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Christian Williams said on July 11th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Because that puts us in the unique position of arguing that Power Girl isn’t a ridiculous T&A character, that we should take people who dress up as Power Girl seriously, and that people who dress as Power Girl should in no way expect wolf-whistles or crude remarks.

First of all I have to give you credit for an epic attempt to turn this from an argument about whether people deserve safe spaces into a discussion about the merits of Power Girl as a character.

Secondly, though related, I give you full credit for by trying to make the argument that if Power Girl is a T&A character.. then women who dress up as Power Girl deserve to be harassed. Because, in case you missed it, crude remarks are harassment.

And I recognize the danger of arguments like “she was asking for it”, and how often they are used as an ex post facto justification.

You recognize the danger of the argument… yet you’re making the EXACT same argument.

Let me make this as clear as I possibly can:
1) People who go to conventions are not doing so for *you*.
2) There is no line of (in)decency where it becomes okay to stop treating a cosplayer as a person, and instead to treat them as a sex object and target of leering and crude remarks.
3) And regarding rules and guidelines? The rules and guidelines aren’t because of the cosplayers…. they’re because people (apparently like you) don’t understand that ‘sexually attractive to me’ != ‘there to be a target for my sexual attention / expression of interest’.

None of this is hard. It’s called ‘Being a human being 101’, maybe you should take the course again this summer and see if you get a better grade.

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FeepingCreature said on July 11th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I think I understand the discomfort of the commenter here as what constitutes “leering and crude remarks” can be subjective and “common sense”, as the saying goes, isn’t.

For instance, “Nice costume!” “I like your costume, it’s very well-done.” “I like your costume, it’s very sexy.” “:catcall:”.

Where exactly in that list has the line to “leering and crude” been crossed? At the catcalls? At the use of the word “sexy”? Before that? Does it depend on the opinion of the cosplayer? Does it depend on the appearance of the commenter? Is it specified on the organizers’ site?

Yes, some cases are obvious to all. Yes, those cases must be addressed. Yes, that is a good thing. Still, I think at a stereotypical nerd gathering being explicit about social rules and standards of behavior is a reasonable thing to expect.

This is why I’m relieved that the con organizers don’t appear to be taking a no-compromises one-strike-you’re-out policy.

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Durandal said on July 11th, 2013 at 7:17 pm

It’s always important to make every effort to dampen your efforts to behave kindly to others. No need to expend unnecessary effort if it turns out they deserve worse.

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Kristopher A. said on July 11th, 2013 at 7:43 pm

@FeepingCreature

That’s generally why I err on the side of caution, since it’s very difficult to judge why someone is putting on the costume. Some want the attention, some don’t (as contradictory as that sounds).

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Kate the Short said on July 11th, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Okay, let’s set aside Power Girl and Namor cosplayers for a second. Please keep in mind that there are people who will harrass others at cons *even when they are not in costume*.

If you haven’t read Ursula Vernon’s recent con experience on this, where she witnessed harassment of someone sitting behind the table at a dealer table next to hers: http://ursulav.livejournal.com/1544668.html

Then please go read Elise Matthesen’s guest post at Seanan McGuire’s LJ about how she was harassed by an editor at a book release party: http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/517984.html

If you aren’t sure where to draw the line on looking vs. leering, or commenting vs. creeping, please read this Seanan McGuire entry: http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/520130.html

As others have said before, it doesn’t matter whether it’s happening to someone in a skimpy costume or in a striking suit. It doesn’t matter if it’s sexual in nature. Heck, it doesn’t matter whether you’re at school in the hallway or in the office or at a friend’s game night. There’s stuff that’s okay, and there’s stuff that isn’t. And if you start out with the stuff that you KNOW is okay (“Hi, nice outfit” or “I’m a ____ fan too!” said while looking at someone’s face) and then you pause and gauge their reaction, you will know whether they care to talk with you further.

And if you aren’t sure, it’s always better to back off.

Unless YOU YOURSELF are an socially awkward and inept person, stop arguing that “it might hurt them!” point. If YOU get harassed because you’re socially awkward, you too have a way to move it up the chain at more and more cons.

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Kate the Short said on July 11th, 2013 at 10:28 pm

@FeepingCreature — whether it’s a one-strike-and-you’re-out issue also depends on the level of harassment. If what you do is high enough up on the harassment chain, you will get kicked out, possibly banned for life. If your hand obviously and deliberately squeezes my breast, I don’t think that’s going to be treated the same was as you saying “hot costume on that chick, wow!” loudly while pointing at me from five feet away.

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Kristopher A. said on July 11th, 2013 at 11:57 pm

… Man, I don’t remember that first post by Kate (It’s like it appeared out of thin air), but it’s a really good one. I wholly agree with the points, especially regarding the “Leering versus Looking” post.

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DensityDuck said on July 12th, 2013 at 1:49 am

“It’d be a lot harder, because Klan robes are a symbol of an organization that murdered actual human beings in large numbers, and Power Girl is a symbol of a costume that causes people to facepalm, and so your analogy takes a place of honor in the ranks of Epic Analogy Fail, but you are correct in pointing out that you do not get to harass someone even if they’re wearing a Klan outfit.”

It’s to your credit that you recognize that, and the fact that you understood my point means that there wasn’t any Epic Anything. The KKK was deliberately chosen, and even though you had the right answer, I do note that even you can’t quite control your emotional response.

Avoid the bellyfeel. It’s wonderful and thrilling and quite profound to simply give up rationality and operate on pure lizardbrain, but it leads you to *really* bad places.

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FeepingCreature said on July 12th, 2013 at 3:06 am

@Kate the Short: well yeah, some cases are obvious. Those, being obvious, are also less interesting. Maybe that’s where the harassment policy does the most good, but do we seriously need a policy that says “if it’s something that a court would find to be legally actionable sexual harassment, we throw you out?” That’s depressing if true ..

Re the seanan_mcguire post: does that represent social consent? How do I tell? I mean, rather, the problem isn’t for me to tell – I’m fairly confident in my social ability – but for a person who’s approaching the situation insecure and uninformed. How are they supposed to go about discovering what is permissible in a systematic fashion?

I mean, it’s good that a guide exists, and thanks for linking it. Now if somebody can just get it linked from the harassment policy page, I’ll be entirely happy. 🙂

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Kate the Short said on July 12th, 2013 at 10:18 am

Again, most people who are “insecure” and “uninformed” will need to figure this out for themselves. Given that it’s better to HAVE rules that can be given to the socially awkward to look at, there isn’t really much of an excuse. If there’s a con policy and Mr. or Ms. Socially Awkward reads it, I’d think 99.44% of the time that person will more likely err on the side of caution and respect, not on the side of “oops I touched your butt.” And if– with such a harassment policy both in place AND promoted to congoers so it’s pretty obvious what the overall rules are– if it takes them getting banned from a con to figure it out, so be it.

In general, getting kicked out of, or banned from, a convention is nowhere near the level of what people who have been harassed have to deal with. And given the amount of harassment that typically is NOT reported, and that is just shrugged off, the likelihood of Mr. or Ms. Socially Awkward getting to that stage without first being told by at least one person “um, back off” or “please stop that” is miniscule.

Such policies can certainly be revisited if the need arises. But so far, I haven’t seen that need. I haven’t seen scores of Socially Awkwards complaining that they unfairly got kicked out of cons. I’ve seen tons of reports of creepers using the Socially Awkward defense, though.

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Kate the Short said on July 12th, 2013 at 10:20 am

Really, as others have said before, this isn’t much different from going out into the real world and knowing NOT to touch the boobs of women who are wearing strapless tank tops, knowing NOT to touch the rear ends of women who are at the swimming pool, knowing NOT to touch the package of the guy in the low-cut Speedo, knowing NOT to just walk up and feel the muscles of the guy in the sleeveless shirt at Best Buy, etc.

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Kate the Short said on July 12th, 2013 at 10:21 am

Annnnnnd look what just popped up on my Yahoo News feed this morning:

http://news.yahoo.com/san-diego-mayor-apologizes-inappropriate-treatment-women-025533601.html

“It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.”

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Christian Williams said on July 12th, 2013 at 10:26 am

@KatetheShort:

Also worth noting, and sort of the crux of my counter-argument on the ‘poor socially inept, blah’ argument is Seanan’s post on just how hard it is to harass by accident:

http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/519653.html

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Kate the Short said on July 12th, 2013 at 10:33 am

@Christian — yup! That’s another awesome “continuum” post that shows what’s what.

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@DensityDuck: I’d say I understood your point better than you did. You “deliberately” chose the KKK robes in some sort of attempt to equate the two, and suggested that women wearing Power Girl costumes are being harassed for the same reasons that someone wearing Klan robes could be harassed, namely that they find the ideals that the costume represents to be morally abhorrent.

But women wearing Power Girl costumes are not be harassed by angry feminists who want them to wear something more decent; they’re being harassed by sexists who assume that anyone who wears something that shows skin must be an easy lay. This is why your analogy fails, because the two don’t equate at all. (Unless you’re suggesting that someone wearing Klan robes to a convention would be constantly approached by people who wanted them to participate in lynchings.)

And now, having watched your argument crash and burn, you’re trying to claim that you won all along because your REAL intent was to get someone to agree with you that people deserve to be treated with respect at cons no matter what they’re wearing. Which doesn’t really wash when you go back and read your original comment, but hey, if it helps you sleep at night so much the better. Thank you for playing!

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Someone mentioned above the comparison to the beach, and I think that’s the perfect way that the ‘socially inept’ guys to think about it.

If there was an attractive girl in a swimsuit at the beach, you wouldn’t run up to them and hug them, grind against them, touch their boobs or whatever. So just because it’s a convention and the girl is wearing a revealing costume doesn’t mean you can either.

This doesn’t mean you can’t talk to a girl at a convention ever. It just has to be for a good reason, have context and be polite.

Say for example, you see a girl in a Power Girl costume and that is your favorite character. It’s acceptable to start a conversation with her. The important thing is how to do that. So if you happen to pass by, you can say “Excuse me, I just wanted to say that Power Girl is my favorite character and that is a really good costume.”

These are the basic 3 replies you will get and what I think are the appropriate responses.

1. A response anything more negative than a polite ‘thank you’: Meaning whether it’s silence, a frown, a uninterested reply or even hostility. Either way, this is the end of the conversation.

The important thing here is not to get upset. There may be a hundred reasons that she may not want to talk to you and there’s no point in worrying about it. Simply respond with a polite good bye and walk away.

2. A polite ‘thank you’: This is essentially the nicer version of the first response. Or the person is too shy to talk. Either way, the response is to still to say you’re welcome and wish them a good convention.

3. An interested response: For example, “Why thank you. She is my favorite character too. What do you like about Power Girl?”: This is the prompt to continue conversation. Remember that it is simply that. Continue on the topic and don’t say things like, “You’re boobs look great in it” or whatever.

Tell her what you like about Power Girl, ask her if she made the costume or bought it, how long did it take to make, etc. From there you can continue the conversation and just follow the prompts on whether she wants to keep talking or not.

And hey, if you really hit it off, you can even ask if you want to get a coffee together or get her email or whatever. If she doesn’t want to, then again don’t be offended. Just be polite and say it was good to meet them.

And that’s it. You can still talk to women in Power Girl costumes without making her uncomfortable or worried about being sexist.

(I’m not claiming to be any type of expert on female perspective, so if the women commentors don’t think the above is okay, feel free to add/criticize the above)

Just want to say I’m not chastising or criticizing criticism of the ‘socially inept guys’ talked about above, so don’t take it as that. Hey, I was one of them myself.

CONvergance sounds like it has a great policy. But it’s also kind of sad that rules like this need to be highlighted at conventions.

Geeks, we need to take it on ourselves to be at a higher standard. Movie Bob at ‘The Escapist’ did a really good video called ‘With Great Power’ that is about how us in the Geek culture should be actively improve our flaws, especially since it is really part of mainstream now.

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cole1114 said on July 12th, 2013 at 2:05 pm

After reading through this comments section: I hate each and every one of you. Oh my fucking god, you’re all just the worst. I mean, it’s a comment section on the internet so I don’t know why I expected different, but we basically have three things going on:

Crazed third wave feminists

Horrifying misogyny

A guy in the middle getting coated in the first two group’s bullshit.

Jesus. And I thought Seavey articles couldn’t get any worse, just gotta check out the comment section.

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FeepingCreature said on July 12th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

^ Well I think that’s excessive. From what I can see, most people here are being mostly reasonable. Though I’d like to explicitly clarify that “don’t touch people inappropriately” should be obvious to everybody and I’m not trying to justify or excuse that kind of behavior (I don’t think anybody here is; at least, I hope so) – the specific issue I have is with the gray zone of “leering”, “creep” and “inappropriate comments”. And I don’t have an issue with that either as long as the con policy is specific on what it means by subjective terms like those.

I am not arguing for people who think they can get away with sexual harassment – I am arguing for people who don’t want to harass but are panicked about harassing by accident.

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Durandal said on July 12th, 2013 at 4:00 pm

“Harassment by accident” is exactly as much of a concern as “heart transplant by accident”.

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@Cole: but not quite yet so noxious that it couldn’t be added to by some asserted morally superior faux-neutrality, eh?

(Also, I like the phrase “crazed third wave feminism” as a not-euphemism – what’s the opposite of a euphemism? – for “wants some anti-harrassment policies”.)

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highlyverbal said on July 12th, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I personally would love to know who the “guy in the middle” is!

Oh, and I think crazed third wave feminists should get our/their own wave. 4th wave, yeah!

The opposite of an euphemism? Perhaps “pejorative”?

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Wow, if this is your idea of a horrible comment section then I have no words. Have you been on the Internet? Like, ever at all?

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@Zyzzyzva: dysphemism.

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@Cyrus: well, yeah, I probably should have been able to guess that myself. :S

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DensityDuck said on July 20th, 2013 at 3:42 am

John Seavey said

“You “deliberately” chose the KKK robes in some sort of attempt to equate the two, and suggested that women wearing Power Girl costumes are being harassed for the same reasons that someone wearing Klan robes could be harassed, namely that they find the ideals that the costume represents to be morally abhorrent.”

Nope.

I chose the KKK robes because I wanted to pick something that would make you REALLY REALLY FUCKING GODDAMN HATEBASTARD CATFUCKING ANGRY, something where you would feel no problem with ditching an entire lifetime of reason and rationality and tolerance, something where you’d feel it was not only morally acceptable but a moral imperative to go full shaved-ape and start flinging shit.

Which, from the looks of the comments, is exactly what happened.

So. Here’s a situation where you think a costume justifies negative treatment. And yet you’re really mad, in your OP, about people who might think that a costume justifies negative treatment.

“And now, having watched your argument crash and burn, you’re trying to claim that you won all along because your REAL intent was to get someone to agree with you that people deserve to be treated with respect at cons no matter what they’re wearing.”

For someone who makes their living as a writer, you sure do have a hard time getting to the point of another person’s writing.

Maybe we should go back to the first post where I brought up the KKK robes. In fact, I’ll quote myself.

“[L]et’s say someone walks around dressed like they’re in the KKK. Do we not consider that costume to be a statement? Are we required to look at their costume and think “well, there’s a person there, and I need to consider that person first and foremost, with the costume a mere artistic affectation that should in no way be used to estimate that person’s expectation of acceptable behavior towards and around them”? “

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@DensityDuck: Yes, that was what you said. And I pointed out that yes, you do need to treat them as a person. So y’know, you totally succeeded apart from the success part at baiting people into agreeing with you that there are some costumes that justify bad behavior.

Um…you do realize that was your original point, right? I mean, you started out saying that the Power Girl costume was such blatant fetish gear that any woman wearing it had no right not to expect to be sexualized. Then when people pointed out that no, they had every right, you pulled the most extreme example you could think of out of your ass to try to get people to agree that there was at least some kind of situation where a costume justified bad behavior. And when we wouldn’t even do that, you tried the classic bullshit maneuver of saying, “EXACTLY!” super-loud, in the hopes that people not paying close attention might think we were now agreeing with you instead of noticing that you’d flipped your position 180 degrees from “Women wearing Power Girl costumes are asking for it” to “Nobody deserves to be treated badly just because of the outfit they wear.” It failed, just to clarify.

But again, thank you for playing!

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