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This past weekend, thousands of nerds, geeks, and pop culture fanatics gathered at the Javitz Center for New York Comic Con. NYCC brings together fans from anime, comic books, television, film, and gaming and encourages fans to cosplay as their favorite characters. Cosplaying is a performance art involving elaborate costuming, makeup, and props that were brought to the United States during the 1980s and has since become a central part of conventions.

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Whether you are cosplaying Sailor Moon or Tank Girl, Batman or Flynn Rider, you are taking part in a movement that encourages creative expression and a love for geek culture. However, there is one thing that many cosplayers, especially female cosplayers, have in common. Harassment. Unfortunately, harassment has a history in cosplay culture and at conventions. Many cosplayers have experienced people touching their bodies or their costumes without their permission, making offensive comments, and even going as far as stalking or physically assaulting them.

Back in 2014, NYCC instituted an anti-harassment policy with the tagline “Cosplay is Not Consent,” as a way to make all attendees feel safe and comfortable at the convention. NYCC has made it clear that they have zero tolerance for any harassing behavior and that this policy applies to everyone. The harassment that NYCC defines doesn't just apply to women dressed in sexy costumes; it protects all genders, races, religions, sizes, and disabilities. That’s right, fat and slut shaming is strictly prohibited at Comic Con (about time).

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This year, NYCC upheld their “Cosplay is Not Consent” campaign and members of the media got up close and personal (with consent obviously) inquire with cosplayers about their experience with harassment. In a video posted by the New York Post, Meg Turney, a cosplayer and YouTuber, said that “consent is a conversation that we have in a lot of different avenues nowadays and I think that cosplay is no different.” Cosplaying is just one small part of the larger sexual assault discussion and it’s about time that people recognize that cosplayers aren’t objects. The video illustrates that just because someone is dressed up as a certain character or is wearing a costume that is “sexy," doesn’t mean that anyone has the right to harass them. Cosplaying requires tons of time and effort to create the looks that we see at conventions and it is important that we respect these artists as human beings with unique ideas of expression.

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It’s fantastic that NYCC continues to uphold their values but it’s important to recognize misogyny that occurs within comic book culture and outside of the convention. Making this community a safe place for everyone who wants to participate isn’t just about keeping the conventions safe once a year, it’s an ongoing process of integrating diverse identities into the conversation for the other 364 days.

Photos Courtesy of the New York Post

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