Gender Bias In Comic Con Cosplay

RJ Droll writes for Bleeding Cool from Wizard World Chicago;

So last weekend was Wizard World Chicago, held in Rosemont, IL. As in the past, the Convention Official Hotel was the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. I attended with some friends, and for the second year in a row decided to jump into the whole Cosplay arena. The ‘costume’ I selected for Saturday was a take on the latex Bodypaint Venom (an admittedly much more amateur version than were featured on Bleeding Cool last week, dealing with pictures that were banned from Facebook). The outfit was a speedo type pair of briefs, black hightop sneakers, and then the latex. Getting into that outfit was a pain the in butt, let me tell you. By the time I was done, my back ached, and my knees were pretty much locked into place.

Anyway, I got a call from a friend who was in the hotel lobby, and I went down to talk to him. After a very brief conversation, I was confronted by Hotel Security and told that I was causing a scene and violating “hotel decency policy” (certainly nothing that was posted conspicuously, or provided on the one-sheet that was delivered to guests on check-in), and that I needed to return to my room and cover up appropriately. Needless to say, in that particular moment I was mortified. Not just because I had apparently offended some unnamed guest (truth be told, on the elevator ride down from my room I had received a few compliments…no disgusted stares or rude statements), but also because this giant hulk of a man had inserted himself between me and my friend and proceeded to not only simply ask me to go throw on a more modest covering, but also because he felt he needed to lecture me then and there about how I was making people feel uncomfortable. To say it came close to ruining the entire day was an understatement…but because I didn’t want to cause more of a scene, nor did I feel like getting kicked out of the hotel where I was sharing a room with others, I acquiesced and went back up to the room to throw on a pair of gym shorts.

The convention itself was okay…the costume my much better received there than in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and for the MOST part, the entire incident was behind me…until that night. That evening in the lobby is when events unfolded that really began to bother me. We’ll gloss over the fact that the large screen televisions in the bar and grill were playing (what I can only assume to be) Olympic Highlight reels (the Olympics being all but over at that point) with divers in FAR more revealing outfits than what I had worn earlier that day…but the lobby was also populated with female cosplayers in just as revealing outfits…including a Red Sonja who couldn’t manage to get two feet in any direction without getting stopped for pictures…including one I can only assume was a dude dressed as a Chippendale’s Dancer where she got to shove money in his waistband.

So I’m left with the simplest of conclusions: It’s perfectly okay for women to run around, boobs popping out, showing their assets in public, because they’re women… With all that’s being made of the sexualization of females in both comic books and comic book fandom, I really just DON’T feel like shutting up about this situation. A call on Tuesday morning to a man who purported to be a Customer Service Manager for the Hyatt Regency O’Hare basically left me with an empty apology, and that the entire thing was on me. He seemed more concerned with the possibility of Hotel Staff taking pictures with the aforementioned Red Sonja (and it really was one hell of a costume), than he was with the fact that their hotel demonstrated a huge and blatant double standard while hosting an event that they seem more than willing to receive year after year.


About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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