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What 'Cosplay is not Consent' means in the age of #MeToo

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NEW YORK (Circa) — Max Dinerstein (aka Ask Kaylee<i> </i>Frye) is no stranger to the world of cosplay. She first debuted her Firefly-inspired costume in 2012 at New York Comic Con. Since then, she's taken on various characters and roles, including a moderator on this year's panel about cosplay and consent.

"Cosplay is a performative art, but (there are) people behind it," Dinerstein said. "Don't touch people you don't know without asking. Don't take inappropriate pictures of people you don't know without asking. These things should not have to be said, but they do in the current climate."

Cosplay is not consent Max
Max Dinerstein (aka Ask Kaylee Frye) stands in front of a "Cosplay is not Consent" sign at New York Comic Con 2018.

Max Dinerstein says the "Me Too" movement has helped to improve conditions for cosplayers and that a lot of harassment has come to light because of it.

"It's reassuring that there is some policing and no one can get away scot-free."

'He was calling me pet names'
As a professional cosplayer, Dinerstain says it can be hard trying to figure out that in between where you can be approachable and respected.

"Along with the #MeToo movement we have to learn to respect people's property."
Shannon McDermott, NYCC Attendee

She said her worst experience getting harassed was at a cosplay event when a stranger she befriended started to cross the line.

"He was calling me pet names. I ended up being like, 'Hey, you were really creepy. Please don't ever talk to me again," she said.

Chelsea Logan, dressed as Harley Quinn, said she experiences harassment at conventions and on the job in Times Square.

"People just always touch you and they think that you're there for their prop," she said.

Harley Quinn NYCC
Chelsea Logan, dressed as Harley Quinn, poses with a cosplayer at New York Comic Con 2018. "Just because you're dressed as a character doesn't mean that you're there for that person. You're there for yourself and you're there to spread the joy of the character you're with."

"Cosplay is not Consent" has become a worldwide movement aimed at protecting costume enthusiasts and fighting physical and sexual harassment in the cosplay community.

Use of the phrase can be traced as far back as 2012 when "Costumes Are Not Consent" signs first started to appear publicly on fliers and posters at some cons. New York Comic Con was the first major convention to embrace the movement, including an anti-harassment policy along with the phrase itself printed in big, bold letters.

As a result, fans have reported feeling more safe, but Dinerstein will tell you there's still a lot more work left to be done.

"It's striving for excellence, striving for a safe space for everyone to enjoy themselves, because that's what Comic Con is all about," Dinerstein said.

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