Does Cosplay Suggest We Take Gender Too Seriously?

Does Cosplay Suggest We Take Gender Too Seriously?

If you want to make many people lose their minds, especially on the internet, try to talk about gender. Meanwhile, cosplayers are experimenting with gender all the time.

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I did not need cosplay to know we take gender too seriously, identifying as mentally male or female is a futile exercise anyway, we can just be feminine people, masculine people and anything in between, above and behind, apply sexuality and sex where appropriate (such as Dating and Medical records, respectively).

That said, crossgender cosplay is quite difficult to pull off convincingly, and the people that can pull them off have my respect.

Wouldn't cosplay, as it's been described here, suggest we don't take gender that seriously? Maybe the comparison we're supposed to draw here is "cosplay vs. normal-everyday-life", but that's a little different. Pretending to be someone or something else for a few days or even weeks at a time is different from actually changing your identity.

And yeah, without getting too deeply into it, expecting everyone to be or act gender-fluid or cast off their gender roles is like expecting transgender people to just "get over it".

Some people just really like their roles and strict adherence to them doesn't necessarily mean an elimination of free will. People can freely choose to adopt a role, self-concept, or way of living with deep conviction, and even if they've never explored others in the same way a cosplayer, larper or actor has, that hardly makes their choices less worthwhile.

Exploring another role through costume and play can provide great insight into other people who's lifestyle doesn't match-up completely with yours, but so can just talking with and really listening to other people (for example: I do not attend cons or cosplaying events, I still read and watch Liana's material regularly, and I'm a guy). As much crap as everyone gives the internet for being toxic, I still occasionally step back and marvel at how I can and often do speak with people from around the world and from many different walks of life. I feel that has given me the insight I need - without using costume and play - to form a stronger self-identity by comparing myself and my life experiences with others.

Combustion Kevin:
I did not need cosplay to know we take gender too seriously, identifying as mentally male or female is a futile exercise anyway, we can just be feminine people, masculine people and anything in between, above and behind, apply sexuality and sex where appropriate (such as Dating and Medical records, respectively).

That said, crossgender cosplay is quite difficult to pull off convincingly, and the people that can pull them off have my respect.

This is pretty close to my line of thinking, but I'd go a step further and say that so much of what people think of as masculine or feminine consists of learned behaviors that even categorizing non-physiological traits as feminine or masculine is pointless. As long as it's not hurting anyone, people should just act how they want to act.

That said, I've never really understood the fuss surrounding crossplay (or those instances where characters are otherwise portrayed as the opposite sex). It's just people dressing like characters they like, same as every cosplay.

What I do find interesting about crossplay from my personal experiences is that, outside of the obligatory Fat/really hairy guy in a sailor moon outfit for the funny (and very original) jokes, most crossdressing comes from women. For example, in the 6 or 7 years I've been a convention goer, I've seen about 3 guys dress as Edward Elric, and any character that could be described as bishonen is 8/10 going to be played by a woman irl. I think it also helps that there isn't really any stigma for women to wear pants.

Of course, Maybe it's different up here in Michigan. The locals of Detroit are much less friendly to dudes in dresses than they are Lady Vash the Stampedes. trust me.

EyeReaper:
What I do find interesting about crossplay from my personal experiences is that, outside of the obligatory Fat/really hairy guy in a sailor moon outfit for the funny (and very original) jokes, most crossdressing comes from women. For example, in the 6 or 7 years I've been a convention goer, I've seen about 3 guys dress as Edward Elric, and any character that could be described as bishonen is 8/10 going to be played by a woman irl. I think it also helps that there isn't really any stigma for women to wear pants.

Of course, Maybe it's different up here in Michigan. The locals of Detroit are much less friendly to dudes in dresses than they are Lady Vash the Stampedes. trust me.

I do not get the same sense going to Otakon, which is in Baltimore. While there are obligatory "funny" male crossplay, you also have a lot more serious crossplay from males, those that try to pass as well as those that have different "takes" on female characters. Not as much as from women, naturally, but encouragingly more amounts. I can only imagine what it's like out west at Anime Expo and such.

In some ways Otakon and anime conventions in general tend to be the closest one can actually get to a judgement-free zone, while you do have the occasional idiot or creep (you get a lot more of that outside the convention hall, really), the general atmosphere is one where everyone is an equal thanks to some kind of unity. There's porn for guys being sold right next to porn for women, a sort openness and embrace of weirdness in all of its forms, because very few people at the convention can really, sincerely call themselves "normal" in any way.

I've seen some guys dressed up as the Mane Six from My Little Pony and it's impressive.

And then there are the pictures that my friend sends to me from time to time where a group of guys go as the Sailor Scouts. They aren't wearing the short skirts (most of the time), but instead are wearing the guy outfit style, but oh man...some of these guys look better in costume than girls that cosplay the Scouts, and that always blows my mind. When I first saw something like that years ago, I thought it was kind of weird, but now that I know it's actually a common thing, I just think it's cool..

cosplay suggests to me... that people will do whatever the fuck they feel like doing.

gender plays no role (see what I did there?) they want to do it so they shall.

Real talk:

No one genuinly minds if people cosplay a genderbender and it's the absolute minority that gets offended by it (and even then it's probably because it's "breaking the lore", not because of gender).

That being said, I don't enjoy seeing cosplay anymore, because it seems to lead to these discussions more than anywhere else. I actually get this twinge in my stomach and a sour taste in my mouth whenever I see a gallery about it.
Trying to compliment a cosplayer is like walking into a minefield. You don't know whether it'll set off a chain reaction of accusations or if they'll thank you.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on cosplay these days.
I'd say if you love cosplaing, do it however you enjoy it the most and don't let insecurity hold you back and more importantly, don't let any comments you get along the way get to you. It's a consequence of standing out and has more to do with that than what's between your legs.

It can be taken too seriously, but I think it ties in to some extent that popular characters have had gender changes and their hardcore fans have something else to rail against.

shirkbot:
snippersnapper

What we view as masculine or feminine are contemporary trends, some trends persisting throughout the ages, they're more or less a measure of seeing what the average 'insert gender here' gravitates towards, their origins lie in both culture and biology, the extend of which is always an interesting subject matter.

The reason they are important is because of the biological aspect, the gross majority of the population shows signs of "normal masculine/feminine" tendencies because of our biology, straight or otherwise, if an individual were to deviate from these characteristics something could be up, like a hormone imbalance or psychological condition.

That is not to say that someone who deviates from these tendencies MUST have some condition or malfunction, but it is one of the many warning signs that they might, a person may also consciously choose to behave that way or do so because of some personality quirk, these things are not set in stone, but it's important to measure what the average is before we start dealing with the exceptions.

Bottom line is, masculinity and femininity are part of our psychology, they're important components of our sexual orientation, self-identity and social interaction, one should be wary, however, not to conflate sexual identity with physical identity.

Gender is only important if you're told it is.
Every aspect of our society enforces and reinforces who you 'are' and who you're 'supposed to be.' Without rigid categories, it's much harder for that enforcement to have any effect. Makeup used to be an exceptional thing. Then it became the mandate for women who wanted to succeed romantically. Now it's just the baseline- even completely non-romantic settings require a certain amount of makeup because "otherwise you don't care." Which is horseshit, but it's so easy to see how something that meant practically nothing a relatively short time ago is now suddenly part-and-parcel with being of a certain sex. It's a tragic, hilarious ball-and-cup game where we always lose, because some clever bastard is always thinking of a new way they can raise the bar and make something the new normal. So if society's going to keep changing, I say it's fair game to try to move it in a direction that cares nothing for this nonsense.

Norithics:
It's a tragic, hilarious ball-and-cup game where we always lose, because some clever bastard is always thinking of a new way they can raise the bar and make something the new normal.

Minor point of contention: There's no clever bastards responsible for societal trends.

In the case of make-up, ancient civilizations used lip-stick and eye-liner, for both men and women, to indicate wealth and power. Cosmetics only fell out of fashion in times of scarcity and sexual puritanism (hand-in-hand, as families could not afford to care for as many children). They were re-adopted by high-status men and women emulating the upper classes of these civilizations, and they became trendsetters for the next few centuries. The only thing that's really changed dramatically is the taboo against men using them, which is more of a hold-over from that time of scarcity where pampered men were thought of as unproductive, and thus undesirable.

Or, for a more recent example: We could talk about sneakers, or their "Plimsoll shoe" progenitors of the 1870s. An athlete's shoe, designed to be worn for effectiveness on a court or field, became increasingly popular to the point of replacing leather shoes for comfort and leisure. Now, some of these "athlete's shoes" cost hundreds of US dollars, and are frequently worn by nonathletic male celebrities displaying their status in nonathletic settings.

So, members of ancient human civilizations who purposefully distinguished themselves from the masses have their looks adopted by their descendants, and even when it becomes less popular, it just re-surges later on because it still works. Sneakers or athlete's shoes becoming a status symbol happened almost entirely by accident because they were designed for a completely unrelated purpose.

Sniper Team 4:
I've seen some guys dressed up as the Mane Six from My Little Pony and it's impressive.

And then there are the pictures that my friend sends to me from time to time where a group of guys go as the Sailor Scouts. They aren't wearing the short skirts (most of the time), but instead are wearing the guy outfit style, but oh man...some of these guys look better in costume than girls that cosplay the Scouts, and that always blows my mind. When I first saw something like that years ago, I thought it was kind of weird, but now that I know it's actually a common thing, I just think it's cool..

I think you mean this image.
image

Why its so manly someone probably grew a third testicle just looking at it.

Worgen:

Sniper Team 4:
I've seen some guys dressed up as the Mane Six from My Little Pony and it's impressive.

And then there are the pictures that my friend sends to me from time to time where a group of guys go as the Sailor Scouts. They aren't wearing the short skirts (most of the time), but instead are wearing the guy outfit style, but oh man...some of these guys look better in costume than girls that cosplay the Scouts, and that always blows my mind. When I first saw something like that years ago, I thought it was kind of weird, but now that I know it's actually a common thing, I just think it's cool..

I think you mean this image.
image

Why its so manly someone probably grew a third testicle just looking at it.

Friendship. Is. MANLY!

Major points to all of them for having the courage to do that. I could never do it.

UberPubert:
Minor point of contention: There's no clever bastards responsible for societal trends.

I respect your knowledge of History, but you've completely missed one thing: the aspect of Marketing, which has always had some sway, but only recently become as powerful and influential as it has.

Marketing people are responsible for so many insidiously subtle aspects of our lives, from our grooming habits to what gender means. And to be fair they weren't necessarily trying to create strife for the hell of it- they just wanted to sell us shit we didn't need. And so they created socially acceptable propaganda to completely change and distort our perception until, hey, yeah, it is immature to use grease in my hair rather than Broxo Brand Hair Conditioner! Of course I'll buy it for the rest of my life.

It's fun to think of so many aspects of culture being accidental, but keep your eyes open, because a lot of people would just like you to think that, because it makes them a lot of money.

You know what's funny? I'm less bothered by the practice of gender bending than I am with shipping as a concept. Probably because with gender bending, it requires a good amount of creativity and forethought to create a believable and actually kinda cool concept of a reversed gender Maleficent rather than just shipping her with the Prince because "They're just MADE for each other!"

Norithics:
It's fun to think of so many aspects of culture being accidental, but keep your eyes open, because a lot of people would just like you to think that, because it makes them a lot of money.

I wouldn't say they're accidental; in fact I'm quite certain the original inventors and cultural trendsetters knew exactly what they were doing, but if I had to describe the influence of business, marketing, etc. they moreso capitalized on trends than created them.

Marketing can do a great deal to transform niche products and services into average consumer mainstays, but many other conditions have to be met first, "is there a demand?", "can we make it affordable?", "can we beat the competition?". If you want to watch a boardroom turn into a mumbly bunch of anxious pre-teens, ask them how to make something "go viral".

To use another recent example: Apple did not invent the iPod. Or, perhaps more accurately, they did not invent the personal data assistant, or "pocket computer". That would be Psion, a UK-based company who released the 'Organizer' in 1984, and while for all practical purposes it wasn't much more than an electronic notepad that had to be typed into, it wouldn't have competition from Apple until the release of the 'Newton' in 1993, which wasn't much better. In fact, Apple didn't even invent the first digital, portable music player either (for non-digital we have Sony's 1979 'Walkman' portable cassette player), though they would hire it's inventor, Kane Kramer, who first patented the idea as the 'IXI', in 1981. However, before the iPod could be released in 2001, South Korea based company SaeHan Information Systems would release the 'MPMan' in Asia in 1997, and begin importing it to North America in 1998.

Here we are fourteen years later, and despite being beaten across the finish line by other software and hardware companies in terms of innovation, Apple is dominating personal consumer electronics. Looking at today's market, one could be tempted to say that such a demand for portable personal computers and music players was invented by and catered to by Apple, and while I don't mean to downplay their work in marketing (dancing silhouette ads forever), software development and Sexy case design, it would be quite remiss of us to not mention how the demand for such products existed years, if not decades before they made it to the scene.

I'm not meaning to imply this is so for every product or idea uplifted to the status of a cultural "norm", but I feel it's worth considering before leaping to the conclusion it was all concocted by marketers.

(In the interest of openness, I don't own any Apple products.)

 

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