ok, i've got to get something off of my chest and, unfortunately, this isn't any new thing that pisses me off, it's an unfortunately common old standard that just seems to never go away. now, if you have spent any time on my facebook wall, you might have noticed that i am fortunate enough to be friends with, in addition to a great admirer/supporter of cosplay girls, pinup models, regular/fetish models, female artists, musicians, writers, and females in general. that being said, it really pisses me off, even more so because it still happens fairly often, that i will log on and see a status from one of the above mentioned girls on the topic of how they were molested, propositioned, generally sexually harassed, and made to defend their right to be at/presenting/pursing their passion, both online, at conventions, and shows simply because of the fact that they're females. really??? i mean, really??? it's 2013 and we're still letting this misogynistic bullshit get pushed onto very talented members of our communities - what the fuck??? and then, i can't even count how many times i've been at comic/anime/gaming conventions, Magic: The Gathering tournaments, tabletop and video game tournaments, and i've heard another participant wonder aloud "where are all the cute geek/nerd girls and why are these things always such sausage fests?". seriously??? you really want to know the answer??? the cute girls and the girls in general are in hiding and, more importantly, they're hiding from us. as to why they're in hiding let's look at the facts: for showing an interest in and appreciation of things like comics, anime, manga, video games, tabletop gaming, ccg's, and other great pop cultural interests, which, granted, have largely been male dominated and driven since their inceptions, more often than not, instead of being appreciated and respected as fellow fans, or artists, these girls are often belittled, chastized, condescended to, and called fakes, or attention whores, for daring to show an interest, or appreciation in things that the boys have ruled as"their domain". and i can't fault them for hiding out, or being afraid to show their love and appreciation for cool things in this arena, because if someone were to punch me in the face every time i picked up a pen, pencil, copic marker, comic book/anime/manga, ccg, video game controller, guitar, bass, or mic, in spite of how much my art means to me and how much i love to game and read comics, i'd probably hang it up too, because getting punched in the face sucks and, after a while, it's no longer worth it. call me a sellout, but i'm only willing to suffer so much for my passions.
and what the fuck is up with that? i mean really - Yaya Han, Katybear, Riddle, Ivy Doomkitty, and numerous other cosplay girls around the world make some of the most amazing, gorgeous, elegant, and inspiring costumes FROM HAND and are they praised and admired for their skills as designers and seamstresses??? not as often as they should be - most of the time a portion their male fandom, or parts of their fandom as a whole, can't get past the tits, asses, and pretty faces to see the exceptional quality of their work - i challenge anyone to look at the costumes/work of the aforementioned cosplayers and any of their friends, imagine their designs on a mannequin at a store for you to purchase, and tell me that their work isn't absolutely amazing. seriously, my grandmother was a seamstress and, while i know how to sew myself, nothing i ever sew is pretty. sewing is a skill that takes as much focus, skill, and dedication as playing a musical instrument, drawing, or painting. and sewing is only one facet of costume design - good design often entails drawing/sketching to come up with the look and initial idea for a costume, if it's an original design. even if you are using an established costume/look taken straight from the comic/video game/movie canon, you still need to know about fabrics and materials to create the kind of textures you've envisioned, then you have to know how to make patterns so you can properly cut your materials, and THEN you have to know how to sew to bring it all together and make it look good. in addition to all of that, you also have to know how to accessorize to bring the piece to life and you must be able to improvise like a jazz artist because you never know what time, circumstance, and fate are going to throw at you.
now go back and re-read that last paragraph. re-read that last paragraph and imagine all of the time, effort, and hard work it takes TO ACTUALLY DO THE THINGS THAT PARAGRAPH HAS TALKED ABOUT. got that in your mind??? now, imagine that, after all that time, effort, and hard work on a piece - after you've poured your heart and soul into making it - your reward is for some person to tell you that your a fake, or an attention whore.
feel like punching that person in the face??? grabbing them by the shoulders and giving them a swift knee to the nuts??? i know that i certainly would and the fact that most cosplayers don't shows that they are by far more graceful, generous, and level headed people than i.
now, while i generally despise the normal misogynistic asshole and person who feels the need to be a body shaming puritan/defender of "good taste", i truly despise the "defender of the canon" types even more.
i'm gonna seriously date myself here, but i'm ok with that on the principle of making a point. i am a HUGE x-men/x-titles fan - have i read everything x-related? not quite, but almost...have i read the early issues of the original uncanny x-men comic? yes. did i get into x-men when those first golden issues came out? not a chance - i, like punk rock, was born in the summer of 1975. i loosely read batman, superman, spiderman, the avengers, the hulk, and the silver surfer growing up as a kid, but my love of the x-men and my true love for comics didn't come until junior high when a friend loaned me uncanny x-men #200 - the Trial of Magneto. that issue started my love affair with comics, but, seeing as how my family was dirt poor, it wasn't until high school, when i got a job and had my own money, that i was able to become a true comic/gamer geek, musician, and skater. my first console for gaming was my grandparents old Atari 2600, then it was my cousin's 8 bit NES, and the first console i ever bought myself was the 2nd SEGA Genesis. i'm also not ashamed to admit that it was seeing the Spiderman shorts on The Electric Company, the old live action Spiderman and Hulk tv shows, in addition to the old Christopher Reeve Superman movies and the old Spiderman and Friends, Super Friends, GI Joe, and Transformers cartoons that i watched and action figures that i played with as a kid that got me into comics. now, with the exception of the Transformers, all of those franchises and brands, including my beloved Star Wars, WERE ALL AROUND BEFORE I WAS BORN. am i a fake fan because i wasn't a fan from day 1? no. has my fandom ever come into question? not really. did i get into those things because of what was "popular/mainstream" at the time? you betcha - i'm just not called a fake because i'm old enough to be retro cool, having grown up with what most people these days consider classic series. but would my fandom and devotion be called into question if i was a girl? probably. as a for instance - my wife is a huge Star Wars fan and, to my joy, a metalhead as well. have dumbass fanboys, metalheads ever tried to call her out, or make her feel out of place for loving what she loves? you betcha. and she generally sends those dumbasses away with their tails between their legs for knowing more about Star Wars, LOTR, or whatever band in question than said defender of the faith - seriously, my wife and i could give Matt Pinfield a run for his money. so why are we trying to bully and persecute girls for loving what we love? i mean we all started somewhere and what better feeling is there than being able to share the things you love with the person you love? or how cool is it to come together over the things you love - Jamie has a hardon for Darth Vader that's nearly as big as Vadergirl's and, lucky for me, i was doing the whole broody thing long before Hayden Christiansen was born, so we pretty much bonded over Star Wars and books and my life has been so much better because of her presence in it.
not to discriminate, but this next section is pretty much just for the guys.
now, while i was definitely the guy who was handed his ass on a daily basis in high school and i lived in the friendzone for most of my formative years, i have definitely gotten a lot better with women and learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way and i am happily willing to share these "trade secrets" in the interest of the betterment of humanity.
now, when dealing with women, if you are seeking more than a platonic relationship with any woman, realise that there is always a high probability of winding up in the friendzone - regardless of who you are. being friendzoned pretty much leaves you with 2 options: you can accept that most women generally don't date their friends for fear of losing the friendship, but still be happy that you have an awesome new friend, or, you can remove yourself from the relationship if you know that platonic friendship will never be enough for you and you want to avoid becoming the creeper friend who constantly pines over said girl and makes things awkward whenever the two of you are in a room together where you're not alone.
and then there's the internet. ah, the internet it's done so much for me and for us all - met my wife there, dontchaknow...i've also learned many valuable lessons from the internet and would be happy to share. that being said, here goes:
most cosplay artists are truly amazing people who tend to follow the lead of Yaya Han, who was one of, if not the first professional cosplayer, as in her passion, is her living; cosplaying is her career and her designs, modeling, convention/panel appearances, and custom merchandise/prints are how she earns her living. now, in my opinion and there is always plenty of room for me to be wrong, part of what makes Miss Han such a successful cosplay artist is the fact that she is VERY personally interactive with her fanbase. she often posts pics of shoots and works in progress on her facebook in addition to asking for input from her fanbase on new merchandise, convention appearances, etc. and, if that weren't enough, she also gives us a glimpse into her personal, everyday life via facebook, twitter, and instagram. on a personal note, i wasn't able to see her at any cons last year, but i did preorder her 2013 calendar. when i did that, i was just expecting to get a straight calender w/pictures of her work, but what i got was a calendar where she took the time to personalize it and sign it to me personally. another group of amazing models who also took the time to do that for me was a great group of girls from my hometown of Albuquerque, NM, the Duke City Darlins. now how cool is that??? while all of this is great, it can also have some unpleasant side effects for the artists in the form of unwanted and unsolicited sexual messages, propositions, etc..
ok, lesson time: most cosplay artists/models/gamers/writers etc. are not posting these things because they are looking to hook up - most of them are posting because it's something that they're passionate about that brings them much joy and they want to share that passion and joy with the world at large. that being said, most girls, in general, don't like the idea of being fap material for the world at large and most of them REALLY do not care to be included/in on/made aware of sexual fantasies about/involving them. now, i'm not saying that there aren't girls who don't enjoy that/feel flatered by it, i'm just saying that, by and large, it has been my personal experience that girls tend to prefer to only share and in the fantasies of that single person who has gained the esteemed position of being their partner/significant other/spouse. now, should you receive a likeminded reply from a girl when your first message to her is of a sexual nature, there is a good chance that you, and most likely she, are/is bored and simply looking for a fun way to kill some time, but nothing really serious. or you may have indeed found a person who does get turned on by being an object of lust for the masses. in any case, and i have learned this through extensive testing done during years of being a chatroom gigolo/ho, because i am, by nature, quite the libertine, is that if you want any sort of true, deep, and meaningful relation with said person it is generally best to talk nerdy to them for quite some time before you talk dirty to them. and, if you want a true, deep, and meaningful relationship with said person always be prepared and go in knowing that there's always a good chance that you will be friendzoned.
now, before we leave the topic of online interactions, there's another thing that has and always will seriously bother me: the rape threats. fucking, seriously??? just because a girl beats you at a game, has a different point of view, doesn't immediately, or ever, gratify or return your affections, you want that person to endure a violent and violating physical attack? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU??? i mean granted, i would often love to serve Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachman a large cup of shut the fuck up and i regularly wish that they would just go the fuck away, but i do not wish physical harm of any kind, much less something as horrific as rape, on them, or any woman whatsoever. know what i do when i disagree with someone so strongly that i know i can't really tolerate them as a person and want their presence in my life as little as possible? I DON'T/STOP LISTEN(ING) TO THEM!!! see how easy that is? just change the fucking channel because, while they have every right to express themselves and their opinion, there is nothing that requires you to listen to, much less agree with said opinion. see - even me, if you don't like what i say, disagree with me, don't want me to have any part in your life, change the channel - don't listen to me, or add me as a friend. unfriend me and block me whenever and wherever possible - plenty have done it and that is totally their/your right because i'm an asshole and i recognize that not everyone can stand to, or would want to be around me, but everyone has the right to be happy and live their lives peacefully.
now, depending on how social you are, a lot of us have the opportunity to meet these and other great artists at conventions - going to cons, concerts, tournaments, and shows is one of the greatest things about being a geek!!! now, when it comes to cons, i generally follow a few personal rules:
always ask to take pictures - most cosplayers are fine with this, but a person in a costume is still a person first and foremost, and, to them, you're pretty much some random dude with a camera and not all people want their own papparazzo.
if you are going to be in the picture with the cosplayer, be mindful of their costume that you don't get any food, beverages, or whatnot on it, or that you don't damage it, because some of the accessories/embellishments can be very fragile.
a cosplayer, or any other person, being ok with you being in a picture with them IS NEVER A LISCENCE TO FONDLE, COP A FEEL, OR MOLEST THEM!!! pretty much the only cosplayer you generally see me hugging/touching is my daughter because i reserve the right to hug, glomp, and kiss her as often as she will allow. now, if random person did any of the above to my daughter, she would most likely kick their ass. and i would definitely kick their ass once i found out about it - i have no problem being kicked out of a con over a matter of principle.
now, when it comes to gaming rooms, ccg tournaments etc., there is no reason why being competitive should entail sacrificing being a gentleman, good player, and sportsman. now, i've been playing Magic: The Gathering since their Ice Ages expansion and i had a lot of friends in high school who have been playing since alpha and, while i'm in no way a n00b, don't expect to see me on the pro tour anytime soon. i'm a casual player and when i show up to Friday Night Magic, or a pre-release, or even any kind of tournament, i play, first and foremost, FOR FUN. granted, i've thought of doing the qualifier circuit, but, even if i were to commit to, or even make it onto, the Pro Tour, i would still play primarily for fun. i understand that some tour players view this as their career, but the succsessful ones still have fun playing because, seriously, what's the point in playing any game if it's not fun. regardless of level, or setting, a little common courtesy goes a long way.
so, in short, remember: if you wouldn't want something to happen to your daughter, wife, sister, mother, cousin, aunt, grandmother, friend, or loved one, DON'T DO IT TO SOMEONE ELSE!!! and if you see someone doing something shady that you wouldn't want to be done to you, or someone you love, DON'T PUT UP WITH IT AND CALL THAT BASTARD OUT ON THEIR BAD BEHAVIOR!!! because, seriously, our communities will never improve and we will always deny ourselves the addition of more amazing and valuable members to said communities as long as we tolerate, or embrace, these types of behaviors.