I’ve been using the site American Cosplay Paradise for several years now. When I originally heard about it, it was from proponents within the cosplay community who were involved in the creation of the site or close to people who were, who lauded it as a site aiming to fulfil the needs of the cosplay community in a way that sites like deviantART and Cosplay.com fail to. I had my doubts at first, though many of them were alleviated over time as the site continues to grow and evolve.
However, my biggest problem with the site failed to be addressed. Namely, that the site forces all members to disclose their gender, and the entire site is built around the segregation of male and female cosplayers in “American Cosplay Paradise” (for females) and “American Cosplay Experience” (for males).
Many sites in this day and age allow you to at least choose not to disclose your gender. It is not only impossible for you to register with the site if you do not want to disclose your gender, but your userpage’s layout will be entirely themed around your gender. When you click on the link for the home page for the website, you will be greeted by a page that only shows you the recently submitted entries of other users of the same gender as yourself, and the featured cosplayer of the month who is the same gender as yourself.
This is an uncomfortable issue, obviously. There are various reasons for not wanting to label yourself as “male” or “female” for the world to see, let alone have your entire profile defined by this.
So after some time, I decided to directly approach the site about it, along with several other issues that were bothering me.
However, I still wanted to mention that I know a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the way that the site segregates cosplayers based on gender — to the point that some people I know have chosen not to use this site altogether because that makes them so uncomfortable. It’s particularly awkward for transgender individuals, people with other gender identities, and people who just don’t want to draw that much attention to their gender for whatever reason. I know that personally, I just don’t like have a big pink banner announcing “GIRL!” at the top of the page when I’m cosplaying a male character and trying to do a convincing job of it. This also means that users of the site are less likely to see the most recent submissions of users of the opposite gender unless they deliberately head over to the other side of the site, considering that they have separate homepages. Basically, I just don’t understand why the site needs to be separated into ACP and ACE.
tl;dr: Your site’s emphasis on gender is alienating toward transgender and otherwise non-cis individuals, as well as cosplayers, and basically seems pointless. It also prevents equal attention from being given to cosplayers of the opposite gender.
Their response to the other issues was pretty reasonable. But their explanation of the gender issue was highly defensive.
As for why we have the separate option, just one glance at that main page you will notice that males tend to get flooded out by females, in what is a female predominant hobby. ACE is a home that allows male cosplayers to shine among themselves and not drown in a sea of female updates. Without ACE, males would be featured pick on a much less frequent basis just by being outnumbered. We will not be taking this option away from our male cosplayer friends who want a chance to be seen. I’m sorry if you disapprove, but this is how we run the site. At the size our site is, we realize that we are not going to be pleasing everyone but have tried our best to compromise. This is something that’s going to stay. You can use the main page of ACP for your browsing needs. If our system bothers you to a degree that you do not want to use the site, that is understandable, and we do not force you to use our site. We realize that there are other comparable cosplay sites out there that people can use, and people will have their own reasons for preferring one site over another. That is perfectly ok.
tl;dr: We don’t want our male users to feel bad about being outnumbered. We aren’t going to change things no matter what you say. If you don’t like it, don’t use our site.
While I understand your reasoning behind the separation of the site, I suppose the logic just seems a bit faulty to me. Separate but equal always seems like a bad idea to me. Since there are far more female cosplayers than male cosplayers, that just means that female cosplayers have much more competition than male cosplayers if they ever hope to be Acy’s pick for the month, when it seems more fair that every user of the site should have an equal chance of achieving this. I’m having difficulty finding the exact numbers for how many male cosplayers there are versus female cosplayers, but I can see that there have been 17 costumes submitted by female celestial members today, versus one costume submitted by a male celestial member — meaning that if these statistics carried over to the actual userbase numbers, a male cosplayer would be 17 times more likely to be featured than a female cosplayer. This is not my primary concern, of course, as that is still that I would like every cosplayer to be equally comfortable using this site, but it is still an issue that comes to mind.
tl;dr: Separate but equal is a shitty philosophy. It’s not fair for a male cosplayer to be far more likely to be featured just because you think that they won’t like being outnumbered by girls. All users of this site should receive equal attention.
As for the gender issue, you seem to be quite insistent and continue to argue your points even after the compromise and after we took the time to issue out your requested explanation. This time however, rather than let this issue drag on, I will simply agree that we disagree. I do have better things to do than to have a philosophical argument about why we run the site the way we do, especially since the outcome won’t change on this matter. You may not necessarily respect our opinion but I respect your opinion.
Now if you’ll excuse me, we do need to make preparations for New York Comic Con and several other events/contests that are coming up in the near future.
tl;dr: You’re being irrational for continuing to argue this after I already decided that I’m not going to listen. I’m not going to continue this conversation. I have better things to do right now.
So in conclusion, it is totally alright to make users uncomfortable as long as men’s delicate egos won’t be injured by being outnumbered by women! We’re totally unmoveable on this issue no matter how many people tell us that they’re bothered by it, and we don’t want to discuss it any further. Now excuse us as we do things that are more important than dealing with your irrational woman-hormones.
You can view the full exchange under this cut: