A man in a woman’s world
So over the last year my involvement in the Japanese fashion and geek communities has slowly expanded and along with it have been opportunities to hear the latest gossip. For example, this year at Ramencon in Merrillville, Indiana, my wife (leah-sama) and I are hosting three panels, helping format the program book and leasing surveillance cameras for security in the dealers room. As many don’t know, both my wife and I are aspiring to become more involved in either the lolita fashion or anime convention scene and hope to maybe even run a convention of our own one day.
Anyways, one particular subject I’ve recently been hearing a lot about is the increase of women in the lolita community making claims that a male friend/acquaintance sexually harassed them during working closely with each other, if that either be organizing a fashion show or trading services.
There has been at least two stories, I’m the most familiar with. I’m not going to go over all the details of the accusations but will be giving my own opinions. For the first one, that I’m the least familiar with, is the case of Ryan Kopf, founder and if I’m not mistaking chairman of Anime Midwest. He was recently accused of raping a couple girls that were involved in the lolita fashion show his anime convention puts on each year. First, apparently the rape took place roughly over a year ago. Why did they take so long to finally file a complaint, well the girls flip-flop between making the claim that they either did not enjoy the sex or they heard he allegedly raped other girls. Okay, I’d be willing to overlook the delay but what yanks my chain is the fact that this seems to be a recurring excuse. In all the cases I’ve heard no girl made an immediate complaint, why? That’s like buying a broken TV and waiting a year to finally go back in asking for an exchange, now given I worked for RadioShack and this did happen like once in a blue moon, rape should be no joke and has no reasons to be postponed.
Unfortunately for myself, I only heard about Ryan Kopf’s accusations by word of mouth and I’m sure that some details are wrong but there was one personal experience I had while learning of this that disturbs me the most and that was who and how I initially learn of this information. I was at Anime Milwaukee when I had a friend tell me about some down right shady business practices of Kopf. Later that day while walking the… well, that area of the convention that promotes other conventions, I walked past the Anime Midwest booth. Both myself and my wife were wearing one of our latest lolita coords and being that Anime Midwest is buy-n-large a pro-lolita convention, most the girls at the booth were dressed in Lolita and one girl called out to us. She tried to convince me that I needed to come to Anime Midwest because Baby The Star Shine Bright (a lolita brand) was a special guest, which as a side note, most these sexual harassment stories I hear seem to center around convention organizers that have business relationships with lolita brands. When I finally told her that I did not feel comfortable attending a convention with a chairman that’s involved in conservancy. She immediately without hesitation, gives me a long explanation on how nice Kopf is and that people are just jealous of his success, that’s why they make up such mean and false claims. Next thing I knew she says “He’s never tried touching me and when girls have asked him to stop, he stops.” … Now keep in mind, I was referring to the shady business practices, the sexual harassment charges were still unknown to myself. So I ask “Wait! Wait! What are you talking about?” She quickly tells me about the rape charges and when I inform her that I was unaware of this, she suddenly gets quiet and walks away. Later, I was able to hear more on the charges from others I knew. Point is, if she without hesitation felt she had to defend his reputation and assumed I was talking about rape charges then who is to say she is not in on something? I’m not saying she is and I’m not saying she is not, I just find it suspicious.
I titled this post “A man in a woman’s world” because of two reasons. First, being that I’m a male who crossplays and wears lolita makes me exactly that, a man in a woman’s world. Second, this was also the title of John Leigh’s post trying to respond to his own accusations of rape and harassment, which shortly after was deleted. John Leigh is the chairman of Anime Matsuri and for those who don’t know there has been a large number of people calling for his and his wife’s title as Kawaii Ambassadors to be revoked. So you might be asking, what is a Kawaii Ambassador? Well, a Kawaii Ambassador is the official title given out by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in hopes the spread understanding of Japan and it’s people, e.g., their cute culture.
John Leigh and his wife were recently awarded two of these titles by Misako Aoki, who was one of the first Kawaii Ambassadors, as well as the ambassador of the lolita fashion. And as I technically said before, Leigh has also been recently accused of sexual harassing and/or raping fellow girls while in the process of organizing the Lolita fashion show that accompanies his anime convention down in Texas. Differences from Kopf case would be he has never actually been legal charged with these accusations. After hearing many of the stories from his accusers I would agree he should lose his title, not because he supposedly harassed them but for simply being an idiot. That right, he is your typical guy that jokes around with girls by making sexual slurs and while confronted about it, he chucked it up as just how he is around close friends. Now, I don’t believe his accusers are blameless, hearing his defense, it sounds like one girl literally decided to play the victim card for the whole nine yards and when it did not work, she started spreading lies and literally vandalizing an international event he was organizing, I feel that makes both parties some what equally guilty. You can easily find more information online and there will be a couple links at the bottom.
As I pointed out on my Tumblr, I’m in support of the revoking of his title but I’m also not comfortable letting those with their elitist attitudes win. Once he was accused by the lolita elite, it went viral and they blacklisted him wherever and whenever they could. One resulting in him being blocked from viewing his own EventBrite page. — How was this a solution? Sounds like bullying to me.
So to help you digest this, I’m finding a disturbing trend and sadly this has been an issue of the lolita community for nearly a decade. There are a few girls in the community that make it a point of bullying brolitas and fellow lolitas as sport. Now, I also understand that this can be something that naturally has happened amidst women for who knows how long now, but this needs to change. And don’t take my post wrong, I’m not siding with Kopf or Leigh, they both deserve a full prosecution.
Now on the other hand, there is another issue I’m seeing and I hope people can enlighten me as to why this is? Why does anyone believe hanging around a 20-35 year old male who shows no interest in wearing lolita or on the flip side has no aspiration to truly wear it well, appears to be a good person to have any type of relationship with, be it business or personal? I can assume that in both the above cases, the girls were only willing to put up with such a sexually perverted man because they had connections with huge lolita brand names. But there is another amongst the community that has gotten a really bad rap lately and that would be… us Brolitas. Yes, those that wear it with just as much passion and love as any of our female counterparts.
Now, don’t make the mistake that I’m including all men in drag in this category, I’m only talking the guy who shaves his legs, wears proper sizes, wears petticoats (a rant for another time) and in many cases has a decent grasp on applying makeup. I can hear you yelling at the screen, saying I’m not being fair, “Those men have reasons they won’t shave or even put on makeup”. Okay fine, some men can’t find the exact size skirt, or they skip the petticoat for similar reasons a girl would but I’m talking the guy who makes NOOOOO attempt even once to wear a complete well done coord and when asked about it, they can’t give a reason, they just don’t want to.
But to the point, I made a recent post on my Tumblr saying “I wish Lolitas afraid of Brolitas for possible hidden agendas would get over it!”. I know that many Lolitas are afraid of Brolitas for many reasons and boy they range, but the most common I hear is they are afraid of that one brolita being a pedophile. I understand that if a pedophile was to come from anyplace, a man in drag would make the most logical sense but shocker, we true crossplayers and brolitas are probably your least threatening source. I can personally testify that someone like maybe has no time whatsoever to pursue sexual desires while trying to wear lolita properly, we have too much dedication to have any other agenda. So my suggestion on avoiding guys who might possibly be a pedophile, is this. If he has any questionable language, speaks sexual slurs or has none to little desire to properly wear a lolita coord, you need to distance yourself. You might want to make it work, because he has these awesome ties to Angelic Pretty or BTSSB but he’s not concerned about getting you ahead, he is thinking about you naked, specially when some argue that the fashion can send wrong signals. These men are wolves in sheep’s clothing, no pun intended.
Don’t misunderstand and assume that I’m arguing that good crossplayers and brolitas will always be your saving angel, we are men and have sexual natures that can go wrong, but I feel very much offended when men like myself are always the first target a accusation. Please do men like myself a favor and stop assuming we are the pedophiles. We usually care for our female friends and will many times confront other men who give our female friends trouble. And for male Lolitas like myself, we honestly love the fashion, we are not in it for the girls. Besides, I’m married, I have my hot claim and she is a keeper. We brolitas don’t go out and buy $300 brand dresses just because we want to have sex with girls.
Lastly, one other thing that tends to bug me with many women in general is the shear number of them that think it is okay to treat a man however they want because they were raised to be intelligent and independent and men are neanderthals from Mars. Being both intelligent and independent are perfectly good qualities but when women use them as excuses to tear down men, you are not only shaming yourself but women in general. Live up to your mistakes, don’t complain and in the case of women who wish to be seen like one of the guys, don’t curl up and start crying, or become the victim when it’s not going your way. I don’t mean to make this post attacking any women, I love women and wish for a better world where both men and women can stand on equal ground, I’m just getting tired of people applying gender stereotypes only when they have something to gain from it. My wife has given me many cases of girls who have done just that.
And to make this fair, to all you men who read this, stop thinking of women as sex objects. You need to be treating them better than this and when one of them says STOP! it means stop. You need to be the better person and treat women with dignity and the honor they deserve. And for both men and women, you should not be making sexual comments around each other, chucking it up as being a thing you do around friends is not an excuse, we can be better than this!