Incident at NYCC transpires larger issues

For women, cosplaying is a controversial matter. The majority of female super heroes and animated characters are scantily dressed, leaving not much to the imagination. That said, many females get a lot of heat for dressing up accurately as the original character. Even further, many are put in extremely uncomfortable situations.

Most recently, Mandy Caruso posted in her blog, The Grind Haus, about a negative experience she had at New York Comic Con earlier last month.

Mandy was dressed up as Black Cat. A costume that isn’t modest when it comes to cleavage. The skin-tight pleather attire got Mandy a lot of male attention at the convention, and she admits that she wasn’t surprised. But what happened to her next has put a large upset in the cosplay community.

Mandy Caruso in her Black Cat costume.

Interviews at conventions are typical. There are a lot of media running around finding what is going to get them the most views. Mandy recounts that she was approached by an all-male group who claimed to be some sort of Stan Lee Fan club. Refusing to name names, she goes on to tell that the group began asking questions about her breast size. The questions and verbal jabs got so bad that Mandy wound up just walking away.

I really admire Mandy for not giving in where most people would. I’ve been put in uncomfortable situations at conventions, and typically the easiest thing is to just go with it and laugh it off. Walking away may not seem like a brave or admirable thing to do but it’s surprising just how hard it is.

By walking away, Mandy stood her ground and prevented any further uncomfortable or degrading behavior.

A post on Ethics Alarms claims that Mandy was not a victim, rather a provocateur. The post even goes as far as comparing her to “the interloper at a Weight Watchers convention who carries around an open bag of fried chicken and is outraged when a starving attendee tries to snag a drumstick”.

This starts feeding into a very larger issue.

The issue of women “asking” for rape because of their clothing has sparked not only large debates, but communities of women coming together to fight the accusation.

The SlutWalk, for example, was a movement where communities of women banded together to walk the streets in protest of those accusing women of “asking” for rape via their clothing.

Mandy’s case here is no different. Just because she is wearing a costume that she has worked extremely hard to recreate, feels attractive and confident in, and has a figure that she shouldn’t be ashamed of, does not give anyone the right to harass her.

When I think of comic book conventions I don’t think of sexual harassment. But as a female who has cosplayed my way around the majority of conventions that I’ve attended, I completely understand how this can happen.

Despite popular belief, some of the most awkward members of the male species are not afraid to walk up and take a picture of a girl’s ass or go into detail about how much they admire her chest. If this happens to someone and makes them feel uncomfortable I don’t think they should be afraid to march right up to a convention official and let them know.

I think convention officials should reassure guests that they are there to ensure their safety and that no one should be too shy to alert them of a situation.

I think it all comes down to what someone is comfortable with and what is going too far. If a woman is comfortable and confident about talking about her breast size then she should go for it and not be ashamed. But if a situation is raised that puts someone in a position where they are feeling pressured and uncomfortable they should not be afraid to turn and walk away.

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