Consent is a funny word. Everyone has a different idea about what it means, and many sides to the same face causes problems.
In my opinion, consent is safety. Consent is being able to trust that your sixteen year old child can go to a highly populated convention for cosplaying geeks and not be sexually assaulted and harassed. Do you know how difficult it is to have to convince your parents you can protect yourself from a community you're supposed to be a part of? Or maybe, the worrying you do when trying to figure out which costume to wear; “Will this give people the idea that it’s okay to touch me?”
I am a cosplayer, I am not an object.
Cosplay is “the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime.”
Cosplay is not “Lets wear this to get everyone’s attention!” or “I just love it when random strangers come up to me and grope me!”
Consent is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.”
Consent is not “Their clothes are so revealing! They were asking for it!” or “If you act like a slut, you'll be treated like one!”
So, basically what I'm trying to get across with this project: COSPLAY DOES NOT EQUAL CONSENT!
At this point, you're probably thinking about passing this off as just another passive-aggressive rant you can ignore, but this is important.
Last year, a young female cosplayer was found badly beaten, sexually assaulted, and unconscious after being taken from San Diego Comic-Con by a 29 year old male. (Source) This is only the most recent that’s been recorded publically. Sometimes, people get lucky and they don't end up drugged, and half dead- At that same convention, Adrianne Curry (America's Next Top Model) defended one of her friends after their pants were yanked down by a man trying to grope them. (Source) What I’m trying to say here is that this happens a lot more than you'd think. It might not be important to you, and I don't mean to pull this card but, what if this happened to someone you cared about? What if it happened to you? Would you know what to do?
More importantly, do you want to? Would you want to have to worry about protecting yourself every second you're trying to enjoy something important to you? Would you want to be bound to your phone in fear? Not just yours, but your parents’? Do you want to have fun, or be safe?
As one source said, a cosplayer themself, “The groping, the stalking, the upskirting, the unwanted attention and photographs are all part of the misbehavior and women want it stopped.” (AATTP)
A spandex cat woman suit is not consent.
A short-skirted Harley Quinn is not consent.
A big-breasted anime character is not consent.
COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT.
Because yes! This happens every single day to people on the streets and in public areas. This is something that happens. And the same excuses are used- Clothes, attitude, alcohol; but people don't even listen to cosplayers- to us. We're a joke. And yes, I understand that that’s the case for a lot of people, but there’s a lot more people fighting with them because more times than not people think cosplayers allow it.As I progress with this, I want to consult with people first hand. I have countless cosplaying friends of mine willing to take part in helping me with this topic. I want to hear more first hand stories from people, and hear the experiences that people have had that weren't talked about. I plan on working with a group called Geeks for CONsent at this years Comic-Con, and helping them promote the cause. I think my main point of action as I go on is wondering why people don't talk about it, why they don’t speak up about sexual assault when it happens. And...hopefully I can work towards helping make a change with this.