The worst response to the worst question you could possibly ask the victim of harassment “What were you wearing?”:
“A Princess Leia Costume…”
I can feel some of you laughing. Laughter is a natural reflex. You can’t help it, but it’s wrong. The image is funny because you didn’t realize you expect Princess Leia to get harassed. We’re finally getting conditioned to respect women in short skirts and abhor slut-shaming. Next, let’s get on the “stop harassing cosplayers” wagon. Every time I wear those buns in public, whether my skirt is short, or I’m covered to my ankles and wrists, I get objectified by at least one man. As much as General Organa has commanded the respect of nerds, Princess Leia is still seen as a toy. It’s a costume, fellas. Remember, there’s a human being under here. She doesn’t appreciate your harassment.
“Wanna ride on my Millennium Falcon?”
“Can I touch your buns?”
“You were my first crush…”
Okay, that one is kinda cute, but please don’t try to hug me. I can see your erection and I’m not wearing a bra. I don’t press my un-harnessed tits against strangers. You’re gonna get a chest-full of clipboard if you try.
Last night, while petitioning for #AStarForCarrie and #OccupyFamilyGuy, I was talking to a woman on Hollywood Boulevard. Her eyes reminded me of Billie Lourd’s and we were about to take a selfie together when a man walked up and said:
“You ignored me last night.” The woman took a few snapshots while I turned to the guy and apologized, even though I didn’t remember that happening and I highly doubt it did. I stop and talk to anyone who asks about the petition, even if I’m dead-on-my-feet tired, out of costume, and off the clock. I attempted friendliness with the guy, let him sign the petition, while the woman was sharing the selfies on Instagram for me. He insisted I was ignoring him again. I’m only one person and I have ADHD, it’s difficult for me to focus on one person, let alone two. The guy called me a bitch, told me to scratch his name off the petition, which I did and told him to walk away from me.
The woman with Billie Lourd eyes stood by me, but I stood between her and the guy, holding my clipboard and sign in front of me, not brandishing them, but getting ready to if the need arose. The guy said, “Can you write ‘fuck you’ next to my name?” Very loudly. Families passing by seemed to collectively shy away from the shouting man, his violent profanity creating a blast crater of negativity in the sidewalk, which made parents instinctively protective of their children. I told the guy if he didn’t walk away, I was calling the cops. He said he didn’t have to and moved like he was going to follow me. The woman asked:
“Are you okay?” This is the best question to ask any person in distress. Ask everyone this. Ask at least one person a day if they’re okay. Everyone needs to hear it. Please keep asking this question.
“Can I walk with you a bit? I don’t want to leave you alone with this dude either,” I asked as I listened to the recording of the 911 operator.
“Yeah, I’m meeting my friends,” She said, as a group of people approached. The guy walked away as her friends absorbed me into their group and we crossed the street. They knew something was up without explanation. I’m so very grateful for strangers who sense a woman in distress and immediately offer protection. We got to the opposite side of the street and the guy was no longer visible. The lady with Billie Lourd eyes asked me if I was okay again, I told her I will be fine, I’m gonna wait for the cops and there’s plenty of people around. The group walked away and I wished I’d stayed with them. I felt more naked in that Princess Leia costume than when I was just wearing a thin t-shirt over my nipples back in the July heat.
I stood on the corner by the Popeye’s chicken and gave a panicked description to the 911 operator. I waited, holding my sign and clipboard in shaking hands, my phone ready to dial 911 if I saw the guy again. The cops were there in about 15 minutes, I gave them a description again, told them how I get harassed every single day and this time was scary enough to wait around and make a report. Both cops were sympathetic to what happened, but all they could do is give me a business card to call if I saw this guy again, and they said they would go looking for him in the direction he walked. They said they didn’t have a crime to report.
I felt so helpless and fucking FURIOUS that I had spent three days in jail for being way less threatening than that guy. I was still glad I stuck around and made a report. That guy made me feel unsafe. The day I got arrested for trespassing (on a public sidewalk), I asked Kevin the security guard if he felt threatened by me. He said “No.” I still went to jail. I felt extremely threatened by this guy who called me a bitch and shouted “Fuck you” around children. If anything, this incident reaffirmed I’m doing the right thing by standing up for myself in court.
The cops left me with a business card and I almost ran to the Scum and Villainy Cantina across the street, where I’d met Kevin Smith and was on his podcast back in June. I got smiles from everyone in the bar playing Rick and Morty trivia, and one table applauded as I hurried to the bathroom giving them a quick regal wave and “May the Force be with you”, which is as close to a blessing as an atheist can conjure. I changed into my long black skirt and hoodie “walk home” gear, but kept the wig on.
Squid, the bartender, was cosplaying Rick, remembered me from Smodcast, and immediately understood my shaken state without much explanation. She made me a candy corn cocktail leftover from Halloween, which didn’t break my minuscule bank account, I gave her a $2 tip. I would have given her $3 if I had it. I joined a trivia team who shared their delicious fried zucchini as Neil read questions which made me realize I was terrible at Rick and Morty trivia, but I’d be killing it at Family Guy trivia. In the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a statue of Yoda, but my eyes focused on Dobby, socks strewn around the platform upon which he stood. I felt safe.
The moral of the story is… Don’t be that guy. Remember people in costumes are human beings, wait your turn for someone’s attention, and women don’t owe you a goddamn iota of time if you’re going to be a jerk about it. If you like women to dress in sexy costumes, please don’t make them feel uncomfortable. I’ve been inoculated by small doses of harassment on a daily basis, so this isn’t stopping me, but behavior such as this could turn a lot of women off of cosplay forever.
Be this guy instead… When I was walking home from therapy today, a guy noticed the fringe of blonde frizz peeking out of my skull cap and said I looked like Jean Harlow. I asked him what his favorite Jean Harlow movie was and he said “Reckless”, passing the test. He sensed from my body language and the pace at which I was walking that I wasn’t interested in talking, so we both said “Have a nice day” and he left me alone. It’s that easy, guys. It’s okay to be horny, just don’t be dicks about it.