Crossplay, a practice where one dresses up as a character from the opposite sex, has continued to become increasingly popular within the anime, comic book and video game communities. This dressing practice stems from cosplay, which, simply put, is the act of wearing a fictional character’s costume. Though a woman personifying a male role tends to be more popular than the contrary, both sides are often seen participating at large and public entertainment-based conventions around the world.
According to Craig Norris and Jason Bainbridge, writers published in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, an academic journal by Australian National University, cosplay is comparable to performance art. By taking on the physicalities of a particular character through costume, accessories, gesture and attitude, you are not just ‘dressing up’ but instead embodying all aspects of their disposition, which is also a mental transformation. That being said, crossplayers are not only taking on the corporeal aspects, but the gender, and all it entails, as well.
Though it is very common to see both cosplay and crossplay at large-scale events, there is still a lot of hatred and harassment being spewed within these circles. “After all, there is no cultural stigma attached to females wearing male clothes, so female cosplayers dress as male characters very casually, often without ever thinking about the fact that it is crossplay. Males dressed as females, on the other hand, are actively violating social rules, so both the crossplayer and the spectator are far more conscious of the male’s choice than they would be of a female’s,” writes David Ng for TokyoPop.
Keeping this in mind, two male Japanese crossplayers, @ALL_SSR and @futa_free, took their controversial costumes as an opportunity to do good and take a stand against female sexual harassment. They took to Twitter to shed some light on issues that many women face at these gatherings. “Seriously, no matter how exposed a female cosplayer is, she, like many others, is not ‘that kind of girl’. Groping and molesting women is wrong. If you really want to touch somebody’s [chest], come see us! We’ll let you cop a little feel. Just a little. During the event only,” ALL_SSR wrote, ending it off with a heart emoji.
The two attached an adorable photo of themselves dressed in their costumes under their inspiring caption and received many replies. One user was eager to accept the offer with their response. “Seriously?? Can I give them a squeeze?” While many women took the news with appreciation and shared some supporting words.“Your way of thinking is the best! And you being pretty is the cherry on top!” one wrote.
The Tweet was not only able to help the women present feel safer, but it opened up a conversation that is frequently overlooked by media. The Los Angeles Times reveals that at Comic-Con and other similar conventions across America, many attendees have been known to grope, stalk and take “upskirt” photos of others. There is even a term coined for the act, “Creeping at Con,” which is done easily thanks to the anonymity of the costumed predators. In response to a petition submitted by a group entitled Geeks for CONsent, that encouraged organizers to post signs in the convention halls listing its anti-harassment policies, Comic-Con sent an email doing just that and encouraged guests to enlist security if they felt unsafe. Advocating against exploitation is being encouraged thanks to the growth of concerns being voiced on social platforms.
Big changes are definitely not immediate, but continual discourse is necessary to further healthy environments for both men and women in regards to abuse of any kind. Small courses of action like that of the crossplayer friends can make a real difference and can serve as a wake-up call to those still in the dark.