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Female armour in fantasy books/games

Discussion in 'World Building' started by ALB2012, Jan 2, 2013.

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  1. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    I lol'd. ;)
     
  2. Actually, the Egyptians did have some form of scale armor, I believe, though it was probably expensive. And note that armor was common in ancient Greece; a place that also has pretty hot climate. (For that matter, "Europe" doesn't exactly have a uniform climate.) There's also the fact that people in hot climates are more tolerant to heat than people from cold climates - something I experienced for myself when I visited Tunisia.

    So, I'm not entirely convinced this is just a matter of warm weather. There are probably other factors.

    Anyway, my point was that nobody is going to skip armor because "they focus on agility." Dying of heatstroke, maybe, but it's pretty much a myth that unarmored fighters can just dance around a warrior in armor. Most people who went into battle without armor probably wished they had one.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  3. Meteora

    Meteora Dreamer

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    Its because artists overseuxalise women, for whatever reason. Practicality is usually thrown out of the window, not always but usually when they draw up women. Why is that? Probably because sex appeal and everyone follows the same guideline: there needs to be less armour and more flesh. Its gone overboard and I don't really see it stopping for a while. While it bewilders the people who question its practicality, the mainstream audience usually will buy into it just because it looks good.

    I question some of the armour designs that the artists come up with, but those are usually the downright ridiculous ones (bikini armour). I've seen so many of them and have gotten accustomed to how MMOs will always have these nicely styled but impractical armour that I honestly don't really care much.

    Though its not to say its right, either. You don't need to reveal more of the feminine physiology to make them female. Personality also comes a long way, but that's getting into character design and that's straying off topic of armour.
     
  4. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I find it amusing that a female character in armor must be identifiable as a female in armor. Why? When this woman is on the battlefield, what does she gain? I would actually think it's a disadvantage because the enemy will all point to the woman and shout to one another "Hey! That's a woman!"

    Anyone watch football? The New York Giants defensive line looks intimidating because they all look physically similar with the same style face mask. Anyone watch 300? How intimidating did the Immortals look? They dressed alike and wore the same mask.

    In war, you don't want to stand out like a sore thumb. You want to present one face to your enemy and complete the strategy at hand. Why would a woman, or a rich lord, or the hero of your novel, want to dress in golden armor wearing a helmet with a red plume ten feet tall?

    There is oversexualizing a woman in armor and there is a lesser form of oversexualizing a woman in armor. Don't do either.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
    Jabrosky likes this.
  5. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    None of this has anything to do with chainmail bikinis, but:

    True enough, the average soldier doesn't want to be a target. And the real point of uniforms, marching drill, and so on, was to make troops stop thinking like individuals who could be killed or run away.

    But sometimes you do want to stand out. If you're a leader you want your men to see you fight-- though that only goes so far, when you're right in with the troops and yelling the orders, they know who you are. Or if you're a lord trying to outdo other lords (and there aren't many other kinds) or a champion trying to make a name in the field, you need to stand out, hence the heraldry and favorite weapons. Many knights fought for sheer love of glory more than any cause, and when bows and guns started taking over war they said "Now there's no point in mass killing if we can't get the credit for it!"

    (Besides, if we're at the plate or even chainmail level, that's a rich fighter who couldn't find many equally-armored people to blend in with if she wanted to.)

    Or, it isn't always organized war. A team of individuals might need their own gear to go with their own skills, or be too busy running from the burning city to have grabbed matching armor.

    For standard soldiers, uniform uniformity means a lot. But a story can have hundreds of ways of varying from that.

    (And none of them justify a plate-armored Cleavage Window.)
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    What people did or didn't wear in the real world only gets you so far when dealing with a fantasy setting, however. An author might readily invent reasons in her world for things being the way they are. Through magic, a simple necklace, ring, or minimalist piece of armor may protect the wearer as well or better than the most heavily-armored ensemble they could throw together.

    You've also got characters like Conan, who are generally depicted as wearing little or no armor. Conan does fine in battle, whether large-scale or one-on-one, because it is a Fantasy, and he's just tough enough and skilled enough to pull it off. There might well be a female equivalent similarly-clad, without detriment in battle, for the same reasons as Conan (i.e. for no reason at all apart from sheer bad-assery).

    The problem with these depictions of female armor in fantasy isn't that 'some' women are depicted in that way. The problem is that virtually all of them are. If you brought the norm down to the same level of male characters, with most shown in a more conventionally sensible and practical manner, with the occasional badass or magic-wearing character who gets by with the slimmest of armor (or none at all), then I don't think there's a problem. Probably won't happen in gaming until there are a lot more women in the industry, and even then I sometimes wonder (I know female artists who draw highly-sexualized images of women; the difference is they draw them of men as well).
     
  7. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    I'd say something like this (Keira Knightly as Guinevere in 'Arthur' 2004) is pretty accurate (given the idea that many Celts fought nearly naked and heavily painted, what probably isn't true) http://i1.cdnds.net/12/22/618x865/movies_20_memorable_movie_queens_15.jpg
     
  8. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    For me the true crux of the issue is the sexual double standard. I don't have a problem with scantily clad characters per se; after all, entire real world cultures have gotten away with wearing little clothing (although most of these tend to come from societies and environments very different from the stereotypical fantasy setting). What's unfair is that only one sex gets the sexy treatment, which betrays a sentiment that only men's sexual desires matter. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander too.
     
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Heh. I do have one Celtic character who once fought in nothing but a torn and knotted cloak for a loincloth, but it was justified because he'd just fallen in battle and magically come back to life stark-naked. None of the clothes on the corpses around him would fit, since he's 6'7", so he just grabbed what he could for modesty's sake. And amusingly, he was painted blue as well -- not with woad, but with Fae blood from his slaughtered foes. XD
     
  10. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    Ah, impressive! Nice idea, btw. Woad-blueblooded Fae... the snobs.
     
  11. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    And I think it's worth noting that that getup actually keeps her boobs out of her way (especially important since this version of Guinevere was primarily an archer), instead of presenting them directly in the path of her arms. Historical accuracy or lack thereof aside, they had their cake and ate it too with a scantily-clad-but-still-badass woman.
     
  12. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    Since she's flat-chested (Keira deserves a medal for not getting a boob job, as most actresses in her sphere have done- and you can bet she's been pressured), most of that actually looks practical to me on first glance- except for all the dangly strings. She'd better hope she doesn't have to do any close-up hand-to-hand (ie grappling) with all those convenient "handles" to get grabbed and immobilized by.

    The hair, too.... it's not as bad as many I've seen, but when you fight, you want your hair either chopped off or tied firmly out of the way so that you can see, and the bad guys can't grab you by it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  13. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    I think I must disagree with you.
    Kiera is not flat chested. Compared to the silicon zepplins of others in show business she looks small, but these picts show she is properly endowed.
    Kiera Knightly - Bing Images
    I do agree, natural is better then excessively fake.
     
  14. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    My argument would be that EVERY woman's naturally developed chest is "properly endowed". Our modern western society- especially in Hollywood- does not agree.

    When I say "flat chested", I don't mean it as an insult. Gods, I wish I was flat-chested- I wish this every day, especially while trying to perform a pak sau. I think Kiera looks incredible (altho she tends to be somewhat underweight much of the time) and as I said, I admire her for not carving up her body to cater to twisted media ideals.
     
  15. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

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    Yeah Keira Knightly is a beautiful woman, she needs no enhancement.
    On the matter of magic armour, it is the magic which provides the armour not the material itself. As someone said a ring or amulet could provide some form of barrier or protection and the wearer could get away with wearing normal clothes or in fact nothing at all.

    I know in many RPGs the rings and such provide protection against a specific type of magic or monster.

    I am in agreement about the double standards, most of the images of the woman in armour the ladies are ... rather large up top. Now obviously buxom lasses have the right to be warriors etc but surely not all of the women would be that way? I guess it is an ideal, or rather a perceived ideal and the armour they wear enhances that. Platemail covers most of you and so that supposed allure is gone. Male or female the shape is just person shaped not specific.

    Most of the male characters are pretty unrealistic too, toned, abs, tanned, muscular etc etc. It is not nearly so bad but still a stereotype. Now one would assume a warrior is pretty fit but even so.

    It is quite amusing, I have just started playing Star Wars online and some of the NPCs are pretty podgy, they all all sizes and colours, short, fat, tall, skinny, white, black, grey, green, red etc. :) The armour is pretty generic. The female armour fits the characters curves but is sensible.

    Ok that was rather meandering sorry, I think my brain has run away...
     
  16. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    I see this argument a whole lot on the Internet, without the "not nearly so bad" caveat. It's a false equivalence. In fantasy art and comic books (where this comes up a lot) and the suchlike, men draw male characters they way they want to look. Men draw female characters the way men want women to look. All too rarely are women consulted regarding how they want to be portrayed. Women make up a tiny percentage of creative professionals in the gaming/comic book/fantasy art world, for a variety of reasons which have nothing to do with lack of effort on their part, so even though we're living in the 21st century and sexism is supposed to be over, the overwhelming majority of people creating things for our consumption are men.

    Star Wars was pretty utopian as far as body types were concerned, at least in the original trilogy. The fighter pilots in particular were all shapes and sizes (casting English stage actors will do that). That was never used for cheap laughs--at no point did anyone toss Jek Porkins a space sausage so he'd break his chair, and no one had trouble getting into the cockpit. They were still all men, and so was the entire Rebel Alliance excluding Leia, Mon Mothma, and the operator lady in Echo Base, and that's a shame. Still, that variety was lost in the prequel trilogy and I expect the sequels will be cast to modern Hollywood standards.
     
  17. JBryden88

    JBryden88 Troubadour

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    I find in my project(s) I try and find a balance. I write what I'm interested in, and I write what I feel can be a good story. My two projects both take place in the same world, same country even, but are about 250 years apart.

    One character is a female that does wear plate and mail. And she dresses practically. Are there times in which I would describe her as scantily clad? Absolutely. She's part of a culture that is based on the whole idea of the ancient Celt that wades in naked with nothing but war paint. So there are scenes in which she wears /no/ armor, and no it doesn't protect her. But that's not for sex appeal, that's because her culture at that point demands it.

    The other character in my main project? She doesn't wear heavy armor. She wields a sword and a dagger, sometimes two swords, and she's not built for armor. She's athletic and very quick footed. Her armor style I would say IS "skimpy." Again, not the Red Sonja look.

    Using a link from the original link which goes to another link: http://womenfighters.tumblr.com/image/21141900728

    The first female image on the left is more akin to what she wears. OR the last image on the right EXCEPT for most of it. And what I mean by that, is that take away the "Mailkini" and instead replace it with leather of the same shape, and reasonable leggings, and that's what she'd wear. It's a balance between being appealing to say, a guy who does want to read about an attractive warrior woman but not straying into absurd turf.

    The chainmail bikini concept only works for one character, and that's Red Sonja, because she's Red Sonja lol.
     
  18. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    If I may play devil's advocate for a moment...

    The double standard you mention would indeed be unfair if comic books and video games were gender-neutral material, but that would indeed be the case in an ideal world, in the real world they aren't. Just as romance novels are written with mostly female readers in mind, so are comics and games predominantly tailored for (straight) male tastes. Therefore, it's not surprising that women get the sexualized treatment in men's media, just as men may receive a similar sexualized treatment in women's media. It's not like there's a lot of cross-gender media consumption after all.

    For some reason women seem more concerned with how they are represented in men's media than men are about the reverse.
     
  19. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    Ahh, now we're getting to the meat and potatoes. There are a couple problems with that logic. The first is that it's problematic for one gender to be sexualized exclusively in the other gender's targeted media at all--it produces certain expectations. Young, impressionable boys who read comic books full of rubber-spined women with enormous breasts, flying about in spandex thongs (or doing battle in mailkinis), will on some level, conscious or otherwise, expect to see more of that.

    The other problem is that men are not sexualized in women's media (which explains why they're not too concerned about it). Next time you go to 7-11, look over the newsstand and try to find one (just one) female-targeted magazine with a man on the cover. I'm not even going to get specific about sexy poses or a state of undress, because I can pretty much guarantee that unless they carry Playgirl, or maybe Bust's once-yearly "Men We Love" issue, or this month's O with Dr. Oz sharing the cover with Oprah, you will not see a man on the cover of a woman's magazine. You will see more women, and this is because women are taught to view themselves and each other through the selfsame male gaze.

    The only significant example of a man being presented in a state of undress, for the purpose of ogling, in media directed specifically at women was Taylor Lautner in the Twilight saga, and even that looked almost exactly like the cover of a men's fitness magazine.

    And the fact remains that sexualized images of men are almost never altered to the extent that sexualized images of women are, with the airbrushing and the waistline-warping and the contorting. Check out The Hawkeye Initiative for an idea of how such a thing would look. Would you take that man seriously? (Provided you took Hawkeye seriously to begin with, of course, which I don't, but if you need to visualize a more interesting superhero in his place, the effect will probably be the same.)
     
  20. saellys

    saellys Inkling

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    Oh, and the acceptance that comic books and videogames and the fantasy genre and so on are tailored for straight male tastes, and that this is somehow justification for continuing to exclude and misrepresent women, is also a problem. Lots of women consume this media, and more would join in if they saw themselves represented in it.
     
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