Why does it matter?
It doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it does. A popular topic among femme nerdsters recently is the treatment of female geeks/nerds, self proclaimed or not, especially at conventions. One debate is whether or not girls who dress in skimpy, sexualized costumes either deserve harassment or are even a true fan of the character they’re representing.
This lovely lady posted this video and had me just about rolling in laughter with her dramatic reading of a comic book writer’s Facebook post.
I’ll start off by saying that nobody likes a faker. Sure, it’s annoying when someone tries to participate in your fandom by acting superior to you due to their supposed knowledge of the genre and then is revealed they’ve only ever read a one-shot comic book for kids based off of a recent movie. But how often does this actually happen to you, in person, and by women at conventions? Get real.
I’m personally not a big fan of cosplays that are practically nude renditions of characters, but I also firmly believe it’s not right to mistreat a woman for her state of dress. A woman could walk naked into a convention and by no means does that make it right or okay to sexually harass her. As I’ve stated and restated time and time again in my blog: slut shaming and victim blaming is not cool. If you don’t enjoy a woman’s cosplay, then don’t participate in it. Find a cosplay you like and pay attention to that one. Simple as that.
Also, like the lady in the youtube video states, it’s men who have designed these skimpy costumes comic book women wear. If I might be so bold to say, it seems to me that the constant portrayal of nearly naked or overly sexualized super hero women in comics/video games/movies is a result of the creator’s fantasy of a cool super heroine. So, why are you shaming women for putting them on and encouraging them to do so with your own characters?
Furthermore, what psychic mind powers do people guilty of making such crude comments such as “She’s a slut who knows nothing about comics!” have to make that assessment? For all you know, she’s a comic book guru and just really happens to love Emma Frost. And if she isn’t an all knowing source of information based off of the fandom she’s representing, why does she deserve to be insulted for being a “fake”? She clearly went out, got the costume, and looked into the character; that sounds like a start to me! How about instead of closing the door on women trying to participate in this male dominated community, you invite her in when she shows such a spark of interest?
Here’s a scenario to think about, too. One of my first modeling gigs was at a con. It was nothing special. I replied to an ad looking for girls to wear matching outfits, tight black tank tops and mini-shorts, and hold signs to direct fans to different booths. After the gig was up, I wandered the con for a short while in wait for my ride to call me and let me know they were ready to pick me up. I came across a booth selling some comics and I started looking through some Iron Man trades. Holding the Extremis paperback trade in hand, a man a bit older than me began to talk to me. He assumed I knew nothing about Iron Man and I found his commentary a bit condescending. The conversation quickly turned into me informing him of a few errors based on his knowledge of the character (he thought Iron Man almost always had the Extremis powers and that his first suit was the red and gold edition!), and instead of just being able to admit he incorrectly judged me as some lost little bimbo at a con, he took to hitting on me instead. Creepy!
It is a silly standard to make most female characters exquisitely attractive and then assume that because an attractive woman is cosplaying as one that she’s “fake” or a “slut”. Then, if a woman considered unattractive by the judge’s standards is cosplaying one, she’s still “ugly” “fat” “gross” and “a joke”, and her knowledge of the fandom is still in question. This may come as a shock to those who slut-shame any of these ladies, but the term “slut” relates to a woman who sleeps with many, and no telepathic power short of Professor Xavier’s or Emma Frost’s will reveal to you that information on first glance.
It’s just as silly to measure a woman’s state of geekdom based on what geek culture she’s into or how she portrays her interest… just because she’s a woman! I’ve met many men at conventions dressed as stormtroopers who are not that interested in comics, but liked the original Star Wars trilogy so much they love to dress as a stormtrooper. That guy may not be as big of a nerd as others at the same convention, but no one questions him about his level of geekdom.
Before I hear the argument “But the stormtrooper isn’t dressed like a SLUT!” let’s imagine this scenario:
You’re right. That would be stupid.
Photo sources: http://www.flickr.com/photos/12690202@N03/4045248103