This Editorial Is Authored By UsagiMed Intern and Writer Allison Marrero Trigger Warning for Mentions of Sexual Assault and Harassment
On October 9th, 2014, attendees of New York Comic Con entered the event seeking exciting guest panels, performance events, and of course, coveted cosplay photoshoots. However, fans saw signage at the entrance that permanently changed social expectations across the cosplay community: “Cosplay is Not Consent”
Cosplay Is Not Consent
This motto is now commonplace at most cosplay conventions such as Anime Weekend Atlanta, Megacon, and FanExpo Canada, reminding attendees that while they can look at people in cosplay, they cannot touch them without their explicit consent. And it’s not restricted to physical contact–offending behaviors include harassment, catcalls, etc. In Alexandria Ellsworth’s 2018 UCF thesis I’m Not Your Waifu: Sexual Harassment And Assault in Cosplay, Anime, & Comic Conventions, she interviewed numerous cosplayers, male and female, asking them about their experiences cosplaying at conventions. One respondent “Lexie” stated she was “pinched and slapped hard on the backside” while leaning down in a Harley Quinn costume at an overseas convention.
This Editorial Is Authored By UsagiMed Intern and Writer Allison Marrero
Con season is back! Anime, comic, and gaming conventions across the U.S. have been returning, with events like Katsucon, Holiday Matsuri, and Anime Weekend Atlanta scheduled to take place in the upcoming six months. Some events have already occurred though, with one of the biggest conventions in the east, MegaCon, having taken place in Orlando this August, boasting over 100,000 attendees over four days.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of last year, I, along with most con-goers, have been steering clear from the convention scene due to health and safety concerns. However, MegaCon stated online that they would be heavily enforcing attendees to keep their masks on at all times except during stationary eating. I decided to attend for the full weekend and see how the mask and distancing guidelines carried out.
The U.S. returning to normalcy is seeming much more likely thanks to the rapid influx in COVID-19 vaccinations, with 21.3% of Americans being fully vaccinated as of April 11, 2020 (NPR COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker). As millions of vaccines are administered every day, public events, such as conventions, can be planned under safe conditions. However, most anime conventions haven’t been held in over a year, and while usually one year wouldn’t make much of a difference in the number of people interested in the subject of the convention, 2020 lockdowns give rise to a different story.
January has so far been the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic (US deaths). There’s lots of optimism on the horizon, but we may still yet be “in the woods” for more months. Physical health and safety isn’t the only important thing, mental health is, too. As anime lovers and con-goers, we’ve got a big hammer in our toolbox for this: Comfort TV.
What if I told you that you could punch COVID-19 in the face?
COVID-19 has been in the United States for at least eleven months now, and we don’t know when this nightmare will be over. But what if I told you that you can help the United States to get “back to the new normal” faster? If you’re reading this blog post, you probably already volunteer with an anime convention. You know all about how to put on a large event and keep thousands of folks moving and grooving all day and all night. So helping to get shots into the arms of 500 to 10,000 people? That’s small potatoes for you.
That’s right. You can help with vaccinations. Hear me out:
Keep Your Con Safe in 2021: With COVID-19 cases at all time highs, many conventions have been cancelled or postponed in efforts to keep attendees safe. However, some conventions are still continuing, but with strict safety guidelines and population control to maintain a safe and healthy environment. To keep your convention (or any big event) safe in 2021, here are some mandates you should enforce:
National Coming Out Day is October 11th. UsagiMed has always had a special relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. Some of our own Bunnies (even in our senior leadership) identify as alphabet soup. No matter what letters you claim, we’re happy to work with you, to serve you, and to have you in our ranks.
Our team’s diversity is very important to us. It is one of UsagiMed’s greatest assets. In addition to providing more varied viewpoints, our diversity helps us to provide better patient care. The events that Usagi Medical Group services have a higher percentage of their attendees and crew identifying as LGBTQ+ than the general population. Our inclusivity makes it easier for GSM folks to seek care, for issues related to their alphabet status and in general.
Will You Accept Me?
Coming out to family, friends and colleagues can sometimes be a risky and scary proposition for many. While we’re lucky to have a wonderful, accepting community within our fandoms, it can be more difficult to judge whether we’ll be accepted for who we are outside of that arena. To help address this, one of our own has built a free, secure tool to help LGBTQ+ folks gauge how accepting someone might be in a completely anonymous way. Check it out: https://willyouaccept.me/
So, it finally happened. You attended your favorite show, and despite your best efforts to stay well, you’ve become a member of the infected horde. Con Crud is a convergence of diseases from all around the world, all attempting to trounce your immune system via the promise of having a fun time at a convention. It was bound to happen sooner or later. If you get sick during a con, come see UsagiMed! We’ve got lots of stuff that can help you feel better and keep the con dream alive. But sometimes, maybe it’s just better to cut your losses and go home before you make someone else sick. And sometimes, symptoms don’t even show up until after you’ve made it home.
So what do you do now? How do you get back to that happy place you were in during the convention, where the sun was shining, and you could sing along with Totoro without coughing up a lung? Here are a few tips:
1. Take care of your self at home
Do you have the sniffles, a light cough, a headache? Mild symptoms can be taken care of at home. Catch up on the sleep you missed during that 24 hour Doctor Who marathon. Eat some nutritious food. REAL food, not just Red-Bull and Pocky. Drink a lot of water! Consider taking some over-the-counter medicines if they’ll help you relax and rest better. (Follow the directions on the package.) Take it easy for a while, and hopefully you’ll be feeling better in no time.
2. Head to your regular doctor or urgent care
If you’ve got a sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills and general weakness, it might be time to head to a doctor’s office or urgent care. There are some tests and treatments that can only be done in the first day or two of the flu, so identifying the difference between a cold and something more serious can be important. Your doctor may prescribe you some special medicine to help you feel better faster. The other suggestions above still apply though. Rest up, so your body has the energy it needs to fight off the invaders.
3. If necessary, escalate to the ER
It’s rare, but in some cases people can get really sick from an exposure at a convention. If your symptoms are severe, head to the Emergency Room. If you can’t make it there on your own, call 911 or your local emergency number for help.
4. Don’t share!
After you do everything you can to help yourself get healthy, the second best thing you can do is NOT give the crud to anyone else. Depending on your bugs, you can be contagious for up to a week after you get sick. Follow the CDC’s guidelines to help fight the spread of the crud. Some people are especially vulnerable to disease, especially children, cancer patients, and the elderly. Staying home when you’re sick helps curb germs in the community. Staying home when you’re sick may save someone’s life. You can be sure we will always say THANK YOU when you choose to keep your crud at home. UsagiMed will be ready to continue the party with you next year.
5. Keep it from happening again
Nobody wants to get sick. Certainly nobody wants to get sick twice. So before you head off to your next con, be sure to check out our tips for how to stay healthy.
Take your prescribed medicine. Take it as prescribed, even at con. The laws of medicine still apply, even during the most fun weekend of the year. And don’t take anyone else’s medicine.
Many of our patients are folks who forget to take their medications. Some forget to take them on time. Others simply didn’t bring their meds to the con, or were having so much fun they didn’t think to take them all day.
Bring Your Meds
We want your convention to be as fun as it can be, without interruption. I mean, we love you, but we don’t want to see you unless you’re inviting us to celebrate something. So remember to bring your meds, and remember to take them.
Create reminders Set an alarm, separate your meds into the compartments of a pillbox organizer or keep a daily log of prescriptions‚ including drug names and dosages. Such a document especially helps medical personnel to look at your medical requirements if you’re unable to walk us through them.
Plan ahead If you have an especially hectic day ahead of you, take extra care to establish reminders. Make a habit of taking your pills at the same time every day.