Sexism, Gaming, Pax and Fear

The thing about sexual harrassment, which is what we're talking about, is that context does not matter. Only the feelings and interpretations of the victims, in this case mostly women, matter.

Let's say I come from a family or culture where telling a person they are super-hot is considered a casual surface compliment, and completely appropriate to say to basically anyone.

If I say that to a woman and she gets offended, feels threatened, or feels harrased, then that's what I did. I harrassed her.

If I say that to a woman and she appreciates the comment, but it makes someone else in the room uncomfortable, well, I just harrased that other person. (Technically I created an unhealthy environment for that other person, but I consider it about the same.)

Short version: I think the discussion is still a little to focused on the context, because it's pax and cosplayers. That's the least important part of this.

KaterinLHC wrote:

But "I think you're attractive" is not an emotion. Lust is not an emotion. It is a function of biology.

I don't agree - all emotions have biological components. Is fear an emotion? Is joy? I don't think you can reasonably draw the line between mental state and biological reflex when it comes to the range of human emotions - one informs the other.

So instead of trying to shut down the conversation ("stop, just stop"), and telling me how out of line I am and how wounded your pride is by me expressing my own discomfort ("attempting to insinuate that I'd be okay with rape is totally over the line - you know nothing about me."), maybe, just maybe, you should re-evaluate what you've said and whether it effectively communicated what you intended it to. Take a closer look at what you're saying and how your own position of privilege is baked into it, and consider how you've made the women around you feel (or at least just this one woman).

From my perspective, you're talking past me, assigning me positions I explicitly did not take, and using me as a placeholder for a_brosef_00. I agree with you 95% but you're not intrested in a conversation about that 5%, you seem like you just want to vent. I'm shutting down the conversation because you're being intellectually lazy. I think people I've butted heads with in the past here will agree this is consistent with my posting style, and not because you're a woman - your offense is not automatically justified simply because of your gender.

duckideva wrote:

But see, here's the thing; If I dress sexy, I'm doing it for me. If I want to feel a certain way, I have wardrobe choices that engender that feeling. But if I'm wearing my sexiest gear; I'm looking like Scorpio incarnate, a devil in a diamante tiara...that still doesn't give someone else the right to make their experience of looking at me, part of my experience of being me. I'm not dressing for the viewer; I don't really give a rat's ass about the viewer. I'm dressing for me.

I want to bold this whole part for its simple elegance.

I also want to admit sheepishly that I'm still working on understanding this on an absolutely fundamental level. I understand it on an academic, even on a social and experiential level, but as a guy, I sometimes feel like I don't fully grok it.

If that makes sense, anyway.

Norman: What position are you taking, then?

NormanTheIntern wrote:

From my perspective, you're talking past me, assigning me positions I explicitly did not take, and using me as a placeholder for a_brosef_00. I agree with you 95% but you're not intrested in a conversation about that 5%, you seem like you just want to vent. I'm shutting down the conversation because you're being intellectually lazy. I think people I've butted heads with in the past here will agree this is consistent with my posting style, and not because you're a woman - your offense is not automatically justified simply because of your gender.

Totally not boogle wrote:

But in the abstract it is fairly close to "Because of X visual queue which an entity interprets as sexualized, said entity's unwarranted sexual advance (verbal, physical) is warranted."
It's not saying that you by defending that position support rape. It is saying that your defense of that position relies on a very similar argument, which could therefore call into question your defense of said position.

But see, here's the thing; If I dress sexy, I'm doing it for me. If I want to feel a certain way, I have wardrobe choices that engender that feeling. But if I'm wearing my sexiest gear; I'm looking like Scorpio incarnate, a devil in a diamante tiara...that still doesn't give someone else the right to make their experience of looking at me, part of my experience of being me. I'm not dressing for the viewer; I don't really give a rat's ass about the viewer. I'm dressing for me.

I think what you're saying is that if you were dressing like that you don't have the problem is someone does a double take and checks you out, the problem comes from when they go beyond that?

I have one quibble with people: dressing up in cosplay is not like wearing a sports jersey. I hear that all the time and its' a really bad analogy. Dressing up in cosplay is like dressing up in full football garb not wearing a niner's jersey. The video game equivalent is wearing a Zelda t-shirt not dressing up like Zelda. I hear this analogy a lot and it really drives me nuts. If I put on my catchers gear and was walking around I would expect attention even if I'm at a baseball card convention.

I know I'm a horrible privileged sexist who supports rape culture and blames the victim and many other things I've been called in this thread. I think if someone dresses up in order to get attention means you cannot get mad when you get attention. You can get mad when you are sexually harassed, violated, people are rude and all the other horrible things that the original blog writer wrote and stuff that duckidiva talked about. I don't think how someone dresses gives anyone else the right to harass them physically or verbally. Under any circumstance. That stuff is never okay. But if you dress up as Ivy from Soul Calibur I don't think if someone does a double check and then moves on, they're doing anything horrible.

Norm, assuming the 5% to which you refer is your Reacting to Art Argument, I'll humor you after I note it's pretty threadbare excuse-making, and say first, not all reactions to art are appropriate or valid to begin with. But additionally, what you're talking about is not even reacting to the art, it's reacting to the person wearing it. And yes, there is a distinction.

Man, there is a lot of childish defensiveness here.

Ulairi wrote:

I have one quibble with people: dressing up in cosplay is not like wearing a sports jersey.

To you. But again, this isn't about you, it's about the woman who's being objectified.

Ulairi wrote:

I think if someone dresses up in order to get attention means you cannot get mad when you get attention.

There is so much wrong with this that it makes my head hurt. You are making assumptions as to why they are dressing like this, assumptions that justify your reaction. "I'm scoping her ass, but she should expect that because she's dressed like she wants someone to scope her ass. I'm good!"

trichy wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

I have one quibble with people: dressing up in cosplay is not like wearing a sports jersey.

To you. But again, this isn't about you, it's about the woman who's being objectified.

Ulairi wrote:

I think if someone dresses up in order to get attention means you cannot get mad when you get attention.

There is so much wrong with this that it makes my head hurt. You are making assumptions as to why they are dressing like this, assumptions that justify your reaction. "I'm scoping her ass, but she should expect that because she's dressed like she wants someone to scope her ass. I'm good!"

The only reason to wear a costume is for attention. It can be positive attention "Hey, Princess Peach, did you sew your costume yourself? You did a really great job making it look exactly like the Peach dress from NSMB U" that is attention. It can draw negative attention. I am not saying negative attention is okay. I am not excusing negative attention you are having an argument with something i'm not making. this is my whole problem with the entire topic of conversation.

someone dresses up as ivy that is going to get attention. if someone just double checks and checks out the girl in the costume that's fine. i don't see a problem with that. that is leagues away from ogling, harassing, whistling, grabbing, saying rude things. that's no different than if you're at a coffee shop and see a pretty girl, looking again and thinking "wow, she's really pretty" and moving along with your day.

And again reason doesn't fall away because you want it to. the analogy of dressing up as Princess Zelda is the same as wearing baseball jersey it's not. it's much more analogous to wearing a baseball uniform. wearing a princess zelda shirt is analogous.

i'm backing out the thread. these topics are not really open for discussion, learning and growing. or anything. they are designed for the same group of people who already agree with each other on everything to continue to agree with each other on well...everything. someone posts anything that goes against the prevailing ideologically even if remotely and it's: you're a misogynistic, privileged, rape-defender, horrible person. there isn't even an attempt of explanation. we no longer assume positive intent on this forum. there is no "Hey Widget, I understand what you're saying but let try to make you understand bla bla bal"

I think everyone here agrees that the question that the girl from the guild got (her name is slipping right now) is okay under any circumstance. i don't think anyone posting here thinks that the girl from the original blog posting that her experiences are okay under any circumstance. i don't think anyone posting here thinks the rude questions that the lara croft cosplaying girls received at pax are appropriate under any circumstance.

i've never gone to comicon but i have been to gencon. there is cosplaying there (and seems to be more every year) but back when I was going every year there was always the famous girl that walked around in a chainmail bikini. She's a gencon legend (or was). I would see her and I wouldn't stare, approach, heckle, whistle but I'd do a double take. She's wearing a chainmail bikini. That attracts attention. That doesn't make me a horrible person. What makes someone a horrible person is when they go up behind Ducki and sexually assault her. That is horrible. Unspeakably wrong. There is no defense. That sort of thing is criminal. When someone called her sisters hotel room and said "I'm going to show up and put a baby in you" to me that is the same thing as attempted rape. No different than if I were to call you and say "I'm coming over to murder you". It should (is it?) be illegal and something that people should be arrested for.

I didn't get the impression people had objections to being looked at. Its the inappropriate comments, commands, requests, and come-ons that people seem to take issue with.

Amoebic wrote:

I didn't get the impression people had objections to being looked at. Its the inappropriate comments, commands, requests, and come-ons that people seem to take issue with.

This. I feel like continually bringing up the looking is presenting a scenario that isn't being raised.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

Man, there is a lot of childish defensiveness here.

Nothing engenders productive conversation like sprinkling disagreement with derision.

I'd like all parties in this discussion to stop punctuating their posts with personal jabs and disappointed finger wagging. There's a lot of great stuff being said here and I don't want a challenging discussion being derailed by frustrated venting. Trust me, I know precisely how frustrating these conversations can be. I've been on both sides of them.

I'd also like anyone who threatens to the leave the conversation to actually do it. Nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who has no intention of following through.

Tanglebones wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

I didn't get the impression people had objections to being looked at. Its the inappropriate comments, commands, requests, and come-ons that people seem to take issue with.

This. I feel like continually bringing up the looking is presenting a scenario that isn't being raised.

Yeah, I get the feeling that some aren't separating their internal thoughts and glances from the actual issue and getting defensive too quickly. Problem is then when they start posting defensively, we have to assume they are defending the actions that are actually being complained about. And round and round we go.

Baron Of Hell wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

My mind is boggled that the Felicia Day video is shown as an example of something good. If a journalist stands up and asks that question, he is fired.

If Felicia responds by asking for the guy to be removed, she risks the IHM's wrath.

That question is why my wife, while she enjoyed PAX with me, would never go alone. She told me that there are too many examples of guys not only being inappropriate, but absolutely no sense that she could trust the crowd to back her up.

I'm not sure if this was addressed at me. I did not bring up the Felicia Day question as something good. My question was should one defend the honor of a person that doesn't try to fight for themselves. I could go through Youtube and find a hundred videos of girls being asked rude questions but obviously enjoying it. If one is going to fight for the honor of these cos players why not also talk to the women that do nothing or encourage the comments?

Don't mistake my question for a rejection or acceptance for what she did or a acceptance or rejection for the comments.

I think Felicia should have been defended. I think think the guy asking the question should have been asked to leave, and it should not have been Felicia to have to do it. Not because women can't defend themselves, but there is a serious issue when a woman is in a situation that is 99% guys. And that is the crux of the issue, and why that video was such a good example of the problem. She looked mortified, She looked around to several other people, who happened to be guys, and figured out real quick that this was one of those times she was just going to have to take it. It was pretty much what the blog was about, and what she was hoping to inspire women to change.

So, no, expecting a woman to defend herself in that situation is not a prerequisite to step in and call bullsh*t on someone acting like that. It's just a type of bullying. The victim ends up in a situation where he or she gets judged by how they respond. Don't defend enough, and it's open season, push back too much, and suffer the wrath. But if the crowd steps in, they can relieve that pressure from the victim.

Ulairi wrote:

there is no "Hey Widget, I understand what you're saying but let try to make you understand bla bla bal"

Hmmm. I'm not totally sure that's true. Trichy's certainly called your line of reasoning out, but I think their main point was to get you to think about whether or not that person wants the attention. Double-takes like you describe I think are a subconcious reaction (surely someone knows more about this than I do) all humans do and there are many reasons for them. But it pays to be mindful of whether or not the person in costume in question wants anything more than that.

There's a whole spectrum of interactions and like I said earlier everyone has a threshold to where the inappropriate line exists. You have to be mindful of that especially with strangers who don't know you and vice versa.

(Not trying to drag you back into this, but just feeling things are getting heated on both sides and hoping to try and find a less hostile approach)

Norm appears to be confusing a reaction (internal, uncontrollable) with an expression of that reaction (external, controllable). If you're unable to control the way that you express yourself, then you may not belong in social situations where you are expected to do so.

EDIT: By the way, Norm... I'm not saying that you're unable to control yourself personally. However, I think that reaction and expression are entirely different things - and the second of those is what we're talking about here. It's the thing adults are responsible for controlling.

Ulairi wrote:

The only reason to wear a costume is for attention.

Sorry, but that simply isn't true. I've known more than a few people who dress in costumes because they like the way it looks on them, but with not a care in the world about the attention it grabs from others.

Valmorian wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

The only reason to wear a costume is for attention.

Sorry, but that simply isn't true. I've known more than a few people who dress in costumes because they like the way it looks on them, but with not a care in the world about the attention it grabs from others.

I wear a tiara. I mean, not all the time, but randomly; I'll just have Tiara Tuesday, or whatever, and I wear a tiara. Because I have one, and by gods, why not? I wear it to the grocery store, to the bank, whatever I'm doing that day, I just do it with a tiara. I acknowledge that many people think it's weird, and most people will look at it, because...ya know, it's a tiara; and I live in an area where tractors are often on the roadways, and in my faded jeans and pullover shirt, and at that age where women are mostly invisible in North American culture, I'm pretty clearly not Miss America. And a few people have asked, and I respond "because I have one" or "because it's Tuesday", and we move on with whatever our transaction would have been.

Of the many reason I have for wearing a tiara; none of them are because I want people to pay attention to me. There are days when I want to wear Sparkles, but don't because I'd rather be more invisible. Frankly, I just wish everyone would acknowledge me as the town eccentric and leave me alone. (My plan is to move into bigger and weirder millinery, until the title is mine!)

Smaller and weirder is also good. Tiny hats, perched at a jaunty angle!

duckideva wrote:

My plan is to move into bigger and weirder military, until the title is mine!

This is how I read this at first and was very confused.

duckideva wrote:

I wear a tiara. I mean, not all the time, but randomly; I'll just have Tiara Tuesday, or whatever, and I wear a tiara.

That is awesome.

I think we're all getting caught up on a superficial thing here. Let me demonstrate. How many of you have seen the pic of me that's on my Employee Profile. Go look. I'll wait.

There. That's Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle in her very oldest guise. I think we can all agree there is nothing "sexy" about it. I have had multiple issues that make leering look like nothing while wearing that costume. Here are a couple of the most egregious ones:

  • In a hotel lobby I had a guy come up to me. He said, "Can I ask you a question?" I could smell alcohol, but I said, "Sure." He then hooked the front of the neckline of the outfit and pulled it away from my neck, peered down, and asked if they were real. A hotel security guy saw him and sent him on his way with prejudice.
  • I was standing in the gym at a church Harvest Festival (what they call Halloween) just talking to a friend, and a guy came up behind me and pulled my braid hard enough to hurt and yank my head back. He thought I was wearing a wig, and he was going to take it off and run away to make me chase him. He was very surprised to find out it is my actual hair. He didn't even apologize; he just walked away. (he wasn't a regular member - just someone from the community)

It's not just me. My daughter got crap while wearing a mascot-style Totoro costume. We were walking down the food court attached to the Haynes Convention Center. He had been walking behind us for a while and all of a sudden reached around her and started to feel up the front of the costume looking for her breasts. The only reason he even knew it was a girl was he had heard her voice when she asked me a question.

That's not counting the cat calls, fat jokes, old jokes, the comments questioning why someone like me was there. I would actually be grateful to hear someone talk smack about the sewing or choice of fabric or something. At least that isn't a personal attack.

It's the same in regular clothes. I have a collection of similar anecdotes for work, or going to the grocery store, or just living life. The only real difference I've been able to see is that I don't tend to get as much of the physical contact type of stuff in regular clothes.

I've had a lot of good experiences with cosplay, too. Don't get me wrong. But the fact that the costume is sexy is a red herring here. Location is a red herring. The fact that there's a costume at all is a red herring.

duckideva wrote:

I wear a tiara. I mean, not all the time, but randomly; I'll just have Tiara Tuesday, or whatever, and I wear a tiara. Because I have one, and by gods, why not? I wear it to the grocery store, to the bank, whatever I'm doing that day, I just do it with a tiara.

That is awesome! I used to be quite "goth" when I was younger and wore makeup, put my hair into a rat's nest like Robert Smith (I believe my Steam Profile is a picture of how I used to look) and walked around like that.. none of that was for anyone other than me. I liked how I FELT when I dressed like that, and it didn't matter one bit whether I got tons of attention or none at all.

Yeah, I think the good thing that all of these discussions of late is that more and more women are coming forward and saying "Look, this happens to me all the time." It happens when we're young, it happens when we're old, it happens when we're skinny, when we're fat, when we're beautiful, when we're not; by virtue of being female...it happens.

And when we point it out; it's a pebble, rolling down the mountain, but it gathers others and before long, if we keep talking about it when it happens; we will see change. The terrain will change, but it means we have to keep kicking the pebbles down the mountain.

The other day, I realized Bewitched first season was showing on some channel, so I set my tivo to record a bunch of them. I couldn't get through them; the ideas and beliefs expressed by the men on the show was so alien to how we do things now, that I just started to hate Darrin and Larry and didn't want to watch the show. Now, i realize they were caricatures; but they were caricatures of a very real, and fairly recent period in our history.

The terrain is changing. Conversations like this one are helping; even when they are contentious.

momgamer wrote:

It's not just me. My daughter got crap while wearing a mascot-style Totoro costume. We were walking down the food court attached to the Haynes Convention Center. He had been walking behind us for a while and all of a sudden reached around her and started to feel up the front of the costume looking for her breasts. The only reason he even knew it was a girl was he had heard her voice when she asked me a question.

That is unbelievably creepy. If someone did that to my daughter I'd be in danger arrest for assault.

I really don't understand how the desire to not be the target of inappropriate comments or behavior is the source of so much confusion. Even if the situation is such that romance may actually be an option, for pete's sake have some tact. Has anyone ever gotten a positive response from ogling, catcalls, or suggestive comments? Even once? I don't think anyone is suggesting that it's inappropriate to even look at someone, but there's a difference between a glance and a look that might make someone uncomfortable.

Oh, and momgamer, do you need any help hiding the body of the guy who touched your daughter? I'm not saying anything, but I have 50 pounds of lye and a lake...

Regarding sexy clothing items and the purpose thereof:

*blush*

So, I've been wearing padded panties that I ordered online the other week. They're not padded very far—I don't think it's enough to be noticeable even by people who see me every day, even though I wear fairly tight-fitting jeans. I'm not wearing them because I want a sexy ass for guys or girls to look at. I'm not wearing them to fit in. I'm not wearing them for anybody else to notice them at all—I'm wearing them because somehow, something about it just makes me feel more right in myself. I mean, I got them to see how it would change how clothes fit me. But, I wasn't really intending to wear them out anywhere. But... when I tried them on with stuff, I suddenly felt like my balance was better, and my heart was lighter, and... yeah... like I was a little sexier (even though, you know, it's not like my male presentation is really needing a bubble butt to make it complete, and nobody's going to read me as female no matter how much padding I put down there)... It was weird how it just clicked. So I've been wearing them regularly for the last few days.

And that's why I blush. Because it's weird, and I can't really explain it, and it seems so silly. But it's for me, and that's all it needs to be.

There are tons of reasons for people to wear all sorts of things. Looking sexy for other people is one possible reason, but by no means an overriding reason, even for clothing that a lot of people would look at and say "there's no purpose for this article of clothing except to sexualize a body part".

Valmorian wrote:
duckideva wrote:

I wear a tiara. I mean, not all the time, but randomly; I'll just have Tiara Tuesday, or whatever, and I wear a tiara. Because I have one, and by gods, why not? I wear it to the grocery store, to the bank, whatever I'm doing that day, I just do it with a tiara.

That is awesome! I used to be quite "goth" when I was younger and wore makeup, put my hair into a rat's nest like Robert Smith (I believe my Steam Profile is a picture of how I used to look) and walked around like that.. none of that was for anyone other than me. I liked how I FELT when I dressed like that, and it didn't matter one bit whether I got tons of attention or none at all.

Yup.

Our culture teaches that women's bodies are viewed as public property, from the First Lady all the way down to street prostitutes and everyone in between.

Hot or not? What's she wearing? I can't believe she went out looking like that. Obviously her best days are behind her. Well, she was dressed kind of slutty. Her tits were the size of my head. Jeez, what a Barbie! Drop 10 pounds in 20 days to turn his head. Yeah her performance was good but wow, did you see how big she got? I'd hit it.

Commentary that measures women's worth based on physical traits is constant. But despite the best efforts of many men and popular culture to convince us otherwise, sometimes what we do... isn't all about you the viewer.

duckideva wrote:

Oh, and momgamer, do you need any help hiding the body of the guy who touched your daughter? I'm not saying anything, but I have 50 pounds of lye and a lake...

That was three years ago. He's long gone.

Dress and public presentation is a social thing. I can't dress just for myself, as much as I would like; and I would, like you wouldn't believe.

If I had my way, I'd be naked all the time. I can't do that. I wouldn't just get looked at and abused. I'd get arrested. I can't show up at a formal occasion wearing beach clothes, or at a casual barbecue wearing a tux. There's definitely a component of dress that's for public consumption and benefit.

Every goddamn day. I have to wear that crap every goddamn day. Never for me. Always for everyone else.