographed *see* the shot afterwards, and see if they'd like a copy. I've never had someone even seem upset at the shots I've taken, and would delete any the model found objectionable in a heartbeat.

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  6. Thanks for the perspective. As a guy I love seeing women dress up not only because of the love of character but the guts it takes to walk out there on the floor.

    My take is that it is sometimes awkward to ask for a photo. I'm not a perv and don't necessary ask before taking a photo but based on your take I probably should from now on. While I don't condone what others do and not that this makes it right; but come on, the guys taking these photos probably don't have the greatest confidence sometimes to go up to an attractive woman and ask for her photo. Guess what I'm saying is to understand both sides.

    Although my guess is if you confronted these same people half of them would just call you names! Go figure. Thanks for what you do!

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    1. I agree, it does often feel awkward to just walk up to someone you don't know and ask to take photo of them. It would be different if you hung out with them for a while first.

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    2. Dude? Really? You're citing sheer laziness and her beauty as a reason to be impolite. Are you kidding? That's... wow. I'm really sorry for you, if you are ever confronted with your rudeness and these are the most convincing excuses you can think of.

      As con-goers, we've all probably been knocked for what we like, what we want, and who we are at one point in our lives. The worst "no" you are ever going to hear from a cosplayer at a convention, if you are polite, out of her personal bubble, and stick to the script ("Hi, (character name)! Can I take a photo of/with you?") is going to be "Sorry, I have to get somewhere," probably because people tend to have things to do.

      Your experiences will likely improve once you put a little faith in people and start assuming that they are sentient beings with feelings and expectations of courtesy. When you violate the basic social contract of courtesy with women (and some men), they will reason that you don't care about violating social norms that defend against some scary stuff, too.

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  7. Until this year I had never even considered cosplaying some of the characters that I love (Black Canary and Poison Ivy being two of them). The idea of being able to embody an insane botanist with a murderous bent toward saving endangered species is AWESOME. But to be honest, I don't seriously consider it because of two things: 1) I am still figuring out how I feel about my own body and (2) shit like what you wrote in the post. I hate this stupid argument that people have the right to take your photo when you are in a public space BLAH BLAH BLAH. But the fact of the matter is that being a decent human being can't really be dictated by laws or rules. Trying to condense it into a formula doesn't tend to work. BUT with that freedom, you also earn the right to be criticized and publicly called out. There are no protections against my right to fight back within my perfectly legal parameters. So creepers should really watch out and stop whining--and maybe consider that there is a reason why they are ashamed.

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    1. If nothing else, they might consider that more and more high-end conventions arrange for police officers to assist their volunteer security teams and that while taking photos in a public place isn't illegal, harassment and stalking almost certainly are.

      That and a camera full of pictures of superheroine posteriors is excellent prima facie evidence. :)

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    2. Personally I fully expect that if you go out in costume, especially a sexy costume, and -especially- at a convention, people are going to take your picture. It may not sound right, but that's just the way it is. If you don't want your picture taken you don't wear a costume.

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    3. I think another part of the problem comes from convention planners inviting centerfolds and pornstars to a convention about comics. It is probably difficult for some attendees to accept that cosplayers are not craving the same sort of attention or are not as comfortable with a public sexual identity.

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  8. Girls who perform or work at Ren Fests get the same treatment, although it's usually cleavage on display. Guess what? Some women LOVE it and want you to snap pictures of their boobs. They get off on the attention. Usually it's nice to have their face somewhere in the picture. It's even better if you ASK their permission first, and some even put 'tip jars' in place as a hint they expect something in return.

    But then there's the people like me. You take a picture of just my breasts without my permission and I will shove that camera down your throat. It's disgusting voyeurism and regulates a human being into a piece of meat or inanimate object. I am not here for your sexual gratification.

    (Posting anonymously to preserve my faire name/persona)

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    1. That's the point. Some women do love it. Some women don't. That is why you talk with them and don't treat them like an object.

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    2. Going out in public is giving people outright permission to look- and a picture is really just a look that lasts. If you're actively flaunting them by wearing tight/exposed clothing then you're especially asking people to look/photograph. The only thing you're NOT doing is giving people permission to TOUCH you. Everything else is 100% fair game.

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    3. @Anon, if I'm wearing jeans, would you say I was flaunting my butt? If I caught someone taking a picture of my butt in jeans would you tell me it was my fault? What constitutes exposed or tight clothing? Oh right, what men decide sluts look like.

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    4. Never said the word slut, never even implied promiscuity- least of all based on clothing. I also never mentioned my gender, Miss Assumption. When you go out in public you accept the fact people are going to look at you. If you go out with a piece of dental floss between your cheeks, some guy may take a photo. If you're overweight & sweating, some hypocritical attention seeker may write a blog post mocking you. Honestly, I find the latter far more offensive- the guy may have medical issues that put his weight/sweat out of his control. Molly had 100% say over her attire, and based on the photo in this article has no problem with pictures of her butt being on the internet.

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    5. And that's the problem with Kschenke and even The original article, "any appreciation that is not in line with how I wish to be appreciated is akin to rape. And if you disagree, you are saying I am a whore."

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  9. I'm quite certain I'm going to get roasted as an 'apologist' for my own opinion. Nevertheless, I do give enough of a shit about this issue to say it anyway.

    Obligatory disclaimer: these creepshows taking pictures and whatnot are definitely in the wrong. But we all know that, what's the point of discussing it. Instead, I'm going to point to my belief that the unrealistically skimpy arse baring costumes being drawn onto our super heroines are part of the problem of feminine objectifcation being perpetuated by the very writers and artists who could push a change rather more quickly. And following on from this, to throw out an impromptu example, cosplaying as 80's Sue Storm is just encouraging the very objectification we should be moving away from. Of course this is just one part of a tapestry of issues, but it tends to get forgotten an awful lot.

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    1. You are absolutely right, but unfortunately the "big two" don't give a rat's arse about feminism. They care about coercing money from susceptible fan boys, which is why Star Sapphire wears tooth floss. Besides, a woman can be sexy and empowered in whatever she wears - yes, even if it's "slutty".

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    2. To touch on just one point of your response, there is a very good reason to continue discussing these things. There is sometimes the assumption that everyone knows a behaviour is wrong, but unfortunately, that's not always the case. I have seen people defend, tooth and nail, that they haven't done anything wrong and that it is their "right" to engage in these sorts of activities. It's still a problem, and there's no way to make positive changes without having these sorts of discussions.

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    3. If we don't keep discussing it, the general public (or even our own nerd communities) will assume that it's taken care of and it's a problem anymore. But it is a problem ... the guys who harass women are just better at being discrete about it. And the more women who have had this happen call them out on it, the more other women will be prepared to call them out of it in the moment.

      And to bring a parallel, by your logic we all know rape is bad, so why keep discussing it? Because it still happens.

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    4. I'm not sure entirely why anyone would defend the actions of creepers and as a guy, I won't know probably the level of discomfort and powerlessness that come from this kind of behavior (I'm sure even my choice of descriptive words will be placed under scrutiny). I have always loved female cosplayers and seen them as a fantastic sign that the geek culture is drawing more people in. I'm old-school geek and we still don't expect it, we still get suspicious (is she just a trade model ...?) The difference is I try to not say or do asinine things on a daily basis.
      We're a geek family. And I would hate for someone to think that in the costumes section of my own Comic-con blog that I was ever being disrespectful or creepy. But then there's that line ... how much appreciation of sexiness is too much. I'm not stupid. (also, I'm married and think of my own geek muse during my interactions) At most I drop a "you look great" and move on. But still, I'm fully aware I am erring on the side of caution. I'm certainly not the only guy who feels this way.
      I remember reading cosplayer Mandy Caruso's post recently about an awful interview she gave-and stopped. And the outpouring of support she got from the community. And while I was 100% on her side with the incident and am proud of her stopping the interview and standing up for herself, she later fought against the "Girls can't be real geeks" and "female cosplayers aren't sex objects" stereotypes using the old chestnut "geeky guys are just mad because they're repressed losers who can't get laid."
      So my support wavers. I don't like being shoved in a box any more than anyone else. like sexy costumes and it's not because I "can't get any" or because ... I'm a "susceptible fan boy." It's also not what cements a good cosplay or a good female character for me. There's a lot of skimpy costumes regardless of whether the character is good or not. I adore Wonder Woman. She is noble, strong, tough as nails and unflinchingly good. I also love her outfits, all of them, pants, skirts, short shorts. I'll take her over sue storm any day of the week, regardless of who's in the thong and who's in the pantsuit.

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  10. I'd rather expect the dudes taking pictures without asking to be too shy to ask to a cute girl ? Remember they are mostly nerds, so they might have ever talked to a cute girl before ;)

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    1. But taking a photo of a costume that you like from a distance because you're too shy to ask is quite different to photographing someone's arse wihtout their permission. Both are rude, but the latter is far far worse.

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    2. Oh, boo freaking hoo. Really? Feel bad for them!?

      They should be polite, nerd or no. They're not handicapped. They are adults.

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    3. If I read another comment on this kind of article that says nerds never talk to girls or to cute girls or this will be the only chance for them to talk to someone with a vagina, I will scream ... that is complete and utter BULL. Guy nerds have girl friends and most of the ones who don't are female friend-less because they act like this. And the sweet ones who ARE too shy to talk to girls ... don't act like this. So let's all stop giving assholes the excuse of "I'm a nerd so I'm allowed to be disrespectful and socially clueless." PLEASE.

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  11. I honestly don't know how quite to respond to this, since it is, and always will be an outstanding issue. Of course it's not quite as bad as repression of women in other countries of the world, but as the shining example of equality that the west is supposed to be, we should know better. Whether an artist designs women to be wearing frumpy clothes or skin-tight latex, a woman SHOULD be free to wear whatever she wants, which includes wearing things that make -her- feel sexy, without having to be disrespected for it.

    Tell her she's beautiful, tell her you love her costume, but please put on some decency before you decide to mouth off your opinion to someone brave enough to wear something that is meant to be sexy and show off their geek creds. We (men) should be better than this, especially since we(geeks) are supposed to be the shy, respectful nerds from BigBangTheory (ok, not all of them).

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    1. ^Maulz. This guy here. He knows whats up.

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    2. This article is why I don't do any Conventions, or Ren Fairs. I'd rather host costume parties.

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  12. Oh yes, the poor, piteous "shy guy". It's simply not his fault that the cosplayer stunned him into silence and slapped the basic etiquette right out of him.

    That's not an excuse for appalling, debasing behavior.

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    Replies
    1. And somehow that still ended up as a misfire. Sorry for that. :|

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    2. Let me guess: you're not shy (?).

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    3. @ Anonymous: Shy or not, taking photos of people's arses without their permission is wildly inappropriate. Whether or not Kaitlyn is shy is highly irrelevant.

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    4. @Anonymous: I can actually be incredibly shy, but I still have the common decency to ASK FOR PHOTOGRAPHS instead of just taking them. (Not that I would even think to take photographs like the people Molly has mentioned, but that's beside the point.) Being shy is NOT an excuse for reprehensible behavior, S2S.

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  13. Oh god I can't imagine how creepy and awful it was to find out all those guys were photographing your ass, and seeing that guy's photo of your butt on his camera! Uuugh. Much less creepy stuff than that has ruined my day before, so I completely understand how gross it is. To the rest of it, I just gotta say, "PREACH IT GIRL."

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  14. It's mainly this behaviour from other men towards women at cons, cosplaying or not, that has driven me away. (And also the BO and Axe aroma...kidding! Mostly.)

    I don't like being in the situation we're currently in, where many members of the community see this as acceptable behaviour. At the very least, we should be stressing the idea that *anyone* you photograph needs to be asked for permission first. Just because someone is cosplaying, that doesn't mean they're comfortable in front of a camera. It also stresses the point that you're not just photographing the costume, you're interacting with the person behind it.

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    1. That is probably where there is some confusion: some only are seeing the costume (an object) or a character (an object) and therefore treating the individual as such. Your point is one that needs to be stressed. Of course some guys (and ladies, to be fair) will do this sort of thing, cosplayer or not.

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    2. So it sounds like half of you are upset that photos are being surreptitiously taken of her ass, and the other half of you are upset that photos are being taken at ALL without permission. Which is the issue here? Personally, I have never been to a convention, but unless there are signs saying "no photography" or "please ask before taking photos of people," then you have to assume pictures are going to be taken. There is a reason there are thousands of websites out there that have convention pics on them, and how many of those are full of people complaining or asking if permission was requested first?

      The vast majority of people have cell phones with cameras these days, and most people (yourself included) probably take random pictures of something that looks cool to them whenever it strikes their fancy. I'm getting this impression a large number of you think "snapping photos at a convention without asking is BAD."

      Now is it a problem when someone sneaks up behind a girl and photographs her ass? Yes. Probably nearly anyone (male or female) who thinks said girl has a nice ass has probably looked at it. But how far do we take it? Should you put your apparently amazing ass on display and expect people behind you to stare at your neck? Maybe we should find a way to figure out the mental pictures people are taking and then just wipe their memories.

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  15. I agree wholeheartedly with your frustration about the misogyny and lack of female of characters who are more than eye-candy, but I do have one comment that I hope you won't take as me trying to justify the actions of these people. This is a tough subject, filled with complexity arises from cultural conditioning and biological instincts, and I don't want my words to be taken as more than a very surface-level commentary on my own thoughts. I am trying to offer some other thoughts, not to discredit anyone else's

    The reality is, you're choosing to portray characters that were designed specifically to play to male sexual fantasies. When you choose to portray the character in the same outfit as drawn in the comics you are, whether you know it or not, approving of design choices made for the purpose of exploiting the parts of male culture (instincts, gender identities, views on female sexuality) that also fuel the actions of the people at the convention.

    Even your own female identity, your perception of your self, are the result of growing up in the same culture. If you want to dress up like these characters because it makes you feel powerful, and sexy, you are holding views about yourself and your identity that were instilled into you in much the same way as the views held by the men at the convention are.

    If this sounds like there is a schism in our culture then you're starting to understand how I see it.

    The fact is, no choice has inherent meaning. Your views on wearing revealing clothing are the result of your culture; wearing viewing clothing is inherently liberating or inherently degrading.

    We have a schizophrenic culture: where women are taught that wearing hot pants should be a viewed as sexual empowerment and a liberated identity, while men are taught that the same action is to be viewed as a sexual icon with a desire to be treated as such. In short, men and women don't get the same messages. The reason there is disagreement is we are reading from different scripts.

    We have every right to be upset, but we also have to acknowledge the lessons that have been taught to the people around us, and how that informs their actions.

    Somewhat related: if you don't think that a certain character must have a thong - that they are more than a costume - you might consider creating your own outfit variation for the character. It would show creativity and a sense of daring that I would call commendable.

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    1. Blogger won't let me edit my above post to correct a critical spelling issue.

      EDIT: "wearing viewing clothing IS NOT inherently liberating or inherently degrading."

      The fact is, wearing a thong means whatever we decide it means, and that decision is STRONGLY influenced by the people (culture) around us. Our culture tells women it means they are liberated and it tells men that women want to be seen as desiring sex.

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    2. I'm loving this response, M.J. By cosplaying these characters, women are approving their design. It's even harder because girls are also conditioned by the same culture to view certain designs as sexy, approve of them, WANT to cosplay them, but not want the degrading attention.

      For me, I admit, I do want attention. But I demand that people be respectful about it. Asking permission for photos. Respectful poses without excessive touching. Respectful handling of the photos in their distribution and commentary afterwards. I totally don't mind if someone comments that my outfit is sexy! I just expect to be treated like a human being instead of an object. I try to treat fellow cosplayers with the same respect, regardless of gender.

      I really like your suggestion of cosplaying a costume variance. A well-designed variant would be a great way to show publishers that characters don't have to be sex toys to be awesome. It's a way to show support for the character, not the costume.

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    3. Remember, Misandry is the opposite to Misogyny.

      Delete
  16. So, as long as I ask first, it's cool with you? Because.. I mean, you know why these photos are being taken, I'm sure.

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  17. Hey, I love your blog.

    But, um, making sure to call explicit attention to the creeper's weight not once, but twice, does little to further your point about body-issues, which you went into so eloquently just this morning. Call attention to anything-- the inability to shower, the neckbeard, the unwashed Firefly t-shirt, whatevs. But layoff the fact that he was overweight. We all pack on pounds, even (as, again, mentioned this morning) incredibly beautiful women such as yourself.

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    1. So it's okay for me to point out his lack of hygiene, but not his morbid obesity? This man did me no favors; I am not going to be nice to him. It was part of the narrative, and allowed me to paint a clearer picture. Think "comic book guy" from the simpsons. That. He was that.

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    2. I agree, because nothing ever gets accomplished when you address an issue with insults or demeaning words, or anything. You don't right a wrong with a wrong, even if you are upset.

      I can never take people seriously in a debate when they start throwing out insults. Molly is right, even commenting lack of hygiene is pushing the limits.

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    3. I was going to comment on this. Glad it's been said already.

      Painting a caricature of the offender is doing nothing to help your case. If anything, it weakens it by drawing attention away from the subject of misogyny and instead directing it to two things: the harmful stereotype that geeks are obese with poor hygiene, and your personal attack on the two offenders, which is vengeful at best and doesn't make you out to be the better person.

      I'd be upset too, and frequently have been, but when you're trying to present a rational argument, it's best to leave such comments to complaining in private with friends.

      It's also worth mentioning that defining this kind of behavior with a physical stereotype precludes the rest of the public from answering for it. Short guys, tall guys, attractive men, well-groomed boys, and even women of all types, shapes, and sizes can be perpetrators. The subject of discussion is the behavior, not the individual offenders.

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  18. okay, i appreciate what you are saying, and i can agree that it is creepy. but, the comunity you are talking about, the geeks, the people that would never be able to get any nearer to that pretty posterior than the photo they secretly took. and it took all of their courage to actually snap that photo, then to actually talk to you... he was a very brave person. very forward, and was probably much more positive about it than you might think.
    the problem is not what you are wearing it is the society that sexually objectifies parts of a persons body and makes it so looking at them taking pictures of them appreciating them is wrong.. we shold be proud of our bodies and if people wish to admire them by taking pictures of them... then it should carry no stigma.. but it does both in asking to take it and in sneaking a pic without asking....

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    1. I'm sorry, but taking a picture of a woman's body part without her permission to objectify her (and let's be frank, by taking a picture of JUST HER ASS, that's what he was doing) is NOT brave. That's cowardly.

      There's a difference between appreciating a woman's body and posting a picture of a woman's body online without her permission (especially a close up like this) and/or commenting about what you would DO to that woman if you had the chance. There is a BIG difference and it's called respect.

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    2. If the photo is take for the reason of sexual interest then I do not think that objectification is wholly correct. If objectification was all that was at issue then he would feel no need to take a photo of that particular posterior as any would have done. There was something in his mind that placed that posterior higher in his estimation than other posteriors which are widely available on the internet or in magazines. Certainly one might feel objectified but it seems more logical that to the photographer there was a connection between the posterior and the person. If he were able to separate the connection and just wanted a body part then he would not have needed to take the risk of photographing that particular body part.

      Of course there is the possibility that the photograph was taken for bragging rights to show to friends or to post online. In that case it ceases to be sexual for the photographer but is rather about prestige and belonging to a group of similarly minded people. It still shows the weakness of the individual and in this instance there is an objectification in that he is a modern day hunter sans fusil. Either way I do not see this as being sexual objectification in the way it appears at first sight.

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  19. I'm going to jack off to the picture of you at the top of this post just to spite you, you whiny bitch.

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    1. Wow. This really made me laugh. Mainly because for the first time ever I actually thought about vindictive sexuality and how much it bores me. I would much rather get off and be happy about it. You do realize that masturbating for some hateful crusade actually only really affects you? And you are pretty much ruining the best part of being human. So...congratulations? You win. *shakes head*

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    2. Go for it. In fact, stay home and masturbate to ALL the cosplay pictures you can. It will keep the rest of us from having to deal with your lame ass.

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    3. Greetings. Could you two stop casting Fire on the flammable trolls to make Fira? Thanks. In other words, stop feeding the trolls, kids. They're nothing but Reddit, ED, and 4Chan nutters.

      Delete
  20. I'm not going to lie i would fap it to your knockout cosplay if you do have a nice ass as you mentioned #ilovewhitewomenwithfatasses

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  21. It really sucks what these dudes do (take pics of people's butts) but so what? They're only making themselves into jerks. That's all. Everyone has a butt, you, I and the president. If they make a big deal out of butts, their problem, none else's :P.
    x, Lara
    http://rockteraptor.blogspot.fi/

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    1. Except it is our problem... all of our problems because if we don't speak up about this kind of behavior then it will keep happening and could escalate (which is why stuff like Creepshots and JailBait existed on reddit for so long). Just ignoring the problem sends the message that they can keep getting away with it with no repercussions.

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    2. It sure is okay for you to speak it up, and especially demand to take down those websites (as it's illegal to put up someone's pics without permission) (well at least where I live).
      My intention here to say is that you girls don't have to feel bad, or take it personally. The jerks exist and they behave the way they do. They are the ones being rude, not you.
      xo
      Lara

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  22. I've run into the same problem several times before and have simply accepted it as a unfortunate fact of conventions. I'm not defending the behavior - it's not acceptable by any standards to snap shots of a woman's ass when she's just walking around. But (and please don't read this as being condescending) you sort of set yourself up for it. I haven't found any way around it other than to wear a longer skirt/looser suit, but that sort of takes the point out of cosplaying if you can't wear what you like. It's annoying, but you just sort of have to deal with it.

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    1. That's just the thing. I was NEARLY accepting it as a "part of con life", but it SHOULDN'T BE A PART OF CON LIFE.

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    2. "Con life" has nothing to do with it. Culture and biology have everything to do with it. Wear your cosplay or non-cosplay) outfit that bares your ass, and people are going to stare, and the very bold or cowardly will take pictures without your permission. Doesn't matter if you're in a park, the mall, a church .. if you put something on display, it's going to be looked at.

      Most women I know are far from above drooling over some ridiculously hot guy, it's just that said guy most likely won't be uptight about you sneaking a picture of him. If you're really that confident, take it as praise.

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  23. Serious Attention Whore post.

    Let's see. Wear a sexy outfit in public. Check.

    Pose for photographers. Check.

    Some guys take pictures of your ass (from a distance) while you're posing for other photographers, lapping up the attention. Check.

    Write a blog post equating errant photos of your fully covered ass with rape. Check.

    Yep, it's not them, Molly. It's you.

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    1. Actually, it is still them. It isn't actually a negative characteristic to enjoy being outgoing and theatrical. It isn't a character flaw to put yourself out there pose for photographs, and have a blast while you do it. An example of a character flaw is trying to demean someone for being confident, pursuing things that she is passionate about, and in one fell swoop associate female sexuality and female confidence with extremely negative connotations.

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    2. Although the Anon is hardly eloquent I think the counterpoint of contention between you does reveal some truth in what you both say. You are right Malorie that being outgoing and theatrical is not a character flaw. It is something that has evolved with us over many millennia but importantly it would not have evolved if there had not been a corresponding evolution of people drawn towards it like moths to a candle. Without one there is no reason for the existence of the other. They go together like a hand into a glove. The glove smothers the hand but without the glove the hand would have died in the cold. If people weren't attracted to outgoing theatricality it would have gradually disappeared during our evolution. That is what we are as bipedal animals.

      As sapient apes we have now learnt ways to feel confusion about these natural impulses view them in ways distinct of the present. Before the sapience came we would have felt the same irritation I am sure as that is evidently part of our evolution but back then it would have been a fleeting moment. Now we have the ability to project the feeling into the future, we can analyse it and draw parallels to other forms of behaviour. We can categorise those who are guilty of it. We can even write blog posts about it. Our problem lies with evolution. We are still very near the beginning of what will hopefully be a long journey of becoming but at present we have our animal nature hanging around our necks like an albatross.

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  24. wow. your comment stream is crazy intense.

    here's what it comes down to for me. people are creepy. people kind of suck. i find a lot of the gamer community in particular to be fairly rude anyhow. quite honestly it doesn't surprise me this happened to you. it shouldn't be that way - but knowing the guys my husband goes to school with (he's in for game design) and how they are, they really would think they were in the right doing that kind of thing. i'm glad your friend stood up for you. next time, i'd say be sneaky if you catch a photo on their camera already and say, 'oh can i see that, i think i was closing my eyes in that one' take it, flip back, delete it, and say 'thanks!' they won't have the tact to know what to do.

    and for all it's worth, you look amazing. i gotta say it. the red wig is sweet on you.

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails // current giveaway

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    1. I'm surprised. Most--MOST--of the gamers I know (including myself) are pretty decent folks. Not perfect, of course, since no one is, but people I'm proud to say are my friends. They, and I, would block a creeper's camera without a second's thought. Also, I've found that some people just have no idea that what they're doing is creepy or wrong. I caught a dude making rape jokes about one of my friends once. After I had some harsh words with him, it turned out he didn't even realize he sounded creepy. I guess what I'm trying to say is that A) Often the bad side of a group is all you see (Case in point, bronies and cloppers) and B) Sometimes people are just socially clueless.

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  25. I'm not going to defend creepers at all. They don't deserve it. Maybe it's just me, but I was raised believing that you don't take pictures of someone's ass without permission. Particularly not for the purpose I'm assuming those pictures served.
    With that said, however, taking a picture of someone's ass without consent is, to the extent of my knowledge, legal (at least barring being on private property, or other circumstances). This, I feel, is where societal pressure should come in. It may be LEGAL to be a creeper, but odds are most creepers are too cowardly to fight back when society calls them on it. Take Violentacrez for example. What he did may have been legal (from my limited understanding) but it wasn't "right." And he absolutely deserved to be called on it and outed.
    Now, with all that said, had I been in a similar situation, I would have confronted the people taking pictures of my (rather small) junk. Not with fists--I'm a coward--but words. Words to the effect of "How would you like it if someone did that to your mom? Your sister? This shit doesn't make you a man, it makes you a sleaze. Now gird your loins like unto a man and TALK TO PEOPLE!"

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  26. You don't deserve to be treated like an object. Don't listen to the people who say "You dress like a slut, you should be treated like one" because a woman should NEVER be treated anything else except a human being. You are brave to post this up because it addresses the issue of cosplaying. Cosplaying can be so fun, but there are people who ruined it by just being creepy.

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  27. Where's Anita Sarkesian when you need her? She'll make a video telling us how it is and that men made her dress in that outfit for their own gratification.

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  28. Google images 'knockout female furies' and Molly is image #3, 7, and 17 - Way to go!

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  29. The fact is that if you make the case "You shouldn't have worn that, you were asking it," outside of the fact that it's a nasty and apathetic thing to say to anyone, you're opening the floodgates for anyone to decide what constitutes "asking for it" clothing. At work today I'm wearing a Totoro shirt and jeans. The jeans are a little baggy in the butt thanks to losing some weight but in general you can see my curves and the fact that I have breasts is clear thanks to the new and supportive bra I bought this week. If a man took a picture of my ass in public or openly harassed me OR just went for a would-be graze but really an ass grab, what's stopping someone from saying I deserved it for wearing pants instead of a long skirt and baggy shirt to hide my body as much as possible?

    It's the same with slut shaming. We as women (and men as well) need to stop judging women for being sexual either in appearance or action. Let women express themselves without assuming they deserve to be treated like a piece of meat.

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  30. I think its funny how guys blame women for looking too sexual when its their lack of self control that makes it sexual to them.

    "Oh jeez! That guy has his shirt off! He should put it back on before I rape him, I mean he's totally asking for it!"

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    1. Aren't you a sweet Social Justice Sally? I'll bet you don't even reckon what "Misandry" is chile?

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  31. What is really at issue here is a not a matter of sexuality, but one of etiquette. Nobody wishes to have a photograph taken without their consent. It does not matter if it is of their posterior, their bosom, or their face.

    A good professional photographer (read: NOT PAPARAZZI)always acquires his or her subject's (or their parent's) consent before photographing whenever possible. While this is not legally required of amateur photographers, asking is always good etiquette. Not asking is ethically improper.

    Also, to all Con-Arazzi out there, in many states photographing a minor without parental consent (and that includes the photographing of teens who must also give their permission) is a criminal offense.

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  32. You know, for all of you insisting this is okay, why, then, can't you ask first? If this is okay to do, why is it all sneaky sneaky and done without permission? These aren't pap shots, and paps get in trouble all the time for their up skirts and similar shit. You know it's wrong or you wouldn't do it without your subjects knowing you're doing it. Your blubbering justifications are weak and pathetic.

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  33. Okay no one else asked, so allow me to be resident dumass. Who is the ginger with the spike's on her shoulders? I can't even place the franchise.

    -Carson otherwise known anonymous for reasons(?)

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    1. As stated in the post, she's dressed as Knockout, one of the Female Furies from DC Comics.

      Delete
  34. I truly feel for you and all the other women who enjoy cosplaying and have to deal with this kind of behavior. As a guy, I can't even imagine what it must feel like to be so objectified and have such backlash when you fight against it. It honestly sickens me to think I share a status and gender with these creeps as a nerd, and do all that I can to call people out when they behave like this.

    I've had a thought though. It would be interesting (though unfortunate that the point needs to be made) if a group of girls were to cosplay in their sexy costumes, but added black boxes around their lower regions and/or their chests with white words reading "Censored to punish creepy behavior." I'm not saying that girls are to blame and need to cover up or anything like that, I'm saying it would be an interesting way to protest this unacceptable treatment from creeps. I'd do it myself, if I were female. Thoughts?

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  35. And this is the biggest reason why I generally don't do skin-tight or skimpy cosplays. It's sad-- I've practically blocked myself off from a whole genre of available character designs-- but as it is I've been touched, creeped on, KISSED in cosplay (and even better, I was cosplaying a dude), and I've heard enough horror stories from friends who DO superhero cosplays to not want to see how much worse it can get. While I've seem a lot of incredibly BAD behaviour from male congoers/fans (no dude, insisting that I make out with my friend so you can take a picture is way beyond what I signed up for, sneaking up to stroke my neck while I'm posing for a picture is Not Okay, you don't get to bitch at me for wearing shorts to prevent an upskirt shot because that's EXACTLY why I wore them, etc.etc.) the 'don't fucking harass, take creepy photos of, or touch cosplayers' rule also applies to a lot of female congoers and fans who don't respect the personal boundaries of cosplayers and go on to do all of these things without permission.

    Seeing a hot girl/guy doesn't excuse anyone from having some basic common sense or decency. I don't know why some people find this so hard to fathom.

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    1. Oh Jill....Stop eating those bowls of Misandry every morning. It's really making you fat.

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  36. Your costume is sexually provocative, the character you are playing is a fictional character (i.e. a sexual fantasy and object, not a real person), and you are seeking out attention by posing for photographers. Photos of your backside is the least of what you are asking for.

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    1. Way to be one of "those guys." I'm telling your mother.

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    2. You are a troll, the character you are playing is a cheap disguise (i.e. You don't have the balls to say things publicly.), and you are seeking attention by replying to this post. Derision and pity are the least of what you re asking for.

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    3. Oh Jill,,,,Stop eating those bowls of Misandry every morning. It's really making you fat.

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  37. I found both article and comments interesting, thanks for the post. Reminds me of 'elevatorgate" in skeptic circles, but provides more insight because of the extremism of the costume. For the record I think the "asking to be raped" analogy went too far (appropriate in communication of intent, inappropriate in extent). I think Britt raised a good point. I've never encountered a male feeling victimised or objectified when wearing a daring costume, that's part of the fun for them and that may be at the heart of the issue. Do such victimised men exist in substantial numbers? Or is this a female phenomenon? Speaking in sociologically broad terms, there is substantive evidence that a male's reproductive assets (deep evolutionary drivers here) are largely external (social standing, wealth, etc.) and can only be taken by force whereas a female's reproductive assets have been largely intrinsic (face, body, etc.), and last for a briefer period of time. This may create two interesting thoughts to explore:

    1) It is difficult to change behaviours when one of the parties doesn't see anything harmful in their belief/behaviour system. Asking males to not sureptitiously "photograph your booty" but to feel free to approach "and perhaps bother" you in front, may be akin to asking a western atheist to cover her face and hair in a public shrine. If they don't see the harm because they don't have the context, then they don't see the foul. Inescapably we all see others through the filters of our experience. If men are indeed flattered that a woman, fat or attractive, was snapping a pic of their backside or crotch, then doing the same can not only be acceptable, but complimentary in their own consistent framework which is all they have until they speak with you AT LENGTH ABOUT YOUR VIEWPOINT.

    2) I wonder. Are the females are actually doing the objectifying? The social and reproductive benefits men receive by being good looking are subtle and more drawn out in time than the benefits obtained by woman. Whether by money, favours, or special treatment I suspect that women are more used to "monetising" their looks, which are perceived to be in high demand and personally held for a relatively brief time. Does the sneek-booty-pic raise ire because it feels like someone has cheated you? Here the currency isn't money, but your position of power - that you grant the right to be photographed with mere comic-con plebians?

    What is the balance in public, when neither party knows the personal viewpoints of the other, between the exhibitor and the exhibit attendees AS LONG AS THERE IS NO PHYSICAL NOR VERBAL ABUSE? I think it is possible that all parties may be acting in complete respect to each other and yet either could take offense if they were so inclined.

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  38. Part of me wishes you had reacted by saying "Wow, you just took a nonconsensual picture of my ass and now you expect me to smile and pose with you? Get away from me, you creep!" Goodness knows they'd have deserved it. I'm really sorry that happened to you, and I think Comicon should have a policy against taking nonconsensual pictures of a sexual nature.

    Also, I'm confused by all the people who seem to think you're saying that taking a nonconsensual sexy picture of someone is the same as rape. It's pretty clear to me that you're saying that the same principle of consent applies to both situations, which is true.

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  39. This is silly. If you go out in public half-dressed, expect people to take pictures of you. Are you sure it was only men taking snaps of your ass?

    Cosplayers are just prudish furries as far as I'm concerned.

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    1. Obviously you haven't met many furries either...

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  40. Wait. The picture above is the costume you were photographed in? Is that you? I thought that was a guy, that jawline is way too strong for a woman. I'm sorry. Are you sure they weren't nervous because they realized you might be a dude when you turned around to face them?

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    1. That "manly jawline" has landed me several modeling gigs over the years, thank you very much. :-)

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    2. That explains it. My fiancee watches project runway, I know how ugly models usually are.

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    3. Geez, and then people just get rude -_- Molly, the point is you are gorgeous and people will both a) want to appreciate that, and b) try and break you down so you don't believe that anymore. People are dumbasses. This is a really tricky area, though, as demonstrated by the opinions here. I really like the comment about how men and women are being fed different ideals about the same things - sexualised clothing as sexual empowerment vs sexualised clothing as WANTING sexual attention. I'd never even thought about this until now but it explains the kinds of responses to women a LOT of my male friends display... Disgusting, horrible responses that I put myself in the line of fire constantly by objecting to. Uh, I'm sure I have a lot more to say on this subject, but I want to think about it and digest some of these great comments and some of the not so great ones, also. PS - I mentioned you were beautiful, right?

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    4. Oops, I did forget to mention that ALL people need to show respect when appreciating how gorgeous you are. I thought it really loudly...

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  41. Excuse me, but do you go to the beach and take snapshots of complete strangers' asses? (If yes, then go fuck yourselves) See a problem here? It's exactly the same type of behavior - wrong and perverted. Newsflash: the world is not a porno movie, people in real world have dignity - and cosplayers are as far as I know, normal people.

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  42. Speaking as a male geek, I completely agree with you Molly. It makes me sad to be a part of a fan base that treats women so appallingly.

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  43. "It's not my FAULT that the character that I love so much and wanted to portray was drawn as wearing a thong - that is not a decision I had a hand in."

    You *did* have a choice as to whether or not to put said costume on. End of discussion. Anything that follows in your argument is invalid.

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    1. I agree with you. Oh no my favourite female character is wearing a skimpy thong so I must wear one also. What's that? Guys are taking pictures of my ass? Gosh such perverts.

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  44. I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad time there; I've seen some similar problems with photographers at the World Naked Bike Ride, so it's not just limited to cons.

    You mentioned "hover hand" - out of interest, what is your preference there? Would you be happy for these people to actually touch you, or would you prefer them to keep their hands behind their backs?

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  45. Ahem...S'cuse me...

    Cosplayer does not = pornstar.

    If you want pictures of superheorine boo-tay, there are a number of adult-oriented sites for that. Go find them.

    Look, I'll admit, I am floored by how amazing a female cosplayer can look. I'm straight, male, and I have a pulse. I'm gonna look. But I'm not going to "creepshot" these ladies. To me, a creepshot is a picture of someone you never had a chance in hell of getting anyway.

    Mind you, I'm not going to kiss up to these ladies and go uber-feminist to get in their good graces. I think the ladies who don a particularly revealing outfit need to have a realistic expectation that some loser is going to try and sneak a pic for fap material. But I don't want that to disuade them from dressing up. These women put a lot of time and expense into their cosplay. They are dedicated, and not to be fucked with. Appreciate their commitment and their passion as well as their magnificent figure.

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    1. I doubt that any of these photos are fap material. Why would anyone bother when there is so much on the internet freely accessible to anyone with a mobile phone or a laptop. I think that these people are actually taking these photos out of appreciation but I just think they have got screwed up behavioural standards. That is a mark of the way the world has been over the last couple of decades. When a guy sees a hot girl in public dressed up in cosplay he is going to look at her but he is not going to fap over her. Everyone knows that it is nice to look at members of the opposite gender. If it wasn't I think we would have died out as a species long ago. These guys want to look for the same reason as the rest of us do. They probably would just like to look for longer than is usually acceptable. I think a lot of us were like that when we were teenagers but then we got laid.

      The kinds of guys I imagine doing this probably have not had sex lives as active as the rest of us. If you are a tubby little fat guy who sweats too much then it can't be too easy to get laid and the result is that you are going to like looking at the pretty ladies. I am very shy and not keen on approaching women, luckily I am not a chubby little fat guy so they have usually approached me. All the same as I got older and stopped living a young person's life I have found that I am less likely to meet women. Thankfully I am not a forty year old virgin so it is less of an issue to me than work and creation, but all the same I can imagine how these guys must feel.

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  46. I think it is kind of difficult to make a rule to deal with this sort of situation. Some people may say that you should always ask all the time but think how annoying that could get. It would be like those cookies notices that the European Union force us to have to click every time we go to a new web page. They annoy me so much.

    I tend to get a lot of photos taken of me in public and not just at conventions but all over the place. Admittedly the photos are not taken of me because I am superhot or anything like that but I would hate it if everyone was always asking me if they could take my photo. Some of us are kind of otaku and maybe we do get to a convention sometimes because we really want to be there but being with so many people for an entire day is exhausting enough without having them all come up and ask us every time they want to take a photo. Have you any idea how many photos get taken at these places? If anyone ever wanted to make a perfect reconstruction of the entire day's events for everyone it probably wouldn't be too difficult if they had access to all the photos.

    When people want to take photos of me I find it quite amusing because I know exactly what they are up to as they look all shifty and embarrassed with their phones even though they still look as though they haven't been seen. I have to say I do far prefer it if someone has a big SLR and waves and smiles as they are taking their shot and I don't mind the occasional person asking, but good lord, not everyone, that would be insane.

    I don't want to stop people taking photos, it is part of the world we live in now. To stop photos would be a step towards taking away the freedom we have fought so hard to acquire. It would also be robbing the future of valuable information about our culture. Cameras are a relatively new thing and a camera on everyone is a very new thing but I think they are here to stay and I don't want to be curtailed in taking my shots. I already am to a degree as I take a lot of architectural photos and so many doormen in London like to order you away even though you are on public land. That is already too far towards losing the benefit of this fantastic technology for me. My camera is an extension of me, my photos are an extension of my mind.

    Few of you want photos to stop but if you start saying everyone should ask each other then there are so many of us who will never dress up for a convention again because we don't want to be asked. I will not even be able to go out due to my unusual appearance. The answer is simple, the pervs have to try and be a little less pervy, that can be done by pointing out to them that they are wrong. If they are confronted a bit more they will quickly get the message but too many let them get away with it. The only reason they are pervs anyway is because they feel inferior. If they didn't feel inferior they would be asking you out for a drink. They are already in a position that if you confront them they will instantly accept you are right because of their inferiority. Speaking up is the first right thing to do but as well as that everyone has just got to accept that photos do get taken nowadays. When everyone has google glass then we will never know if we are being photographed. The standards of behaviour have to be set before that happens and insisting everyone asks permission will not help at all when everyone can take a picture without even being seen.

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  47. This is a situation that is inherently wrong. I love beautiful women getting all dressed up in costumes, or...in any outfit really. As a guy, I have stolen a lewd glance at women from time to time, but, I am a guy, we are very primal. BUT that being said. I would never "steal" a photo of a person without consent! also to place it on the web for others, legally, the person needs to have consent before it can be displayed publicly. So for our heroine in this story, I say you have every right to be angry and hurt, and violated. Just know those guys are the bottom of the barrel and sadly a member of the human race. Keep being true to who and what you are. Take no prisoners and no shit from anyone!

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  48. In 2012 I attended my first con in almost ten years. It was an pleasant experience; I connected with old friends, successfully avoided the dealers' rooms, and saw some terrific panels. All in all, it reminded me why I liked going in the first place. Most importantly, I successfully ignored the cosplayers.

    I'd been reading quite a few blogs and message boards about how pervy con guys came off. I've certainly seen it first hand. One blogger took it upon herself to post pictures of leering guys in order to shame them. The effect was chilling.

    Some background: I married a wonderful feminist and my politics are decidedly left-wing; understandably the whole firestorm of "legitimate rape" this past election left considerable bile in my throat. I've been schooled on lookism. Whatever else anyone thinks of me and my considerable faults, I don't want to be defined by neanderthal-style sexism.

    Now, here comes the controversial part: I do believe that for many guys, watching female cosplayers can be a no-win proposition. Look too little, and it gives short shrift to the time and effort a cosplayer puts into her costume. There's a lot of pride (and considerable monetary investment) that goes into an excellent outfit. But look too long, and it becomes genuinely creepy. Objectification diminishes both the cosplayer *and* the observer.

    I don't know what the unspoken rules are for finding a happy medium. Does one catch a peripheral glance? Look for two or three seconds, then leave? That's been my personal policy in the past, but as I've gotten older I find myself uncomfortable with even that. Instead I powered through the hallways, doing my best to ignore the whole situation.

    You can make the case that it's an overreaction on my part, but I feel it's for the best. I just don't want to be *that* guy. To paraphrase Joshua/WOPR from WarGames: the only way to win is not play.

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  49. I don't know why there is any arguments. How about some men stop being so fucking disgusting. That's it. Fuck.

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    1. *Spoon feeds you a dose of Misandry* Nice. *takes $10 for the F-Bomb you dropped, and any more $10's everytime someone views this.* >:}

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  50. In the end it just comes down to legal wrong versus moral wrong. I mean, yeah it's perfectly legal to snap a pic in most places (some convention spaces don't allow this or sometimes it's private property), though if you take inappropriate pictures without permission, you are a creep and kind of an asshole (in my opinion, of course).

    However, although I don't condone taking pictures without permission, it doesn't help that the women are dressing in ways that are so provocative, and sometimes borderline nudity. I'm not saying it's the woman's fault by any means. I'm saying that men in general (though not all), are incredibly stimulated by what they see-- arguably far more than women are. So, if a woman comes walking along with her bottom hanging out of her costume, he would probably get at least a little turned on. I could see how for a handful of men, they would be driven to do something like taking a picture. Again, I'm not condoning it and I'm not saying it's okay, but rather I'm explaining why this could be so prevalent among cosplayers, especially those wearing provocative/skimpy outfits. I'm not saying people should stop wearing those kind of outfits. If they want to dress in such a manner and it's not breaking and rules of the area they're in, then go for it. However, I think these cosplayers should be aware that they're pretty much throwing bait out to certain men (whether they want to or not) when they wear such outfits. These cosplayers shouldn't have to be okay with it, but they should be aware that it could happen, and be prepared to handle the situation in a mature and effective manner should it happen.

    Even so, there are still that small minority of people who are just plain creeps, and they'll take pictures of inappropriate nature no matter what you're wearing.

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  51. I'm going to go with Miss Anonymous here, because I don't have any of the accounts listed here.xD

    Ooooo...girl! I agree with you!

    To phrase this in a more eloquent manner: This has been a recent trend all over the conventions. People, and I'm sorry to say mostly men, feel that if you are in a cosplay then they have a permission slip to take a photo whenever where ever. This doesn't just aply to creepy upskirts, creepy booty shots, extreme boobage closeups, but also asking people for photos without any regard to what that person may be doing, such as: while you are in the middle of lunch, on the phone, posing for someone else, on the way to bathroom, you name it.

    Overall this rude behavior is so common now that most don't even see it as an issue and try to argue their way out of it by saying "well, they put on that costume, so they should have expected it." That may be true, but that is not permission for rudeness or for indecent acts.

    Think about it this way: if that person was dressed normal and you wanted a photo would it be ok for you to take a photo of their boobs while they are not looking? No! This same reasoning applies to people in costumes.

    And yes, I am a cosplayer, and if I see this happening, I will come up to you and make you feel awkward and guilty for doing it!

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  52. I can think of plenty of places where women wear revealing or skin tight outfits in public - on the beach, at the gym, at the swimming pool, at a night club. And at some of these places you might expect to have your picture taken - by a journalist at a sports meet, by a night club photographer, by your friends on the beach.

    NOWHERE except at a convention would it be acceptable for some creep to sneak up behind you and start taking pictures of your ass. In fact if it happened anywhere else you would normally call the police.

    Therefore "well it's to be expected because she was wearing a revealing costume and she knew people were going to take her picture" is a rubbish argument.

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  53. That's "ravager of worlds", not "destroyer of planets". Otherwise, great article.

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  54. This is real. As a guy and managing an adult cosplay website, I agree with the author 100%. It would be creepy as hell, I don't think I know a photographer on staff that would be that creepy. The author is very straight forward that if they would have asked it wouldn't have been so bad, but just doing it? particularly if a girl is in a skirt cos play or not that is voyeurism if permission is not given.

    Molly, given our website dabbles in the "adult" cosplay area (one section is 18+) I would love to write a summary of this for http://xxxcosplay.net just to let our viewers know that there is line.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article.

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    1. I'd be happy to let you do a write up. If you need anything: mollymcisaac at gmail

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  55. That is so creepy! And you should be able to cosplay whatever character you want to and be able to feel kick-ass and empowered instead of worrying about skeevy sneak photographers.

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  56. I am much impressed by the decision and also it is necessary to declare if there is no change has been come. I am much thankful to you for sharing a very nice topic.
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  57. Though I'm LONG past the time this happened...clearly over half a year...as a photographer, I'm asking permission to shoot. I'm not paparazzi and shoot and hope to get a shot that'll pay bills, I'm a professional and ask permission. Even if I wasn't a photographer, I'd take a full body shot rather than one on just a specific part of anatomy. Nice article, Molly! PS - you don't know how hard it was to NOT stoop so low for a double entendre...Nice "article"... Anyway, great article..Cheers!

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  58. It's amazing to me that some men will think they can just take a picture of a woman just because she happens to be wearing a revealing outfit. That's only a step or two away from having a camera hidden in the toe of your shoe.

    I appreciate the look of a woman in a costume, sure. I'll take a look, sure. But I'm not going to leer and it'd never occur to me to take a picture of her without her permission and maybe it's just the shy-guy in me but it'd never even occur to me to have my picture taken with her. I mean what's the story behind that picture going to be, "Here's me with this hot girl I saw at a con and met for like 10-seconds."

    Sad that some men think they can get away with this kind of behavior and think it is okay just because a woman happens to be in a revealing costume. If you see a woman on the street in a revealing dress or tight skinny-jeans do you snap a picture?

    The blogger looks amazing in her costumes and rest-assured if I saw her in a con the most she'd get from me is maybe some looks. No pictures without her knowing or asking her for a picture. The "she gets enough of that" mentality in mean is too strong and I'd rather not pile it on. Her wearing such a costume is not an invitation to pester her when she likely wants to enjoy the cons like everyone else is.

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