I Have More To Offer Than My Naked Body: A Rant About Sexism in Nerd Culture

I think Star Wars sexual puns are as entertaining as the next person. And I openly welcome clever “who shot first?” innuendos in response to my “sexy Greedo” cosplay. The costume is meant to be funny; it’s a play on the current sexualization of Star Wars; I can handle the jokes and I actually invite them. But when the harmless nerdy fun transitions into uncalled-for sexist and downright objectifying behavior, that’s where you awaken the brazen feminist bitch within me.

This last week, my Facebook fan page received an influx of new followers in appreciation of my Greedo cosplay from this last SDCC. Cool. Great. Awesome. But then I got this comment from some random dude on an unrelated post about what my followers would like to see more of from me. The comment read something like this (he since deleted it after my response): “With all due respect, the only answer to this would most likely be, ‘You. Naked.’ Don’t blame me; I just came here after seeing your Greedo cosplay. ;P”

-__-

:now entering rage mode:

So my cosplay somehow warrants disrespectful comments on unrelated posts? Because I cosplay as a “sexy” character, I cease to exist as anything more than a body for ogling, void of any additional interests or talents? Sure, make all the premature ejaculation jokes about Han “shooting first”. But don’t step onto my turf and tell me that the only thing people would be interested in seeing more from me is my naked body. Certainly I don’t have anything else of interest to offer my followers. +1 for trying to preface a disrespectful comment with “with all due respect”.

This obviously isn’t the first time I’ve ever had to deal with sexism and misogyny in the geekdom. And I’m certainly not the first to ever rant about it either. But what numbs my mind about this comment is I think this guy (and so many other offenders) actually thought he was paying me a compliment. That I should be flattered people enjoyed my cosplay and think I’m attractive to the point that they want to see more.

This sort of ignorant objectification needs to stop.

Women are not pieces of meat for your visual consumption. And while some of us may embrace our sexuality and enjoy flaunting our assets or dressing up as our favorite scantily-clad characters, none of it is for you. You don’t suddenly gain authority over our bodies or permission to make comments about it simply because we choose to show it. “Cosplay is not consent.” Ladies, take a stand when you are, or you see someone being objectified. Say something, speak out, and have it be known that it is NOT okay to reduce women, and people in general, to mere things to be used and disrespected.

// This has been a PSA from your friendly neighborhood female cosplayer with a smokin’ hot bod who also is a blogger, published photographer, freelance graphic designer, antiques & taxidermy enthusiast, bone collector, horror movie fanatic, and studier of feminist theory (in other words, I have more interesting things to share than another set of boobs on the Internet).

18 comments on “I Have More To Offer Than My Naked Body: A Rant About Sexism in Nerd Culture

  1. I am so glad you did not tolerate that kind of BS your cosplay is incredible I admire the creativity and unique stamp you put on your cosplay not how seductive/raunchy you can make it. Sadly “boys” on the internet will never learn the power of “anonymity” and long distance seems to empower people in all the wrong ways.

  2. Ugh, coming to YOUR space, where all of your posts are you doing something completely interesting and amazing, and a few those interesting an amazing posts also touch on your physical appearance within the context of your interests, and then assuming that instead of spending any amount of time clicking around and finding out, “Wow, this lady has some crazy interests, is super intelligent, is super talented at photography and design, and makes some really clever costumes to boot,” decides instead to say something so lack wit and degrading… I cannot roll my eyes hard enough at that guy, and I cannot empathize with your frustration enough.

  3. Well said, and exactly so. Any section where comments are allowed seem to invite people to poke their heads up just to let you know they’re an asshole. Also, I have to say I am drop dead impressed with your cosplay! I hadn’t seen this before the post and you are just incredible. I’m loving the effort with the skin texture. Though managing those hands at a cosplay event must have been tricky!

  4. I don’t know you nor your work. My apologies for the intrusion, but I’d like to leave a point of view here, if you don’t mind.
    This guy’s mentioned comment is just a reflexion of a much bigger problem. There ARE so called cosplayer women (or should I say “overgrown girls”?) who use their bodies to get attention, ‘likes’, ‘shares’, and of course, money. In their costumes you can see an obvious bigger concern at showing their bodies than actually making an authentic costume. They use extra-tiny shorts, “second skin” clothes, naked belly, shirts so tight that it looks like their boobs will pop-out at any moment, and so on. And when a guy makes a comment about their bodies (I’ll try to be a gentleman here and not put an example. Guess you know how those comments goes…), they actually thank them, and encourage it. I even saw a Facebook page of a so called cosplayer that the front image had the saying “I know you are not here for cosplay.”, with many pictures of close-ups at her boobs in the background. Way to be needy… (or greedy). You see, most people are stupid (men and women), so the dumb guys think that all cosplayers are like those. They don’t see the difference. It is not that you can’t look sexy. And if you feel comfortable with it, you should. The problem is being vulgar (which, judging by your picture above, I believe is not your problem). Those two things are definably not the same, but most people seam to fail to see the difference. So, it seams that all female cosplayers pay for the vulgarity of a few. A real shame if you ask me.
    Anyway… What I think you can do is to leave clear that there ARE different kinds of cosplayers, and most just want to look like their loved characters and have fun with it. Maybe start some sort of campaign, who knows? The good news is that not all guys are like that. I’m sure you have some male fans actually interested in your work and brains. They are still guys, and may feel attracted by your body, but they do have a brain, so they will respect you before that. I do have more female than male friends for the simple reason that they usually are more willing to go deep into my personal philosophies talks and all. But that’s beyond the point…
    Well, I hope my comment adds positively to the discussion you’ve opened here.
    My most honest apologies if I wrote too much or said anything inconvenient.
    May you find success and accomplishment in your line(s) of work.

    • Great points! This same issue is seen in the effects the porn industry has on men’s perception of and behavior towards women. When one part of our culture is enforcing the idea that women are for men’s pleasure and disposal, it makes sense that this narrative translates into their behavior with everyday women.

      That’s why it’s so important for dialogue like this to take place. Both women and men have a responsibility to take a stand against harmful stereotypes that perpetuate the objectification of people. There are quite a few movements in the con scene starting to sprout up that aim to fight against sexism and sexual harassment at conventions.

      I love what you said here, “I’m sure you have some male fans actually interested in your work and brains. They are still guys, and may feel attracted by your body, but they do have a brain, so they will respect you before that.”

      THIS!

      At cons, I don’t actually get a whole lot of inappropriate comments (not to my face, at least). I’m quite surprised by the amount of guys who tell me, “Awesome costume! You look exactly like Shé!” or commend me on my creative ideas or actually get the joke that the “sexy” Greedo cosplay is meant to be funny and give me a high five in the walkway. There are plenty of guys who understand you can appreciate a girl in tight pants and a tiny shirt for more than just her body. When my body is on display, I’m not stupid enough to think people aren’t going to look and that guys aren’t going to potentially be attracted to it. I’m there to be looked at! But that doesn’t give anyone the right to reduce me to a thing they can say or do whatever inappropriate/dehumanizing thing they want to. Telling girls to just “cover up” is only covering up the deeper problem.

    • Good, you liked some of what I said and don’t think I’m an arrogant jerk… I’m relieved. (No. That’s not sarcasm, unfortunately…)
      I’m glad I added positively to the subject.
      What you said about porn industry, you’re damn right about that. I thought of bringing that up, but I was afraid of missing my point and making the text too extensive.
      Although, I don’t think that sexism is the core of a problem, but the symptom of a much bigger, simpler, gender-free problem: ignorance. Ignorant people will get in our way and be a problem in any context. Even so, I do believe that they need our help more than anything. Not that we should see them as victims. In the internet era, almost any ignorant person is ignorant by choice. Still, if we don’t try to help them on that, I believe it will be, at least, much harder to get any closer to a solution, if there is one.
      Hope I’ve broaden the discussion a little bit… And that it makes it even more interesting. I would love to participate in other discussions like that you might have. (No second intentions here, just to be clear. I do love intelligent talks/discussions, and not many people are willing to then.)
      Once more, I hope my comment is interesting to the discussion in some way.
      Blessings on your path.

  5. If you want to embrace your sexuality or flaunt your assets, I think it’s a little foolish/naive to believe that people aren’t, won’t, or shouldn’t be looking at you in some manner that objectifies you. Women know full well what they are doing when they do it, and I don’t buy into the notion that women do it for themselves. What you act like, what you do, and what you wear all help portray you and can warrant *some* comments. If you wear a Donnie Darko bunny costume everyday, that might warrant some attention, just like dressing to embrace your sexuality or to flaunt your assets.

    Now the problem is that people don’t know what comments are acceptable and/or use the internet to hide after making a comment they’d never make in person. You’re absolutely right to say that there is no way dressing in any manner allows for others to comment however they like, with little or no regard for the recipient.

    I also feel as though there is a double standard when it comes to oogling at people. If men do it, they’re considered creepy (though they usually are), but women objectify men quite a bit as well and don’t suffer from that stigma. But that’s another ramble for a different day.

    Hope there wasn’t anything offensive in this, as I imagine I may be received poorly by some.

    • No offense taken at all. I appreciate a good counter-arguement. :)

      I’m sort of confused about your stance though. You start by saying we should expect that people will objectify us for dressing a certain way, but then you agree they don’t have the right to make inappropriate comments. I think this is the conflicting viewpoint most people hold about this issue.

      Read my response to the comment below this. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

    • My apologies for not making my stance more clear (been working some crazy hours).

      I should’ve used different wording. My thought is that dressing and/or acting outside of the acceptable norm is going to get you looks or comments, and to expect a different reaction would be naive. It’s not blaming your or any other person that wants to dress sexy, it’s that you’re communicating a message by what you’re wearing. If you’re going to dress in a certain fashion, you need to accept the consequences of doing so. It’s the same as every other facet of life. You can’t and shouldn’t expect people to receive a different message than what’s being portrayed, and it reminds me of this joke by Dave Chappelle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL-1kHxsavI

      Now what I have a problem with is the type of comments people make or how they make them. The man who commented out of place on an unrelated post was out of line. But if he posted that on the topic specifically, does that reduce the stupidity of what he said? I’d think not. However, if he worded it in a more positive manner, praising you in some matter for how you look, then it would’ve brought on a completely different tone. Even though the underlying message may still have been, ‘Damn you’re hot, show us boobies’; it’s the way it’s done that is classless and unacceptable.

      The whole thing comes down to what message you’re sending off and what you’re receiving back. I’m probably just forgetting a term I should be using, and that is making this an overly complex/incoherent thought.

      Could you elaborate on “none of it is for you”, I’m having a really hard time grasping that.

  6. You get what you put out. Dress like a piece of meat and you’ll attract dogs. Most girl who dress like that ^ do want attention. Was it wrong for him to say that? absolutely. You KNOW how guys think though, your not dumb. You are an intelligent women, and as someone who appreciates your work this was kind of disappointing. Flaunt your “assets” in private with your someone who can truly appreciate it. Suck up the pride and cover up!!

    • You know, I used to agree with this kind of logic. “You teach people how to treat you.” Seems completely fair. But the deeper and deeper I got into studying feminist issues, I started realizing this isn’t right. This is a huge cultural issue we continue to uphold in our society because nobody stands to challenge it. Logic like this is why we have a rape culture – “Dressed like that, she was asking to be raped.” Now I know we aren’t talking about rape here, but it’s the same core issue: men justify their behavior by placing the blame on women.

      Men aren’t stupid either. They have the ability to demonstrate self-control. They have the cognitive reasoning to understand when certain actions are appropriate or not. Why does a woman have to cater her decisions about her own body so these men don’t say or do things they KNOW are wrong?

      Right now, in our society’s current state, the answer to that hypothetical question is, “Because that’s just the way it is.” But my hope is that by facilitating more dialogue like this, and as more women rise to stand up for themselves in the face of objectification, and as we begin teaching our boys how to treat women rather than only teaching our girls to cover up, our society will hopefully come to a place where issues like this no longer exist.

      I’m sorry that disappoints you.

  7. I’m going to have to disagree with quite a few of these comments. When someone says, “You put yourself in that position when you decided to dress like that”, I honestly wonder have we evolved mentally at all. That logic is down right ignorant, and it encourages bad behavior and sexism. Woman just like men have the right to show some skin. In the case of you Corinne, I do believe your outfits are sexy, however, they are nowhere near tasteless. Therefore, I do not understand the need for such type of comments.

    In my own thoughts, telling woman to cover up in order to be respected is just out right wrong. You can be covered from head-to-toe and still get the same type of harassment. I know this first hand on my daily walk to school. I even live in a “better” neighborhood than most, and I still get comments that go way too far. It’s to the point I never jog anymore, because you know those running shorts might turn someone on. *eye roll*

    As woman we don’t always declare a man only capable of showing off his body, because he has his shirt off on Instagram. So why should we have to settle with only the title of “sexy”, or deal with “get naked” comments on a daily basis. Yes, there are woman who do all of this for those comments. No one is pointing fingers at just one side. You just cannot be stupid enough to think all woman do so. It’s just not right. Men can control themselves, it’s part of being human.

  8. I grew up in a Christian environment where modest was hottest and your swim suit was a tshirt and shorts.
    Those “rules” were put into place to not make the boys stumble. But what it also did was let me know, my body causes sin. It’s my fault boys say rude things. It’s my fault there is a porn industry. It’s my fault, I made myself an object to be talked down to, to be stared at, to be made into nothing

    With that being said, men have told me, and its proven, that the male gender are visual. So when a woman dresses with skin showing, men can’t help but to take notice.
    And I think that is where our problem lies. Going back to the youth group pool party, it was not that the girls needed to be covered, it was that the boys needed to be taught how to react respectfully. In turn, the girls needed to learn how to dress to be respectful to men but not be ashamed of their beautiful God designed body.

    To bring this back around, the way a woman dresses, no matter how scantily clad they may be, never, ever, ever deserves sexist, objectify comments, or actions for that matter. Sometimes I think she may be asking for it, as pointed out in other comments, but that is a whole other comment on, why they are asking for it.

    To end this lengthy comment,
    Men respect woman. Woman, respect men. It’s a full circle. Be kind to one another

  9. Women deserve respect no matter how they are dressed, the end. You don’t stop being a human being worthy of decent treatment just because you show some cleavage. Men are always assuming women dress for them, therefore it’s okay to stare/make rude comments. No one ever considers that maybe… women dress for themselves, in ways they enjoy and feel comfortable with? The world doesn’t revolve around you, dudebros.

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