Less is not more. More is more.
August 26, 2011 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Tired of the D&D Stereotypes of what constitutes armor for women? Tumblr is (of course) to the rescue! Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor.
posted by Navelgazer (156 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not my scene, but there's some nice artwork there.
posted by desjardins at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2011


Is there a bit of subtle social commentary I see in this picture? Is Gryphon the Nike equivalent in some fantasy elf world?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Someone has an elf ear fetish.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2011


WATCH WIL WHEATON PLAY D&D
posted by clavdivs at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a bit from Dave Sims' "Cerebus" where the titular character has first encountered Red Sophia - Sims' parody of Red Sonja - and she's trying to seduce him. She rips off her top and says "what do you think... OF THESE?"

Cerebus, being Cerebus, responds "I think the scars would heal if you'd stop wearing the chain mail bikini."
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:23 PM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


That's what I always liked about Sorsha in the movie Willow. She was in it for rillz.
posted by hermitosis at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


[IMG]
posted by hermitosis at 2:26 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a bit of subtle social commentary I see in this picture? Is Gryphon the Nike equivalent in some fantasy elf world?

it looks more like the Puma logo, so presumably she's supposed some sort of elven hipster.
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Brienne of Tarth.

That is all.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:34 PM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


This tumblr hits all my buttons. I would love to cosplay this cleric, except I'd think it would come off more muumuu than awesome cleric robes of powah.
posted by muddgirl at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think people are missing the point, that females in scantly clad armor is a "defense through offense" kind of tactic. Shock and awe.
posted by straight_razor at 2:39 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But she has a Dex of 19 and a +4 ring of defense. Who needs armor?
posted by Chuffy at 2:41 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I kid you not, I have a collection of short stories titled "Chicks in Chainmail" which is mostly making fun of the scanty-armor trope.

I also remember being at Worldcon when it came to Chicago and I was a teenager. There was a pair of women walking around in chainmail bikinis, and they were overheard to complain that everyone was staring at them.
posted by adamrice at 2:46 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


So you think there was a link?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


The only rpg which really justifies the near-nudity rule is Glistening Chests - the fantasy rpg where your clothes where you take damage, therefore, if you wear as little as possible, it's very hard to hit the parts that can actually take damage.

Mind you, that rule applies to all genders equally.
posted by yeloson at 2:49 PM on August 26, 2011


But she has a Dex of 19 and a +4 ring of defense. Who needs armor?

More importantly she's got a charisma of 19, so by the end of the night you'll be buying her drinks and begging for mercy.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:50 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are definitely still examples of "boobplate" in that list. Sure it's not chainmail bikini or midrfit/cleavage window armor but it's still objectification.

That being said expecting authentic armor in a game like D&D is a lost cause and indeed going for a grim and gritty feel is missing the point of D&D particularly more recent iterations of the game. D&D heroes are big damned heroes that don't have to worry about maiming injuries because they have numerous hitpoints, healing potions or heroic surges. Just like action movies typically have the heroes in attractive form fitting clothing rather than layered kevlar body armor and superheroes wear attractive spandex outfits instead of powered armor (for the most part) the armor that D&D heroes wear especially in promotional art is about rule of cool rather than utilitarian.
posted by vuron at 2:52 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I basically want to be Kyra the Cleric when I grow up, except that billowy robes tend to make me look like a fat baby tusken raider.
posted by elizardbits at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


I kid you not, I have a collection of short stories titled "Chicks in Chainmail" which is mostly making fun of the scanty-armor trope.

IIRC, there's two of them, and at least one short story was spun off into a longer series wherein the heroine is a chainmail-bikini-wearing brawler from another dimension who travels to Earth to learn Algebra, which is magic in their dimension, only to fall in love and marry her math tutor. Or something like that - it's been a long time.

That being said expecting authentic armor in a game like D&D

I don't expect authentic armor, but I don't expect to be treated like I'm not part of the audience for a fantasy what-have-you because I'm not turned on by random ladyflesh.
posted by muddgirl at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


This does not seem like reasonable armor.

The cleric muddgirl mentions looks cool, but all the cloth seems like it would a hinderance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:59 PM on August 26, 2011


In a similar vein - Armor Watch
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:01 PM on August 26, 2011


Oh I agree that fantasy art needs to break out of the Boobplate and Chainmail bikini template if publishers are going to try to gain additional readership/gamers/etc. Objectification and wish fulfillment might sell but it also limits your audience. I think the shift in art style with 4e materials has been a good direction for WotC and it doesn't seem to be killing their sales. Hopefully other publishers will realize that cheesecake can be a useful tool for driving sales but it doesn't have to be the only flavor you're selling.
posted by vuron at 3:05 PM on August 26, 2011


The cleric muddgirl mentions looks cool, but all the cloth seems like it would a hinderance.

I'm sure there's a name for this visual esthetic but it's basically that more complex and more little bits seems more visually lush. In practice it would look ridiculous and be completely impractical. It's hard to keep all those little pieces in place. There's a reason the real armour looks a gigantic tin can.
posted by GuyZero at 3:05 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


cheesecake... doesn't have to be the only flavor you're selling

cheesecake AND beefcake?
posted by GuyZero at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cake for everbody! Let us eat cake!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:07 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone mentioned over on Gamers With Jobs, the Dragon Age series has treated their fighting women pretty well in this respect. The mages are often still a bit ridiculous, but the women that wear armor do it correctly. Aveline is particularly good.

Of course, the whole tank/healer/offense trope is pretty stupid, and a holdover from MMOs needing extremely simplistic AI routines that can handle thousands of monsters at once, for hundreds of different player groups. But if you ignore the stupidity of large groups of critters beating on the woman in heavy armor while her lightly-armored companions tear them apart, at least they GIVE her heavy armor.
posted by Malor at 3:07 PM on August 26, 2011


Brandon Blatcher:: This does not seem like reasonable armor.

How can she raise her arms high enough to swing a sword with those should plates? It looks like it would dig into her upper arm any time she tried to raise her arm even above waist level.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:08 PM on August 26, 2011




cheesecake AND beefcake?


Franzetta has got that covered for you.

This armor, and the content of the images is as silly as chainmail bikinis. It's still fantasy, just a different flavor, to continue that delicious analogy. I don't think that there's necessarily anything intrinsically wrong with a fantasy world that looks like a Franzetta comic, but I also agree that there needs to be room for diversity.

Let's not get too worked up though, I don't think that we need to worry about the chain mail bikini going anywhere.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cake for everbody! Let us eat cake!

I have some bad news for you about that cake...

posted by Joey Michaels at 3:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fully covered... Still sexy!
posted by cman at 3:10 PM on August 26, 2011


Hey, I was looking for some character profiles for a game I'm running tomorrow. Sweet!

Also: This is just sweet in general.
posted by absalom at 3:10 PM on August 26, 2011


> I kid you not, I have a collection of short stories titled "Chicks in Chainmail" which is mostly making fun of the scanty-armor trope.

IIRC, there's two of them

There are five, plus a collection of the first three. Not unpopular for its time.
posted by JHarris at 3:10 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]



cheesecake AND beefcake?

you want White Wolf, aisle 3
posted by LogicalDash at 3:10 PM on August 26, 2011


Player 1: I can't put my arms down!
Mother: Well... put your arms down when you get to school the castle.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, how is a big fur collar "reasonable armor?" Getting blood out of that thing is going to be such a pain....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:15 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just like action movies typically have the heroes in attractive form fitting clothing rather than layered kevlar body armor and superheroes wear attractive spandex outfits instead of powered armor (for the most part) the armor that D&D heroes wear especially in promotional art is about rule of cool rather than utilitarian.

Sure, but there is a (massive) difference in how overtly sexualized the mainstream fantasy "rule of cool" is for women as opposed to men. The above suits of armor are all indisputably cool -- they're just not super-objectifying. Why is that combination so rare for female armor, and so ordinary for male armor?

If male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything (and they'd probably be erect underneath it, given the breathless do-me-now pose/face/nipples so many women in fantasy seem to have). I get that people like cheesecake -- and it's not like female fanartists don't draw tons of beefcake, either -- but it's tiring when sexy-sex-sex is always the default setting for just one of the genders.
posted by vorfeed at 3:16 PM on August 26, 2011 [24 favorites]


OK, how is a big fur collar "reasonable armor?" Getting blood out of that thing is going to be such a pain....

She's an archer. She's not even carrying a melee weapon, it looks like. If she's doing things right she'll never get any blood on it.
posted by jedicus at 3:17 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I seem to remember that the wonderfully stupid Cleopatra 2525 addressed this issue by having Gina Torres explain that the reason that they wore half shirts and stuff was purely for mobility and because it looked good. They had high powered shields to keep from getting killed.

I had to laugh that they even addressed the problem.
posted by quin at 3:21 PM on August 26, 2011


She's an archer. She's not even carrying a melee weapon, it looks like. If she's doing things right she'll never get any blood on it.

a) That is an unwise level of optimism for a warrior
b) Will no one think of the cleaning staff?

Jeeze.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:22 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Personally I'm pissed that they made Gina Torres the mouthpiece for that. Zoe would never stoop so low.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:22 PM on August 26, 2011


f male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything

I was just thinking that if the best defense was a good offense, then mail armor should be split right along the butt-crack - a bonus would be extra mobility.

But of course we know it's not about "shock and awe" or mobility - women are sex objects and men are sex subjects. Ho hum.
posted by muddgirl at 3:27 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


If male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything (and they'd probably be erect underneath it.

.... go on.
posted by elizardbits at 3:29 PM on August 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


If male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything

I'd support more Conan the Barbarian.
posted by yeolcoatl at 3:30 PM on August 26, 2011


Just like action movies typically have the heroes in attractive form fitting clothing rather than layered kevlar body armor and superheroes wear attractive spandex outfits instead of powered armor (for the most part) the armor that D&D heroes wear especially in promotional art is about rule of cool rather than utilitarian.


Although... the most successful superhero movie franchises of the last 20 years or so have been Batman, whose movies have been less critically and commercially successful the more form-fitting the batsuit, and Iron Man, who is wearing a suit of full-body power armor.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:31 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of "more is more", one of my favorite illustrations from my childhood is this dude in black dragonplate armor wearing a fur cape. Pimpin' ain't easy in Krynn.
posted by lemuring at 3:33 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a great resource for my nascent hobby. Yay!

(Current project is theoretically based on this, because the base colors are easy to find pre-dyed and, mysterious lack of undershirt notwithstanding, it's actually fairly functional. In theory. Currently I just have a lot of bags of leather, so we'll see.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:34 PM on August 26, 2011


is this dude in black dragonplate armor wearing a fur cape

Are those supposed to be owls on his legs, or is just pareidolia? Pimpin' ain't easy, unless you have owls.
posted by muddgirl at 3:39 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm new here, so I'm not sure if I'm doing this right, but...

posted by Navelgazer

This would be one of those... eponysterical moments? Yes? No?
posted by blue t-shirt at 3:43 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really get the commercial plan (if there is one) behind the chainmail bikini aesthetic. Most of the gamers I know seem to be with (or looking for) smart, fun and resourceful partners. The kind of people who'd wear the right armour for the fight. Of course there are people in our hobby who aren't very adept at "courting", but assuming that this defines them as lustful, drooling doofuses seems to be the height of underestimating one's audience.

If you want to encourage gaming, surely you should create an aesthetic based around people you'd like to game with, not people you'd like to wank over.
posted by howfar at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2011


people you'd like to game with... people you'd like to wank over

WE CAN HAZ BOTH?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


My ideal D&D fighter, male or female, would just be represented by a hand pointing idly from between the drawn curtains of a coach, signalling the marshaled warriors to do something about the troubling nuisance that's slowing down progress to the capitol.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [21 favorites]


Heh.
posted by homunculus at 3:49 PM on August 26, 2011


a heavily bejeweled hand, presumably.
posted by elizardbits at 3:49 PM on August 26, 2011


To me, these women:

--are powerful
--are tough
--have skills, education, and experience
--are self-confident
--are bad-ass
--are sexy as all hell

What is awesome is, the "sexy" flows from the other qualities, rather than taking place of them.
posted by meese at 3:50 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


signalling the marshaled warriors to do something about the troubling nuisance that's slowing down progress to the capitol

You roll as the Koch Brothers?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:51 PM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


What is awesome is, the "sexy" flows from the other qualities, rather than taking place of them.

Why should "sexy" flow from those things? I know plenty of men who have all those qualities who are as sexy to the general populace as a piece of gorgonzola. Some people find them sexy, of course, but they don't acquire a standardised sexy logo based on their abilities. Why does it seem to be different when we talk about women?
posted by howfar at 4:05 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


As someone who does medieval battle reenactment in Britain, and therefore hangs out with a lot of armored-up women, I'd say the big thing about realistic armor is that once it's on, gender becomes more or less indistinguishable.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:11 PM on August 26, 2011 [19 favorites]


The big thing about realistic armor is that once it's on, gender becomes more or less indistinguishable.

That would be pretty cool opening line to a book.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:14 PM on August 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


I posted this because it made me think of something similar to meese, but to me it was more that the armor here doesn't objectify the women, but also doesn't deny them "femininity," whatever that really is. They aren't exploitative, but also they aren't women simply acting like dudes. It comes across to me as kicking ass on their own terms, which is really the aesthetic D&D needs to hit if it wants to appeal to more women.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:14 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why should "sexy" flow from those things?

Sorry? I'm afraid I don't understand. I never said it should, just that it does. In those particular pictures. And what I love is that, in these pictures, what is being presented is a mixture of power, self-confidence, and skill, which happens to strike me as pretty sexy, rather than, say, the mere fact that they have boobs. I also tend to much prefer pictures of men who appear sexy insofar as they are powerful, self-confident, and skillful rather than, say, merely wearing assless chaps. I just don't see how that's all too relevant to this post.

Navelgazer says it well. These are women I want to BE -- because I want to be powerful, self-confident, skillful, and (yes) sexy like them.
posted by meese at 4:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Indeed, Navelgazer.

I try to imagine if male fantasy characters were always depicted in sexy fashion in role-playing, MTG, or videogames; it would grow annoying real fast. Something like:

"Cool, I get to be a mage!"
Yes. A sexy mage.
"No, wait. I don't want to be a sexy mage."
A sexy thief?
"No!"
Maybe a sexy priest?
"GODDAMMIT."
posted by lemuring at 4:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Knights in Shining Armor Probably Had Terrible BO
posted by homunculus at 4:25 PM on August 26, 2011


Navelgazer and meese, I'm not necessarily at odds with you here, but it's important to be clear that "femininity" and "sexiness" are more closely linked concepts than "masculinity" and "sexiness", and that this is a result of the objectification of women. It's easy to think of ideas of the masculine that aren't sexualised, but it's much harder to do the same for ideas of the feminine.

I'm not saying anyone's response to these pictures is invalid, and I like some of them a lot myself. What concerns me is our tendency to say that they are sexier than the women in chainmail bikinis, as if how sexy they are is what is important about them.
posted by howfar at 4:28 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Just like action movies typically have the heroes in attractive form fitting clothing
> rather than layered kevlar body armor

You can pretty much do just like Tom Cruse charging through all the battle scenes in The Last Samurai with no helmet if you don't keep any vital organs in your head.


> I don't think that there's necessarily anything intrinsically wrong with a fantasy
> world that looks like a Franzetta comic, but I also agree that there needs to be room
> for diversity.

How could there not be room for diversity? Is there some limit I don't know about to the number of possible fantasy worlds?
posted by jfuller at 4:31 PM on August 26, 2011


I kinda wonder if the use of "sexy" here might not just be a verbal tic. Things that you like intensely are "sexy"; that is one possible meaning of the word. We are perhaps freer using it with female characters than with male ones, because homosex.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:32 PM on August 26, 2011


What concerns me is our tendency to say that they are sexier than the women in chainmail bikinis, as if how sexy they are is what is important about them.

I understand what you're saying, but I don't think that's what meese or Navelgazer said at all.

If I understand correctly, meese is saying that these characters are sexy as a result of their whole person/personality, rather than because they're been reduced to their bodies and objectified. It's not that the sexiness is the most important thing but, in this case, the type of sexy is (maybe) a superior kind of sexy because it has less to do with objectification and more to do with viewing the women in question as whole people.
posted by asnider at 4:34 PM on August 26, 2011


Ugh. The armor in the main link is less revealing but it is not more reasonable.

One giant pauldron? Really? Are we stuck in a shitty final fantasy game?
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on August 26, 2011


That makes sense, howfar, and I agree with you. I didn't understand your first comment.

The reason I'm concerned with the sexiness of these women is, as you say, because of the standards that women are generally meant to meet -- especially in sci-fi and fantasy art. If it weren't for the rampant objectification -- if it weren't for the fact that these pieces of art are note-worthy insofar as they are not "BOOBSart" like so much else is -- then to what extent I find them sexy or not wouldn't even strike me as worth mentioning. I probably wouldn't have even thought of the word "sexy" in order to describe them, because there's so much other (cool) stuff going on with them.

But, given that the whole reason we have this post is because objectification is so rampant, I'm still just really happy to see pictures that involve women who I think are sexy, but where their sexiness is not the primary or more important part of their identity. I'm applauding the babysteps, I suppose you could say.
posted by meese at 4:40 PM on August 26, 2011


Archeology confirms historicity of bronze bikinis!

Ok, maybe not, and it would still be pretty poor amor. But I'm sure there are examples of bepoke female armor that actually date from the medieval period, though I can't find them.
posted by Jehan at 4:42 PM on August 26, 2011


She can kill with a dirk, she can wound with her thighs.
And she can ruin your heist with her casual lies.
And she only reveals scant banded mail see.
She hides like a paladin, but she's always a woman to me.
She can lead you to fork in Hommlet, she can take you or leave you.
She can ask for the buckler that she'll never retrieve.
And she'll take that scalemail thong as long as it's free.
Yeah, she steals like a thief, but she's always a fighter to me.
Oooh, she takes care of her felt.
She can repair if she wants, she's ahead her DEX.
Oooooh, and she never parries out, and she never blocks in,
She just changes her mind.
And she'll promise you more than +5 platemail.
And she'll carelesly cut you and laugh while you're bleeding.
But she'll bring out the sheild and sword the best it can be.
Blame it all on yourself, cause she's always a fighter to me.
posted by clavdivs at 4:49 PM on August 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


Wonderful, clavdivs. But may I suggest:

And she'll carelesly cut you and send you some hate mail.
posted by Gelatin at 4:54 PM on August 26, 2011


It's a fair point that that there are better and worse ways to find people sexy. I also like seeing images of people related to my hobby* that I find attractive rather than boring. I also see that the framing here gives rise to discussions of sexiness.

I'm also an old fashioned feminist who worries how many more baby steps we have to take before we can move our culture past the objectification of female sexuality. At least most of these pictures are a step in the right direction.


*"my hobby" seems to be the RPers equivalent of "our thing"
posted by howfar at 4:57 PM on August 26, 2011


More reasonable, except of course that most of them are not wearing helmets...
posted by zompist at 5:00 PM on August 26, 2011


If male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything (and they'd probably be erect underneath it, given the breathless do-me-now pose/face/nipples so many women in fantasy seem to have). I get that people like cheesecake -- and it's not like female fanartists don't draw tons of beefcake, either -- but it's tiring when sexy-sex-sex is always the default setting for just one of the genders.

Heh. Y-e-eah... not to me.

I am (still) playing Dragon Age Origins, and my groovy nude mod makes me choose a single body-type for each race. So, obviously, since Alistair is human, the human male body-type has to be muscular and erect. So everywhere I go, any guy not fully-clothed for whatever reason -- the prisoners I have to rescue, the beggars, the torture victims on the rack, the piles of dead bodies... are all fanciable, and all *clearly* (even the dead ones) fancying me. This just does not get old, ever.

But then, I am conscientiously adhering to the rule of sexy myself, in my sweet Dalish leather bikini, or Wade's superior mini-dress, or (and this armor sucks stat-wise, and must exist solely for the sexy) Tevinter lesser -- and we do mean lesser -- mage robe.

You play how you want, I'll play how I want.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 5:05 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm dismayed how little respect this art-tumblr has for crediting either artists or publishers, either of whom may have the reprint rights to the art. Not that the blog shouldn't put this stuff up on the web, we're not having this argument in the 1990s, but if someone wants to then commission the artist or see more work in the same style even buy second-use rights to that particular piece of art, it would be nice to give the name of the person who created it.

This is the huge gaping flaw in the 'give your work away for free on the net to build up a reputation' argument. A lot of people will repost it, and remove any indication of who created it.
posted by Hogshead at 5:10 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


OK, how is a big fur collar "reasonable armor?" Getting blood out of that thing is going to be such a pain....

No biggie. The sweat will cause it to rot off before you get anywhere near an enemy.

Never throw your sweat soaked gambeson into the machine but forget to hit wash. Never I say!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


WATCH WIL WHEATON PLAY D&D

It's a fun game, despite Wheaton being Wheaton.

The next instalment will be streaming live from PAX on Saturday at 3:30pm Seattle time.
posted by robcorr at 5:14 PM on August 26, 2011


"Reasonable" in this sense means "as reasonable as armor depicted on male characters" not "would that work in real life".

Because there is nothing realistic about dragons, magic missile, or Orc god Gruumsh. So problem of sexism in gaming is one that can be adressed where as addressing the issue of realism defeats the entire point. Leave that to the SCA.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:15 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


If male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything

OK, I am being totally pedantic, but if chaps have "asses," we call them pants. Asslessness is pretty much a defining feature of chaps.

Because there is nothing realistic about dragons, magic missile, or Orc god Gruumsh.

Can we not have another LOLGRUUMSHIAN thread? No one has mentioned Dawkins at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


un-pas-de-cote asked: How about giving credits to the artists ?

When I have them, I do.
People have been doing a great job tracking them down for me, and when that happens, I try to edit the post attributing the source.


Except that is such a lazy fraking thing to do... Oh, if other people do my work for me, I'll make attributions.
Especially since some of those are really easy to identify the sources for and are not credited.

Grar.
posted by HMSSM at 5:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


if chaps have "asses," we call them pants. Asslessness is pretty much a defining feature of chaps.

This used to drive me nuts until I figured out that it was shorthand for "Chaps with nothing on underneath" which is NOT a defining feature of chaps. Because saddle sores, ow.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


shorthand for "Chaps with nothing on underneath" which is NOT a defining feature of chaps.

Clearly, we have frequented different sorts of chaps-wearing venues.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I learned what a bearded axe is from this. So thanks!
posted by Existential Dread at 5:28 PM on August 26, 2011


In most of nature, it is far superior to not get hit, than it is to get hit and survive. So most selection is for speed, not armor.
posted by effugas at 6:02 PM on August 26, 2011


umm, hello? how is she supposed to beguile without massive armoured bazongas?

fail

and gay
posted by the noob at 6:04 PM on August 26, 2011


My friend just pointed me to this: Why female breastplates don't need breast-bulges. Wish I'd had this for the FPP, honestly.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:14 PM on August 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


Except that is such a lazy fraking thing to do... Oh, if other people do my work for me, I'll make attributions.
Especially since some of those are really easy to identify the sources for and are not credited.


Yeah, it's sad that I've just started to hold Tumblr blogs to a lower standard, rather than get grar-y every time I find a blog with massive copyright violations. That's lazy on my part.
posted by muddgirl at 6:16 PM on August 26, 2011


I zipped through this, so maybe I missed it if it's been said: quite a few of these illustrations (the cleric up-thread, the bulky, armored paladin) are from D&D -- 3.0, in fact, not 4.0, so it's not even that recent a development. I understand talking about "women's armor in D&D" is easy shorthand, but it's not even really accurate.
posted by Amanojaku at 6:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never throw your sweat soaked gambeson into the machine but forget to hit wash. Never I say!

A friend used to throw his in his armor bag and then throw that in the trunk of his car until he used it next. He figured having the water bearers pour water over his head between fights was enough water to keep it clean. Fortunately he found a girlfriend and she taught him the error of his ways and how to use a washing machine.
posted by the_artificer at 6:22 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And this one, which I have named Joan of Orc in my head, is probably my favorite. This right here is someone about to probably die for a cause, just seeking spiritual guidance to make it worthwhile. Awesome. (great use of playing with light, too)
posted by Navelgazer at 6:44 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is my favourite. I like to think she's fighting with the Wolfpack.
posted by robcorr at 6:48 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I, of course, like the Oglaf one. Oh Oglaf. So sexy. So funny.
posted by wobh at 6:50 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I zipped through this, so maybe I missed it if it's been said: quite a few of these illustrations (the cleric up-thread, the bulky, armored paladin) are from D&D -- 3.0, in fact, not 4.0, so it's not even that recent a development. I understand talking about "women's armor in D&D" is easy shorthand, but it's not even really accurate.

The stereotype comes from classic D&D; Wizards of the Coast started paying a lot more attention to these matters when they picked up D&D with Third edition. Even the elf wizardess in the Player's Guide isn't drawn all that exploitatively.

However, D&D was substantially loads more popular back in the earlier days of the hobby, and although those days are nearly 40 years ago now, it's still the image that persists. First impressions are difficult to overcome.
posted by JHarris at 6:50 PM on August 26, 2011


This used to drive me nuts until I figured out that it was shorthand for "Chaps with nothing on underneath" which is NOT a defining feature of chaps. Because saddle sores, ow.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant.
posted by vorfeed at 6:56 PM on August 26, 2011


Pimpin' ain't easy, unless you have owls.

Owls will always get your money.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:58 PM on August 26, 2011


now this is some some quite sensible armor, though she might want to tie her hair back more tightly and add a helmet or something.

and this one is quite good for exploring wilderness, though not so much for a pitched battle.
posted by jb at 7:02 PM on August 26, 2011


Well, it is fantasy, so I guess I can imagine a world in which women forsake fashion in order to wear things that are comfortable and practical.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:12 PM on August 26, 2011


OK, I'm going to try to explain this better. In my own role playing game experience, I like everyone of my preferred gender to be hot, and hot for me. From what I gather, many, if not most, if not virtually all, people who like the swords and sorcery genre like their fantasy worlds set up this way. Fantasy worlds almost always *are* set up this way. Win!

But wait -- what about the minority of swords and sorcery fans who do not like this?

They win too! Due to its D&D origins, swords and sorcery is the entertainment genre most remarkable for end-user customization. No other genre -- except maybe science fiction -- comes close in the variety of experiences you can have with consumer content. If I don't like say, slut-shaming on reality TV, my only choices are to watch or not watch that genre, or to make my own content from scratch. If, on the other hand, I want more functional-looking female armor, more realistic body-types, or, as noted, to turn Ferelden into my own personal Bonerama -- I can! There's a mod for that! This is utterly fundamental to the genre.

So the hey, it's an imaginary world defense is completely missing the point. If you don't want GRARy Thing X in your imaginary world -- this is the genre for you. Someone has already done the work so you can selectively edit consumer products to your liking, without needing *any* content-creation skills yourself. When the very means of production are in our own hands, how can anyone say that this genre, as a genre, is sexist or racist or boneriffic or anything, really?

I've this criticism so many times and it just boggles me. I started playing D&D as a seven-year-old in an all-girl group (DM was a nine-year-old girl) and while I guess that's a statistical outlier, I never have seen sexism in the game -- only (sometimes) in other players... that is, when I found out boys played D&D too.

Good for this blogger, for pulling together the kinds of images she likes for people who like that too to use in their imaginary worlds. The site does not represent some sort of protest, though -- because there is nothing to protest against.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:12 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chicks in scanty armour are just asking to get marauded.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:13 PM on August 26, 2011


I just realized how epony-nonsensical it was for Navelgazer to post this.
posted by JHarris at 7:19 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The site does not represent some sort of protest, though -- because there is nothing to protest against.

If the site isn't a protest against the scantily clad stereotype, why use captions like 'Y'know - an actual adventurer'?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:20 PM on August 26, 2011


I'm dismayed how little respect this art-tumblr has for crediting either artists or publishers

Yeah, this is really too bad.
posted by Glinn at 7:21 PM on August 26, 2011


I'm sympathetic to the idea that tumblrs should credit artists or photographers for their work, but, as someone who spends a fair amount of time posting (largely unattributed) pics and/or copying them from other people's tumblr sites, I'd like to put it to you that it's something like hearing records at a club - the DJ doesn't announce who the artists are or the song titles, there is no name recognition IOW - yet it is a net positive for the artists involved to be featured nonetheless; repetition, even in 'anonymous' circumstances, builds recognition and a fan base. Plus, people, you know... enjoy your work.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like using my name as an "eponysterical" thing is cheating, for the most part. Almost any deep MeFi post or comment could count as navelgazing. I do love a nice belly-button though.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:26 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the site isn't a protest against the scantily clad stereotype, why use captions like 'Y'know - an actual adventurer'?

Ok, not a legitimate protest.

I've met women who saw a Franzetta poster one time and concluded that Swords and Sorcery was a bad, bad genre -- but that view isn't a matter of taste, it is just mistaken and wrong. Probably there are women who watched Game of Thrones and came to the same conclusion -- and yes, I personally find rape a lot less appealing than G.R.R. Martin (or Colin Meloy for that matter) seems to -- but again, that has nothing to do with the genre itself.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:29 PM on August 26, 2011


OK, we were playing by the House Rules, which said that you could roll 3d6 (or a d20 and subtract by two, do-over for rolling a 3 or less) 6 times, and put the results into the stats as you liked.

I grabbed 3D6, and rolled an 18, an 18, an 18, a 10, a 4 and a 3.

STR: 18
DEX: 18
CON: 18
CHA: 10
WIZ: 4
INT: 3

He wore no armor, and used the dex bonus to finagle an AC lower than some of the other characters in our party with full chainmail.

He was a celebrity chef.

Fighter class, and he had a meat cleaver and a chef's knife from his Signature Collection (Axe and dagger, thank you, says the DM, and the pot on a stick is a mace for the duration of the campaign.)

I kicked so much ass with a guy in a chef's apron, it's unreal. I once poisoned an enemy overlord by trying to bribe him with a delicious meal, created with my Cooking skill, which I botched due to the low WIZ and INT. The roll turned up "poison", and he failed the saving throw. Epic.

So, in D&D it doesn't matter if you have high heels and terminal backsprain and bra-chafe, or a furrowed chin and a battle cry of "Shut it down! You doughnut!" - you can still do well if you're a clever and imaginative player.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:34 PM on August 26, 2011 [19 favorites]


because there is nothing to protest against.

Yeah, right.
posted by howfar at 7:35 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I’m going to try to do a better job of sourcing these but frankly most of them are from various scratch/inspiration folders, so the artist credit may be lost.

Please sign/watermark your amazing art, people!


ಠ_ಠ

Anyway. Favorite!
posted by jinjo at 7:42 PM on August 26, 2011


Hey, Slap*Happy, I remember that story!

Anyway...

A little more about why I love that "Joan of Orc" picture I posted above so much. As still as it is, there is action in it, and unbearable tension once you see it. She has just finished inhaling, and is holding her breath. Which is a nice touch. Additionally, she has clearly chopped her hair (and fairly recently) to be more battle-ready, while keeping some braids in the front for her own reasons. I love this.

My initial D&D campaign is coming to an end. We have had a huge amount of players and characters cycle through int he past 2.5 or more years, and my Halfling Rogue (now part Swashbuckler and Dread Pirate) is the only original character remaining. The DM doesn't like running high-level campaigns very much, so he tricked us into a devils' pocket dimension and once we'd fought our way out we were 23 years in the future and Cormyr had been obliterated by forces we were trying to destroy. We've now got a final "retirement battle" against our Big Bad, the results of which will determine the world in which our new campaign begins.

I've been considering a Cleric for the new campaign. If I do so, I think it'll be a Half-Orc Woman, now that I've seen this pic.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, Slap*Happy, I remember that story!

Yeah, I told it better then because I was more sober less tired.

Have I told the one about the woman I dated with an armor fetish? The spikier and more elaborate it was, the hotter she found the wearer. Double bonus points for being a Black Knight or other sort of villain. I was vaguely worried I'd be up to my eyeballs in hock to the local SCA armorer, but she turned out to be an adept artist. As long as I'd agree that, yes, I'd wear that if I had it, and run down helpless peasants while wearing it, she was happy to draw pics to realize her fantasies, even tho most of the time you couldn't even see my face due to the frighteningly elaborate visor.

She seemed scandalized at the notion of wearing any armor herself, and played a magic user the few times she dabbled in D&D.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:55 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hah! no, you haven't told that one, though I've repeated the "Fighter chef killing his party with a delicious poisonous dungeon craw, surviving himself due to CON bonus" story many times. So the legacy lives on in folklore now.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:59 PM on August 26, 2011


I'd like to put it to you that it's something like hearing records at a club - the DJ doesn't announce who the artists are or the song titles,

Yeah, but you can't take the songs home when the dj plays them.
posted by HMSSM at 8:09 PM on August 26, 2011


quite a few of these illustrations (the cleric up-thread, the bulky, armored paladin) are from D&D-- 3.0, in fact, not 4.0

Actually it's Pathfinder, not D&D.
posted by HMSSM at 8:19 PM on August 26, 2011


Pretty sure that "Joan of Orc" pic is a fanart of "Jone" the half-orc from Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic (too lazy to find links since the archive is HUGE. )
posted by The otter lady at 8:27 PM on August 26, 2011


Fair point HMSSM, but are the artists involved really losing money?

Anecdotally, I frequent a few image boards where Scott C's drawings have been posted without credit. I saw them, liked them. They stuck in my mind. At a recent TCAF, I saw Scott was selling art and blew most of my money on various prints of his. Since then, I have left a comment when I've seen his work posted, linking his site in case people are curious.

When I mentioned to Scott himself that I'd seen his work on image boards, he said something like, "oh yeah, they've made the rounds". FWIW

What can artists do? You can always sign your stuff, or watermark. Or leave your name in the metadata. If I know the name of the artist whose work I'm reposting, I make it part of the image name.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:36 PM on August 26, 2011


Pretty sure that "Joan of Orc" pic is a fanart of "Jone" the half-orc from Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic

Well, I'm either doing that or a human bard loosely based on Elan's romantic idealism, so either way I'm cribbing from a webcomic, I guess.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:43 PM on August 26, 2011


I like to think she's fighting with the Wolfpack.

Wow. My childhood just popped out of the screen and socked me in the jaw. I loved these guys.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:49 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, although it's more on the sci-fi end of things, I'm rather fond of this take on the subject at hand.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:17 PM on August 26, 2011


adamrice writes "I kid you not, I have a collection of short stories titled 'Chicks in Chainmail' which is mostly making fun of the scanty-armor trope."

One of those books is sitting on my bedside table right now.
posted by Mitheral at 11:51 PM on August 26, 2011


This is totally unrealistic armor. No tiny-ass little human is wearing all this shit or holding this big ass sword like it's made of aluminum. Not without giant tree trunks for arms.

Most people bitch and moan if they have to walk up three flights of stairs when their office elevator is on the fritz. Those suits of armor are like walking up an infinite flight of stairs. They suck.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:41 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


AdamCSnider: I loved these guys.

Me too. I always wished I had more. It was only today that I learned they only made three sets, so there was no more to be had. :-(

posted by robcorr at 1:11 AM on August 27, 2011


I play DDO - Dungeon's and Dragons Online. They actually had (relatively) reasonable looking armour for females for a long time - see here, here or here.

Now they've started selling amor cosmetic kits - as an example of some of the options available, see here (warning - very image heavy page). I don't think it's an improvement.
posted by YAMWAK at 1:57 AM on August 27, 2011


Gah - just noticed that apostrophe and the absence of an edit button. Grrr.
posted by YAMWAK at 2:01 AM on August 27, 2011


Ok, not a legitimate protest.

Ah. Carry on.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:28 AM on August 27, 2011


Man, don't ever play Rift, people. Not only is the armor insufficient on the women NPCs, they mostly wear thongs. WTF
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:21 AM on August 27, 2011


Oddly, the same discussion was had, but from the other direction (scantily-clad women rather than sensibly-clad women in fantasy art) here about a month ago. Link.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:45 AM on August 27, 2011


This is totally unrealistic armor.

Has anyone claimed they are realistic? It's not titled "Women Fighters in Realistic Armor."
posted by muddgirl at 6:32 AM on August 27, 2011


If you've ever had body hair tangled in chain-mail, the allure fades rapidly.
posted by warbaby at 7:15 AM on August 27, 2011


Male Fighters In Unreasonable Armor
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:37 AM on August 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ooh, that's a good page. When it comes to this issue, i totally agree that chainmail bikinis are ridiculous and sexist... but there are always some spoilsport ultrafeminists who take it too far and start screeching "Ugh, that character is still ATTRACTIVE, objectification! How dare you artists make your subjects beautiful in any way, skreeeee!"
posted by ELF Radio at 7:41 AM on August 27, 2011


Male Fighters In Unreasonable Armor

I am not sure a pubic shield that leaves your junk exposed counts as armor, but I can't complain about false advertising....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:43 AM on August 27, 2011


When it comes to this issue, i totally agree that chainmail bikinis are ridiculous and sexist... but there are always some spoilsport ultrafeminists who take it too far and start screeching "Ugh, that character is still ATTRACTIVE, objectification! How dare you artists make your subjects beautiful in any way, skreeeee!"

Now, where did I put that bingo card?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:11 AM on August 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Now, where did I put that bingo card?

Can you get chainmail bikinis on straw men?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:28 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like to think she's fighting with the Wolfpack.

I loved the Wolfpack! I was always a fan of the medieval Lego sets, and the Wolfpack ones were my favourite.
posted by asnider at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2011


Male Fighters In Unreasonable Armor

oh my. that's certainly... oh my.
posted by elizardbits at 9:02 AM on August 27, 2011


it's really more unreasonable genitalia, isn't it.
posted by elizardbits at 9:03 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, okay, but what if you have to pee?
posted by thivaia at 9:25 AM on August 27, 2011


So, okay, but what if you have to pee?

The Unreasonable Armor worn by the Male Fighters will not hinder you at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2011


Male Fighters In Unreasonable Armor

Why would some draw men with such small equipment?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2011


Other than the stupid foxheads on her knees, this is pretty much my ideal cosplay outfit and I am tempted to begin searching for costume components so that I can wear it to the next RenFest I go to immediately.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi: Sorels for the boots (which are pricey but worthwhile for everyday wear anyway in the cold months.) Sporrans are stupidly expensive but you can get rabbit pelts to hang from it for pretty cheap. I can't imagine the leather hood being anything but custom. I don't know which Rennfests would let you walk in with swords, daggers and a composite bow anyway, but the rest of it should be pretty simple (form-fitting top and baggy pants of whichever material you like, with died or bleached ace-bandages to wrap it up around the shins.)
posted by Navelgazer at 12:49 PM on August 27, 2011


Oh, and the gloves/gauntlets. Yeah, you'd probably only find those at a rennfest anyway.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:51 PM on August 27, 2011


All the renfests I've been to are just fine with weapons (you just have to keep them sheathed and they sometimes zip-tie them in.)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2011


Oh, the hoods are easy enough to find, though I may go cloth rather than leather. It's just a matter of deciding if I want to try to make the stuff myself (and hence wrestle with the sewing machine) or pay way too much money for it. Thanks for the name for the sporran though; I was having trouble searching.

I struggle with RenFest outfits because I've never wanted to look like a wench with a shelf of boobs, but men's costume components tend to be way too big on me. I had purchased an okay dress last year from arm street, but the quality was meh. I think I probably should try to learn to really sew, because the mark-up on this stuff is so over the top.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2011


Male Fighters In Unreasonable Armor

Bingo. Imagine that the usual depiction of male fighters was pretty much that, all the time, and every time you went "man, what is with all the giant dicks in fantasy art?" people got defensive about it ("it's not sexist, it's just supposed to be cool/attractive/fun! They're just using their sexy sexiness as a weapon!" "It's not like your character has to have his cock out!") and/or accused you of being "an ultra-masculinist spoilsport".

I love fantasy art, and I love porn, and I love porny fantasy art. I have no problem with cheesecake as cheesecake. The problem is that cheesecake is a sometimes-food, as Cookie Monster might say. When it's the dominant mode of expression it starts to send some pretty creepy messages about what's cool, attractive, and fun, much less about what's "normal". In turn, that makes women less likely to see fantasy as cool, attractive, or fun rather than just creepy.

btw: skreeeee
posted by vorfeed at 2:15 PM on August 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


In turn, that makes women less likely to see fantasy as cool, attractive, or fun rather than just creepy.

Wow. You not only know how women see things, but what makes them see things the way they all do. That's awesome!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 3:25 PM on August 27, 2011


Wow. You not only know how women see things, but what makes them see things the way they all do. That's awesome!

That's why I said "less likely", not "unlikely". Given a potential pool of women in which X percent dislike casual sexism enough to walk, a high prevalence of casual sexism makes fantasy less likely to be enjoyed by any given woman. It's not like there's any shortage of women complaining about this, either, so I don't see how it should be controversial to suggest that it's alienating at least part of the female audience.

I am quite aware that individual women may differ -- hell, I'm a woman and fantasy is nowhere close to the most-sexist thing I'm into! -- but if you seriously think this isn't happening, then you're the one who's claiming to know not only how women see things, but what makes them see things the way they all do.
posted by vorfeed at 4:02 PM on August 27, 2011


To be fair, pH Indicating Socks, you appear to have modded Dragon Age so all the male NPCs are naked and have erections. You might be on one end of the curve of fantasy garment esthetics. That said, I think Vorfeed is right that there's a pragmatic question here. When you say:

I've met women who saw a Franzetta poster one time and concluded that Swords and Sorcery was a bad, bad genre -- but that view isn't a matter of taste, it is just mistaken and wrong.

It's a good way to win an argument with a woman's retreating back, but in practical terms it also means that that woman has been lost to Sword and Sorcery. If one Frazetta poster isn't a valid sample set for drawing a conclusion about the genre, the next question might be how many cheesecake pictures of women in chainmail thong underwear in a row does it take before that conclusion becomes, however mistaken, understandable.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:33 PM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


To give you a feeling what it can be like, here's Photos from GenCon Part 1 and Part 2. You'd have a much harder time filling two blog posts with artwork displayed in the convention dealer's room of fully-clothed character art. In particular, walking every day past this ad for a virtual gaming table pretty well convinced me not to use the service (I was one of their beta testers, so this is definitely a case of a customer being driven away, not one who was never interested in the first place.)
posted by Karmakaze at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, point taken. For me, scantily clad != sexism -- I define sexism as more like, not giving me a job, or explaining to me why rape is funny, or something like that -- but I cannot argue against the obvious truth that that many women do find this objectifying and oppressive. And I am sensitive enough to uninstall several of my mods, so my son will not feel objectified or oppressed when he gets home this week and plays.

I just wish more people appreciated the low barrier to entry in customizing your world in this specific genre. There are many male geeks. There are not many female geeks. You don't have to be a geek! Consequently, fellow women, this is the genre for us! But yeah, it does seem like I'm a lone voice in the wilderness on that one.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:33 PM on August 27, 2011


For me, scantily clad != sexism -- I define sexism as more like, not giving me a job, or explaining to me why rape is funny, or something like that -- but I cannot argue against the obvious truth that that many women do find this objectifying and oppressive.

When the message is that a woman's best asset is how pretty she, it sets a tone that "women are decorative". If women are mostly decorative, why bother with all that equality stuff?

Anyay, when I am playing a character, I want to be empathising with the emotion of her story arc, not how much her feet must be hurting in those stupid high heeled boots, or the abrasions from the chain mail directly against her skin. It detracts from the experience. And fwiw, if you console game rather than pc game, you're pretty much stuck with the game developers idea of how that world should look.
posted by Jilder at 11:00 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, point taken. For me, scantily clad != sexism

I actually agree with you on this. It is possible to present characters with a low amount of clothing without necessarily objectifying them. In fact, to react too strongly strikes me like controlling prudishness.

However, the fact remains that like the majority of depictions of female characters in games are present using their sexuality not only as a major asset, but as their primary asset. Even if you excused the exploitative aspects, it's just as dull when 90% of women in gaming are in bikinis and thongs as when 90% of men are armor-covered space marines, and it breaks the believability of a setting too.

The problem isn't that it's used, it's how, how often, and why. It's unrealistic to present characters who are supposed to be hardened fighters as next to naked; fantasy worlds are, indeed fantasy, but they usually aspire to some kind of verisimilitude.

I once ran into an old-school D&D illustration with a female fighter who was wearing little, but I think it worked, because she was being presented by the artist as inexperienced, a low-level character out of her element. The expression on her face clearly suggested: "Hello, I'm out of my element in a dungeon, and I'll probably get eaten by a dragon before I find 10 gold pieces." (If you consider that to be part of a young male empowerment fantasy, well, I maintain that old-school D&D was a game more for masochists than those looking for an ego trip. That dragon was well-fed on the flesh of adventurers of both sexes.)
posted by JHarris at 3:14 AM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem here is that our concept of "sexiness" is defined in such a way that it's easier to interpret any given female character as "sexy". This varies from person to person, of course. The fact remains that when an artist tries to design a female character, they might not particularly want to make her sexy, but people will see her that way anyhow. (ref.) This creates a selection pressure on female character designs: since sexiness is considered an attribute of all of them, the artist has to decide whether to implement the sexiness well or poorly. To ignore it is to implement it poorly.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:28 AM on August 28, 2011


I define sexism as more like, not giving me a job, or explaining to me why rape is funny, or something like that -- but I cannot argue against the obvious truth that that many women do find this objectifying and oppressive.

The think that is missing in a lot of these conversations is that men typically seem to experience this sort of thing as isolated events -- A mostly naked witch, a wizard, a fighter,* a mostly naked female fighter, a thief, an elf, a dwarf, a mostly naked female elf -- eight images, less than half of which are nearly naked. Women (or at least the women I have discussed this with, instead notice that every female figure is lacking clothes. And the pattern of this begins to wear. And there is probably some confirmation bias, but they eventually get annoyed because every time they try and bring the subject up, the guys they talk to come up with anecdotes -- well, there's that female ranger in the Forest Folio; she has pants and a cloak and everything!" rather than getting the idea that a huge proportion of the images of women in fantasy art are meant as eye candy for the heterosexual male gamer/reader.

*Of course the gender of the male figures doesn't have to be stated; that's another problem.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:31 AM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


If male warriors were held to the same standard of "cool" they'd be depicted in assless steel chaps and a loincloth which barely covers anything (and they'd probably be erect underneath it.

There's a hilarious Dragon Quest parody show being broadcast in Japan right now on Friday nights, which pokes fun at every conceivable stereotype related to that and other videogame RPGs, and the above comment reminded me of this scene (NSFW maybe?). It's from a scene where the group on a quest needs the robe of a tennyo (goddess) to use in the final battle against "Great Satan." Yoshihiko, the hero in the photo, is telling the goddess to take it off in an RPG-like deadpan way ("It's for the greater good.") while reacting pretty "realistically." The show is full of jokes like this and it's great, especially if you've played DQ a lot.
posted by misozaki at 6:55 PM on August 28, 2011


Fair enough, except that in this case I was joking about literally looking at the bare midriffs of inappropriately-armored women. I'll try harder next time.
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:50 AM on August 29, 2011


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