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Something about cosplay really bothers me

Discussion in 'Pez's Playhouse & Cosplay Corner' started by Necronic, May 7, 2014.

  1. Necronic

    Necronic Death Jester Staff Member

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    There is something about cosplay that really bothers me, and I think it has a lot to do with the ogling and sexualisation. A man's costume is good because its a good costume. A woman's costume is good because it shows off a nice rack. This isn't universally true, but it also shouldn't be surprising, because cosplay is derived heavily from comic books, manga, etc., forms of entertainment that are remarkably sexist.

    What bothers me is that cosplay tries to legitimize an adult version of the immature sexism we find in comic books. Take it from a from something we know isn't real and make it real. Which...I dunno, that strikes me as bad.

    I'm not even sure if that's the issue I have with it. It could also be that sexualized cosplay seems to be one of the only avenues for women to be have a cultural impact in geek culture. Not sure if I'm saying that right.

    Understand, I'm no prude. Far from it. I'm more sexually liberated than most people I have met, and I don't get the vapors from seeing a woman in a scanty outfit. But something about the cosplay industry strikes me as potentially toxic to both the men and the women.

    I doubt anyone in this subforum will really agree with this, because hey, you're here because you LIKE cosplay. And hell, I like cosplay too. But I just had to say this. There is something about the unavoidable (due to roots) sexualisation of most female costumes in cosplay that really really bothers me.
     
  2. Ravenpoe

    Ravenpoe Forum God

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    A lot (but not all) of female cosplay does have some (or a large amount) of sexiness attached to it, as they're emulating costumes that are designed to be sexually appealing. But then, is that bad? Some cosplayers enjoy the sexy outfits, and may even use cosplay as an avenue to wear the kind of clothing that they wouldn't normally be able to. And to me, that doesn't strike me as anything -bad-. Immature? Probably, but a lot of geek culture embraces the immature. The only time this becomes a problem is when boundaries are crossed, and the cosplayers receive unwanted advances that make them uncomfortable.
     
  3. PatrThom

    PatrThom Genuinely Curious

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    I'd love to know Cassandra Peterson's take on this. I would consider it singularly and integrally relevant.

    --Patrick
     
  4. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    It is way to late for me to make a good post about this, but I have a lot to say on this matter. Post coming in the morning.
     
  5. Celt Z

    Celt Z Ginger

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    I think there's two avenues of thought you can derive from this: on one hand, it should really shine a light and open a dialogue about how women are depicted in comics and games. It's easy to dismiss these things when it's a drawing or a group of pixels, but when you see them on a flesh-and-blood person it makes it all the more disturbing/disappointing the "male gaze" is applied to these genres. The fact that there seems to be no shortage of "sexy, accurate costumes" should also be noted.

    On the other hand, it should also be a reminder that clothing, no matter how it's worn, shouldn't make it okay to treat a person disrespectfully. While I agree that some outfits are designed to titillate, that doesn't mean it's an invitation to anyone who sees it to treat that person like their purpose is sex. Think what you want in your head, but treat the person as you would if they were wearing jeans and a t-shirt. People should be able to wear what they want without fear of physical or verbal abuse. For a more extreme example, it's like blaming an outfit on a person being sexually assaulted. The blame is, and should be, on the assaulter for not controlling their actions, not the victim.
     
  6. Espy

    Espy IMA PREACHA! Staff Member

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    I think it's a great conversation to have @Necronic. I can't wait to hear more peoples thoughts on this, especially @LittleKagsin.

    I'll be honest, I am also not even remotely a prude, but I wonder too if cosplay helps or hurts the cause of equality in the geek realms. I don't know the answer but it's an important discussion I'm sure.
     
  7. Charlie Don't Surf

    Charlie Don't Surf #BlackLivesMatter

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    I agree pretty completely. It further fetishizes and objectifies women more often than it empowers. I'm not saying ban it or that everyone that does it is a bad person, it's just why I mostly steer away from it.
     
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  8. Necronic

    Necronic Death Jester Staff Member

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    I think this really is what it is for me. Its not so much the cosplay, but its how the cosplay illustrates the inherent sexism of the sources it draws from. And in my head that makes a lot of sense, because you couldn't arbitrarily change cosplay away from this trend, cosplay follows the comics/games/mangas, and those are what need to be changed.
     
  9. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    Alright. Let's do this.

    I'll try to be as concise as possible and when I say 'you' I don't necessarily mean you. And when I say 'we' I'm talking about past conversations that I've had with my female cosplayer friends.

    This is an interesting conversation to be had for sure, but I feel like you are entirely discounting the true root of cosplay.

     
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  10. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    UGH, so I wrote a big long post for nothing?

    :mad:
     
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  11. Reverent-one

    Reverent-one Full Participant

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    That sucks Kags, I saw that post before the forum ate it. Were you trying to edit the bad quote tag?
     
  12. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    Yes, but I mean, now I see no point?

    If he's pinpointed what bothers him about it, there's no reason for me to elaborate.
     
  13. Necronic

    Necronic Death Jester Staff Member

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    Ouch I'm sorry, I was really hoping to hear your input on this.

    Ed: I was talking about the post that was eaten. I may have gotten an idea for part of what bothers me about it, but I still have other issues. I would still like to hear your input
     
  14. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    I think I fixed it - luckily I saved it all, so I didn't lose to much. : P



    I'll try to be as concise as possible and when I say 'you' I don't necessarily mean you. And when I say 'we' I'm talking about past conversations that I've had with my female cosplayer friends.

    This is an interesting conversation to be had for sure, but I feel like you are entirely discounting the true root of cosplay.

    I disagree, cosplay comes directly from costume play and if you ask just about ANY cosplayer, they will tell you that cosplay derives from fun. That is all it is. I feel like you see as all corrput, where as I feel it's the medium that is corrupt, not the art, where the medium is comics, movies, etc and the art is the cosplay.

    Your ability or feeling of only seeing this hobby from a sexual point of view is part of the problem, in my opinion. If you can't look past a beautiful girl to see the insane amount of work that went into her costume. Look past a clevage baring outfit to see the construction, or the hours spent at the gym, that feels like part of what is wrong in this hobby. You aren't looking past the sexism to see the other hands at work here. In my experience, cosplayers DO NOT cosplay for anyone's benifit but their own - not to become a sexual fantasy.

    I also feel like the angle that you're seeing this from is one of a casual observer and sexisim comes from the casual observer. All of the cosplayers that I know, and people who are relatively deep in the cosplay world are not sexist, nor would they make sexual comments to a cosplayer because they see the hobby for what it actually is. They see the hard work, the creativity, the amount of time spent to portray a beloved character and that is what people should be able to see.

    This is where I got riled up. Are you just blatantly ignoring all of the AMAZING women in comics, in video games, even TV? Cosplay is not one of the only avenues for women and I'm not sure how I feel about your statment. Confused frustration? Regardless, it makes me very sad that the hard work of so many women isn't being noticed.

    I can count on one hand the amount of cosplayers that would actually have a cultural impact, so I don't really...see this is an issue? Geek culture is ever changing and cosplay has grown in popularity but it's actual affect on geek culture, I feel is smaller in scale.

    I wish you had elaborated a bit on this maybe? I mean, I can sort of see what you mean, with it being potentially toxic, but...I don't see it as actually being toxic. I have made the coolest friends in this hobby. People that I otherwise would not have met, and I'm so happy that we all get to continue to partake in this hobby together.

    My feeling is that putting a cosplayer on a pedastal is dangerous, or men who tear women down for not being able to live up to the ridiculous standards of comic books, anime, etc. Maybe that's where your feeling is coming from? But again, it sounds like a more outside view of the hobby. The bonds that I have made with these people is strong and we support each other. Cosplayers may get a rap for being catty or something similar, but I have truthfully never met a bitchy cosplayer.

    In my experience cosplayers are generally highly creative, highly strung people, so I could maybe see some danger brewing there - when you put a lot of people like that in the same pot, sparks can fly. But, really, that problem comes from the people in the hobby, not the hobby itself.

    I'm sorry you feel this way.

    And is kind of hard to discuss because sexiness is objective. What I think is too sexy and revealing, someone else may think is to covered up and not sexy at all. Some girls are very confident in their bodies and enjoy wearing revealing costume, and that should be okay. Some girls aren’t, so they alter a design to fit their comfort level and that should be okay too.

    Hopefully my thoughts make sense, I tried to make them understandable. And to not go in circles. I just want to reiterate that these are my opinions and I'm not trying to attack anyone or seem angry.

    It is an interesting discussion and one I’m happy to delve deeper in to. :heart:
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  15. Celt Z

    Celt Z Ginger

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    I think what you're referring to is an even bigger problem than cosplay itself or the source material. There has been a standard...probably as long as we've had organized society, that if women are viewed based on their sexuality, they cease to become people and are viewed as/or like objects. I know a lot of people like to site the Chris Rock line about "a father's one job is to keep his daughter off the pole", and we demonize/dehumanize women who strip, make porn, pose nude, etc. They cease to be human: they are a pair of tits to oogle, an ass to "fap" to, a body to criticize with no filter. I don't think there is anything wrong with finding a person attractive/sexually exciting, but you have to remember: at no point does this girl/woman STOP being a PERSON just because they are sexually exciting you. If we're telling our daughters they're sub-standard or less-than-worthy if they are in these jobs, then why aren't we telling our sons NOT to go to strip clubs or watch porn because it's teaching them to dehumanize their fellow people? Or rather, under no circumstances or any state of dress/undress should you EVER treat a girl/woman as less then yourself, or a fellow person?

    Women shouldn't have to fear being labeled as "lesser"(slut, whore, tease,etc.) because of what they wear. Like Kags said, there is no one standard of sexy or too revealing. Women still get sexually harassed on a regular basis, even wearing baggy hoodies and loose sweatpants (I've had it happen to me). By the same token, we shouldn't be teaching our sons to focus on just the parts as opposed to the sum of one's parts. It's not just the costumes being used in games and comics that are problematic, its the way we're teaching both sexes to view women and the context in which these costumes are used.
     
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  16. Necronic

    Necronic Death Jester Staff Member

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    Thank you very much for your response Kag, your insight on this is obviously pretty important.

    The thing about the impact statement. I know that bothers you and maybe I stated it wrong, but I see it pretty strongly. The largest presence of women in geek culture seems to be in cosplay. Something about that really bothers me. Geek culture is so often seen as so exclusionary: IT fields and gaming are pretty anti-woman at times. But even though cosplay is so inclusionary, it seems (from my limited perspective), that the inclusivity comes with a price tag of sexualisation/objectification. Not for all of the women, but for quite a few. Maybe my perspective is problematic, I don't go to cons or really follow cosplay closely, but the parts of it I DO see seem to follow this trend. As an outsider looking in I don't see the full picture, but I see an important part of it.

    Then I think about the old-school days of the "booth-babe" which strikes me as an ancestor to the professional cosplay model, and it brings along the questionable baggage. It's a tricky subject though, and I don't understand my feelings on it. There's nothing wrong with sexy. But in the same vein we as a society complain relentlessly about the unfair standards that women have to compete against, and the cosplay world seems just as rife with those as a copy of seventeen magazine.
     
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  17. Dei

    Dei Always shooting Terrik

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    I'm going to disagree about the largest representation being in cosplay. I would say "most visible" maybe.
     
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  18. Necronic

    Necronic Death Jester Staff Member

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    Most visible is probably a much better way of saying it. Thank you.

    ed: Although....I dunno. Where do you see more women involved as part of the community?
     
  19. tegid

    tegid Some guy

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    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say proportion, rather than representation?

    Enviado desde mi GT-I8190 mediante Tapatalk
     
  20. GasBandit

    GasBandit Ask me about my Reprehensible Filth Staff Member

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    Perhaps what this is meandering around toward is the oft-visited issue of hostility toward girls and women in gaming and other fandoms. It's less so in cosplaying, I guess.
     
  21. Dei

    Dei Always shooting Terrik

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    Here's the thing. I know a LOT of geeky/nerdy girls. Maybe it's because I actively seek them out. I would say at least half of the women I play derby with have at least one geeky interest, and some are completely full of geekery. I see as many women at conventions as men. Just because women are seemingly underrepresented in the job world (which honestly says more about the work force in general than anything) does not mean that they are not around in every facet of geek life. Maybe I just notice them more because I am a geek girl.
     
  22. figmentPez

    figmentPez Cosplay Czar Staff Member

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    "see" is the problem, because on the internet no one knows what gender you are until you specify, and there's a lot of incentive for female geeks to stay mostly quiet about their gender.
     
  23. Celt Z

    Celt Z Ginger

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    That's sort-of an unfair question. What area of geeky gets photographed/documented more than cosplay? You don't take photos of people playing video games or tabletops or writing fan-fic. It's visually uninteresting.
     
  24. PatrThom

    PatrThom Genuinely Curious

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    Maybe it's because you are less apprehensive to approach and talk to a geek girl, because you are a girl, yourself.

    --Patrick
     
  25. Dei

    Dei Always shooting Terrik

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    Kind of untrue, because I am terrified of talking to anyone, gender be damned.
     
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  26. Dave

    Dave I'm not that fucking old! Staff Member

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    @LittleKagsin, next time send the mods a message. We can undelete if you accidentally delete. I did it for your post even though you'd already fixed it just to show you all. :)
     
  27. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    Thanks!

    I deleted it on purpose because I didn't know how to fix the quote issue, so I didn't want my post just sitting there while I tried to figure it out.

    What I meant when I said I wrote a long post for nothing was Necronic's question seemed to be answered and he seemed to figure things out, so there was no point in me having written a long post. That's all. =^^=
     
  28. Dave

    Dave I'm not that fucking old! Staff Member

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    Gotcha! Carry on, then.
     
  29. Null

    Null Random Internet Nobody

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    I had a brief exchange on FB with BelleChere recently that reminded me of this thread - particularly when @LittleKagsin talked about appreciating the effort involved. BelleChere had a picture posted of her Soul Calibur V Ivy Valentine cosplay:

    [​IMG]

    Now, obviously she looks amazing. But the detail sculpted into that shoulder piece is really impressive and the armor is exactly right. That's not as easy as it looks.

    The exchange was brief:
    • Sean (Me) That is a fantastic sculpt on the armor. How long did that take to get just right?
      Like · Reply · October 9 at 4:32pm
      • [​IMG]

        BelleChere Thank you Sean! It took probably 20 hours to sculpt, prime, and paint the shoulder armor. And, if I may be my own worst critic, it's actually too big. But it's still one of my favorite pieces I've sculpted.
        Like · 1 · October 9 at 4:39pm
      • [​IMG]

        (Also Me) Eh, maybe a little big, but it fits the exaggerated nature of SoulCalibur characters. But the detail work on the skull and snake-head are really great!
        Like · 1 · October 9 at 4:44pm

        Now, you can imagine how many comments she gets on her photos, so I was surprised to get a response. But then again, asking about the work and acknowledging the time involved probably means a lot more than being given empty / crude compliments for the thousandth time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
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  30. LittleKagsin

    LittleKagsin la femme

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    Ah, I love her so much! She really is so talented. :heart:

    I'm glad she took the time to answer you! And I agree, she probably really appreciated being asked about the work instead of a comment on her body. Way to go you. :D
     
  31. Null

    Null Random Internet Nobody

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    Yeah. I've had small exchanges with her here or there, as well as following her on tumblr, and she seems like a really nice person. It's a shame she's going through a rough patch right now.
     
  32. Null

    Null Random Internet Nobody

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    You know, I forgot to update this thread.

    I actually met BelleChere in person at the Great Allentown Comic Con in November. She was very nice, she and I and my friend John that I was attending with probably talked for over 20 minutes. She was in a X-Men Legacy Rogue outfit. I gave her a chainmail necklace I'd made for her, as well as a custom spell I'd written, "BelleChere's Heroic Visage". We wound up talking about D&D and Baldur's Gate and Pathfinder and costs of making outfits and people's reluctance to pay for one's work - John and his wife are SCAdians so he's made garb, and poeple are like "Yeah, I need full Elizabethan garb, will $100 cover it?" (the cost of material alone would easily be double that). So that was cool. I'm just glad I didn't humiliate myself by turning into a creepy fanboi.

    Back to the original topic, I recently read that Naomi VonKreeps is going to do one more convention, and then she says she's done cosplaying for good. To me, she's one of the cosplayers that does tend to rely on her cleavage as much as her craftsmanship. So while I wonder what lead her to that decision, and I hope it wasn't due to negative reasons (stalking, harassment, etc), I don't know that it's a huge loss for cosplay in general. And I feel kind of bad for saying that - objectively, her costume work is solid enough.