Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Sex Ed Redefined

I'm not sure what the right answer for this is.  I don't even have a conclusion, just a variety of thoughts and points of view dashing around my head, and I'm not sure how to sort them out or even what the right answer is.  Anyone expecting me to offer nuggets of wisdom on this, you might as well move on.

In my lifetime of convention going experiences, I witnessed the following:

*  a professional model dressed as Vampirella at the Harris Comics booth at the Chicago Comic Convention accidentally popping out of her top as legions of fanboys took pictures.

*  a woman dressed as Mai Shianui, whose character wears a thong back and nothing to obscure it, gamely posing for pictures where roughly only 1 in 4 took pictures from the front

*  a guy who got a picture of two girls cosplaying (I think one might have been Black Cat) in a sexual embrace who said as he walked away, "I'm gonna masterbate so hard to this."

With the increase in women at conventions, there's an increase in female cosplayers.  And this runs up against the male dominated culture of comic fanboys.  As I've said before, male heroes inspire, female heroes seduce (we're leaving my creations out of this.  I'm talking about general comics, not some small pressing sarcastic jackass).  The women in comics are intended to be sexy.  Mary Jane is most definitely NOT the girl next door (if she was, I might have actually gone to prom).  Publishers can deny all they want that they are not creating sexploitation books, but they are, and there are no limits.  Characters can be underage, pure as the driven snow, whatever.  They're all fap material.  You ocassionally get one that breaks this rule (Spider-Girl was known for her heroism and adventures rather than for being sexy, Kitty Pryde has relatively little Rule 34), but for the most part?  Rogue?  Storm?  Supergirl?  Catwoman?  They are all there to get guys to pop boners.  And some women, like the ones from Cosplay Deviants, not only know this, but use this knowledge to make money, selling calendars, photos, and web site subscriptions to guys who think they look hot.

As a result, trying to urge guys to act like grown-ups is a waste of effort.  There is a sort of social contract.  It was early in my con experiences that I first observed the phenomena of the "group chick".  The group chick is the one girl among a group of guys who is there to show the world that they are not gay.  Hardwired somewhere in the human brain, our sense of identity and worth is not tied to power, but to sexuality.  Insults and putdowns use sexual imagery, and there is a definite male domination angle to it all.  Guys frequently tell each other to suck their dicks, and you never hear a woman tell someone to eat her twat.  Doing something for the first time is compared to popping your cherry.  Never having sex is considered a fate worse than death.  Men get all kinds of nicknames that suggest a position of sexual dominance (player, The Man, etc.) while women are described in positions of sexual submission (bitch, hoe, skank, etc.).  This gets magnified in pop culture, where the heightened reality presented makes such shorthand necessary.  Rap music, buddy movies, all feature women as an inconvenience at best and a threat to masculinity at worst.

And, of course, comic books.

There is only one time I can think of where I saw a woman cosplayer NOT want to be photographed, and it was something like ten years ago.  Once again, there is a sort of social contract, and it is assumed that, if you dress up like a $5,000 a night hooker anime character or superheroine, you are inviting people to look and take pictures.  You are surrounded by nerds, you are asking for attention.  I don't like endorsing that logic, however, because it seems to me like attacking the victim -- hey, when you dress like that, you're asking for it.  It's a basic rule of human consideration -- no matter how you dress and where you are, you are NOT giving up your right to be left alone.  If a woman at the bus stop is dressed in a tight white tank and cut-offs, you do not have the right to oogle her or make her feel uncomfortable.  She is not there for your amusement.  (I will remind you of the woman at C2E2 who was dressed as a comic character and some guy grabbed her tits as she was walking by.  Yes, she was sexy.  No, that doesn't give you the right to do anything to her.)

The result is a tug of war between human consideration and seeing something that you don't see everyday.  Combine this with it being, ostensibly, a public place, and you get the comic convention equivalent of arguing if the runner steals on the pitcher or the catcher.  You are on display, and you don't control other people.  And that includes people taking pictures from inappropriate angles or angles you don't intend.

Sex is naughty.  And everyone gets immature about it.  Recently, a statue of Marilyn Monroe was unveiled in Chicago, and it was noted that lots of people were taking pictures up the statue's skirt.  At Madam Toussand's Wax Museum, they have said their wax sculpture of Kylie Minogue is constantly being groped.

The sex drive is powerful.  I will admit, in the interest of not seeming holy than thou, that I have taken a couple of pictures from angles not intended.  I like curves, and a few times, those curves looked really really great.  However, I'm subtle about it.  I have my technique for snapping a picture without seeming like a pervert down pretty well (I've only done it a few times, it's not like I'm taking pictures of Power Girl's ass every time I see a cosplayer of her at a con).  On the one hand, I feel guilty, because maybe that isn't intended, and I know I wouldn't feel comfortable if I knew it was being done to me.  Then again, given that the costumes are created and tailored to show off such details, they HAVE to know such pics are being taken, and usually by guys that have far more squicky motives on their minds.

So, with all that rambling bullshit said, I would like to show you this picture taken from the floor of the San Diego Comic Con, and see if you can guess where I'm going with this.

What I want to point out is NOT Power Girl's ass.  It's the guy on the left side taking a picture of it while she is unaware.  How did I get a hold of this picture?

There is a guy on Twitter and Tumbler calling him or herself "comic con pervs".  The goal is, if you are caught taking an inappropriate picture of a cosplayer (not sure if this includes men, but let's face it, women are the most likely targets for this sort of bullshit), your picture will be put online on Twitter or Tumbler.

Is it legal?  Well, it IS a public place.  Of course, since things on the Internet never go away, you run the risk of someone who doesn't like you showing the world what a dick you are.  Legal character assassination.  Now, it isn't ethical, but then again, maybe taking pictures of a woman's ass while she is distracted isn't ethical, either.

So, who's right?  Who's wrong?  Do women expect this to happen?  Should men feel guilty?  Does a person have the right to sort of dox people for a fleeting moment of stupity?

I don't know.  And I don't know where to start looking for the answer.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, computers, digital rights, don't try this at home, haven't we suffered enough, hypocrisy, important life lessons, infernal gall, let's talk about sex bay-bee!, nightmare fuel, portents of doom, self reflection, technology is a beautiful thing
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