I do not consider myself to be overly sensitive to being objectified. Quite frankly, even when I was thinner it was never an issue for me. It's definitely not an issue now. Recently, in an attempt to branch out with my social media circle in an effort to promote this blog, I joined a bunch of "nerd" communities on Facebook. I've found that there are quite a few issues with how these groups are run, but I'll save that for another post. Something that I've found that troubles me is the blatant and vulgar objectification of women. By both men and women.
Let me explain…
In multiple groups, a picture of a scantily clad cosplayer is posted. Sometimes by the cosplayer themselves and sometimes by a random person who "appreciates" the cosplay. What follows are crude comments about how hot the girl is (because it's always a girl) and how turned on these guys are by her and her cosplay and please excuse them while they go masturbate. For those of you who just went "uh…what?", I wish I was making that up. Grown(ish) men, online on Facebook declaring for everyone to see how uncouth they are.
Somehow we've decided this is OK. Women themselves, cosplay these outfits and post them online in these forums seemingly to obtain this sort of sexual validation. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I genuinely don't understand. While these posts should be about the cosplay and craftsmanship itself, they end up being the verbal equivalent of this…
I think that what bothers me most is that there is no longer a filter for anyone online. Granted this is part of a broader conversation in general about politics or religion or really anything; but my point here is the fact that people feel completely at ease with the complete deconstruction of societal norms. I can't tell you the number of times I have typed out an angry retort to something I have seen online that is rude or ignorant. I always have to stop myself and ask what purpose my angry response will serve. Is it just to make me feel better? Am I truly trying to change the minds of these people or am I just reacting to them in the way their desire in order to feed their need for attention? I then consider, why is it that I am wired to stop myself when others are not?
Nearly every convention I've been to has to remind people that Cosplay is not consent. In other words, just because someone is scantily clad, does not mean that you have their permission to put your hands on them. What I struggle with is why this has to be said at all. You wouldn't walk up to someone you don't know in the grocery store and put your hands on them. Why would you think it was OK to do so at a convention?
It's interesting to have seen this evolution occur. I'm old enough to remember a time without internet, but young enough to have been involved in the AOL chat room boom of the late 1990's. The internet was this amazing place where a person could be their true selves without repercussion. For someone like me who had a ton of social anxiety, I was able to speak freely and be myself and there were countless people who truly got me. There were trolls then too, but we ignored them because they weren't as prevalent as they are today.
It's hard to see the forest through the trees on this issue. You have women who are self-objectifying and men who think that ogling and making lewd comments is appropriate. I think we ought to get back to what we ought to have been taught as children in which we treat everyone with respect. We are not body parts. The idea that people (or their parts) are reduced to sexual objects that are fodder for masturbation is terrifying to me. Our respect for our fellow humans and our ability to connect on an emotional and intellectual level is part of what separates us from the animals. I have no answers for this issue, despite my want to wave a magic wand and fix it.
What do you think? Have you witnessed this yourself? Do you think that I'm overreacting and that this sort of behavior isn't that bad? Let me know in the comments.
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