I had missed the panel at Otakon earlier this year so at the urging of Shizuka, not to mention three tweets requesting my attendance, it was destiny. If only I knew it then.
The moderation and atmosphere were conducive to audience participation. It felt more like a roundtable discussion than a lecture. And a safe space as some remarked throughout.
Lauren and Patrick first took turns presenting their findings from the survey conducted specifically for this panel. They were dismayed to report that over half of female attendees experienced harassment of some kind. The same issue affects men as well but not to the same extent.
This isn’t a surprise given the prevalence of the problematic practice of portraying women more as objects than people in anime. As Lauren puts it succinctly, there are more breasts than not breasts. While boys do get objectified (Ouran High School offered as an example), overwhelmingly sexism focuses on the female body to the exclusion of everything else.
The misogyny isn’t unique to anime fandom. It exists in all of pop culture. To put a halt into the problem, people must engage in public discourse to broaden awareness of the effects such portrayals of women have on our daily behavior. More importantly, the panel beseeches that one should speak up against those that perpetuate the status quo. Silence is agreement.
Finally, taking a chart from The Cart Driver and labeling the genres from the current season, we can see that sexism also exists in the selection of anime where shounen outnumbers shoujo like stars to planets.
The excellent panel is ultimately ironic. Those in attendance are most likely aware of and have fairly extensive knowledge of the issues. In short, the panel is a complete waste of time.
During the panel, Lauren cited a statement from the survey in which someone was called a creep for wanting to take a cosplayer’s photo. An audience member questioned the cosplayer for making such a comment implying that cosplay invites photography but Patrick raised Slutwalk as a retort which I wholeheartedly agree with.
As it happens, I had taken a photo of a cosplayer on Friday. We passed each other several times over the course of the weekend and I began to grow an infatuation where I wanted to take another photo in a specific pose and moreover, pursue further. I couldn’t justify my intentions.
Feminist theory makes it abundantly clear that women do not want unsolicited attention, especially those with motives such as mine. Even a sincere compliment and nothing more may prove annoying given that the woman has likely received countless encounters of a similar nature.
I ran into her again late Saturday night. We were walking towards each other in passing and impulsively I complimented on her cosplay because it is THAT awesome only to feel bad immediately and removed myself before I could catch her reply if any.
It’s unclear whether she welcomed my comment but that’s irrelevant. I needed to practice more awareness for her feelings, her consent.
This is a lot more than I wanted to share but I hope it will serve as a reminder for me that I have more to do than attend panels.