Which brings us to the question that inspired this piece — so f#$@ing what?! Do clothes make the hero? And the answer, honestly, is a resounding, ‘eh.’
Which is not to say a costume is irrelevant. There is the oft heard question, “Why would you fight crime in a bathing suit?” That question, by the way, is totally fair. On one hand, if you are an nearly indestructible Kryptonian, you could fight in your birthday suit and not have to worry about getting skinned alive if thrown into a building or bounced through the street. And hey, the less under your secret identity day clothes the more comfortable, right?
On the other hand, even Superman wears tights, so why can’t the women? The swimwear approach to costuming after all is routinely mocked, be the hero female or male. Just look at Aquaman and Robin. One suspects that they are mocked for the swimwear of justice because that kind of costuming is perceived as something only a super heroine should wear. Because female heroes are drawn with bare limbs and scantier uniforms not because they don’t need the physical protection but because it’s sexy.
Ah, male gaze. My old frenemy.
So that’s the solution, right? Just slap some dockers on them ladies and everything’s equal in female and male depictions, right?
Well, not really, no. Putting a female hero in pants does not mean she is somehow protected from an artist positioning her primarily for the male gaze. For example, Marvel Comics recently began a new ongoing called Fearless Defenders which stars Valkyrie and Misty Knight. Both of these characters wear pants and, yet, I lost count by about page five of how many times Misty’s ass took center stage in any given panel. Basically, where there’s a male gaze will, there’s a male gaze way — pants or no pants, tights or bared legs.
Princeless is a great, fairly new comic book series aimed at kids. The protagonist is Princess Adrienne, who has decided to rescue herself. There are plenty of moments that mock standard comic book conventions. Here’s one about ladies’ armor.
Oh, good one!
I remember the subverted pin-up cover of this comic that was featured on Escher Girls that one time.
Considering it’s a kids comic, not young adult one, I’m starting to think that all those clever references in Princeless may fly over the heads of target audience.
One example that always sticks in my mind are the two Kingdom Under Fire games on the Xbox (great games dumb armour especially on the dark elves). The one character that sticks out for me though is Ellen who gets a bit of a patch job between games.
From the first game:
From the second:
Its the same plate lingerie but between games someone decided got to put chain mail over all her exposed skin.
I’m struggling to find the words for this… In theory it is an improvement of some kind, but what is covering exposed skin with ridiculously close-fitting chainmail (patterned latex?) actually supposed to help with? Especially when her boobplate, chain thong and two-inch heels are still there?
It takes more than just covering the character to cure her design from sexualization.
Well, at least she acquired a helmet (a part of armor so often omitted on fictional warriors of all genders), I’ll give her that.
EDIT: Submitter noted on that little gem too:
It’s also a bit odd in-universe because the 2nd image is from a prequel game. So between games chronologically she decided to stop wearing the chain-mail and helmet. In retrospect probably a bad decision.
edit 2: Minor re-wording of the part about helmets, to make it more gender inclusive.
Apparently we reached 200 followers a few minutes ago! Big thanks to invaluable Escher Girls for promoting the blog!
Hope you new followers will enjoy Bikini Armor Battle Damage and will keep the site alive.
As always when met with a surge of fresh followers, let me announce a few things:
- There’s a mini-contest for you still waiting to be solved!
- Submissions, questions and comments (including DISQUS ones) are always open, as long as guidelines are met.
- It’s a last-minute decision, but in protest of CISPA there will be no updates tomorrow (Monday, April 22). Updates will resume on Tuesday, 0:01 CET (timezone I live in).
As if that wasn’t enough, twin-bulged breastplates ignore the anatomical makeup of the female breast itself. To make a long story short, the breast largely consists of fat and modified sweat glands (for the production of milk, that is), and hence it’s not nearly as solid as a comparable mass of muscle. So all but the largest breasts can be bound quite flat against the woman’s chest without occasioning too much discomfort. In turn, this means a fighting woman probably isn’t going to need a breastplate with a chest profile larger than one worn by a fighting man of a similar height and general body shape, and therefore it’s quite likely that the woman would simply fit into the man’s breastplate with the aid of some padding to make up the slack in the waist and shoulders.