The meandering thoughts and observations of a Technology Engineer.
Nan Desu Kan Dress Code Reaction – 60% of a Bust is No Bust At All
Ok. So initially I just briefly saw a post on my twitter feed about the change in NDK’s costume policy and didn’t think much of it. Then I saw a link to their post on Tumbler specifically the one titled: “Misconception #2: Females” and for some reason became frustrated and upset. This resulted in a two tweet exchange with someone at NDK and an invitation to express myself fully. Invitation accepted, here it goes.
To be fair, I haven’t been to an NDK in a few years, mostly because I live in another city during the summer and it’s, frankly, impossible to make it. Another part of it is because the convention has been in the same venue for umpteen years now and frankly the whole thing feels stagnant, “If you aren’t growing, you’re dying.” Essentially for the last few years, it simply isn’t worth the effort to attend. With that loss to content with to then find myself reading a blog post trying to mince words about a change in the costume policy for the convention, I was astonished.
Things weren’t always like this. I have very fond memories of NDK. I spent almost every year of Middle School and High School and part of college attending the convention. I even went to the convention the year it was at that weird hotel off of Union and 6th (forgive me, I was young and I forget the name of the hotel.) It was the culture I participated in whenever I had free time. I’ve met some of my most dear friends because of Anime and NDK was something we did as a group to be part of the community. To top it off it was just a fun place to get together and learn. I have many a friend that learned how to cosplay going to NDK. That’s why when I read about things like this costuming dress code issue, it got my blood boiling. There are bigger issues and problems to deal with than enforcing a pseudo dress code and the result is frustration.
So now you know me, know why I’m frustrated, now let’s dissect this Public Relations idiocy on the part of NDK. We’re going to pull this one apart, it’s going to be fun.
So let’s start of with the message that I think says what I think NDK is trying to achieve, in their own words, “…Please remember we’re an all-ages convention! Think of it this way: we do not want our younger attendees learning about the ‘birds and the bees’ from a scantily-clad cosplayer.” This goal, it seems, is the core reason for the rules regarding dress. The convention is literally concerned about having anyone need to explain the birds and the bees to a kid. I find it slightly dubious and hilarious that the convention thinks it might have to take up this mantle and needs to create a ‘bird and bee’ free environment.
When I read this policy, I saw myself with one of my nieces or nephews looking at a busty and otherwise slim Fey Valentine, or a Grenadier cosplayer. I assume everyone knows what I’m talking about. Now the first thing that comes out of that child’s mouth, in my mind, is, “What show is that lady from?” or “We’ve watched that show! Can we get a picture!” Honestly my greater fear is the conversation arising from an encounter with the 230 pound hairy dude dressed as Lina Inverse or Sailor Moon, but that’s just gross not sexual, so it’s fair game.
Now that is probably very different from the first thought that comes into the mind of someone afraid of a parent suing them, which is, “Mommy, that Woman’s state of undress arouses me and I’m wondering what that’s all about, can you explain it to me since I’m screaming it loudly in public because obviously you’re not embarrassed enough?”
This line of paranoid dialog is the only way in which this policy or thought process comes into being in the first place. It’s not from a, what’s good for the kids perspective, it’s from the prudish perspective of dealing with harassing parents. Frankly kids either get it or they don’t and the revelation will not be coming upon them looking at that busty Fey in the halls during the convention.
Now that we’ve established that such a revelation is unlikely the policy and the situation it’s trying to prevent is laudable. With that behind us we can now get to the heart of what the most significant part of the problem in this situation is. Simply put, people don’t understand or respect the rule because the initial goals didn’t make any sense in the first place.
With a confusing rule on the books and some idea that they needed to maintain this goal to kill ‘the birds and the bees’. NDK, having received enough complaints about arbitrary enforcement, now creates a new policy that they hoped would be more clear and less prone to misinterpretation. Frankly though, the rule wasn’t modified greatly, the only change to their rule was adding an arbitrary number 60%. I’m assuming this percentage was selected because there was some perception that it would improve customer service through having a hard, clear line. To try and fix the past issues by creating a fixed standard that everyone could be judged equally and addressing what must have been a common complaint. It’s measurable and they hope it will solve the enforcement inconsistencies.
Now, to digress a little, in my real life job I spend a lot of time working with people with contrasting opinions on issues. 9/10ths of my job is trying to get along and keep issues moving forward. When you’re working through a lot of issues between people and companies I have found that you have to be consistent. Not just consistent in how you enforce rules, but in the presentation of the rules, and with how you communicate and handle the rules. In addition, you have to also accept that there are community rules and real laws that stack on top of all those other rules that you’re trying to enforce.
I understand that NDK was going for a clear and concise rule, trying to bridge the gap, but this is obviously an un-winable situation. The rule, which from the perspective of the community is already inconsistently enforced and hard to understand, now simply has an arbitrary number.
The trouble with the 60% rule is that it will still vary depending on the person and how they interpret what 60% looks like. We know from psychology and other Science that each person has different perceptions in regards to reality. So regardless of whatever number was selected, without a magic body scanner and tape measure inspections (which I would admit, would be highly entertaining to watch), it’s going to be perceived very differently depending on the person.
For example, let’s put two women side by side. One woman has an A cup, she wears a tube top and achieves 100% coverage. No one doubts that she is covered and the con is happy. Now right next to her is a 6’6” amazon of a woman fully grown with 36 double D’s. She’s wearing a sports bra modified for her character of choice and it covers 60% of her breasts by all forms of real measure. But she has 6” of cleavage just because of physical size. With these two women standing next to each other, I know who is more likely to get in trouble in regards to dress regardless of the actual square area of bust exposed.
Breaking it down, it’s just really not reasonable to assume that the hard percentage will be any more effective than the previous rule. It’s safer to assume in fact with the change some idiot is going to get out a tape measure and try to figure it out because now we have a hard number. On top of that, you still haven’t assuaged the fury of the indignant mother who wants any woman near her son dressed in a burka. Effectively, you just continued to piss everyone off.
I could go into thousands of words more, about how this is stupid, didn’t work well in the first place and will continue to not work well in the second place. Get into a debate about what ‘change’ means when you go from a qualitative rule to a numeric rule. We could then continue with the rules about Mens nipples and all that jazz, which is a rule that sounds nice on paper, but seems ridiculous in practice. Instead I’m going to end the criticism portion here and continue with what should be done and is consistent with other conventions across the country.
For this purpose of this commentary I reviewed the rules and policies for other conventions. Those conventions were, Dragon Con, Anime Expo, Starfest and San Diego Comic Con.
I was relieved at the easy analysis that I found. The first and only observation to be made with the policies at each of these conventions, is that they have NO dress code for attendees. Dragon Con may be an exception in that it has a single line item in their rules that says, “Don’t break the law, there are Nudity Laws.” All of the conventions, otherwise, only have rules that apply to cos-players competing in the official competition and in regards to dress only say, ‘Don’t be nude.’
So, NDK, that is my focused answer to your problem and the only way you’re really going to fix this. Instead of coming up with some arbitrary, ineffective measure to ‘clarify’ your previous policy, tell people that they must obey the law, not your rules, and not some made up dress code with an arbitrary system of measurement. Simply require that people obey the LAW! This would fix this whole issue and make it go away and removes the burden of enforcement from you.
Now, stop screwing around with this and focus your energy on making the convention better and bigger and stop worrying about what my friends wear to the convention.
– Edit –
Starfest – http://starland.com/wp/starfest/contests_competitions/
Dragon Con – http://dragoncon.org/policies.php
NDK Old Rules – http://web.archive.org/web/20101206195237/http://ndkdenver.org/info/rules/costumes
NDK New Rules – http://ndkdenver.org/info/rules/costumes
NDK Tumblr Post – http://ndkdenver.tumblr.com/post/27125611946/misconception-2-females
Colorado State Revised Statues – http://naturistaction.org/StatesFrames/State_Laws_Frames/Colorado_Laws/body_colorado_laws.html