The Grizzly Growl

Feminism vs. Cosplay

All Fun or More Discrimination?

Art by Alexis Hilton

Art by Alexis Hilton

Kate Oldroyd, Staff Writer

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In September, there comes school, the hints of Halloween, and the start of a new season. What the average human being doesn’t remember is the arrival of every geek’s beloved event, Comic Con. Panels with your favorite stars, booths selling everything a respectable nerd could ever want, gaming tournaments, trading cards, D&D, truth or dare, and of course, cosplaying.
Most people don’t realize that there are issues and questions that cosplayers are often faced with, such as the stigmas against the transgender community cosplaying. Other issues include the cross-dressing involved with male fans portraying female characters, and vice-versa, as well as gays dressing up as couples and attending this wildly popular event together.

One problem is how vague the dress code of SLC Comic Con is. “It states to keep it ‘Family-Friendly’, which is very vague, but in the context of Utah, it is very hetero-cis normative,” says Sarah Steer, a grad student from San Francisco University. Another section goes as far to say “deemed revealing or too offensive.” Deemed by whom? How is this rule enforced? “It just seems another way to police women’s bodies, when we are already oversexualized in comic books, movies, and other media outlets,” she continues.

Another often-encountered scenario with cosplay is the stigma against dressing up as a gender-bent character, i.e. a male dressing up as a female and vice-versa. Steer continues her statement by saying; “I think there is a stigma against genderbent cosplay because of people’s anxieties about gender identity and performance. Most people genderbend their cosplay as a joke, and they don’t take it very seriously.”

There is also the belief that transgenders must assert their masculinity or femininity in huge extremes to be accepted and legitimized. This would quite obviously complicate cosplaying for their community. “As a cis person, I don’t think I can speak expertly at all regarding trans issues, but I imagine there would definitely be a risk of trans cosplayers experiencing prejudice and unkindness,” says Lillie Mortensen. “With added misgendering or cissexism–telling them that they’re the wrong gender to cosplay that character, when really there’s no such thing.” There is no such thing as an incorrect gender to cosplay the character you want.

While these questions are somewhat easy to answer, the questions of hate and morals are far more difficult. Why do people hate? Why do they reject who others are because it isn’t conforming to the societal norm? The answer in its simplest form is fear. We fear change and those who are different from us. Even if we are not ready for the change, feminists and gay-rights activists are knocking these questions out of the Comic Con repertoire little by little. Their progress is making leaps and bounds in desexualizing women, normalizing cross-dressing cosplays, and overall equalizing the playing field for women, men, gays, and the transgender communities.

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