Yes, that the first tweet refers to notes under this very post. Have fun reading those, but be warned of the headache-inducing lack of self-awareness on the part of Toxic Masculinity Brigade (aka WH40k fandom).
(Article does link to some tweets that, unsurprisingly, contain particularly sexist, racist and islamaphobic statements)
That’s right bros, the Red Menace is back and it’s already taken your fighting fucktoys from Mortal Kombat. Though if you’re wondering how, I’ll save you time – none of them have any theory on the how or why beyond buzzword salad.
Companies making or localizing games in a way that does not cater to the way a particular (insensitive, misogynistic) audience demands are not engaging in censorship; they are simply marketing to wider audiences. Ironically, the same people who claim to be fighting for free speech in video games are now trying to punish NetherRealm Studios for making a game they’ve deemed offensive. But what they consider “offensive” is reducing a character’s visible cleavage and slightly changing her facial structure.
Ironically, as the article points out – it seems that Netherrealm did make some backsliding in terms of their (minimal) LGBT+ representation.
But to finish on a positive note, finally Sheeva actually looks like a demon warrior who could break you in half:
The quotes near the bottom are what concerned me the most…
“Anyway, as it turns out, a female martial arts instructor I was talking to recently revealed to me over a Skype chat that ‘no matter how much you try to prevent it from happening, you can’t stop them from jiggling’.
‘They’ll jiggle?” I inquired.
‘Yes, they will,’ she replied, ‘in my case, they absolutely will jiggle.
‘When they jiggle, how is the movement like?’ I inquired further.
We went back and forth like this for about 15 minutes, before I was forced to conclude that, no matter how much you try to control it, it’s only natural for them to jiggle.”
I feel like this kind of stuff entitles the developers from Namco (They make Tekken and Soul Calibur) and other companies to add over the top and ridiculous breast physics.
Some of the comments on that page from the users also made me pretty uncomfortable…
I can’t get over the idea that comical jiggle physics in Tekken are for “realism” but none of the realism advocates want the female characters to dress in that would have a chance of containing their boobs.
This week’s throwback: the totally scientific assessment that boobs have to excessively jiggle in fighting video games because realism… But no-one is wearing any sort of sports bra (or any bra, really) because… realism?
PS: People who reblogged it while the post still had two redundant parapgraphs: PLEASE delete and reblog the current version. This is what I get for blogging while sick.
First of all, this is not an argument that women’s armor in media should be the same as dudes’ armor. Most main characters are supposed to look attractive most of the time they’re on screen; whether because of social or biological conditioning, the bulk added by armor on dudes’ chests and shoulders hottens them up. Dudes in practical armor still meet the hotness standards they’re held to. Women, however, genuinely are trickier to armor up without losing the hourglass figure or lean lines expected by their hotness standards. That’s a thing. Whatever you may think of it, it’s a thing. And it’s not like anybody ever gets a closed-face helmet.
TRICKIER. Not impossible, and I’m looking at you, director Patty Jenkins and costume designer Lindy Hemmings of Wonder Woman.
Honestly, I would have just let this bullshit armor go as typical Hollywood bullshit armyr, but Jenkins made the mistake of arguing, “To me, they shouldn’t be dressed in armor like men […]It should be different. It should be authentic and real – and appealing to women.”
Authentic and real, my functional-armored ass, and yes, I have armor for swordfighting, and yes, it’s damn well functional because I have a thing about avoiding cracked ribs and collarbones. They hurt.
Jenkins is open about the heels and leg exposure being wish-fulfillment, which is stupid, because you can show off muscle without showing flesh (*cough* Superman *cough* Batman *cough* every Superdude costume ever), but fine, we’ll let it go. What I will NOT let go is the belief that this armor is functional, or that you can’t have sexy AF armor that shows no skin whatsoever, AND is entirely functional.
But, Scarlet Librarian, What Exactly is “Functional?”
Let’s be clear on this before we jump in. There’s a lot of bits armor needs to protect, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll mostly be talking about breastplates, the biggest offender of Stupid Armyr Bullshit. The point of a breastplate is to protect the squishy bits like the heart, liver, lungs…do you know how high up in the torso lungs go?
THAT HIGH. The lungs are higher up than the bust stops, which is why a functional breastplate does not STOP at the breasts, it needs to cover the full torso in order to prevent getting stabbed or shot in the lung, which is frequently lethal, by the way, almost certainly in a premodern context. Mail usually doesn’t stop an arrow, although it can reduce the damage done. That’s what plate is for.
Any breastplate that does not protect the lungs is completely non-functional, and will not be discussed here. We shall pretend these abominations simply do not exist.
Also important, although less vital, are the collarbones, which I trust you can find yourself. They’re right where many a sword swing tends to go, and yes, a piece of rebar swung at full-strength into your collarbone is going to crack if not snap it, and even mail is only going to help so much. If you are very, very lucky, you will be so hopped up on adrenaline you won’t register the pain until after it’s no longer necessary to use both your arms to protect yourself. You’ll still lose strength and mobility in that arm, and if you’re very, very unlucky, there will be nerve damage rendering it useless.
Stupid Hollywood Bullshit, But Demonstrates That a Completely Armored Woman Can Still Be Sexy AF
As many people have pointed out already, cleavaged breastplates (as seen on Gal Gadot and co. as Wondwoman), which make a dip or crease in between the boobs, are not actually functional. They’ll direct a strike, and all the force behind it, directly into the sternum, rather than deflecting it like an outwardly curved shape. As such, the following are not entirely functional, but still cover everything without rendering the wearer a shapeless hag.
Sonja (Rhona Mitra), Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. She is awarded compensation points for her excellent gauntlets, and especially for the heavy gorget protecting her neck.
Lady Sif (Jaime Alexander) from Thor. I don’t like this aesthetically, personally, and the whole “oh, we’ll just put some stupidly-light mail over her upper chest and that will take care of the GAPING OPENING at her upper chest” is bullshit, as is having mail directly over skin with no fabric or leather beneath (you’ll have mail shaped bruises and abrasions if you take a hit there, and it’s just uncomfortable even if you don’t). However, once more, completely covered (the mail at least covers the skin), still shapely.
Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) in Jack and the Giant Slayer. The cleavage here isn’t excessive (especially in comparison to Gadot and co., whose boobs are damn near mummified), but it’s enough I can’t put it in the other categories. I also have maneuverability concerns–the pauldrons are attached at the shoulder weirdly, and the integrated turtleneck, as opposed to a separate gorget, could be problems. How the hell do you get into this thing, anyway? Body armor is typically a breastplate, which is attached to a matching backplate if you can afford it, not a bronze tunic thing. Seriously, where are the openings?
Fantasy, But Included For the Sake of Argument
Stuff that, while not entirely functional, covers everything without making the wearer look a shapeless hag, or whatever these costumers are so afraid of.
Emily Blunt as Freya in The Huntsman: WInter’s War. Again, no neck armor, and the neckline itself is a little low for my liking, but most of her torso is covered, along with her arms, which have both pauldrons on the shoulders and bazuband-style vambraces protecting her forearms and elbows. The scales are really small, which won’t protect her as well as more historically-based lamellar (see below) would, but this is is probably as good as mail, and the point remains that she’s completely covered in metal and still looks damn good. It’s also worth mentioning Freya is a scary-ass winter witch with guards around her RIDING A GODDAMN POLAR BEAR, so while this is fantasy armyr, it doesn’t have to be functional so much as look badass and sexy, and it’s doing just fine with that. While still being more functional than a lot of hands-on-Warrior-Chick armor is.
For sale by Armstreet, this is…okay, this is a really weird bastard child of late 16th-17th century stays and someone’s perception of Greek armor. I wouldn’t want to wear this in any actual combat situation, since mobility is pretty restricted, and my god, please wear some pants and something with sleeves or that shit is going to chafe, but again–Female torso, fully covered, even her neck, still a very feminine look. (And it comes with a helmet!)
Also from Armstreet. She has been granted, of all shocking things, clothing under her armor! Heavens to betsy. I’m not a huge fan of those pauldrons and the way they fit, and for this to be a wholly protective kit she’d need a chainmail coif (like a hood that also pools around the neck and upper shoulders), but we’ll roll with it, especially as the coif would cover the armor that it’s advertising here.
Really, Not Bad
Virginia Hankins, stuntie and performer at the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire (and who thought that was a good name for it?). This is clearly costume armor that’s never been hit in its life (she doesn’t joust, as we’ll get to later, but rides around hitting targets, which, yes, is very difficult, and how the hell she does it with that hair I’ll never know, because mine would be trying to strangle the horse, but doesn’t require impact-resistant armor). It’s too tight-fitting to be entirely functional, because the idea here is to look badass and feminine on horseback from a distance. Fully covered. Still clearly woman-shaped.
Mia Wasikowska as Alice in Alice in Wonderland, really weird pseudo-mail sleeves that the vambrace bits are just sort of riveted to, but whatever, quite reasonable pauldrons, and even gauntlets!
Kristen Stewart as Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman, with surprisingly better-looking mail. It’s less girly, both in the shorter and less fluffalous skirts over the hips and thighs, the embellishments, and the overall design, but SW and the H has a weird attempt to be gritty and realistically semi-medieval thing going on (which is hilarious on multiple levels). Honestly, they may have been going for borrowed dude armor here, but, again, completely covered, still looks fine. (Okay, except for that hair, nobody ever looks good with their hair scraped back directly from their forehead. That has nothing to do with the armor, the armor is fine.)
Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones, in a padded gambeson, mail (still stupidly light, but mail), and even a helmet! The lobstered plates coming down over her hips are too short and too narrow, but she does have something. She can’t really be described as “shapely,” but she’s not supposed to, the point is she’s mistaken for a guy with her face hidden in the helmet anyway (nor is Gwendoline Christie the most hourglassy lady to begin with). The design of the breastplate could very easily be altered to taper in more at the waist as well if you really wanted to girl up the look. (Also included because a number of fighting female friends would beat the crap out of me if I didn’t, this armor is BELOVED among them. And it really is quite schnazzy.)
Miranda Otto as Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings, also disguised as a dude, and it’s hard to get a cuirass like this to fit really snugly when it’s over accurately-sized mail. So while she doesn’t look all that girly here, she’s not supposed to, and again, like Brienne’s, this armor could be feminized without losing functionality. (There is, however, NO excuse for this hair being all over the place, NO excuse whatsoever. Tolkien SPECIFICALLY refers to her hair being braided, besides the fact that you do not, ever, want long hair around mail, because it WILL get caught and it WILL hurt; long hair worn down on your neck is really hot and sweaty and gross if you stick a metal pot on it and then run about in a very active manner; and two words, ladies and gentleman: HELMET HAIR. It’s real. It’s sweaty. It’s gross. It’s at least a little tangly even if you braid your hair, which is what very nearly every long-haired (and by that I mean even to the shoulders) woman I know who sticks her head in a metal pot and then bounces around excitedly while wearing heavy, warm protective clothing does, because HELMET HAIR. Would you play hockey, or roller-derby, or any other active sport that requires a helmet, with waist-length hair left to its own devices? I’m not even talking about how it looks when you don’t have a professional team making sure you look rugged and a bit tousled but, not, you know, sweaty and gross and afflicted by HELMET HAIR. This is just about how nasty it feels.)
Nicole Leigh Verdin in Shroud. While cinched in at the waist to an impractical degree, it still follows the lines of the late-fifteenth-century Gothic armor I promise I’m getting to, so it still keeps EVERYTHING COVERED.
Valentina Cervi as Caterina Sforza Riario in Borgia, set in the 1490s. See what I mean about Brienne’s thigh protection?
Gina McKee as Caterina Sforza Riario in The Borgias, yup, still 1490s. Both the pauldrons and helmet are weird, but the breastplate is decent, and that’s the main culprit in bullshit female armor.
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. This armor is more than a century too early, but put her in period-accurate armor and you get…
Helen Mirren in Elizabeth I, an HBO minseries. The costuming in this miniseries is damn near reproduction quality, and I’m happy they went with an accurate peascod shaped breastplate because I’m an accuracy geek, but nobody has ever looked good in either a peascod doublet or a breastplate shaped like one, which is why the costume team on the appealing-to-a-broad-audience-that-just-wants-to-see-Cate-Blanchett-Look-Hot-In-Armor Golden Age went all Gothic instead.
So this is actually a gaming mini made by Thunderbolt Mountain, designed to be 12th century Rus, including lamellar (interlocking plates) armor over mail. This is actually pretty accurate except for some weird draping in the mail coif over her neck and head (and the fact that there’s nothing between the mail and her hair–DO NOT LET MAIL TOUCH YOUR HAIR, you will be very, very sad and possibly bald). Lamellar, which is I what I wear for several practical reasons not all to do with the Girl Body Thing, is awesome for female armor because of how easy it is to adjust the fit as you make it, and because of its flexibility once it’s made. My quibble here is actually that she only has a sword belt, not another belt cinched in snug around the natural waist, because that makes a HUGE difference for both men and women by getting some of the weight to settle on the hips rather than hanging off the shoulders and back.
Actual Damn Armor
Armorer Jeff Wasson’s wife Stacey, wearing early- to mid-15th century armor. As armor. Because she’s not an actress or performer, she’s a legit jouster (this is why she has the larger pauldron on the left shoulder, where she’s most likely to get hit).
Here she lands a hit on her opponent. This group used balsa-wood inserts in the lances that are designed to break on impact, the idea being that you get hit but don’t, you know, die (this is historically accurate; tournament lances were designed to break themselves, not break people). That being said, you’re still being hit with a bigass stick by someone on a galloping horse; I would bet money she’s not only taken hits in that armor but also fallen off the horse in it.
(Thomas Swynborn Dating 1412 Church of St Peter and St Paul, Little Horkesley, Essex, England.) What dude armor from the same period as Wasson’s is based on. The hourglass was in for guys as well as women, to the point that men’s clothing heavily padded the shoulders and chest to exaggerate it, which is what makes the 15th century a great period to base feminine-looking female armor on.
Other examples of extant (and thus made for dudes) armor that would make excellent inspiration for functional and feminine armor, JUST SAYING, PROFESSIONAL COSTUMERS, is from the late 15th century, google “gothic armor” for more:
15th c. German,courtesy of Dr. Andrea Carloni (Rimini, Italy), AAF ID.
1470 Leeds, UK, Royal Armouries, II.168, composite armour “alla tedesca”, breastplate formerly in Churburg, Milano and Brescia Images courtesy of Igor Zeler*, AAF ID.
1484 – Vienna, Austria, Kunsthistorisches Museum, A 62, armour for Archduke Sigismund von Tirol, by Lorenz Helmschmid, Augsburg Front image courtesy of Blaz Berlec, AAF ID.
No attribution, but typical of late 15th c. and holy shit, gorgeous. Look at me, I’m a pretty, pretty badass!
Armor: Can be feminine, functional, and hot at the same damn time, without showing any skin. And while I’m of the opinion that armor needs to look functional for the wearer to be badass, and that wearing a metal swimsuit makes the wearer look ridiculous and neither badass nor sexy, I recognize that when catering to mainstream audience, female characters frequently need to look sexy as well as functionally badass. That’s the reality in Hollywood right now, like it or not. I do NOT recognize that skin is necessary for this, or that bullshit fantasy armyr is, because holy shit, how hot would Lady Badass look in some of that Gothic stuff? SMOKING hot. All the more so because it would be completely functional.
Just saying, costume designers and denizens of the internet. Just saying.
When creating fictional female armor, the designers can go literally anywhere on the scale between “Stupid Hollywood Bullshit” and “Actual Damn Armor” and not worry about the character losing her femininity or sex appeal, if they do their job right. All without showing an inch of randomly exposed skin.
Things like flaunted cleavage or suspiciously uncovered thighs are a dead giveaway that whoever approved the costume just opted for “sexy” shortcuts. They really highlight that the sole priority was to convey generic “hotness”.
While we here at BABD believe that woman characters should be more than just eye-candy (and dead, from the way they’re usually dressed), we should probably remind people that women can also look hot while also being protected in battle. Most of the examples here are plate armor, but trust me, it’s possible with other types of armor as well.
So if, for example, a character is out there fighting, but she also uses her Womanly Wiles to get the Men to her side, she can, like… wear armor… and do that also?
And honestly, even if armor was just fundamentally un-hot (would that be “cold” then?), she probably has more than one outfit. It’s just that maybe you shouldn’t wear your little black dress to beat some dudes up. Unless you’re Superman, he’s got literally 0 excuse.
“One might think this is because women didn’t serve combat roles – which isn’t true – but according to former DICE coder Amandine Coget, it’s because the project leads thought boys wouldn’t find it believable.
…Coget adds that DICE made several decisions for Battlefield 1
which have nothing to do with historical realism – including how tanks
function or the lethality rates of early parachutes – but female
soldiers still wouldn’t appear in multiplayer.”
Considering the developer is so totally concerned with “realism” (as understood by pubescent boys), @pointandclickbaithas a great suggestion to what historically accurate thing should be included instead of soldier women:
This week in throwback: Remember how two years ago Battlefield 1 developers insulted their intended audience by basically claiming that boys are too stupid and sexist to accept women in a World War I game? Well who would have thought it, they were right!
My beef regarding female characters in an action series who use “seduction” as a means of getting things done can basically be summed up in three points.
The first is: seduction is not a valid strategy. Even if your femme fatale can count on the idea that the vast majority of her opponents are going to be specifically attracted to women, which, she… can’t, there’s no way she can guarantee that she’s everyone’s type, or that everyone will drop what they’re doing to ogle / assist a woman they’re attracted to. A tactic is not a useful tactic if it is rendered totally moot in the event of asexual people, those not attracted to women, happily married monogamous individuals, people who are just not really feelin’ the sexy right this second, anyone of particular ethical fiber, anyone of a cautious or calculating persuasion who thinks to be suspicious of one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to coercion, anyone who fights in a manner or environment that makes them unable to discern their opponent, anyone who’s difficult to distract in general, or anyone who fights fast and reflexively and will only realize their opponent is a pretty lady after they’ve thrown all their punches… and that’s not a complete list. Odds are good that the majority of situations any sort of actiony lady encounters are not situations she can seduce herself past.
The idea of female character using seduction as a tactic to disarm whoever she’s fighting is something we often touched upon in our distraction bonus tag, most extensively in this post by wincenworks. Assumption that sexualized appearance and/or behavior somehow will warrant advantage over every (cishet male) opponent is beyond ridiculous.
you have to literally present a world populated exclusively by people literally too incompetent to live… plus your one overly competent, yet super objectified female character.
Back to the topic of seduction, though, femme fatale warrior is quite an insulting, gender-exclusionary trope. We’ve heard it used as an excuse for quite a few characters, especially ones that fall under “evil is sexy” category and one particular video game character who everyone assumes counts as a femme fatale because of vague black widow spider theme, one undercover assassination and impossibly deep cleavage. Even though she’s a sniperassassin who never uses her sexual wiles in combat.
So yeah, not only there’s a prevailing (and obviously wrong) idea of female sex appeal as a valid battle strategy, it is so ingrained in our culture’s collective consciousness that even characters not meant to use use it in combat are designed to look as if they do.
The above post is pretty long, but we should really highlight this part:
…if seduction is a useful combat advantage (which it isn’t), there is a glaring lack of male characters that use it.
We’ve said this before, but Agent 47 from the Hitman series still has all his suit buttons done even in the latest game. Why isn’t his default suit Fabio-esque, surely that would help him get close to his targets?
Probably because “distraction” is a shitty excuse to put lady characters in revealing outfits.
Maybe it’s because you’re taking the same strategy you would in designing characters for comics or video games and applying it to real people, except fictional characters are a representation of how you choose to see people or wish them to be portrayed, whereas real people get to do their own choosing, because nothing is more sexist than denying someone the right to choose, regardless of what that choice may be.
Worth bringing back – this quote from a pretty great analysis of complex problems with perpetuating sexism. The quoted part and image are the ones most relevant to BABD’s subject matter, but the article is still worth reading whole.
Something a lot of readers asked us to chime in on is the recently revealed artwork for rebooted She-Ra cartoon.
Considering the showrunner for it is Noelle Stevenson, aka @gingerhaze, the author of Nimona and co-creator of Lumberanes, and from whom we reblogged a couple times in the past, it’s quite safe to assume it will be much more interesting and diverse than the original’s “exactly like He-Man, except looks like a Barbie doll and rides a flying unicorn.”
First off, judging from the EW interview, Stevenson intends to take full advantage of the heroine’s backstory, in which she was kidnapped and raised from infancy by the Evil Horde before she turns against them as She-Ra. That leaves a lot of story potential for internal conflict and development of relationship between princess Adora, her antagonists and friends (some of whom will likely be one and the same).
Second, and more relevant to BABD, her character design is pretty damn solid mix of stylized magical girl elements (long hair, barely any armoring) and some practical choices, like comfortable looking shoes, short pants under her tunic and breast piece without the original’s cleavage. This is what we mean when we say a warrior design can be feminine without being objectifying.
And yes, since we need to address the elephant in the room: there is a vocal minority of entitled manbabies crying that their childhood icon got snatched by the evil gay SJW agenda. That Adora/She-Ra, a teenager, is deliberately unsexyfied and that is bad because sexyness is totally what original show’s intended audience (young girls who wanted a He-Man’s feminine counterpart) liked about her. Not to mention allegations that the story is going to be “forcibly” turned into a queer narrative by the lesbian showrunner, which would be a bad thing, because…?
Recently, a friend sent me this image. It had been passed on by her boyfriend; it had reminded him of me. One might expect that connection to fill me with satisfaction, that I, a game designer and writer, am instantly associated with forward thinking and feminist ideals. Instead, I felt humiliated.
This is a great article that does a good job of explaining exactly why arguments excusing ”sexy armor” are invalid and altogether ridiculous.
This awesome article not only thoroughly explains why there’s no way to logically justify sexualization of female characters in video games, but also highlights the struggles that women in the industry go through:
The thing is, in this industry, you don’t want to be “that girl.” The world has communicated very thoroughly, with Anita Sarkeesian’s death threats, with so many comments on Kotaku, and with comments in the hallways of the workplace and the podiums of conventions, that being “that girl” is bad. Real bad. Potentially end of career bad.
But it’s not just dangerous for potential ramifications on career trajectory. There’s also a social component of how “that girl” is insufferable, annoying, and should be punishable by shaming.
Many female game designers, anonymously and publicly alike, confess how they have to deal with sexist standards of the industry, just so they can keep their jobs. It’s a legit problem that men, especially the ones chanting “sex sells!” or “it’s intended for male gamers!”, are either blissfully unaware of or willfully ignorant (my bets are on the latter option, though).
Please guys, read the whole thing.
People are often quick to dismiss arguments against the conventional wisdom that “sex sells” as “politically correct” idealism. But one of the most compelling argument against the slogan comes from the other side of the political spectrum.
David Ogilvy was one of, if not The great iconic Ad Men of the 1960’s. Unsurprisingly he was deeply invested in the idea of gender roles and claimed “I am less offended by obscenity than by tasteless typography, banal photographs, clumsy copy, and cheap jingles”. He also (literally) wrote the book on how to create effective advertising and measure the effectiveness of your advertising.
He was, amazingly, admantly against introducing sex to sell any product that wasn’t inherently sexual in itself for one simple reason:
All his research and experience in advertising told him it would not work.
What did Ogilvy very sincerely believed was the first step in creating effective advertising an massive sales? To create a high quality product.
That way all that was required was to sincerely show the customers why it was a great product and the rest would take care of itself.
So when developers distort their products (comics, books, movies, video games, etc) by cramming sexualised imagery into them with the mentality of “sex sells” so “more sex will sell even more” they are actually sabotaging their product’s reception, reputation, sales and it’s marketing campaigns.
At least according to an old white man from the 1960s who always assumed women should be house wives… and also happened to be one of the greatest thinkers in advertising.
Sadly, we still operate firmly in the reality where “sex” (or rather: erosion of female self-esteem) is considered a marketing booster and women speaking out for themselves in any way get shoved aside, so we don’t have to have the uncomfortable conversation that maybe they have a point.
Couldn’t help but make this joke out of the accompanying image from the Jessica Price article linked above.
Don’t know if the writer did it on purpose or not, but thanks!