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Gals in Costume: Men are victims, too?

All right, continuing on with the topic on sexual harassment and conventions, it is time to focus on a topic within the topic not many outlets focus upon. This topic is male victims of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, I'm pretty tired and writing this on a school night. Also, I didn't come up with much research, so this will be a shorter entry. Important, but short.

With all the focus on female victims, male victims sometimes get lost in the shuffle. While it may be true more ladies are victimized than gentlemen, it's still pretty gross and pretty wrong for a stranger to touch a guy's butt, chest, or other places. I conducted some research--in other words a single impromptu-ish interview and watched a YouTube video about a guy being sexually targeted. What is disturbing is the fact I didn't find much discussion about male victims. Are guys expected to man up and take it? Is male sexual harassment somehow more acceptable and humorous than female victimization? These are questions I cannot provide good answers for on my own: as a community, I'm sure we can find answers through thoughtful discussion.

So, why bring up male victimization? Quite frankly, someone else brought it up for me, and I give them credit (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!). I'm not going to list names here because I want to protect my interviewee's identity as much as possible. For the purpose of this blog, this male cosplayer will be named Cody. So, Cody is a cosplayer. A male cosplayer. According to him, he's had his butt grabbed while posing for pictures, and stalked on one occasion while at one convention. Cody also said he has; "Dealt with comments even online to the effect 'I want to have your babies' which just isn't professional."

Cody told me he felt objectified and disrespected, but he also emphasized he loved to cosplay. "I'm not denying cosplaying is a major boost for self esteem, but there comes a point that the attention you attract is no longer desired." When asked if this unwanted attention made him feel unsafe or uncomfortable at conventions, he said he felt as though he could take care of himself. As for his female cosplay friends, he didn't feel so sure about their safety or comfort.

So, that's a bit of Cody's experience he shared with me. Cody, if you're reading, thanks. Moving onto the YouTube video I found by a blogger who goes by Fan Service Renji, he opened up a lot of things. Some of which are pretty disturbing. Not just, "Ew, gross," but to the "zOMG!!" level of gross. (Do people still use zOMG? Ah well!!) Renji has been harassed in front of a camera, pinned at a rave, and most disturbingly, drugged at a room party. That's right. Someone slipped Renji the date rape drug, commonly known as roofies. Renji presents some of his stories with a bit more humor than others, and most certainly more than I would care to interject into this blog. And trust me, I love cracking a bad joke pretty constantly. Watch his video for full effect. It's six minutes long and does more justice to the issue of male victimization than this blog entry could probably ever do.

I can't really think of anything to say in closing other than we should treat male victims like female victims. That is, we treat them with respect, like their concerns are real (because they are), not place the blame on the victims, and when a male cosplayer complains, not laugh it off. Sexual harassment is no laughing matter, whether it is directed to women or to men. Sexual harassment is more than a creepy guy smacking some poor cosplaying lady's tush; it's a rabid fan girl grabbing some poor cosplaying dude's junk, too. I leave you this positive statement for the night: we can make a difference as fans, as cosplayers, and as con-goers. To paraphrase Captain Planet, the power is ours!
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