Well, the most obvious differences between Conan and Jacob is that Conan was what his creator, Robert E Howard (who struggled his entire life with the pressures of society and toxic masculinity) not-secretly-at-all yearned to be and Jacob is the Stephanie Meyer’s idea of semi-exotic potential boyfriend. Check out this classic depiction of Conan by Frank Frazetta and try to remember the last time you saw a guy like this on the cover of a romance novel.
What makes guys sexy to women (physically)?
Well, it turns out since women are not a monolith and women don’t get to dictate beauty standards for men there’s no real standard.
Research has shown that men in general overestimate how much muscle women find attractive. They also tend to overestimate the importance and the preferred size of penises. (Seriously guys, don’t send unsolicited dick pics and don’t expect bragging about ridiculous endowment to help you)
Honestly though, the notion that you have to adhere to beauty standards in order to make a character attractive is kind of ridiculous. I mean, butts are sexualized across genders. Feeling comfortable pressed up against someone and kissing them is usually a plus. Looking like they may find you interesting as a person or want to impress you are definite help.
When designing a sexy male character: Leave the books about primary and secondary characteristics alone and forget about what manly men say a man should be like and ask, “What’s she going to like in this guy?”
Nothing is genuinely universally attractive, but at least this way you have a chance that the audience will see the appeal even it’s not for them.
Frankly, I have no idea about significance of V-shape in regards of realistic plate armor (all I learned about armor design was through running this blog). Seems like your question is more suited for an armorer, like Ryan ‘Jabberwock’ who wrote this article.
Would this actually work in real life as real armor? Probably not? But I’m not sure that’s the most important thing to focus on, unless you’re making a gritty, realistic, historically-accurate work. For fantasy? COOLNESS is what counts. I’m all for seeing non-sexualized, diverse ladytypes with functional armor, as long as the coolness factor doesn’t get lost!
A naturalistic story tells a story that is completely plausible in our world. No wizards, no dragons, no secret vampires, no alien invasions. Telling a realistic story is telling a story that is logical and consistent and makes sense (even if the setting is in a fictional world or in a reality very different from our own).
And that’s one of the basic things BABD aims for: promoting female warriors who dress in believable and protective manner, not necessarily realistic/naturalistic.
We criticize bikini armors, boobplates etc. not specifically because they’re historically inaccurate (which they are, but so are dragons and orcs). We criticize them because they’re inconsistent with how most fictional settings work.
This Throwback Thursday, a reminder that, contrary to popular opinion, BABD does NOT ask for “realism” in fantasy entertainment, but for consistency.
And, while we still claim there might be legit reasons to design ridiculous skimpy armors, we have yet to see a non-erotic, non-satire explanation that makes sense in the context of the story and doesn’t include double standard.