Gender, Sexuality, and Cosplay: A Case Study of Male-to-Female Crossplay
MetadataShow full item record
Citation“Gender, Sexuality, and Cosplay: A Case Study of Male-to-Female Crossplay,” The Phoenix Papers: First Edition, (Apr 2013), 89-110. ISSN: 2325-2316.
AbstractIn recent years, cosplay fans gathering at anime conventions and events all over North America have attracted much public attention and media coverage. These fans, who often refer to themselves as otaku, 1 wear elaborate costumes and makeup to embody various anime, manga, and related video game characters (Cooper-Chen, 2010; Eng, 2012a). The essence of cosplay, or costume-play, involves affective labor where fans transform themselves into chosen anime characters by constructing and wearing costumes, learning signature character poses or dialogue, and masquerading at conventions and events (Okabe, 2012). Crossplay is a subset of cosplay; crossplayers similarly participate in costume-play, except they dress up in costumes modeled after characters of the opposite gender. This paper addresses male-to-female (“M2F”) crossplay where, as the name suggests, male cosplayers costume themselves as female anime characters. I contend that M2F crossplay exemplifies the performance of gender and sexuality in cosplay that challenges hegemonic norms, providing insight into an increasingly visible phenomenon in contemporary North American popular culture. When men crossplay as women, they are not merely donning femininity, but hyper-femininity, revealing the socially constructed nature of gender roles yet concomitantly reinforcing them. Yet, despite apparent similarities between crossplay and drag performances, they are fundamentally distinct. Drag Queens in Western culture typically connotes men cross-dressing as an exhibition of self-identity, whereas M2F crossplayers costume as female anime characters to partake in an aesthetic transformation that goes beyond mere self-expression. Thus, this paper aims to provide a preliminary exploration of M2F crossplay through a case study, investigating the motivations behind and process of crossplay performance, its status within the cosplay community, and the implications for broader society in relation to hegemonic gender norms.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:13481274
- GSE Student Papers