It’s spring. The skin is out and likely we’ll start hearing those bad old street harassment comments: “Nice legs baby.”… etc. It’s a big old reminder of how crass and disrespectful we are to one another, and how unaware of that fact we are. But there seems to be a perception problem in the news about where this harassment comes from. The news lately has been covering case after case of ‘jock’ related sexual harassment or rape, high school sports stars or even pro sports folks on trial for these acts. What you could get from this is that only ‘jocks’ do this. It seems that this issue is just one for a particular click in high school, a particular type of person in adult life. Right? Absolutely Wrong.
Issues of sexual harassment span every walk of life, every culture, and believe it or not every gender. I think the biggest reminder of this for me is geek culture. I’ll out myself and say that I am an utter geek. I am currently obsessed with Doctor Who, and I’ve gone to comic conventions wearing my personally famous I <3 Serotonin shirt (with the molecule for serotonin right smack in the middle of the < and the 3). I grew up with older brothers playing video games and watching star wars. As a result I was a tomboy, and I used to battle them with sticks in the front yard, which later lead to my only sports involvement: Fencing. Conventions are a big part of geek culture, but one of the things you see at these conventions is the sexualization that exists in our current media. It exists everywhere, but at these conventions (or any conventions for that mater= see also car conventions, or SantaCon) individuals enjoy liberating themselves by dressing up and it becomes strikingly obvious. Now there isn’t anything wrong with this in my eyes, so long as it is within bounds and more often than not it is, but what is wrong is the need for the Costumes are not CONsent movement.
Like with anything in America, if you mix stifled sexuality and sexualized anything you get Sexual Harassment, and this has become an issue at conventions as it has everywhere else. Interesting to me is this group of individual’s willingness to admit that it isn’t just an issue for women. Men too get sexually harassed,
“It’s not just women who endure this harassment. Last week, at my Cosplay in the Media panel at MTAC, I had several guys chime in about their own experiences with women touching them inappropriately or making lewd comments to them. Just because this happens to women doesn’t give us the license to treat guys in this manner. One guy shared his story about how women would come up and grab his nether regions while dressed as a particular character. He told us how it made him feel ashamed and upset, and how he had a better understanding of women in similar situation.”
This is not an acknowledgement that I have seen by many other anti-harassment groups that I have come across so I give them a lot of credit. I suppose to sum it up, this is just your public service announcement that sexual harassment is everywhere. The Costumes are not CONsent movement is just an example of how one group is tacking this mess at a grassroots effort, so what else can we do in other groups (and as a whole for that matter) to get the point across that Sexual Harassment is not okay in any situation?
You can read more about the CONsent at the website of the 16 bit Sirens.
Written by Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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