Geek Girls Rule! #232 – Women Cosplaying Male Characters

Ok, first off, for all my geeks going to PAX this weekend, re-read this post, and remember to tip.  Because when you don’t tip, you give us all a bad rep and you’re mistreating the people who serve your food and drink.

Now, onto the meat of what I want to talk about.  I love cosplayers.  I’ve said this before, regarding sexy cosplayers, fat cosplayers, fat sexy cosplayers…  I adore them for the skill and amount of time, energy and money they put into their efforts.  I love them for the passion they show for what they do.  I love watching them, talking to them, everything.  Cosplayers make me happy.

Look, this is an amazing costume. She put a lot of work into it and it looks great. But why would you make the Joker sexy? Joker by Slarenkou on Tumblr, photo by Sam Lau.

However, there is one trend in Cosplaying that makes me a little cranky.  And that is the trend for women who cosplay male characters to sexy up those characters regardless of whether the male character themselves would be up for the sexy.  Look, a female Gambit in a mini skirt and half-shirt?  Hells, yes!  I can totally see a female version of the Cajun like that.  Oh yeah…

A female Cyclops in a half-shirt and mini skirt?  Not so much.  I mean, I like Cyclops as a character, but he’s kind of uptight.  I just do not see that character trading in fully clothed for half-dressed just because you changed gender on them.  The same goes for Captain America, or Thor.  Now a booty short wearing Iron Man?  Oh yeah, Tony Stark is totally that kind of tart NOW.  Give that personality a hot female body?  And well, Loki’s been female and we’ve all seen what she wears.

Ok, so those might actually be spandex PANTS not a mini, but still… From the GeekRest site, photo by Leonard Lee.

I guess what I’m saying is that if the character’s a flirty, sexy dude, then sure.  I can see making the female analog a flirty sexy woman.  But if the male character isn’t like that, why the fuck is the female version? I can totally see a sexy female Nightcrawler (apart from Talia, his daughter from another reality, who was a flirty sexy Nocturne).  I just don’t see a flirty, sexy Colossus.

Why is the default for any female costume sexy?  Regardless of the costume’s backstory or purpose, it’s always got to be sexy.  And what’s with all the fucking belly-shirts, guys?  This happens with “armored” characters, too.  And many, many hilarious comics and film shorts have been created surrounding the trope of women’s fantasy armor.  I mean, it’s not like we keep our organs in our abdomens like guys do.  If you look at comics, we very obviously keep them in our breasts, or in some cases, apparently, our thighs.

Again, I’m not saying these cosplayers are “doin’ it rong,” I’m just curious why they feel the need to take characters who aren’t “sexy” and make them so, just because it’s a woman doing the dress up?  I mean, the one Captain America cosplay with the corset and the wool-stockings and everything is fucking beautiful and amazing and all that, but really?

If you like the blog or the podcast, or if you would like to help fund the hire of some hot dudes cosplaying the White Queen and Starfire, please, please, please donate to keep us going.  Donations go to pay for the podcast hosting and website domain, primarily.

Also, we’ll have an announcement about t-shirts soon.  Really and truly.  Soon.  Damn life, always interfering.  I SWEAR IT’S COMING!!!  I will know about the helper monkey soon.

Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want.  Also, we have stickers!!!!

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13 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule! #232 – Women Cosplaying Male Characters

  1. Because we as women dress up and go to conventions as comic book characters (or video game, etc etc) partially to be adored by the geek masses. That means that we want to be sexy. 😉 The girls who do wear male costumes as is are the ones who are just into the character.

  2. Why, though? Why not pick a character that’s already sexy? Or why is sexy even a thing? I mean, I get it. I like being sexy, and I’m not in any way, shape or form slamming sexy, nor am I saying any less effort goes into the costumes. But why do you feel like you need to be sexy to be adored for what you do?

  3. For me, the problem is less the sexification or deviation from canon than the fact that that sexification is the default for feminized versions of male characters.

    I can totally see someone thinking “Cyclops has an awesome costume, and I want to make a version of it that also shows off my mad abs and is about my personality as a cosplayer and human as well as the character.” What frustrates me is the frequency with which people think “feminized version of male character” and jump STRAIGHT to sexxing it up without any thought.

    And I think I’d be less worried about cosplayers doing it if publishers and official licensors hadn’t gone there first and repeatedly.

  4. So, I covered some of this in my response to GGR, but:

    I think it’s reeeeeally important to distinguish between individual sexified cosplay and the trend of sexification being a default corollary to feminization (I mean, to what extent that’s possible, since personal taste doesn’t form in a vacuum).

    For a lot of cosplayers, I think cosplay is about both honing in on what you enjoy and identify with about a character and playing with visual design. It happens that I identify with Cyclops because I’m an uptight jerk, and if I were to design a lady version of his costume, it’d reflect that; but it’s perfectly possible that Cosplayer X sees and identifies with another aspect of the character–or maybe just came up with the design, and the character’s identity was secondary, and that’s okay, too. We don’t get to dictate those points of contact.

    The trend of publishers and official licensors default-sexxifying the female versions of costumes, however, can fuck right the hell off. (See, &c.)

  5. Interesting article and comments. I haven’t had the opportunity to go to a Con as of yet and I’m curious. How often, if ever, have any of you seen a female cosplaying a male character in a “non-sexy” way?

    Btw, I’d be all over a Geek Girls Rule t-shirt! 🙂

  6. It actually happens pretty frequently. I have a friend in Portland who cosplays almost exclusively the male characters from Zelazny’s Amber, and it happens quite a lot in Yaoi fandom, for obvious reasons. Some women do this because they get tired of the cheesecake-iness. Some just really like the male characters.

    And I’m working on aquiring the helper monkey for the t-shirts!

  7. Also, I want to address something else: You don’t think the girls who cosplay male characters straight also want attention?

    I can’t think of a single cosplayer out there who doesn’t want attention and praise for their efforts.

  8. Ooh, this is a really good point, and one I haven’t thought of WRT actual cosplay: To what extent is the prevalence of sexxified rule-63 cosplay exaggerated via skewed sample and availability heuristic? Anecdotally, I’d guess that those are the women in costume most likely to get frequently noticed / photographed and end up on ‘net cosplay roundups and the like, either based on straight-up conventional attractiveness or adherence to the publisher / media-driven trope of sexed-up feminization; given that, it’s probably worth questioning the assumption of their ubiquity.

  9. Rae, I LOVE IT! The Availability Heuristic is exactly what I was thinking of! I’ve recently written an article re: another heuristic (The Just World Hypothesis) and Victim Blaming and I’ve got heuristics on the mind. This is something I’d love to look into further!

  10. Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.. I wanted to crossplay this year but looking at some pics, I noticed some of them just try too hard to be overtly sexy and not true to the character = / Though I suppose, if I had a hot bod, I’d want to show it off too

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