Cosplay and Assault-Allies and Enablers

I’m getting ready to head into the first day of Visioncon 2019 , the biggest and best regional Comic-Con in my area (and I don’t just say that because I’m on staff!).

From my hotel room, I can see cosplayers walking in, and I am STOKED to go in and see the cosplayers, and all the fans, the amazing JEWEL STAITE is our guest of honor *browncoat fangirl scream*  

Kaylee_0

and the Cosplay Club of the university where I work is doing a group cosplay of “Disney Warrior Princesses.” (More on that later). Also, today I am rocking my new 40th anniversary Alien Stompers (replica Ripley kicks from my favorite film EVER, Aliens) 

But as I sit here, I’m worried, as ever, about the possibility of assault at the con.

Have you all seen the story of Cosplayer Elora Kay?

Cosplay Assault

I’ve linked to her whole story above, but she his this visual evidence of this person assaulting her. She had multiple witnesses to his assault, her rejection of his advances and his continued manhandling of her, and also had multiple other reports from other women that he did the same to them.

AND.

NOTHING WAS DONE TO THIS MAN.

HE WAS NOT EVEN KICKED OUT OF THE CON.

She had to file a police report. AND NOTHING WAS DONE.

So, first, folks. Let’s put some pressure on StarFest in Denver. in particular and the culture, in general, to put a stop to excusing this behavior. What we need are allies. ESPECIALLY MALE ALLIES. And we can start, all of us with two really big steps.

  1. Stop excusing the bad actors. With “well, he was drunk.” or “Boys will be boys” or “It’s just locker room talk.” or  “she was asking for it” or “she shouldn’t have worn that” or whatever bullshit you tell yourself and your bros to make it ok.

2.  and. AND (this is really important) CELEBRATE THE ALLIES.

So I want to do that, right away.  First, a Mexican example.

Y’all know I study cosplay here in the U.S. and in Mexico. In Mexico, a blogger, vlogger, artist and commentator El Jagr, who works with Mena on a couple of YouTube channels and at cons like Mexico city’s La Mole (where I met him) to talk about popular culture, cosplay and comics. He’s great, his content is in Spanish, but if you’re Spanish speaking, I highly recommend him.

He’s also an ALLY. He has a series of videos in which he calls out the kind of toxic machismo that treats women as objects and figures them as dolls to be manipulated and manhandled.  He also, in these videos, offers empowering messages to female cosplayers about their rights to not HAVE to put up with that bullshit, no matter what prevailing cultural norms might tell them. This is good an important messaging and I am here to give a BIG ass APLAUSO TO El Jagr.

(if you’re Spanish-speaking, consider checking out his zombie-hunting superheroine Fatima as well)

cronicas-de-fatima-tpb-n°-1-8

Ok, and back to Visioncon and the Allies that I’m so lucky to have close to home. I’m lucky to be married to the best one ever.

But also, though many female cosplayers sent me the link to Elora Kay’s story, the admin to my local Costuming Guild, a cosplayer whose cosplay name is Flash Dixon also posted it in the guild’s Facebook page. And he posted it with this message, verbatim:

Just so everyone knows, if this ever happens to you and I’m nearby, shout out to me. This is utterly unacceptable and I will end it. I’m old, I fight dirty, and I’m not afraid of prison.”

other comments from male members of the group then included, “We got a tarp and shovel should it be needed. Totally unacceptable” and “I’ll help. Just point me in the direction. A few ‘fu-hok’ peeps may want to assist”.
THIS IS WHAT WE NEED.
God bless these men. I love them. No excuses. Don’t do this. Don’t excuse other men. We don’t need you to beat them up, necessarily, but the key word here is UNACCEPTABLE.
Folks, everyone, everywhere, cosplay isn’t consent, and sexual assault is always unacceptable. As con season begins, no one should accept it.
Ostracize the ones who do it and the ones who excuse it. Celebrate the allies who shut it down.
thank you.
Advertisements

What I Learned at La Mole: Captain America and U.S.-Mexico Relations

I was lucky enough to go to La Mole Comic Con in Mexico City again last week.  It’s Mexico’s biggest fandom event and to me, at least, it looked bigger than ever. It was packed. 

57445551276__5DF29C4C-5408-4430-81F2-7528F371F58E

There were times when we could all barely move for the crowd of fans thronging the Centro de Convenciones Citibanamex.  Which was GREAT!

The center was also filled with cosplayers, rocking amazing looks, from superheroes to zombies. (Even the chihuahuas were in cosplay):

IMG_0879

One thing that surprised me, however, was exactly how many Captain Americas I saw. There were nearly as many Captain Americas as there were Spidermen/Spider Gwen.

(I sat next to this perfect couple for the cosplay competition)

IMG_0943

Spiderman and the recent movie Into the Spider-Verse have done a great job of promoting how “anyone can be behind the mask.” \

Spiderman (and the spider-verse) are a fan and superhero identity that encourage wide participation.

But Captain America? He’s so…….AMERICAN (and here I mean specifically U.S. of American).  As the official Marvel site says: “World War II hero Steve Rogers fights for American ideals as one of the world’s mightiest heroes.” Cap’s whole uniform and supersuit is an American Flag motif and his original incarnation even wore a capital “A” on his head.

I’ll be honest, given the treatment of Mexico, Mexicans and Latin Americans in general by the current presidential administration of the U.S.

-(not sure what I’m talking about?, check this out)-

I would have thought that Mexican fans would be frankly a lot more mad at the United States, and mad enough to not want to wear our colors.

Recent polling by Mexican firms indicates that for the first time ever, a majority of Mexicans hold negative views of the United States:

“two in three Mexicans (65%) express an unfavorable view of the United States, while just three in ten (30%) have a favorable view. This represents a stunning reversal of opinon from 2015, when the two in three (66%) had a favorable view of the United States and three in ten (29%) had unfavorable views. 

And I don’t blame them. My day job as a professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies has given me a front-row seat to the deterioration of U.S-Mexico relations. I cringe daily at the bile, hate and outright lies that come from our Republican elected officials about Mexico, I cry for the children separated at the border from their parents, and I rage against the stupidity and idiocy of the idea of a wall. Frankly, the last two years have been a struggle for me against depression and fatalism.

I’m ashamed of the U.S. policy toward Mexico and Mexicans. So I wanted to understand why Captain America was still so popular. So I asked, and these two cosplayers were nice enough to talk about it with me:

IMG_0939 (1)

So I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t get the Cap on the left’s name (hit me up if you see this!) but the WWII vintage Cap on the right is Captain Pete Solo. The former, a citizen of Mexico and the latter, a Chicano cosplayer from San Antonio, Texas.

What these two guys had to say made a lot of sense to me, and gave me hope in general. I asked them why, when they agree that our current president Trump is a nightmare (Pete used a much stronger word), why they would choose Captain America.

Their answer? Because Trump and the GOP don’t represent the America they admire. Steve Rogers does.

Both cosplayers, U.S. and Mexican, said that they had loved Rogers and Captain America since they were children. They admire Steve Rogers as the “Classic Good Guy/Boy Scout”- an example of American values of justice, fairness, and honor.

For these Captain America cosplayers, the superhero is an example of traditional U.S. values, those that we could all feel good about. This, of course, is how Marvel also describes Captain America.

Cap represents an America that hadn’t yet gone to the dark side (as Dick Cheney famously announced that we had to do after 9/11). Captain America is symbolic of the U.S. as the good guy: a nation that doesn’t torture- an America that protects innocents instead of locking them in cages.

(Cap’s main weapon is a shield- inherently protective and sheltering, as I would like strong men to be. His is not a toxically masculine figure, but a good man, a paragon of positive masculinity. He is a knight- ready to defend others. For a perceptive discussion on this, I recommend this piece).

Steve Rogers, like the Statue of Liberty, is a symbol of truth and justice, and as such, represents the America that we were, and can be again.

The fact that Mexican and Mexican-American cosplayers can still see that America is a blessing.

That they are willing to still embrace us through those core values that have been so trampled of late is generous, and I hope, perceptive.

The Captain America cosplayers of La Mole gave me hope: hope that we can return to the values that I grew up with as a child. Hope that we can move away from the anger and hatred of so much of the current environment.

Because the America of truth and justice is still here. Good men and women exist and are fighting to protect the weak and take care of others. As Captain Pete told me, Chris Evans, who plays the current film incarnation of Captain America, is a good example. His public discourse and positions oppose anti-immigrant and racist policies. He is, as a public figure, fighting just like his on-screen character.

Evans tweet

One example. I recommend him on Twitter, where is profile photo, incidentally, is of him visiting troops deployed abroad.

We need to emulate both of them- superhero and actor. Captain Pete told me that one of the things he likes about Cap is his “Never Say Die-Never Give Up” attitude. I think we need to remember that and act in the same way.

We may not have vibranium shields like Cap, but we can prevail.