Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).

The Silk Spectre of Sex Still Looms

I have a strange relationship with cosplay. I typically find cosplayers to be somewhat annoying, and I don't understand the whole idea behind spending absurd amounts of money on making elaborate geek niche costumes to wear at conventions. That being said, I'm endlessly fascinated at the hordes of people who do feel that urge (and of course, I am entertained by some of the more ridiculous and hilarious costumes that are out there. You know, like BANANA WOLVERINE. Seriously, WTF? Also, hilarious and amazingly entertaining (you'll find my fascination/distaste/totally lack of comprehension for cosplay also sneaks into my full-length play True Believers).

This week's Five By Five Hundred was inspired by a few specific instances at New York Comic-Con this past weekend. First, that I felt weird about inadvertently objectifying women while I was there — some girl walks by dressed as Mystique, covered in blue bodypaint and wearing a tiny bikini top, I'm naturally inclined to look. But then I don't want to be a creep, like I'm just staring at breasts — although certainly my attention is drawn to them because of the nature and design of the costume because females in comic book/anime/pop culture are often scantily-clad and sexualized, and it's this whole crazy internal moral debate I have in my head over the course of 4 seconds (during which I am too busy mentally deliberating to realize that I'm still staring).

But I also saw some cosplayers who would get annoyed when people asked them to pose for a picture, or do any kind of interaction. This was also difficult for me to wrap my head around. Why would you dress up like Power Girl if it wasn't for some kind of desire for attention? And then I realized, that's the same argument used by men who sexually harass women on the street: "she's asking for it." But this particular question was not based in sexuality; hell, there'd be men dressed as Doctor Who that would be equally annoyed at posing for a picture (side note: Doctor Who cosplay appears to be the new Slave Leia at conventions).

Is it about the sex, or is it about the costume? Are these cosplayers objectified — or fictionalized? Well, that's where this week's post comes in. No solid answers, but I thought I'd provide some food for thought.

"She's Asking For It" at