Im reading the Simon Pegg twitter disaster from last night. And I just…
Ok, wait a minute. He called a bunch of Leia Slave cosplay hot on on his twitter.
Then got a whole bunch of tweets for being a sexist asshole.
The slave Leia outfit. The SLAVE. LEIA. OUTFIT.
It’s an outfit that by default is supposed to be “appealing” and “sexy” and all the thing (and problematic overall)
Do women wearing the Slave Leia Oufit at Comic Con are doing this to feel empowered about the meaning of said outfit? Don’t get me wrong here but I find it hard to jump at a man’s throat for finding this hot considering the outfit ITSELF is problematic. I don’t see how an attack against him is relevant considering this is an outfit with a meaning already, and it is objectification of the character FROM THE START. It is supposed to be “sexy” because Leia is Jabba’s slave but she’s not HAPPY about wearing it, her character is forced to wear it, and I hope the women wearing that oufit are aware of that.
Before attacking someone for finding this sexy, maybe you can go and attack Lucas for creating it in the first place, or have a long debate about sexual slavery with the cosplayers who wear them. Or how it feels as a woman to wear that outfit considering the context. If this is really what you want to do. But really, having a go at Pegg (who is not a perfect person, but seriously, what) because he said there were hot? I find that ironic.
Putting on an outfit that was meant to make a character feel skeazy and objectified doesn’t mean anyone cosplaying as said character and in said outfit is trying to invite the world to tell them “go ahead, make me feel skeazy and objectified.” Sort of like anyone cosplaying as a villain isn’t asking the world to treat them like they are evil incarnate. Sort of like anyone cosplaying as a superhero isn’t asking the world to treat them like they actually possess the fantastical abilities of the said superheroes.
Maybe those girls in the picture have a thing for metallic bikinis. Maybe they did it because they’re trying to make some sort of statement. Maybe they reeeeeeeeeally love Star Wars and it’s just a damn costume. Maybe it makes them feel sexy and screw how anyone feels about it because they’re allowed to wear what makes them happy despite the problematic backstory that comes with it.
I’m not “attacking” this guy for saying they’re “hot”.
I’m bothered that he referred to female cosplayers as an amalgamation of beloved things and then described drooling over them the way someone might drool over a thing.
And I’m bothered by the way he handled the entire thing. “You people think I’m objectifying women by calling them things & drooling over them like things? Well, you people are humorless militant feminists, and why can’t I say that the animals dressed provocatively* at this crazy circus* are sexy? Gosh. But look, I didn’t mean to insult anyone (because intent is totally magic) and I guess I’m sorry that people got offended (not sorry that I was offensive, but sorry that y’all were offended, so I’m not really apologizing for my actions, just for other people’s ridiculous feelings, hope that’s ok). We cool now?”
*these are direct quotes
I think having a conversation about why Lucas created the costume in the first place is a good idea. I think asking these women about their motives could yield some interesting results. I think finding out just about everyone’s motivations for cosplaying could be interesting. And I think demeaning female cosplayers as “pretty decoration” and then shaming them as “provocative animals” is also something we ought to discuss.
Yes I do agree that he dealt with it badly, my post was only about the very start of the convo aka attacking for saying they’re hot (just so we’re clear). Again my point was not saying that people shouldn’t wear the outfit, au contraire, but saying that if someone says it’s hot, it’s not something that should be listed immediately as rampant sexism. It pretty much depends on how you roll with it, I find the outfit hot too, but I’m not thinking that this character is a tool either. Because I know Leia is a badass and that’s even if the problematic outfit is gorgeous on her, she’s also a layered, amazing character and that ouftit does not define her. Of course many people will say, “she’s hot” with various intentions in mind, and the problem is more about how each and every person perceive it. But I don’t know, in that very case, the issue about the context of the character from the start makes it difficult to attack only one part of the problem (male gaze comment) vs deeper conversations about it. It’s everything or nothing, you know? Does it make sense?
It wasn’t that he said they were hot. It wasn’t that. He posted the picture and then said “noise Homer would make about a donut” equating the women with donuts. So a woman tweeted saying “not cool” and left him tagged in the post.
That women then went on to say how attitudes of men is what stops some women from cosplaying. She had actually talked to many women before and cosplayed herself. She was saying that things like that are what makes geek culture inhospitable to women. It makes them not want to join in.
Simon Pegg responded with “boring”. That’s what he said to that. Then he went on to argue with her, ending with calling her a “humorless militant”, a while retweeting a link another person had posted that linked all the tweets.
The women who tweeted the link and the first one where then bombarded with slurs and harassed, with Simon giving a fauxpology and a “guys don’t be jerks to those people come on now” then following with joking comments later on.
It was never about “sexiness”- that was only how it was spun. When you go on to talk about the sexiness of the cosplayers and make it about that you are re-framing the discussion out of it’s original context.
This is the story of the tweets that started it. Not all of it because as soon as it was put up it got retweeted and the author was too busy dealing with twitter abuse to finish it.
This is the blog by another of the women involved who got abuse hurled at her.
This is important. It’s not about prudes just getting mad at some guy. This is following almost a straight week of backlash about rape jokes and Tosh. This is what women who speak out about deal with all the time. Women who speak up are told they just can’t take a joke, to calm down, it’s not that big, why are you complaining about this- there are more important things.
Like most things, the beginning doesn’t matter- it’s how the person responds to criticism. Simon Pegg did it by belittling it. He just ignored the whole point. That’s why I care about this. I couldn’t care less what the cosplayers were dressed as. They could have been Lara Croft. They could have been My Little Ponies. None of that matters. It’s the conversation and aftermath that does.
Point of note: “the woman,” my pal Courtney Stoker, is an academic who researches and discusses women’s participation in fandom, cons, cosplay and the like as a part of her work. She runs a blog about women in Doctor Who fandom. Talking about the impact of sexism on women in fandom is what she does for a living, at least in part.
Also, can we please call what Simon Pegg did last night what it is? Bullying. He knows — as do any celebs on Twitter who pay attention — that as soon as you have negative words with a person, your fans are going to go ham on them, and if you set the stage by namecalling and deriding them, the fans are going to be that much worse. And his pitiful attempt at stopping the tide, a half hour later, was a joke. And we know he knows what he was doing because he’s done it before, intentionally revealing a critic’s twitter handle and telling his fans to let her (another woman) know what they thought. Of course their “thoughts” were slurs, insults and exhortations to go kill herself, just as Courtney, Emma and a few others, received last night
This is bullying, straight up. And in this case, sexist bullying. And he — and far too many others — think it’s perfectly okay because a woman dared tell him that it’s not cool to grunt and drool at people as if they’re food.
When we make this a discussion about cosplay and what “sexy” cosplayers “expect,” we’re missing the point entirely.