01.8.14 // GEEKGIRLCON ’13 PROGRAMMING ROUND-UP: Bullying in Cosplay

GeekGirlCon ‘13 celebrated the cosplaying community and our participants were the stars! We also had multiple panels on different aspects of cosplay. One such panel was A Community Divided: Bullying Within the Cosplay Community and How to Solve the Problem. Erin Burke, Katie Murphy, Lauren Crosson, Christopher Vance, and Son Young Yu appeared on the panel to discuss this issue.

Katie Murphy aka UviBee Cosplay kindly wrote up the Bullying in Cosplay panel from GeekGirlCon ‘13 for us.

Image courtesy of UviBee Cosplay.

“Our goal for the panel was to first acknowledge that there is a problem and then how we can start to solve it. The major take-away from our panel was that we as a community are much closer and much more connected to each other than the world around us, and because of that we have an even greater responsibility to stand up for each other. As it has been said many times, we are all just nerds in costume. However with more and more people discovering the wonder and joy that is cosplay, we have started to see the problem of bullying, gate keeping, and harassment. It was something we discovered in our prep for the panel, that the problem is much more complicated than just name calling. But the name calling hurts more in cosplay. Cosplayers tend to take what they are doing personally, we see it as a reflection on ourselves and our skills.  When we are looked down upon by others out side the community it is easier to shrug if off as them not knowing what we are doing.

But when other cosplayers look down on us, it hurts. You know that they know what you are doing, they understand all the effort and hard work that is needed to put together a costume and to have them belittle your work it is like them belittling you. When this looking down is taken to the online world it quickly becomes them belittling you and insulting your looks, your weight, your skin color.  The internet allows for a kind of insulation from the real work consequences of our actions. We see it on 4chan and YouTube, tumblr and Facebook. They can say horrible things about a person because they don’t have to deal with the emotional consequences of a face-to-face confrontation. The nerd and cosplay communities are unique in they are more connected than most, we have Facebook pages and tumblrs that have hundreds and sometimes thousands of followers. We have a reach that far exceeds what we personally think of when we talk.

The message that we came up with, from our own experiences of online harassment, in person name calling, online name calling and trolling, that if we are not the ones to stand up for our fellow cosplayers, who is going to stand up for us? If we let ourselves be talked down too and allow ourselves to be the victim, who will take the time to stand up for us? It is a two way street in that sense. We have to love ourselves enough to not allow it to happen, and we have to be strong enough to stand up for not only other people but ourselves as well.

One of our audience members had a great way to start, and that was to stop saying that you hate something.  Replace hate with dislike, hate is such a hard and final word, while dislike leads to discussion and steers the discussion towards understanding rather than defense.  It was another audience member who asked us if it was even possible to change our communities views on bullying when the greater world around us cannot seem to do it.  Our response after some, a bit brief, thinking was that we have to start, because no one else is going to do it for us.  Be the change you want to see in the world, right? If we are not taking the time and the effort to stand up and say that this behavior is not ok, inside the cosplay community, how can we expect it to change outside of it?  Another audience member was very fired up about wanting to put a face and a start an anti-cosplay bullying campaign. “

Thanks for the summary of your panel, Katie!

Watch this space for more programming related to the GeekGirlCon annual convention. And don’t forget to buy your GeekGirlCon ‘14 passes now!

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