McGinnis: Female cosplayers treated horribly by fellow fansWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrianne Curry is a model and a huge geek. Not necessarily in that order.
The first winner of the reality show “America’s Next Top Model,” Curry has become a favorite of online fans who follow her on social media destinations like Twitter and Facebook, where she doesn’t hide her passion for nerdy pursuits like video games, “Star Wars,” “Game of Thrones” and more.
For Curry and many of her fellow geeks worldwide, last week’s San Diego Comic Con — the largest and most prestigious event of its kind — is the equivalent of Mecca. And Curry, like many of her fellow geeks, loves to dress up in costume for the event (“coplay,” as all the hip kids these days call it).
Curry frequently enjoys dressing up as some of the more risqué characters in the geek pantheon. And so it was this year, as she appeared July 21 as Mileena, an evil entity from the “Mortal Kombat” universe. Like many video game women designed by men, Mileena is dressed in the absolute minimum of clothing necessary to be called “dressed.”
As is the case with most cosplayers, Curry had no problem posing for photos in her attire; Twitter feeds all day featured her menacing cameras in her yellow contact lenses and purple spandex. But there was one photo that day which she absolutely did not pose for.
“I was hanging out with friends and I tried to pull up my mileena boots,” Curry wrote on Facebook. “An asshole photog ran up…shoved his camera between my legs and took a shot …then ran away.”
Curry made it plain how this idiot’s conduct made her feel: “If u see this shot anywhere…know the man who took it made me feel as violated as if someone had grabbed my c*****.”
One of the first comments on her page, however, was not expressing sympathy or outrage. It said simply, “Well you are a model.”
What exactly follows such a thought? Oh, you’re a model, so you should feel comfortable with creeps running up and taking low-angle shots without permission? Oh, you’re a model, so you need to get used to skeezy guys taking advantage of you in public? Oh, you’re a model, so you should “put out” photographically for anyone who wants to take a close-up of your hoo-hah?
The fact that Curry makes a living being the subject of photographs is utterly irrelevant, of course. This is a simple matter of consent. When Curry is posing for a photographer — be it professionally, for her own Twitter feed or even in a convention setting — she has given permission for the person to take the photo and is an active participant in the image’s creation. That is clearly worlds apart from some classless yahoo snapping an inappropriate shot without even asking.
Then there will be those who argue that by dressing in such a way, Curry was inviting such actions to occur. As many writers have pointed out, this idea is a close cousin of the line of thought that a woman who wears short skirts was “asking for it” if she is sexually assaulted. Attire does not equal consent, and dressing up provocatively does not equal justification.
Curry’s experience is sadly just the latest in a long line of incidents where women have been violated in some form at geek conventions. Every female cosplayer seems to have a story about mistreatment at the hands (or lens) of a guy who has no concept of proper conduct or simple respect.
Molly McIsaac, a blogger and cosplayer who writes under the name “The Geeky Peacock,” blogged last year about a series of incidents where she found herself being photographed from behind at conventions without permission. In her writing, entitled “Cosplay is Not a Permission Slip,” she put her finger right on a major issue in modern fandom — the treatment of female geeks as a whole, and not just at conventions.
“We as a geek community have some of the most rampant sexism and misogyny I have ever seen,” she wrote. “Women in cosplay are treated as pieces of meat, on display to satisfy a man’s fantasy of that character.”
McIsaac and Curry have both experienced firsthand an ugly, nasty subset of fandom, and society in general — the belief that a woman somehow deserves what she gets if she dares to attire herself a certain way. This is a disgusting and despicable line of thought. As my friend Beth Freeman put so succinctly: “Treating women like they are anything less than equals is completely unacceptable, whether they are in costume, street clothes, or the shortest skirt imaginable.”
In Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” there’s a brilliant poem called “My Short Skirt” that should be required reading for anyone who feels otherwise.
“My short skirt?believe it or not?has nothing to do with you…” she wrote.
“My short skirt is my defiance ?I will not let you make me afraid ?My short skirt is not showing off ?this is who I am…
“But mainly my short skirt ?and everything under it ?is Mine. ?Mine. ?Mine.”