Cosplay is NOT consent

I began to cosplay 3 years ago and met up with the Northants Cosplayers at Northampton Comic Con. Since then my confidence has sky-rocketed. I was always that shy geeky girl that people would make fun of and trip up in the corridors. But now I’m that geeky girl who isn’t afraid to stand up for myself. I became the person I am through cosplay.

The “Cosplay is NOT consent” scheme holds a place in my heart. I’m only 17 and the fact that 5 days a week I experience Sexual Harassment is appalling. In the corridors, streets, even at my part time job,  I get crude comments, sexual jokes, hand signs, all aimed my way. By now I am used to it, but people who are new to the scene are not.

Cosplay by definition is: The practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, video game, tv series especially one from the japanese genres of anime or manga.
FUN. That’s what we all wish to do.  When I’m feeling down (and believe me that’s quite often at the moment) I think of all the good times I have had with all the friends I have made at cosplay meets, the people I have meet and the relationships that have formed.  To some cosplay is about retaining part of that innocence you had as a child before the world made you jaded and mean.

Many of the characters are very well covered ladies who wear traditional Kimono, Long flowing dresses or just plain old everyday clothes, how does that scream “Rape me, I’m asking for it.” Yes some characters do wear skimpy/tight/revealing clothes, but that’s just how they were designed.
What difference does it make if a man is walking around with no shirt than if a woman is walking around with only a bandage covering her chest like Erza Scarlet from Fairytail.

Teenage years are full of anxiety, stress and the pressures of exams. While adulthood is full of work, debt and bills. At any point in your life it is a fantastic joy to discover cosplaying as a counterbalance to all of the negativity. The thrill of finding, creating and finishing a costume and getting ready for con’s, the joy of being able to see like minded people in safe setting. All of this is almost as joyful as taking the first bite of a light fluffy cake, baked to perfection. You also get to meet a vast array of people who are interested in the same things as you and this then generates; Friendships, relationships and life connections that bloom like Sakura during the spring.

Unfortunately there is a destructive downside to this innocent act of expression and that is the unwanted attention and abuse that comes from those lesser educated, unaccepting people. What is truly unaccepting is the horrifically frightening view that cosplay is a green light for sexual harassment. Since starting cosplay I have noticed a large increase in the amount of crude comments I receive but I have also noticed an increase in my confidence.  
However in 2014 at San Diego Comic Con, a young woman barely into her teens was assaulted and beaten. Her attackers left her at the side of the road, having believed that because she went to comic con that she was willing and up for it.

And it’s not just women. Men are attacked as well. Many males are embarrassed to admit that they cosplay for fear of being rejected from their friends group for being into something that is outside of the “social norm.” But who dictates the “Social norm”? Those who you allow power. Hence the increase in bigots and ignoramuses in politics, Whom have been allowed power. By standing up for Cosplayers one day it may become a “Social Norm” for us to be able to express our inner personalities.