Con Questions

I spent this past weekend at AdventureCon for the first time in about two years. I had a blast. It was great to see all my friends from the 501st and Rebel Legion. But a couple of things happened that really made me think about being a woman (and a person ) in costume at a con.

First, one of the dealers complimented me on my Catwoman costume, but said something about how he didn’t want me to think he was a perv. Those weren’t his exact words, but he said something along those lines. Second, my RL CO asked me whether I was ever worried about someone pulling up the skirt on my Slave Leia costume.

Regarding the dealer, I was surprised that anyone would feel that he/she should preface or follow a compliment with a disclaimer. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though, especially since he was a dealer and relies primarily on his reputation for money at cons like this. But I was surprised, and it’s because nobody has ever made an inappropriate comment to me about one of my costumes.

I might be in the minority of female costumers here, but I’ve never had anyone at a con touch me without permission, touch me inappropriately, or say anything that made me uncomfortable or concerned about my physical well-being. People usually ask me before taking pictures, and with the exception of one picture of my butt that cropped up a few years ago, people are usually respectful in taking pictures. I have no doubt that people say inappropriate things about (and to) female costumers, but I haven’t had to experience that ugly side of costuming yet at a con. I have had non-con goers say things that got back to me, though; more of that later.

With regard to my friend’s question, no, I’ve never been worried that anyone would pull the skirt up in my Leia costume. Maybe it’s because people are so used to that costume that it’s not an issue, maybe it’s because Slave Leia is common and considered tame by some cons’ standards, but I have a feeling that it goes back to an issue of respect that most costumers have for one another. People who go to cons and see all the costumers can understand the work that we put into our costumes. Kids are more likely to be touchy or rough toward costumes (I’ve heard a lot of stories about this from guys in my local garrison), but adults usually understand that we don’t want you hitting our armor or tugging on intricate, hand-made props. For example, I have never had another costumer touch my costume without asking.

I have, however, had a girl spray glitter onto my catsuit at a club on Halloween. One of my friends in the 501st had a guy pull a piece of armor off of his TK at a club. I suppose I don’t worry about having someone pull my Leia skirt up because I only wear it at cons.

People in clubs and people who don’t know anything about costuming (like people who compare my Leia to the Rubies slave Leia costume…) don’t understand the time, effort, and money required to make a TK, Wonder Woman, or Master Chief costume. They can’t tell the difference between a high quality and low quality costume (I have no explanation for why this is. Perhaps they are partially blind?), and so they think that they can touch us and our costumes. They don’t have the respect and appreciation for costumers that con-goers have, and sometimes they don’t seem to have enough respect to assume that someone doesn’t want a stranger touching them. Young children are more understandable; they see the character and not the costumer, and sometimes they get rough with the TKs because they’re bad guys and you’re supposed to rough them up. I would be worried about a child tugging on my Leia skirt, and I’d definitely be concerned about what would happen if I wore Leia out on Halloween, but I don’t worry about people trying to get me to flash them at Dragon*Con. I think it’s because while people at cons may see me as an object—and I have no doubt that some do see me and other costumers that way—they at least appreciate the time and money I’ve put into my costume, whereas people who aren’t used to the con environment tend to be more judgmental and, in a way, dehumanizing. Yeah, people at cons have taken pictures with my friends and me because they thought we were attractive, but they weren’t lewd about it the way others have been outside of the con environment.

I would never touch someone without asking and I would never make an inappropriate comment to someone about what they were wearing or what they looked like. Most of my friends feel the same way. I’m still struggling with the idea that some people think it’s okay to make lewd comments and touch people without permission, but that’s not a problem that’s unique to costumers. In the end, I’ve learned that it’s not necessarily what you’re wearing that matters—it’s who you’re wearing it around.

3 Responses to “Con Questions”

  1. 1 Andrew June 15, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I think it largely depends on which con you visit. I myself haven’t had any issues with being harassed in armor at a con, but then again, TKs don’t really have that many problems, it seems, no matter what the gender. I have been to a couple of cons where some of our female members have had issues with people harassing them. I don’t know if it comes down to geography or what, but it does happen at times.

  2. 2 Stefanie June 19, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I found this entry very interesting, and something I hadn’t considered before. 🙂

  1. 1 Newsarama: Girls and Fandom « bright line rules Trackback on July 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

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