I don’t usually care much about what happens during an event; even more post-event. But of recent, a viral photo started spreading around on Facebook. The photo was supposedly taken at Hellofest 10, which was a week ago. Here’s the photo.
Notice anything? For those of you too innocent to understand what’s happening, here’s what’s happening in the photo. Using a monopod (intended for selfies and group shots), the guy tries to take a panty-shot of a cosplayer.
After some lurking around in several forums and threads, I’ve found out that the photo was staged. The OP said that the photo was intended as an inside joke within their community. There’s a thing that the OP should’ve known: there’s a reason a joke is called an “inside joke”. It shouldn’t leave its original habitat for fear of others misunderstanding the joke and causing concern. Even if it was a joke, a normal person wouldn’t think of it as a joke because when put out of context, the photo definitely shows a lecherous act. I’m one of those normal people and I was rather shocked when I saw the photo.
Perhaps it’s finally time to start the “Cosplay is NOT Consent” movement in Indonesia.
Clash of Cultures
Let me first put some context into things.
When we cosplay, we dress up as a fictitious character from a work of fiction of any origin, be it Japanese, American, Somali, etc. We do the best we can to portray the character to our fullest capacity from the costumes, physical appearance, and to a great extent, the emotional state of the character.
The problem arises when in a rather conservative society, a person cosplays as a character that has the tendency to run over a few accepted social norms. In Indonesia, women are expected to dress modestly, especially around men. This particular social norm is often overlooked during cosplay, as to achieve the goal of full cosplay. Let me elaborate.
The most popular inspiration for cosplayers is anime. In anime, most female characters are portrayed in ways that defy Indonesian conservative norms. For example, here’s a generic Japanese schoolgirl in anime.
While in Japan that outfit is considered to be normal, it isn’t the case in Indonesia. The uniform that they don is, to be very blunt, “slutty” by Indonesian standards, especially by Islamic norms which are entrenched in society. Emphasis on the skirt, which should cover the entire lower body or at least below the knees. Also, emphasis on the head, which should be covered (applicable only for Muslims). And last but not least, the arms, which also should be covered.
But what of the vast wardrobe that Japanese illustrators have to offer? Anything that shows too much skin is frowned upon in Indonesia, especially bikinis, as it would mean inviting someone to ravish you. Here is a generic anime character wearing a bikini.
If one were to cosplay as such in Indonesia, especially in a region with entrenched Islamic values, she would meet harsh criticism and social judgement. Like AFAID’s Bikini Miku. Tough luck, try moving to Bali, where the people are more liberal.
See the clash of cultures? Dealing with it is a hard problem, because not everyone has sufficient cultural awareness to deal with it. Developing this kind of cultural awareness takes a lot of time, especially when people already have one system of values they deem non-falsifiable and refuse to accept other values.
Nobody’s Asking for It
The mainstream assumption is that if a woman wears something enchanting, they’re asking for it and they can’t do anything about it. You’re the one who invited me, why can’t I come in?
In this case, the girl was wearing something that may or may not have caused the dicks of some people to jerk right up. Of course, that would mean that she’s asking for it. And bam, a panty shot was taken, her privacy was violated and the girl can’t do jack-shit about it because she’s in the wrong.
I just can’t fucking agree with this.
First of all, nobody is asking for it. Nobody in their right mind is asking for it. Just because a woman wears something a bit enchanting does not mean that she’s asking to be violated. A woman has every right to wear whatever she sees fit. Put in the context of cosplay, just because a woman cosplays as a character that is supposed to wear, say, a bikini, doesn’t mean that she’s deliberately hanging a sign over her head saying “Please fuck me, I’m inviting you because my outfit says so”. She is just doing so because the character she’s cosplaying is supposed to wear a bikini.
The same goes for this particular case. Just because the girl is wearing a miniskirt, does not mean that she’s asking you to look up her panties or even worse, take an unsolicited photograph. Her character is supposed to wear that outfit and she’s just trying to bring her favourite character to life.
Remember that cosplay is an art. The art of dressing up as a fictitious character you like and trying your best to bring it to life.
The bottom line here is this: just because someone cosplays as a character that is supposed to wear something enchanting, does not automatically mean that they consent to being objectified or violated. Learn to respect others and stop blaming other people just because you can’t keep your dick under control. Cosplay is NOT consent.
Bonus: Finding a Middle Way
Since I can’t just end an argument without offering solutions, let me emphasize on one thing: know yourself, others, and your surroundings and then adjust.
It’ll be a long time before people understand that cosplay is NOT consent. In the meantime, I propose a middle-way so that everyone can be happy and we can prevent disgusting incidents like the above. Here’s some advice for cosplayers and event-goers.
For event-going men: control your fucking dicks. Seriously. Unless you’re an uneducated barbaric swine, you should know how to keep your dicks in your pants. When you see your waifu (who is shit) in real life, don’t get excited and ask her to pose like a slut just so that you can masturbate to her later that night. Also, keep your hands off. She’s a person, not an object. If she declines to be photographed, don’t stalk her to the women’s bathroom.
For event-going women: we don’t like being posed into boys-love positions or conditions (unless we explicitly say we’re fine with it). We’re not your homoerotic action figures.
For cosplaying women: be able to judge the situation and adjust yourself. First rule, bikinis are an absolute no-no in public events. Save them for private photo shoots. If the event you’re going will be crowded and held outdoor, try thinking twice before dishing out that costume that shows too much skin. On the good side, you won’t get sunburned. Also, under a miniskirt, spats should be worn. At least shorts. If the event is going to be held indoors with a smaller audience, yeah, perhaps you can show some skin and wear something a bit more enchanting. It takes a lot of hard work, but seriously, in this one-sided society, you can never be too careful.
For cosplaying men: armor suits for the win.
This concludes my rant about how cosplay is not consent. The most important thing to remember is to treat cosplayers with respect. They’re not toys, readily available to satisfy your every whim; they’re fellow persons, just like you.