Cosplay, conventions, and love.
November is the Month of Love for us here in Coaching for Geeks Land. And I, as the resident Prince of Cosplay and Convention matters have been tasked to weigh in on a topic that frankly I am concerned to bringing up in 2017: consent.
I am a cosplayer from an earlier generation of the craft and back in those days, sexual harassment and assault were so common that it created in an entire generation of cosplayer an idea that cosplay was synonymous with being touched against your will.
I’m happy to say that things are different and to say the words that are vital to understanding love, lust and other things: No Means No.
Let’s say it again for those in the back: No Means No.
Now, as a cosplayer are there photos that I’ve taken that are staged raunchy? Sure are! But before I pressed my hips into the backside of a France cosplayer we had a brief discussion on boundaries and if it was okay or not. Before Rin Matsuoka wrapped his hand around my lower waist, he asked me if this was okay. And as someone who prefers not having hover hand in photos, I’m okay with being touched around the arm or waist, but ask first and know that everyone is different.
There are plenty of times where I do not touch another cosplayer because they are not comfortable with it. And that doesn’t make them any less of a cosplayer or any less of a person. Cosplayers aren’t there for your attention, they are there because they enjoy it.
The same goes for relationships. If your partner (regardless of biological sex, gender identity or orientation) isn’t okay with something: then take that no as holy writ.
As you move forward as a couple, those boundaries may change but they also may not. Both of those situations are acceptable. If you are not in a long-term thing and are out on dates, your partner’s consent is an absolute must before you advance too far into anything. Ask your partner if what you are doing is okay. Check in periodically to make sure they are comfortable. Make sure they are alright. If at any point in time, your partner is not okay with what you are doing: stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Reassure that you did not mean to cross a boundary with your partner and ease off.
There are many other ways to break consent while in a long-term relationship. Taking nude or suggestive photographs of your partner without asking them is a breach of consent. Sharing those photos with friends or the internet is a breach of consent. Using those photos against your partner is in some places an actual crime.
And while some issues with consent are slippery slopes and I use that term very loosely, many are quite clear.
Has your partner had a drink or two too many at the bar or at home? Are they on a substance that alters their brain chemistry? Unless they say they are down to do whatever: you cannot assume consent. And once more: I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017: if a person is not conscious, they cannot consent. If your partner is asleep, dazed, dozing off or anything the like: they cannot consent. Even if you “think” they would have liked it, a person who cannot consciously decided for themselves cannot consent.
As far as dating culture goes, I am cautiously optimistic. I believe in people first and foremostly but being safe and aware is vital. Remember: no means no and badgering doesn’t change a no to a yes. And that yes sometimes even has limitations.
I don’t want to end this post on a downer. There have been plenty of steps made in the right direction and I’m fortunate that many of those unsavory aspects of rape culture in geek culture has tapered quite a bit. And now because of brave spaces like this, we as a community can hold each other accountable and strive for a better community and world.
Spread love but only with proper consent, my fellow geeks.