Last weekend, hundreds of cosplayers (i.e., people dressed in the fantastical costumes of their favorite TV, film, video game, and comic characters) flocked to New York Comic Con. There were gender-swapped superheroes and Disney characters, women in elaborate gowns, suits, and makeup they had worked on for months. And, more often than not, these female cosplayers found a safe space to celebrate the characters they're passionate about.
Over and over, I was told by women at Comic Con that they had read about cosplayers facing sexual harassment, but that they had found a respectful crowd at NYCC. After stories of harassment at Comic Con in previous years spread online, in 2014, New York Comic Con launched a zero-tolerance policy with the tagline, "Cosplay is not consent." Signs with that slogan could be found throughout the convention center this year, and they even specified that "inappropriate physical contact" and "unwelcome physical attention," among other no-nos, were banned.
The new measures helped lots of women enjoy what they love: slipping into a character, posing for photos as fellow attendees marveled at their attention to detail, and just soaking up the excitement all around them. We spoke to a few of them about their experience at the Con.