I have two main goals in this blog entry, but as usually happens when I write off the top of my head, that may change. This entry is a reaction piece. Also, I’m going to write about cosplay, but I have never done cosplay, so take my two cents with a grain of salt, I don’t have a lot of experience with this, just personal feelings and a good memory of what other people have said on this topic.
In a previous entry I talked about being a geek, being passionate about things. Sometimes that passion involves dressing up as characters, or creating clothing that is inspired by a blue police call box, or any number of things. These creations take lots of energy, time, and creativity and the people that make them should be admired and supported. Most of the time, if the cosplayer is male, there is support or admiration. If the cosplayer is a woman, immediately she is judged upon her appearance, whether she’s skinny, or not skinny enough, how much skin is showing, pretty much everything EXCEPT the item that she spent hours creating. This is wrong.
Now here’s where I attempt to draw a connection between my two goals. In the situation that inspired this reaction posting, the cause of the hurt feelings, explained that he was joking, it had happened between them many times, and that everyone always laughed at his humor. This is more wrong.
I want to put an end to the excuse of “well everyone’s laughing, so it’s not really that bad”. Get it out of your system! If you don’t want to laugh at a joke, no one will make you, and if someone accuses you of having no sense of humor, you can turn it back on them and tell them that you’d rather have originality and class, than be stuck in immaturity. I ended up in a situation where a person of power was talking to a room full of (mostly) men and little comments like “well you know who really wears the pants in this relationship” or “well she was always nagging him” were thrown around like nothing. Most of the people in the room laughed. I laughed. But I was not amused, I got extremely annoyed, frustrated, and turned off to the lesson because of it. This is not acceptable behavior. It is not okay to make stereotypical comments that are no longer valid in this country. It is not okay to hide behind the fact that everyone laughs. It is not okay to make the person uncomfortable with the comments, to feel like they are overreacting. It pisses me off that people still hide behind that excuse. It makes me angry that instead of saying “I screwed up, I’m sorry” you get “I already said I’m sorry, but we’ve joked like this before”. At any point in a conversation, someone can stand up and say “Hey, this is absurd, stop.” Male or female. Young or old. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable.
And yes, I am fully aware of the argument that stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and that if someone has an off-color sense of humor, to shut them up, is silencing them. I don’t have a good response to that, except that maybe having such an off-color sense of humor, isn’t a good thing. But let’s go back to the original situation. At no point in time, should it be acceptable to ignore someone’s hard work and make them a piece of meat to be ogled. Whether the two people have joked about it before or not, it’s not acceptable. Another example, a few years back a woman made an awesome Tardis dress. The internet was supportive, and yet horrible at the same time. Someone saw the picture and started to comment on the figure of the woman who had put a lot of effort into this dress. They called her ugly and belittled her accomplishment because she wasn’t their ideal image. That’s absurd. For their effort, nerd-dom did step in try to shut down the people saying the horrible things, but surely the damage had already been done. Damage not just to the person who spent so much time on the outfit, but also to people who saw that reaction, and instead of being proud of their own creations, hid in a dark corner for fear of getting the same reaction. That is so wrong!
I talked about being proud of things that bring you passion, and it’s really hard to be proud when you look over your shoulder to see what nasty things are going to come your way if you aren’t perfect, or if you have boobs.
Gender inequality is not just at work, it’s everywhere, and if people would stop tearing each other down, and start raising up these passions, this would be a much better place. Please help me strike this attitude from our actions. When someone says something belittling, or sexist, or rude, speak up. Sometimes it’s not about putting a person “in their place”. Sometimes it’s easier to just change the subject. For example, there was one day where a co-worker was teasing another friend, person A has a habit of being really close to the line between humor and offense, and judging from the look on person B’s face, he was about to cross it.
Part of me wishes that I had said something wittier, or that I had some scathing put down that would put him in his place. Instead, I rolled my eyes, looked at person A and said “Really?” when he responded “yes really”, I shot back “couldn’t you come up with an insult that’s more original?” I didn’t make everything right, but that subject stopped, and person A hasn’t been as hard on person B (at least around me). Can we all please act like decent human beings now?