April 6th, 2017

Content Warning(s): Rape Culture, Slutshaming, Intervention

Day six! April is Sexual Assault Survivor Month! This post will contain sensitive material; please exercise caution if you see a topic that could be upsetting to you. We're all about respect here! A final caveat: these are written from my limited perspective as a bi woman who was raped. I don't have all the answers and I'm still working through my own journey. There are many other kinds of sexual assault and abuse that are relevant this month. Take time to consider the needs of your diverse fellow survivors. Speak up for them when they can't speak up for themselves, but don't speak over them. Thank you!

I need to be briefer than previous installments, but let me summarize my experience of conventions and harassment/assault/abuse with this: almost every cosplayer you know has a story. It may be as minor as being called a "bitch" while wearing an antagonist character (shout out to the RWBY fandom, because sometimes I just like to walk in a hallway as Cinder Fall without getting randomly harassed as though I WERE the character), or as major as an assault that goes unreported as a result of irresponsible policies.

I know firsthand that reporting sometimes isn't an option, and countless others have told me about incidences they didn't and/or couldn't report for various reasons. I've seen, heard about, and experienced "we're just making a YouTube video, can you answer a couple questions like an interview?" moments where the camera lingers inappropriately or the person is asked a bizarre and sexual question. Creep shots, stalkers, catcalling, interruption of paid photo shoots, online bullying in the community -there's a lot that can go wrong for cosplayers. There's also specific meaning attached to certain characters; how someone can misinterpret a cosplayer for someone live-action roleplaying a character, and how that leads to inappropriate interactions; how sometimes ships in the fandom are transferred to real-life bullying and harassment of cosplayers; how group gatherings may exacerbate tensions between survivors and those who aren't aware of or don't respect their boundaries; how being harassed in a favorite character's cosplay can force you to form a dislike for the association with the character, or worse, cause you to avoid something you once used to love.

This weekend, specifically tomorrow, I'm teaming up with Uplift and Tekko to spread awareness about this kind of harassment through educational panels. My panels will address specific needs of the cosplay population as well as list resources for anyone affected by harassment, abuse, assault, or any other unpleasantness brought by someone onto another. I'm hoping that this is the first domino for survivors in the anime convention community.

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow's topic will be about the day that our current POTUS was exposed for bragging about sexual assault.


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