by Aditi Hukerikar //
After transitioning to a virtual format due to the pandemic, comic conventions are finally returning to their former glory. October 7-10 of this year, droves of fans eagerly attended New York Comic-Con. Sadly, along with the return of Comic-Con comes another pre-pandemic occurrence: the criticism women face for cosplaying at conventions. Women who cosplay often face harassment if their outfits are deemed “too sexy” or are criticized for supposedly pretending to have interests in comics for attention.
Cosplaying Is A Commitment
Women who cosplay spend a lot of time, money, and effort on their cosplays. The motivation for cosplay stems from passion, not a desire for attention. If they’re proud of their art and eager to wear and showcase their hard work, they should be respected.
Why Should Women “Prove” Their Interests Are Real?
The belief that women’s interest in comics and other “nerdy” media is disingenuous isn’t a novel form of sexism.
For example, in 2012, YouTube user albinwonderland posted a video titled “Fake Geek Girls.” This post was a response to a Facebook post by a male comic book artist who was berating women who cosplay for “faking” their interest in comic books and “seeking male attention.”
Though this video was posted nearly a decade ago, albinwonderland does an incredible job of illustrating how women feel uncomfortable in nerd spaces due to the hostile, elitist communities that men create within them.
The fact that women in comic or geek spaces face this treatment can be partly attributed to how the creators themselves tend to be overwhelmingly male. According to The Beat, in the last six months of 2018, 83.7% of Marvel’s credited comic creators were men (with 16.3% representing women and non-binary creators) and 82.8% of DC’s credited creators were men (with 17.2% representing women and non-binary creators). Given these statistics, it’s unsurprising that most of the content produced in this community is tailored towards an audience of men, which only fuels the cycle of men feeling that women aren’t allowed to occupy the same space they do within the comics community.
Not Everything is for Male Attention
In general, many are quick to label women and girls’ interests as means of seeking male attention: women who wear makeup are supposedly aiming to be more attractive to men, women who like sports are just trying to impress men, and so on. This false logic fosters the belief that unwanted attention from men is the woman’s fault. Just as a woman who is wearing makeup or a miniskirt does not want to be harassed as she walks down the street, women who cosplay do not want to be harassed based on the style of their costume.
Bottom Line: Respect Your Fellow Fans
Women who cosplay do so out of a passion for comics and geeky media, pouring time and effort into creating and perfecting their cosplay. Women’s interests in such media, regardless of how much they engage with interest-based communities, are valid, and it is no one’s place to tell a woman that her interest in something is fake. There is little more to say besides a final reminder: respect your fellow fans.