The Fine Line of Con Harassment
Sometimes, you see your favorite character, your baby, your OTP at a con, and you want to just run up and hug them. While some con-goers are very open to this, others are extremely uncomfortable with physical contact, especially when it comes to strangers. As with pictures, it’s a lot easier to ask beforehand rather than making someone feel unsafe. Always ask for consent in any situation.
Cons tend to be home to plenty of introverts, and though we tend to come out of our shell at a con, that may not mean that we really want to talk to everyone who wants to come up and say hello. Sometimes I’ll have people come up to me and try to improvise conversation with my character. While I like being in character at a con, I can be caught off-guard and this can lead not only to an extremely awkward conversation, but also discomfort.
Often, it can be hard to judge if a person is interested in a conversation or is just playing along to humor you. Because of this, I recommend traveling in pairs. My friends and I have a gesture we do that indicates we want to get out of a conversation/situation. We help each other escape. Alternatively, if you are traveling in a pair and hoping to strike up conversation, your friend may be able to assist in determining if your chat is more annoying than engaging.
As a cosplayer, I love the recognition of my characters. When someone says “Miss Marvel” in passing it makes me proud that I am at least recognizable. Conversely, if someone says something like “I’d hit that” just because I’m wearing scantily clad clothing, that tends to rub me the wrong way. I’m here to look like a character and enjoy the con, not to be consumed. If you’re that interested in someone,at least strike up a conversation first.
A major time I see harassment is when people take photos at cons, weather it’s standing a little to close for a little too long, posing uncomfortably, up-the-skirt shots, repetitive pictures or even just snapping a photo without permission. All of these things are inappropriate. Don’t ask cosplayers for extreme photos like you kissing them or things like that.And if someone does ask you to do something you don’t want to do for a photo, there is no harm in saying no. Don’t ask for a picture with someone on more than 2 separate occasions (unless different costumes, etc.). Never take a photo without someone’s permission. Chances are they have rehearsed poses, and looks to give the camera, rather than an unflattering photo of them eating a cheeseburger. Most, if not all, cosplayers will take a photo opportunity if they are not clearly taking a break/eating. So just ask! And if you’re a cosplayer, don’t be afraid to say no if you’re taking a breather.