Many of the designs of female characters were created specifically to be sexualized objects. What Laura Mulvey’s essay on film and the male gaze says about movies applies in spades for the mediums of comic and animation, where female characters are literally objects created by and large by and for males .
If male artists and creators are contributing to and participating in rape culture by designing these over-sexualized and objectified female characters, are female cosplayers who choose to portray these sex object characters as a part of their hobby also contributing to rape culture through their celebration of these characters and their objectifying designs?
Avoiding victim blaming creates an interesting paradox:
If an image or portrayal of women is harmful to women, but it cannot be harmful to women if a woman is portraying the harmful image, how can we say it’s harmful without engaging in victim blaming? If the image is not allowed to be called out as harmful to women when emulated by women, can we say the image was harmful in the first place?
Is it the real woman with ‘boobs hanging out’, as it is so crudely put, or created object image of a woman with ‘boobs hanging out’ being emulated that we have a problem with?
There’s a conundrum in certain lines of modern feminist thought when someone has a problem with the created image but is unable to criticize celebration of the image by the very person that is victimized by or because of the created image when that person is victimized because the victim is not allowed a role in their victimhood. Therefore, creators of harmful images are able to hide behind the victimhood of others, those who are unwittingly playing a role in the culture that has made them victims by celebrating those characters who exist to objectify women.
God, feminism is rife with terrifying logic puzzles! Feel free to use any of this if there is an evil robot you need to destroy.
And NO, this is NOT an endorsement of or post in favor of victim blaming or victim shaming, playing devil’s advocate or anything like that. Just an attempt to articulate a confusing existential problem that faces the geek community with no solutions proposed or implied.