Above: Xena will kill you with her glare alone.
I’ve been asked to explain why I disagree with Jay the Barbarian. I really enjoyed the general article, but here’s what made me hesitate to fully bestow my breast-plated blessings.
“Ironically, boobplate has been a relative non-issue in live performance, looking at the rash of armored women over the last few decades.”
So… Rashes are usually measured in days, not decades. I want to point out that the four women he shows are wonderful well-armoured exceptions to the trend, along with personal favourites Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Cate Blanchett again as Maid Marian.
Let it be said- girls may thoroughly kick arse, but four is not a high number of warrior women, nor is six, or even forty (if we could find them), if you measure them against the thousands of fictional medieval films of the last few decades (and that’s just live action feature films, not even mentioning animated, independent, or web series).
Above:Long live Colleen Atwood and Janty Yates, the wonderful costume designers for (respectively) ‘Snow White and the Huntsmen’ and ‘Robin Hood’.
I understand Jay’s point, it’s relatively a larger group of reasonably-attired women on film than the female-fighter-in-media cliche suggests.
Yay for us having role models! I want to be clear that it’s still not *nearly* enough.
The fact Jay calls it a “relative non issue” should show just how bad the situation really is for want of strong, capable, feminine, not-overly-sexualised female role models.
Then, there is his response to Mr Jabberwock the Armourer regarding the twin peaked, Madonna-esque, Double Domes of Wonder style of boob plate, and the ongoing argument about how it will crack a ribcage through poor design. Jay says,
"So she trips and falls, and lands boob-first. Obviously, the breast cups aren’t going to compress or absorb. This transfers the force to the sternum through the padding…. And to the entire rib cage, in the case of this piece, which results in spreading the force throughout the torso. You know, the exact same thing that an unarmored fall would do? Or even a fall in a non-boobed plate would do?”
I agree with Jay that Mr Jabberwock’s original statement (that he worries constantly about a poor lass tripping and cracking herself open by means of her gravitationally-bound steel encased bossumry) is insulting and reflects a truly medieval view of women.
What I contest is that there really is more danger of falling in boob plate than falling unarmored or in flatter plate, on account of having two overinflated steel spheres getting in the way. Breasts are meant to move around, not be permanently fixed in place like Han Solo in Jabba’s dungeon.
Boob plate is a hazard, not only to the wide-eyed opponent.
Above: The best kind of bra for fencing- the 800+ bustiere-long Cardrona Valley Bra Fence in Otago, New Zealand.
Any lady who has trained wearing the plastic version of the Double Domes of Wonder should be able to confirm the design isn’t suited to deflect thrusting weapons, which rules out usefulness for practicing historically-accurate fencing styles.
"Surprisingly, this is not that big a deal. One reason is that inside shots are rare and easy to defend. Most attacks against an armored opponent come from the outside, and often at an angle.”
I don’t know what Jay is talking about, but it’s not Western or Historical European Martial Arts. Possibly SCA heavy fighting, or medieval reenactment, or HEMA synthetic longsword competitions, or Battle of Nations, or something that doesn’t involve working from the bind?
A thrust to the torso is far from stupid: controlling the centre line opens the opponent up for manipulation and eventual defeat. I’d like to see a good thrust *not* tip someone off posture, and once you have them locked out with their attacks disabled, piercing through their armour is irrelevant. It sounds like Jay is not familiar with medieval martial arts armoured fighting techniques, but more Hulk-smash styles that have been so popularised in fictional media.
Above: Talhoffer’s 15th Century armoured duelists not only control the centre line, but they attack with the non-pointy end as well.
Apart from those statements I heartily applaud Jay’s views, and will be thinking of him the next time I need a woman’s armourer with a lot of sense and humour.
(You can read Jay’s entertaining and well-reasoned article here: http://blog.jaythebarbarian.com/2013/04/chainmail-and-boobplate/)
This should be mandatory reading for all game developers. This woman has actually tested it, and knows that boob cups don’t work. Additionally, as someone trying to compete in Battle of the Nations (the HMB championship), I’ve found out that HMB fighters aren’t allowed to wear boob cups for the exact same reasons she lists here (on top of the mandatory requirement that all armor is based on historic documents).