May 6 2013 12:30pm

It’s Time to Retire “Boob Plate” Armor. Because It Would Kill You.

Never mind the chainmail bikinis—what about those awkward breast plates in armor that we see frequently in fantasy artwork and at the Ren Faire? Whenever women complain about this convention, they are usually shot down for trying to erase women’s true bodies, for insisting that women make themselves more “male” in order to appear strong and capable.

But here’s the thing: those shapely bits of armor would actually get you killed. So the complaint is entirely valid! Now, let’s talk about why.

Let’s start with some relevant history: armor was uncomfortable, guys. It was heavy, hot or cold depending on the weather, and it made you sweat. (Speaking as someone who has donned chainmail shirts before, I can attest to all of these things.) To negate some of its more uncomfortable effects, all armored soldiers wore padded gambesons and the like. Once this padding was added, the shape of the wearer was practically neutralized. So the need for special boob-shaped armor is already suspect at best.

Now we’ll apply some science!

Let’s begin by stating the simple purpose of plate armor—to deflect blows from weaponry. Assuming that you are avoiding the blow of a sword, your armor should be designed so that the blade glances off your body, away from your chest. If your armor is breast-shaped, you are in fact increasing the likelihood that a blade blow will slide inward, toward the center of your chest, the very place you are trying to keep safe.

But that’s not all! Let’s say you even fall onto your boob-conscious armor. The divet separating each breast will dig into your chest, doing you injury. It might even break your breastbone. With a strong enough blow to the chest, it could fracture your sternum entirely, destroying your heart and lungs, instantly killing you. It is literally a death trap—you are wearing armor that acts as a perpetual spear directed at some of your most vulnerable body parts. It’s just not smart.

That’s not to say that female armor cannot be shaped differently—in fact, it should be to account for differences in shoulder-to-waist ratios and more, as the military recently discovered. Some films decide to provide women with a shelf of sorts in the chest region and that choice, if well-designed, can be flattering as well as functional. But it still isn’t logical or necessary by a longshot.

So if you want to wear some sculpted armor to the Ren Faire because you feel fabulous-looking in it, go forth and have fun! But if you’re drawing lady soldiers, or creating female characters who are depicted as actual warriors, please err on the side of reality when designing their armor. Science says your boob plates are killing the women you hoped they would protect. And none of us want that.

Information on female armor obtained from My Gaming and Tumblr.

Emily Asher-Perrin always has fun wearing chainmail shirts. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

Scott Silver
2. hihosilver28
Completely agree. "Sexy Armor" drives me nuts, Boob Plate included. The only time I've seen it in media where it made sense was in Gladiator with the Amazonian fight, since it was all for show anyway.
Nick Hlavacek
3. Nick31
You're correct that the armor value of "boob plate" (lol at that name, by the way) is hideously low, and that the design is inherently flawed when it comes to providing protection to the most critical areas. However it should be noted that there is another component to "boob plate" you've overlooked, and that is distraction. This would be of limited use against other female opponents, but it's well established that the sight of or suggestion of certain portions of the female anatomy cause the male brain to operate at diminished capacity. (In other words, boobs make guys stupid.) I don't know if this is enough to compensate for the weakness in the physical design of "boob plate", but it shouldn't be overlooked.
4. Blaze
*The teacher points to nick 31 and then the door*

And see you in detention. Don't you roll your eyes at me young man,
just be glad I don't assign you an essay on sexism.
6. sodap
when you design a character for an audiovisual product, if historical accuracy isnt the main focus of the movie, videogame, or whatever, the main concern is coolness. It has to look cool, and in the case of female characters it has to look sexy in 99% of the cases, as both men AND WOMEN prefer sexy female characters.

reality, function, or accuracy are a concern only once in a while
7. Jeremy Joel
This might be a good time to point out that we're talking about fantasy novels here. They're set in fantastic worlds where ridiculous things happen.

That's not to say your speculation is entirely irrelevant, but if I hear the word "sexist" one more time in connection to a genre that exploits fantasies of all kinds, my head is going to explode.
8. Dr. Thanatos

Sexist perhaps, but certainly outdated. In modern fantasy armies, significant proportions of male opponents would not be distracted (or "Nicked" if I might coin a phrase) by the boobosity of the armor plating, being more likely to be distracted by an exaggerated or magnified codpiece; similarly a significant proportion of the distaff population might find the presence of armor displaying female secondary sexual characteristics on a positively Frazetta-like scale appealing. This paradigm shift in the assumption that male opponents are left in a slobbering state by the sight of modified sweat glands (and the corresponding assumption that female opponents would be uniformly unmoved by such visual effects) renders your theory moot.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course...
9. ryancnelson
For what it's worth, as sports protective equipment (setting aside actual armor), "boob armor" is actually functional and legitimately protective in women's fencing:

... that's to prevent bruises, though, not death.
Alexander Gieg
10. alexgieg
@3: You made me remember an old '70s manga, Lady Snowblood. The protagonist was a woman assassin seeking revenge in a Japan barely out of its feudal period. One of her moves when surrounded by more than one samurai was to do something with her kimono so that the upper part dropped causing them to become distracted and easier to kill.

I dunno if such a move would work in reality, but as fantasy combat goes it was quite clever. :-)

About the article: so true! I always cheer when I find a game or movie in which women characters wear plate armor that actually looks like plate armor. It's so uncommon it's worth celebrating!
Paul Weimer
11. PrinceJvstin
Practical armor >>>>>> "sexy" armor.

In a book I am currently reading (Exiled Blade, Jon C. Grimwood), the Regent of Venice is given a suit of armor. *Practical* armor.
James Nicoll
12. JamesDavisNicoll
I am intrigued by and yet skeptical of the thesis that the people responsible for boob armour would not cheerfully accept a high death-rate for the women stuck with the stuff as long as those people got to ogle the wearers first.

As Natalie Luhrs recently mused:

Second: wow, things really haven’t changed much, have they? I was struck by this as I read Russ’s account of Samuel R. Delany’s 1961 revelation about the difference between the pockets in men’s and women’s clothing.
Kyle Cassidy wrote about pockets just last week.

(My mother wore boy's trousers in the 1960s because she was a pragmatist and women's jeans were stupidly designed)

Foisting anti-utilitarian clothing on women seems to be something that's very hard to eradicate.
13. Misterschmoo
Magnified codpiece?

The normal ones were bad enough, I'd hate to think what a magnified one would look like, of course we don't see many of the armoured codpieces because the Victorians thought they were rude and got rid of them.
14. Tynam
Thankyou, Emily, a thousand times over, on behalf of everyone interested in historical combat. Everytime I see female warriors depicted wearing armour that guides my sword _towards_ the heart, I want to repeat "I don't believe in fairies" and then shoot an art editor.
Emily Asher-Perrin
15. EmilyAP
Hoo boy,

To all the arguments that "it's fantasy!" and therefore it doesn't matter if the armor is functional... fine. That's fine. Then I demand all male warriors in fantasy fiction be dressed in nothing but shiny codpieces. Then you can tell me this is not sexist.

In addition, just because something is fantasy does not mean that it should be entirely unrealistic. By creating realistic battle conditions and accoutrements, a story and world is more believable to its reader or viewer, which is absolutely important, unless your aim is straight-up comedy.
James Nicoll
16. JamesDavisNicoll
If FASS (the amateur musical comedy that has been doing shows at the University of Waterloo since 1962) had picked super-heroes as the theme, I would have pushed to have a male superhero whose cod piece gets progressively larger through the show (I since learned someone else thought of this first and did it in an earlier show I missed). My model was Power Girl and the rumours about Wally Wood's approach to drawing her...

As it is, I hope some justification shows up that lets us put author Ryan Consell on stage in this costume:
Mordicai Knode
17. mordicai
Wow, I thought "she's distracting them...with boobs! It is empowering!" sort of rebuttals only existed in fictional comic book shops populated by fictional "comic boy guys." Sad to see it out on display in the open.
18. Tynam
Thanks for that clarification, Emily; with you 100%.

@Jeremy Joel: You tempt to say "sexist" one more time just to have your head explode. Fantasy fiction has a long and sad history of sexism, precisely because it _hasn't_ catered equally for fantasies of all kinds. (Men's armour in fantasy art is cool and sexy, but it somehow manages to actually protect the wearer. It's only on female characters that "sexy" suddenly becomes the same thing as "naked".)
James Nicoll
19. JamesDavisNicoll
You know what I bet would reduce the frequency of the word "sexist" in conversations? Less sexism.
Alexander Gieg
20. alexgieg
@19: Or so much more it overflows and escapes in the other direction.
21. mutantalbinocrocodile
As a former female fencer, I can state that "boob armor" is not a necessary item for this heavily female sport, and even when it is used, it doesn't make the wearer look any sexier (or noticeably different) from any other competitor in the white padded suit.

I think the real point here, guys, is that if an author is trying to convince us that women are an important part of war in his/her alternate world, then sticking them in costumes designed to titillate instead of protects damages their worldbuilding credibility.

The commenter who mentioned the Amazons in Gladiator really gets to the heart of the matter. Are costumes designed to make the audience believe that women play a role in combat, or are they designed to appeal to the longstanding male fantasy trope of the "woman warrior", which seems to have turned a significant minority of Romans on, at least?
D. Bell
22. SchuylerH
There was an article on this by Ryan Consell on Mad Art Lab a while ago. The gist of it was that armor is governed by practical necessity (and padding has to be worn underneath to absorb blows) which, in effect, means that plate armor would have to have the same basic shape regardless of the wearer.
Bridget Smith
24. BridgetSmith
@9 & @21: I was also a female fencer, and at least when I was in high school, we were required to wear plastic chest protectors as well as cloth underarm guards called plastrons. (Most of us would have voluntarily anyway, because OW.) But they come in two styles: one flat, and one with boob cups. A lot of the women I fenced with chose the flat one for the exact same point made in this article: if you're hit at an angle, you want the blade to slide away from your body in the hopes that it might not hit hard enough to score a point. Or, as the case may be, kill you.
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
This seems to be a popular subject recently -- here's another article I came across last month. It adds the following:
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.
Douglas Freer
26. Futurewriter1120
Here's how you truly solve the boob armor: have all the sexist guys wear it into battle. At least I haven't seen any female armor highlighting their butts.
@6 Sexiness, in terms of appearance, is overrated personally. Lara Croft for example, I found the new version sexier than the previous tracts of land Lara's. Why? Because I like my fictional ladies to defend herself without their appearance being a factor in popularity. Same thing goes to Tifa of Final Fantasy 7.
28. John C. Bunnell
Just one observation: for the most part, "boob plate" is the invention of covert artists and costume designers, rather than that of written-word storytellers. While the original post properly focuses on visual media, parts of the comment stream diverge into placing blame for improbable armor on written-word storytellers -- who, most of the time, have very little to no control over what the cover artist does.

Which isn't to say that there aren't novels/short stories out there with written instances of "boob plate" or related design errors. There may well be such, and such errors are worth pointing out. But we ought not blame writers for visual images that have no real foundation in the written word.
Alexander Gieg
29. alexgieg
@26: Well, the Saint Seiya manga universe shows lots of male characters wearing armors that do everything except provide actual protection, plus a handful of quite androginous ones wearing armor with female countours, one of such characters being an hero and a protagonist. Plus women characters who must follow a rule instituded by the hero goddess to wear masks preventing anyone from seeing their faces. Go figure...
30. PeteInSpace
Call me an arsehole if you must, but boobplate=incompetent warrior, and I just can't find incompetence sexy. I'm rather suspicious of those who do. I'll accept that there are dragons in your fantasy world, but you're going to have to do a hell of a lot of world building to convince me that a serious fighter would bother with boobplate.
If you're trying to argue that your female warrior is a serious and deadly threat, sending her into battle with a knife strapped between her tits kind of belies that deadliness, since all you'd need to do to win the fight is knock her onto her front. Bam, worlds most embarrassing death.
Douglas Freer
32. Futurewriter1120
@29 Never read Saint Seiya but I get what you're talking about. It's almost like the opposite of superheros since the women never have to cover their faces for some reason.
Nick Hlavacek
33. Nick31
@4 - I must say I do appreciate you referring to me as a "young" man. :) My point isn't a sexist one, however. It's a simple fact that men have diminished mental processing ability when visually confronted with images of female anatomy or images that make them think of female anatomy. This is a biological difference due to different evolutionary pressures. Multiple studies have shown that women aren't affected by these types of visual stimuli to the same extent that men are. I'm not saying that one gender is superior to the other (which would be sexist) but simply that this difference exists and that wearing the type of "boob plate" commonly found in fantasy could potentially allow a female warrior to take advantage of it. Does that advantage outweigh the flaws listed in the article? I seriously doubt it. While it would certainly depend on the specific opponent and the type of combat how much advantage could be gained, it would be temporary at best. It's not anything a serious warrior (male or female) would rely on.
I fail to see how pointing this out is sexist, unless of course your definition of "sexist" is refusal to pretend that there are no differences between men and women. In which case, yes, I *am* rolling my eyes at you.
34. Jeremy Joel
@Tynam: You're right. And I would hate to see sexism propogated further through the genre and its fanbase. That's something I should have made clearer in my earlier post. My main issue with "sexism" is that it reduces everything to a binary this-or-that state.
Katharine Duckett
35. Katharine
@ChaoticFlyer, please tone down the rhetoric somewhat when making your point. Thanks.

@Nick31, thanks for your response, but this is a reminder to everyone of our moderation policy and making sure we disagree with ideas, rather than people. Let's keep the discussion respectful and the eye-rolling to a minimum.
36. Chaoticflyer
@ PeteinSpace:

You realize that the Celt and Viking Women used to carry knives in their boobs for fighting reasons right?
39. Lesli
The comic linked is safe for work. The rest of them, not so much.

Also, I'm offended on behalf of dudes at the assertion that, despite being professional soldiers who are in a situation where inattention might immediately lead to their demise, dudes who see something even vaguely breast or vagina shaped will lose their ability to function as if there was a magical off switch on their brains. If that were true, people wouldn't be wearing camouflage into battle, they'd be covering themselves with used copies of Hustler.
40. randomly_rusted
Another important point about the big boob domes: they get in the way of arm movement.

I have done a chunk of work with historical sword manuals, armoured and unarmoured. I have found by actual test that large breast domes - which is what you get with some rigid martial arts chest plates - interfere with arm motion enough to change how I move. They cause me to tilt my elbow out in a way that affects the bio mechanics of the blow and exposes the elbow.

IF the only fighting you are doing is the standard movie "stand well away from each other and do two clashes high well above your heads and two low well away from your bodies with big slow movements" then not a real problem, but if you are doing anything more than that, then large chests get in the way.

(And that goes for men too, I have worked with a Pacific Islander who was a Very Large Man and he had the same problem)
44. Dr. Thanatos
as a physician, I challenge anyone to cite the actual valid scientific studies that show that men get stupid when confronted with bubbies. I haven't seen anything like that and it's actually in my line of work...
46. Chaoticflyer
@Dr. Thanatos:

Actually, the study is has loosely quoted is true. Men actually lose some of their cognative functionality when confronted with a woman they percieve as attractive. I worked at the Social Sciences Research Institute of Duke University and they ran a mock study to find that this is actually true.
47. Dr. Thanatos
mock studies are not real studies. Citations please and it had best be randomized, double blinded (so to speak), and controlled...otherwise it isn't more than hearsay...
49. Chaoticflyer
Here... there are links everywhere but, you can find specifics in this link:

and you can find the actual artical in:
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 45, Issue 4, July 2009, Pages 1041-1044
50. itisallacharade

"Interacting with women can impair men’s cognitive functioning"
51. Geekoid
Just becasue you use the word science, doeesn't make it science.
Swinging an object and hittitng half a sphear isn't going to move the blade inward, and no one stabs with a blade when fighting someone in full chest armor.
You want reality? when depticing soeone fighting in armor, the should be using a a mace, hammer, or spear.

And yes, of cuorse armore would be made custom.
Emily Asher-Perrin
52. EmilyAP
@Chaoticflyer and @itisallacharade -

Let's separate this out into the two areas of argument: women dressing this way in LARPing etc, and women designed this way in fiction.

For women dressing this way:

Women can dress however they want in whatever manner that makes them feel powerful, sexy, cool, etc. No one is arguing that point. However, it is important to remember that 1) women do not necessarily do this for male benefit and 2) when they do, this is often due to living in a male dominated society that has told them their whole lives that their body is one of the most valuable parts of them. Woman are bombarded by media containing hyper-sexualized women from the time they are small children, and often end up playing into that system because it is literally all they know. What people like myself are pushing for is a world where a woman can decide what being sexual and sexualized means on her own terms, without the benefit of being told from the male gaze perspective what sexy is at the tender age of three.

For women designed this way in various forms of media:

There is simply no excuse for it. As I said above, it weakens the realism inherent in your fantasy world to dress warriors this way (and the idea that a fantasy world should not adhere to any realistic terms--despite being fantasy, yes I know--is plain incorrect and will make suspension of disbelief hard for many readers, watchers and players). More importantly the suggestion that it should stay that way because that is what men and women want... well, I'd like to see some statistics on it being what women want. As for men, this occurs because the market is playing to their titilation, regardless of the fact that a large number of women who enjoy these types of media find it degrading. Who has the high ground here? The person being degraded, or the people who don't care because it's "hot?" And if the argument is that creators of these characters are simply out to make a profit, then someone better prove that these games, films, etc. would not sell without. Because a quality product sells 90%+ of the time, regardless of what its female characters are wearing.
53. Dr. Thanatos
small unblinded uncontrolled study in dutch college students. Hardly a basis for generalizing about behavior in men...

A resident in our program citing a study like this as having significance would have some 'splainin' to do
54. itisallacharade
"Woman are bombarded by media containing hyper-sexualized women from the time they are small children, and often end up playing into that system because it is literally all they know"

Always love this argument, makes women seem so smart and capable of making their own decisions!
55. Uncle Washy
Here's an article written 2 years ago on exactly the same subject by an armourer named Ryan.

Not saying the author necessarily used it (or the several others a simple Google search uncovered) but the discussion of sternum-breaking issues is especially déjà vu.
56. Dr. Thanatos
Tor posted a most amusing video last year of a young lady trying to fight some dudes in a chainmail bikini (her, not the dudes); she was unable to walk due to chafing and she got grief from the dudes who felt that the only proper armor for a young lady was that which provided titillation (so to speak) to the guys. 'Nuff said...
Emily Asher-Perrin
57. EmilyAP
@54 - "Always love this argument, makes women seem so smart and capable of making their own decisions!"

Social and psychological conditioning by a person's culture eliminate some of that choice, and make many of those decisions much harder. Everyone makes choices within the realm of their experience. For instance:

"Girls and young women who more frequently consume or engage with mainstream media content also support the sexual stereotypes that paint women as sexual objects." This assertion is supported by several different studies reported in the Journal of Sex Research, papers presented at
the Society for Research on Adolescence and more. Talking about it lightly is frankly unhelpful to the discussion.

@55 - At the bottom of the piece you'll note links to articles, one of which cites the very article you brought up!
58. Lesli
It's so weird to me that not only are dudes not offended by the assertion that men aren't competent to do... well, anything seems like what's being put forward, in the presence of mammaries.... it's actually guys who are making this claim.

Makes one wonder how heart surgeries on female patients ever got done before lady surgeons.
59. Dr. Thanatos

Please count me as a counterargument; I am offended by the assertion, not too pleased with the rather shaky science used to support it, and am certainly not making the claim!

And don't forget that for a long time there were very few lady gynecologists. One shudders at the thought of how they must have become completely unhinged every time they examined a patient...
60. Dr. Thanatos
the male GYNs, that is...
61. Lesli
@ Dr. Thanatos- I apologize for the sweeping generalization about a whole gender
62. andmandy
Most of the guys I know that talk that way seem to use it as a way of emphasizing their masculinity. Kind of like: "I am *man*, baby--and that means I am genetically programmed to be a giant ball of sex."... or something like that.

I mean, I'm female--and I'm assuming the estrogen has something to do with my fascination with baby mammals. But if I were in a life or death situation, and an opponent were to whip out his... raccoon kit, I might be surprised, but I would not be sufficiently distracted by the baby raccoon to ignore the peice of metal being swung at my head. And I'm just going to go out on a limb, and assume that situation would apply most dudes with regards to the sudden appearance of a nice rack, que no?
Jenny Creed
63. JennyCreed
"Women's true bodies" is in my opinion one of the most worthwhile things in all possible worlds there are to see. But that doesn't make it necessary to see them all the time, on all women. Sometimes a woman may have more important things to do than look nice. Sometimes you can leave something to the imagination. Sometimes it may even be interesting to see a woman looking decidedly not feminine!
64. Al Harron
Regarding the literal breast plate debate, I'm generally of the opinion that armour practicality should go hand in hand with the general "realism" of a setting, and also the armour's function and context. If the men are all wearing armour styled or inspired from Milanese or Gothic armour, or other historical styles, then the women should wear exactly the same. If the men are wearing ridiculous armour with spikes and blades and whatnot, then there's a wee bit of leeway.

That said, there are certainly instances in history where armour was ceremonial and not expected to be practical: jousts, parades, and whatnot, as well as vanity armour for nobles, or the aforementioned gladiatorial armour prizing glamour over practicality. In these cases, I could see a noblewoman accompanying the battlefield clad in a "feminised" cuirass, with the proviso that she would strictly be observing or commanding the battle, not that she would be anywhere near the actual fighting.

So if we're talking about historically-rooted fantasy like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, etc, then the women should most likely wear armour practically identical to the male's. But if we're talking something more like Heavy Metal, go for gold, go nuts.

The problem, of course, is not only that we have breast plates in what are otherwise realistic fantasy series causing a cognitive dissonance, but because they're so bloody common. As Kurt Busiek says, "sexiness isn't the problem, sameness is."

Lara Croft for example, I found the new version sexier than the previous tracts of land Lara's. Why? Because I like my fictional ladies to defend herself without their appearance being a factor in popularity.

Isn't this is still judging Lara's sex appeal on her appearance, but in reverse? In any case, new Lara still has the body of a freaking supermodel, so it's hardly some great triumph of diversity to say this is "sexier" than the cartoon of yesteryear. Tomb Raider had plenty of fans who liked the game and the character for reasons other than Lara's measurements, many of them women.
Alexander Gieg
66. alexgieg
@58: However some of us do have this difficulty. I present myself as an example. A colleague of mine once went to work with a cleavage that caused instant distraction for me. I wasn't attracted or interested in her but for some odd reason her choice of clothes (or lack thereof) was so extremely distracting that I only managed to talk to her that day by looking somewhere else, otherwise I'd get confused. The next day she dressed in a less revealing way and the effect disappeared.

I guess that's in part a function of familiarity. Were all my female colleagues dressed like that all the time I'd get used to it pretty fast and it would stop distracting me after a while, but as things are it still does.

Evidently that's just anecdotal evidence. It'd be interesting to know what the percentages in the general male population are so as to know whether I'm in the minority, majority, one extreme, the other or somewhere in between.
67. D.A Lascelles
Just like to say that I am another who is not at all distracted by females (unless I specifically choose to be distracted but that is on my own terms :) )

Teenagers may get distracted but the older and more experienced a man gets, the more experience he has of women, the less bothered by this he becomes. Arguing that a strong reason for wearing such armour was distraction does not work because only a small percentage of your opposing army would be distracted enough and even then unlikely to be significant...

Now, putting someone like Elizabeth I in such armour is a good PR move. It boosts morale of your men and shows the enemy that your Queen is a warrior just like her men. But that sort of armour was never actually meant to be fought in - it was purely for show (and likely a creation of the film anyway...). However, an ordinary fighter in the melee would not have anything like that because of many of the reasons already outlined above.
j p
69. sps49
Emily, you are absolutely correct.

Scientifically :)

I do like the way David and Leigh Eddings handled this in Castle of Wizardry with Ce'Nedra's armor.
70. DarthRachel
huzzah!!! i'm sure it's linked in here somewhere but i read a post on "Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor"

where an armor maker was talking about some "booby armor" she made on comission for a woman. she initially didnt even want to make it because she was afraid the commisioner would injure herself horribly just be wearing it and.. tripping and falling on accident. but ended up making it for her. if i commissioned armor and the maker said "this could conceivably and easily kill you on accident" i probably wouldnt even want it anymore! but the convention is so strong that women are willing to wear it. crazysauce!
71. Lis
All the evidence on the congitive capacity of men around attractive women ignores a pretty important factor: this isn't rocket science. It's combat. A man in combat is already going to be as full of adrenaline and in fight-or-flight mode. His physiological responses have already been re-routed to basic survival instincts. (Hint: evolution has prepared us to be more concerned about grievous bodily harm than sex.) Adding in a vaguely suggestive minor detail like the shape of a breast is not going to throw him off his game, because the weapon his opponent is holding will probably be much more interesting.
72. Megpie71
A further point regarding two side issues which have been raised here - namely the cog-psych studies "showing" men are cognitively impaired around women; and the cultural issue that women in Western cultures are still largely raised as the "sexual" gender, which affects the way women interact with the world around them. It's worth noting (NB: allacharade) men in Western cultures are also raised with the notion of women as the "sexual" gender too, and this affects the way men interact with the world around them as well - particularly those bits of it which happen to be women. This means even were those studies accurate, replicated, and readily generalisable, there's no saying whether the cognitive deficit which results is physiological, or an enculturated psychological response.

In order to find out firstly, whether this effect is widespread, and secondly, whether it's a physiological response or a psychocultural one, the experiment would need to be repeated in a number of different locations, under a wide variety of cultural conditions, and using a population which didn't consist primarily of psychology students (the usual study group for just about every university psych department). Testing for physiological response might need to be undertaken with subjects of a very young age (which would raise some interesting questions for the ethics boards). We also don't know whether the response is contextual - would it alter under battlefield conditions? (Another tricky one to design an experiment for, and an even harder one to get past the university ethics board).

So, pulling this back on-topic again, what we're left with is a rather dodgy premise for putting female characters (and only female characters) into dodgy, overly and overtly sexualised armour. A premise which may not hold true for your masculine fantasy characters who have been raised in a world where there's a ready supply of warriors of both genders, and where neither gender is culturally categorised as the sexually objectified one. It certainly isn't a premise I'd be willing to risk my life on, were I in that situation.
73. Bunyip
Thanks for this article.

I just feel that it needs to be pointed out that heterosexual teenage males do not constitute a majority in any demographic mix. Ergo, if we wish to broaden the appeal of genre fiction/film/television, we could also consider the aesthetic sensibilities of young women. And then there are gay men and women as well.

To make a reference to GoTs, why do we like Daenerys and Brienne? I suspect the reason is their agency, and not just physiognomy.
Alan Brown
74. AlanBrown
No one has yet mentioned the most egregious example of foolish armor in fiction--the costume of the female character Valkyrie in Marvel Comics. She is a kind of neo-Norse goddess who fights with a sword, and has a horse named Aragorn (she must have read LOTR at some point). Her outfit consists of a kind of black leather one piece swimsuit with two big chrome-plated metal cones attached to the front. Why they haven't reimagined that costume at some point is beyond me.
One of the good things that has come from comic heroes in cinema is how it has created a realization that some things that might look good drawn in comics make absolutely NO sense in the real world. You can see the costume designs that make sense in reality bleeding their way back into the comics, and it makes everything feel a bit more convincing as a result. While many of the costumes are still somewhat form fitting, there are a lot more realistic details to them.
But, as long as we are criticising armor in fiction, let me raise an equal opportunity issue that is depicted poorly on both men and women. Chain mail is often portrayed in comics and cover art as tight fitting, even to the extent of allowing one to see the shape of muscles underneath it. As many have pointed out, there is padding involved, the chain is only somewhat flexible, and in no way is it ever going to hug the body.
75. Thaxll
I had this same discussion on a game design forum a while back ...

The argument "it's fantasy, there's magic and all sorts of weird things, and you complain about minor things like this?" is probably the dumbest thing ever. It needs to be nuked from orbit and every dimwit who uses it with it. Even in cases where it isn't used to defend sexism.

It's about internal consistancy. If the fantasy world uses basic newtonian physics for your regular day to day life, and EVERY fantasy I've ever seen does, than having boob plates on actual combat armors is idiocy. Unless the women in that world are somehow affected differently than men by physics having them dress up in inferior armor designs makes them a liability in combat and for me, at least, it's immersion breaking to say the least. "But magic ... !" has nothing to do with it.

Also did anyone post this yet? (I got frustrated by comment 10 or so, so I didn't read the next 60.)

Also: and actual armerors opinion on this debate:
Brian R
76. Mayhem
Suprisingly, noone so far seems to have brought up the fairly fundamental point that if you look at female athletes, especially ones in sports involving a lot of muscular development and sustained exercise, they often don't actually have very much in the way of breasts at all. The same applies to bodybuilders, although they also seriously screw around with their bodies, both men and women. As I understand it from a competitive rowing friend of mine, it is mostly due to a lack of fat in the body brought on by the changes in metabolism. She found her breasts got significantly larger when she stopped competing.
So if you were to build proper armour for an active fighting woman, you simply wouldn't have a requirement for a large BREASTplate, as they simply don't have any. Extra padding? perhaps some, but it is unlikely you would need much more than for a man of equivalent build.
77. drjude518
Fantasy armour is fetishistic at best and is not meant to have any connection to reality. It bugs me that most men ( and probably a few women) need this hyper visualization to get off so to speak.
78. False Prophet
@55 Uncle Washy:

Yeah, I immediately flashed back to the Fantasy Armour and Lady Bits post as well. I go back and cite that one frequently; I really appreciate how he balances the "realism"/historical argument with the artistic/creative license one. This for me is the money quote:
To predict a counterpoint: There are men that wear next to nothing in fantasy art as well. Take Conan or He Man, for example. Neither of them are wearing much in the way of protection. This is true, but they aren’t meant to be armored. Both of the ladies above are wearing armor, not barbarian-style loin-cloths. Their metal garments describe access to real armor, but the decision not to wear it.
That's the crux for me right there. For example:

I don't think Belit's attire (left side) is inappropriate, because Conan and Zula are similarly attired. The setting informed by this statue is one where both male and female warriors wear revealing fur clothing that offers little or no protection from weapons or the elements. They don't bother with armour at all.

Meanwhile, in a setting a bit more grounded in realism, if male warriors kit themselves out in full plate armour, one would expect female warriors to do the same:

Boob plates, chainmail bikinis, and similar metal bits that don't actually offer protection are neither an appealing aesthetic choice, nor practical. They're just stupid. And if male characters were attired similarly in the same setting, it'd be fine. But all too often, you'll see male characters in full armour next to female characters in midriff-baring boobplates with full decolletage on display.
79. El Nastro
And this is precisely why womenfolk have no place on the battlefield. Clearly we cannot conceal their womanly curves within a masculine harness. And yet, we also cannot endanger their lives with armor appropriate to their feminine beauty. And this conundrum is why the fairer sex must occupy a specific set of other roles. Roles which, while not martial or glorious, are certainly necessary and noble in their own right:

-Loyal and Goodly Wyfe
-Haughty Temptress
-Blasphemous Sorceress, or White Witch
-Dainty and imperiled damsel laid out upon the sacrificial altar of the Serpent Demon, in need of rescue by the Steely Thewed Hero.
-Scullery Maid
80. you
You need to do some more research .. though some of your points are invalid .. these Items did exist and can be seen on display in many exibits
81. Colin R
I'm sort of all over the place on this kind of issue. I think it depends a lot on the medium. On a live woman, armor like this looks kind of ridiculous, and should be avoided for that reason. Likewise, most video games these days with 3D graphics, it's neither necessary nor attractive.

But I think that adding breast details in 2D art provide some context and depth that might not be present otherwise. In a 2D stylized portrait of a woman in armor, it may be difficult to tell if the person was mail or female without some exaggeration. It's a shame that such exaggeration has been overused and misused, but I don't think it's invalid.
YouDont NeedToKnow
82. necrosage2005
Now we’ll apply some science!
How dare you, Madam? This is the USA. We don't use science! Now that I'm done attempting to be funny and failing I'll actually agree with this post. I always did wonder why guys in many sci-fi and fantasy art got decked out in head to toe metal yet women looked like they'd be overdressed to audition at a strip club. Glad to know that I'm not the only one that doesn't like some of these bad and over done tropes.
83. DavidS
First my standard critique: it's mail or maille not chainmail, since that's chain chain (insert song here). Otherwise an excellent point that I wish was followed more.
84. Ashfallen0
Might I step in and point out one of the more popular sword wielding fantasy women at this point in time?
Though her armor may give her an air of androgeny, when you see her later in the bath with the KingSlayer, she is actually quite beautiful. Yes the point has been made repeatedly that "sex sells", however I'm glad (as a man) to see women being proudly portrayed as stalwort warriors in their own right; and in appropriate attire.
My wife is an Army veteran, as am I, and I'm of the opinion that on the battlefield, I don't care what sexual organs my battle-buddy or medic have, so long as they are good at what they do. I applaud any fantasy creator that uses a realistic worldscape with a dash of fantasy input. The whole idea that the world you are seeing/reading is 99% of reality makes the story more plausible.

Ladies, if you wish to "show off the goods" please feel free to stick to the whalebone corsets and courtly gowns. That's the (even fantasy world appropriate) garb for such flaunting. I'm more likely to be tripped up by a womanly figure over a mug of ale than when my backside is in jeapardy.
Jenny Creed
86. JennyCreed
As I usually say, Ogre, if you find that anything is acceptable in the name of good business, can I sell you to slavery?
87. jere7my
The article's point is well-taken, but isn't this a bit like saying "Nobody would ever field an army in the woods of New England wearing bright red coats. They'd be sitting ducks!" Museums are full of poorly-designed armor, much of it dented and riddled with holes. Just last weekend I was at the Higgins Armory in Worcester, where I saw a Greek "muscle cuirass" with nipples and bulging pectorals and all sorts of places to catch a spearpoint. It doesn't seem much of a stretch to imagine a culture that would put similar things on its female warriors.

I think it's the better part of valor here to stick to arguments about the male gaze, and why it's almost exclusively catered to in fantasy art. Arguments from realism seem doomed to fail, if only because it's never really unrealistic to imagine a military command making suboptimal decisions regarding the lives of its troops.

88. Daniel Earwicker
The potential sexism is in this part of your comment: "could potentially allow a female warrior to take advantage of it."

Or indeed a male warrior. If the breasts are fake, and confer some advantage in combat, why wouldn't male warriors also strap on a pair?

(Also perhaps the army should carry at its head a mascot of a huge pair of breasts, to utterly bamboozle their opponents into submission.)

But in the likely resulting arms race, the next stage would be for all warriors to be straight females or gay males, so they aren't susceptible. (And then presumably we'd see some experiments with highly visible fake penises on the battlefield to see if that works as any kind of distraction.)
89. Sly Drool Rockworm
I'm surprised no one has mentioned cover up ...

I get fed up with the sight of women dressed in nought but armoured lingerie for life-and-death battles. It's an irony few will appreciate, but modern fantasy fiction derives from folk tales that were the cut-down remnants of myths of fertility and the like: the idea of women wearing "armour" of that sort would be laughed out of that kind of world.
91. James Moar
Alan Brown @ 74:

"Why they haven't reimagined that costume at some point is beyond me."

They just did last month, funnily enough -- number 6 on this list:
92. av willis
It's not just an issue with plate, chain mail, etc. Modern body armor presents a similar issue. With Second Chance vests, (soft body armor designed to fit under outer clothing, female versions of the vests are being issued in order to meet the needs of the increasing number of female service members. In contrast, external armor remains pretty androgynous-turns out ballistic plates are a great equallizer.
93. TripmanUSA
Well there's a reason women belong in the kitchen and not on the battlefield. Obviously their armor is counter-intuitive.
94. Dr Thanatos


That's why Xena was a mighty princess forged in the heat of Kitchen Stadium...
Rob Rater
95. Quasarmodo
The solution is simple. First, give women practical, non-sexy armor. Second, tape a picture to the front of the armor, or have them wear one of those aprons with a swimsuit or nude design on it. In a fantasy setting, you can even have the practical armor be invisible, so all the enemy's males can get a good eyefull of that sexy women underneath, hampering their fighting ability while still offering her plenty of physical protection.
James Nicoll
96. JamesDavisNicoll
Also perhaps the army should carry at its head a mascot of a huge pair of breasts, to utterly bamboozle their opponents into submission.

Might have worked on Cú Chulainn, although I recall to calm him down after he went into a battle frenzy Conchobar of Ulster had to break out a large number of semi-naked women, not just one, and even then that was just to get Cú Chulainn to modestly close his eyes long enough for the Ulstermen to grab him and drop him into a prepared vat of cold water (which immediately boiled from the heat of Cú Chulainn's blood).
97. Greg9
Interesting article, but flawed. This armour is found almost exclusively in "fantasy" art, a genre made up of non realistic imaginary creatures weapons and armour types created to cater to the viewers interests. Removing sexy female armours (where the female figure is 99% of the time already enhanced) would be no different to removing the dragons they are fighting, epic oversized non-functional male armour types, and the swords which are twice the size of those wielding them.
98. Colin R
Right ok--I think the limitations of using realism as a guideline for fantasy armor are apparent in the comments here. Reducing and eliminating sexist imagery should be justifiable without appealing to science--it should be easy enough to justify by aesthetics and morals.

That is to say, it's neither morally nor aesthetically pleasing to see women singled out as wearing 'sexy' armor while men get to wear practical or powerful-looking armor. That's a good reason to avoid over-indulgence in boob plate or chainmaille bikinis.
Deana Whitney
99. Braid_Tug
@97, Good points.
Look at the armor design that leads this article. There is no padding on those jointed metal pieces. And how often are the legs left exposed for both genders? Conan the Barbarian anyone?

Real armor has padding of some sort. Padding helps remove the true curves of the body. (totally with @24, on this one)

Funny how Bri in GRRM’s world is the most accurate (and deadly) female fighter. But this is said in part because she likes to pretend she’s not a woman.

When I watch a kids show with my toddler I have to repeat the mantra “Must not apply logic or the laws of Physics to a Kids show.” Often depictions of armor, for both sexes, in fantasy games and on book covers – generates the same mantra “Must not apply logic to fantasy art!”
100. Wizard Clip
@James Davis Nicoll: I was just about to post regarding the Cu Chullain story. You're right, Cu wasn't distracted by the naked women for sexual reasons--if I recall, he's still a young boy in this tale-- but out of embarassment.

I'm sure you're also familiar with a later tale from the Cu Chullain saga in which the hero faces the warrior woman Aiofe. She is the superior fighter--no boob plates required--and so HE must employ a diversionary tactic. In this case, he expoits her love for her horses and tricks her into thinking they've been injured, gaining the upper hand.

This seems like a good place to note that real life Celtic warriors sometimes went into battle naked.

I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned Wonder Woman's original costume, with its stylized eagle breast plate.
101. Carissia
"There's padding, so the shape of the body would be rounded out because they justn't pad the breast area in a way that makes it comfortable for the breasts. And because there's no padding or anything to cushion the impact, falling might kill you. Because we all know that any other form of armour had absolutely no means via which a clumsy move could result in serious injury or death."

Not . . . even . . . trying.
102. DarrenJL
Why does comfort never enter into these discussions? The assumption is always that the only reason for the choice is "to look sexy". Even the armourer in the quoted link (which, btw, was taken from a much larger article: which it does not source. Bad form? Or was it that the original author thinks the best armour for a woman is the scifi burqa Tali from Mass Effect wears..?) seems convinced that the only reason the woman asked for a "boob plate" (somehow more pejorative than breastplate? Hmm.) was to "feel sexy". I feel she herself might have told a different story. A lot of the people who write the articles have never worn armour. I can only speak as someone who does, at how many women I have heard complain about how uncomfortable the "squashed" feeling of the flat breastplate is. The armour you see Cate Blanchett in, above, for a woman with large breasts, becomes a stainless steel tightlaced corset, and suffocating. This is no minor consideration when one is exercising, rather than acting.

In any case, pointing to that picture as an appropriate example of a woman in armour because her boobs are concealed, but ignoring that her head is completely bare... Well I guess as long as her modesty is protected, who cares about her brain, right? She may as well be wearing football pads and no helmet, on defence. The head is the prime target, for any swordfighting style worth its salt. And for a whole lot of non swordfighting styles, as well. But, you know, realism.

It should also be mentioned that not all plate from the period (even for men) was properly designed. Many had decorations and embellishments which would unfortunately serve to draw an incoming lance to the center of the chest, rather than away from it. But style must, ever and always. One needs also to look at the sculpted torsoes of Roman armour, which were worn in battle for centuries. Or George Clooney as Batman. ;)
103. Dr. Thanatos

My take on the post and the discussions above is not that people object to boobplate because women choose it to look "sexy." The objection was that portraying women wearing armor whose only purpose was to fulfill teen fanboys fantasies about gigantic bubbies required a willing suspension of disbelief that was insurmountable.

In real life, armor needs to be a) functional and b) practical/comfortable. The argument was that Red Sonja (comic not book) and other famous chainmail bikini and boobplate wearers were portrayed as great and powerful warrriors who chose to wear stuff that was neither functional nor practical as well as serving to objectify them (not "hey, there's that mighty warrior Xena" but "hey, lookataboobs").

Having grown up reading fantasy usually before it appeared in visual media (Conan the Meathead and Red Sonja, for example) these people never went into battle in loincloths or bathing suits. Visual media needs to be eyecatching, and that's why all men tend to wear things that make them catch the eye (See cartoon of Conan above---he NEVER dressed like that in the books) and women are always posing with their butts and chests sticking out (see any Marvel cover). It's the nature of the medium but it's legitimate to draw attention to the willing suspension of disbelief needed for this. Aside from any egalitarian or feminist concerns about objectification...

Regarding the argument that this costuming choice works because men get stoopid in the presence of female flesh, I think that this makes a stronger argument for Red Sonja dressing up as a bottle of beer, which seems to more consistently make men lose focus...
104. firebugweb
Cosmic Boy. That is all.
105. Dr. Thanatos
Looks like Cosmic Boy's been caught with his hand in the hormone jar...
107. mj86
How could anyone write this:

"Never mind the chainmail bikinis"?
108. Synova
Well, yes. For what it's worth male "fantasy" armor is riddiculous, too.

(And also, for what it's worth, my protective "cups" for karate were, well... cup shaped.)
109. odjit
speaking of magnified codpieces, has anyone other than me seen henry viii's armor? because it's hilarious.'s_codpiece.jpg
110. SteveM
If we're going to get bogged down in reality than it must be pointed out that the notion of women engaging in physical combat with men (and fighting with swords is very physical combat indeed) is simply farcical. In fact the whole "butt-kicking babe" genre so popular at present is incredibly unrealistic. It would interesting to see an essay exploring why such a strange concept is so popular all of a sudden.
113. Ang
SteveM: You are incorrect. Women did fight during the Middle Ages. The Walpurgis I.33 manuscript shows a woman being trained in sword and buckler combat by monks in the 14th century. There is also written record of women fighting, in combat, during the Crusades. Even one journal accounts for a woman knight (yes, they had their own orders of chivalry) tending to her garden in the Holy Land in full armor before taking down someone she thought was an attacker.
There is also Eleanor of Aquitaine, who went on Crusade with her first husband, the King of France. She owned her own armor, and although she did not personally engage in battle, being a queen, she was an excellent strategist.
Women DID fight. It is the chauvinist view of the Victorians that turned strong females of the Middle Ages into damsels in distress.
114. DarrenJL
DR Thanatos, you should click through the link, then. That's a guy objecting to a piece of armour (he still made) for a woman, and the only reasons ascribed to her are that "it looks good and makes her feel sexy and badass at the same time."

I have trouble believing we are being told the whole story.
116. Ang
Evidence of women engaging in medieval combat: The I.33 "Walpurgis" Fechtbuch

Page 211 of "The Crusades: A Reader" by S.J. Allen and Emilie Amt begins a section of primary source documents quoting the existence of women combattants during the Crusades.

Niketas Choniates, a Byzantine chronicler of the 4th Crusade, which took Constantinople in 1204, writes this of the German crusaders: "Females were numbered among them, riding horseback in the manner of men, not on coverlets sidesaddle but unashamedly astride, and bearing lances and weapons as men do; dressed in masculine garb, they conveyed a wholly martial appearance, more mannish than the Amazons."

The documentation is there, guys. Women could hold swords and wear armor. Get over yourselves.
117. 5 Stone Games
Spot on article. It is about time that armor in fiction for both genders, the ladies especially look and act like armor. I might exempt magic armor in some settings but be explict and save those of us who know about armor (I too have worn mail) the teeth grinding.
118. K. R.
In the design of tank armour, the cleavage of the boob armor would be considered a "shot trap" i.e. incoming projectiles would be guided into the center of mass, rather than deflecting projectiles away from the center of mass. Aside from plate, Chain "maille" with a padded gambeson under it renders the form mostly slopeshouldered and round, regardless who is wearing it. A woman would do well with a "keeled" breastplate, similar to what the Spanish conquerors are stereotypically shown to be wearing in Central America. Plenty of room for the breasts and not too much modification needed, especially given limited smithing opportunities away from their logistical centers. Protection for the torso, joints, head and extremities are essential for good armor, without sacrificing mobility. Even the Medieval armor, had a very good range of motion and good protection, as long as the armor was custom fit to the wearer.

However, speaking as a working Fantasy Artist, I have to say, I am sick and tired of the "Feminsist Egalitarian" assaults on my entertainments. from Fantasy, to Comics, to Movies, and really dislike the company of cultural marxist, post modernist, feminist scolds. I feel no guilt for my priviledges and do not appreciate the intrusion of humorless academics, and the professionally aggrieved into my fantasy.
Emily Asher-Perrin
119. EmilyAP
Special thanks to @Ang on #113 and #116 for providing helpful evidence slapping down the insistence that women cannot be warriors. There is evidence to support the same among Viking women as well!

@K. R. - That's great that you're so tired of us complaining about inequality! Unfortunately, all us "Feminist Egalitarians" (though we're far from humorless) will continue to not care it bothers you and keep bringing these things up until they change. It's not personal: it's just how you make the world better for everyone.
Alexander Gieg
121. alexgieg
@118: Do as I do and think of them as tsundere. This usually helps. ;)

What doesn't mean their arguments are invalid, quite the opposite.
123. Ang
Here's one more quick link on military orders for women, including the medieval Order of the Hatchet.

Enjoy, Ladies! Remember we CAN kick ass!
Katharine Duckett
124. Katharine
@SteveM Please refer to our moderation policy and tone down the rhetoric and sarcasm when engaging in community discussions. Thanks.
125. wizard clip
126. Astro
A. The author makes the common mistake of thinking all armor materials are alike. The armor used on other worlds (elsewhere in the galaxy, or at some time in the future) will be made of stronger stuff and won't suffer from the problems mentioned here.
B. A simple piece of strong chain across the chest, attached at each 'nipple', is an adequate solution to the problem with a frontal sword attack.
Artists - you are now free to continue drawing conformal female armor. You're welcome.
130. Astro
I am all for both worlds. In some more "reality" based settings the armor of both men and women should be full on realistic. In other more fantastical settings a bit of sexy for both men and women should be ok as well. I don't understand why both can't have a place in fantasy media?

I'm cool with pretty much everything Emily said, as long as we can have some fun sexy fantasy as well, along with our more serious realistic versions?

But the one thing that feels off to me is when she took issue with women wanting to actually look sexy to gain the attention of men, or whatever your preference is? That is such a basic natural function, men and women do this all the time since the creation of men and women. Why is the basic desire to be sexually attractive to the opposite sex something that should be shunned for men or women? That I just don't understand. It feels really good to be "wanted" by the sex your into. A woman who wants to look sexy to gain male attention should not be shamed no more than a man doing the same to attract female attention, or any orientation, that is nature at its most basic natural state.
131. AstroC
My post above as "Astro" is not the same Astro above it... I'll use AstroC
Chris Nelly
133. Aeryl
@112, Oh, YAY, the fedora crowd has shown up!
Chris Nelly
135. Aeryl
@130, It feels good to you for the sex you are into to express their interest. Please do not generalize all these feelings onto the rest of us. Dudes honking their horns at me as I go to check the mail at work is an expression of interest, but its not one I appreciate.

Again, if a person is trying to be sexually attractive, please feel free to look, but an invitation to look is not an invitation to ogle, make passes at, or to generally objectify women.
138. Quasimofo
"But if you’re drawing lady soldiers, or creating female characters who
are depicted as actual warriors, please err on the side of reality when
designing their armor. Science says your boob plates are killing the
women you hoped they would protect. And none of us want that."

So you're demanding others edit their artistic interpretations to fit your practicalities? When will you attack comic book artists for putting characters in spandex? In your perfect world artists like
Frazetta and Vallejo would have be run out of the buisness.
139. AstroC
@135 I didn't mean that at all.

I said when I want to look sexually attractive to a woman, these days my wife, and it works, I feel good. I didn't say anything about being disrespectful. And, when my wife on purpose looks a bit extra sexy for me on her own free will, that also makes me feel good.

If a man or woman is dressing up a bit sexy to go out for the night and wants to meet someone what is wrong with that, or if they dress up to look nice/sexy/etc... for their significant other? Why should that be shunned, I just don't see anything wrong with looking sexy on purpose for men or women.

I don't condone unwanted sexual advances or being disrespectful. Cat calling or honking at you is totally lame ass bullshit and makes all guys look like idiots, and that is not what I am talking about.
140. AstroC
@ 138. Quasimofo
I totally think there is a place for both to exist, I'm with @78. False Prophet on this one.

For me, its all about context. I think lot's of Frazetta is just awesome, but I wouldn't want Conan sword and socerey style women mixed in with Game of Thrones style men, that is not just sexist but comes off as just plain goofy.

I again think there is room for lot's of different styles and variations, including hyper realistic all the way to hyper sexualized.
141. Howdidthisboxgethere
Are the people bothered by this the same people bothered when crates don't have palettes?
142. DeepThought
Have you even thought this through? Women do not have the physical strength or muscular endurance to fight with armor and a sword?

Or are we all to ignore reality and on the women and men are equal no matter how ridiculous the situation?
143. jchancel
I never liked the look of "boob plate armour" in games so I don't care if it is retired. But, to play devil's advocate, we are claiming that "science" disproves the usefulness of boob armour and therefore it shouldn't exist. However, in a medieval fantasy setting, "science" usually isn't very advanced. So when first making plate armour for women, it's very possible that the choice of construct would have been boob armour. Once they found out that this armour was ineffective, it probably would have been changed, but there would still have been a period in which it was used. Most medieval science was all trial and error, so they would have needed to notice that the armour was killing the women warriors before a change was made.
144. Wrong tree
You do realize the armoured bikinies and boobed chestplates are designed for adolescents exploring sexuality and guys for whom this will be as close to the real thing, as they'll ever get?

Just leave it at that...there's really nothing more to it.
Brian R
145. Mayhem
Frankly it is highly unlikely that professional boob armor would ever evolve - the sheer cost and amount of effort that goes into making plate as opposed to chain in a medieval setting means that telling the smith to hammer it out *really well here and here* wasn't going to cut it.

Specially designed armor for royalty? Sure, that can be as elaborate and shapely as you like, with inlays and all that over the top Gothic style.
Actual fighting armor? Most likely the closest you'd get is a curaisser style clamshell with leather and light chain making up the rest.
Chris Nelly
146. Aeryl
@139 You said trying to appear attractive and attract was a basic natural function. And it's not. Some people like to appear attractive, but that doesn't mean that they intend to attract. Some people don't care to appear attractive. Those are the only generalization I accused you of making.

Emily wasn't judging anyone for trying to appear attractive, she was noting that catering to the male gaze is something all women are indoctrinated with, and that's not a good thing.
147. Nobilis Reed
While we're at it, let's point out how an intelligent general, who had spent many years on the shore of a major river (thus no doubt having been in a rowboat before) should never have been portrayed crossing a river standing up.,_MMA-NYC,_1851.jpg

I really don't think that ANY artist who portrays "boob plate" is under any misapprehensions that it's realistic.
148. jchancel
@145 I understand that the evolution of the armour type would be unlikely in our world, but not necesarilly in a fictional one. It entirely depends on the story; what if it was a female dominated society and "boob armour" was the initial type of plate, only later to be replaced by more efficient types of armour? I relaize that people don't like the "it's fiction" argument, but that doesn't make the "it's fiction" argument any less valid. I'm not arguing for "boob armour," but if someone wants to include it in the artstyle of their project, then go ahead and let them. It caters to some people, not me, but I don't think all works should be forced to cater to everyone anyways. Let people have their fantasies, I wouldn't want people taking away mine.
Jordan Trais
149. AstroCat
@146 The desire to attract the opposite sex (in hetero cases) is a basic function of biology and human instinct and I consider healthy and normal. Receiving unwanted attention is annoying for anyone, man or woman but it will happen to us all at some point and I feel as a society we should try and minimize it as much as possible.

If you are a woman knowing what a man might like visually is not a bad thing, so is it true for a man wanting a woman's attention to know what they might like. Knowing what the male or female gaze is can be useful when wanting to attract someone. I just don't see anything wrong with that, I don't think there is anything wrong with having a gaze, if what we mean is visually finding the opposite sex (hetero) attractive and purposefully catering to those desires.

Sure some people are not sexual but most people are and most people want to be attractive to the sex they are interested in, which I just can't see anything wrong with. I am not condoning making yourself feel uncomfortable or receiving disrespectful attention. But, if someone wants to look sexy and get some attention for it, under their parameters, more power to them, man or woman.
Alexander Gieg
152. alexgieg
I remember reading years ago a study that concluded women try to improve their looks not in benefit of or for the purpose of attracting men, but in competition with other women with whom they compare themselves. It so happens that men usually like the result, but as far as intentions are involved that's a secondary and mostly accidental result.
153. Heatdeath
This is sort of a pointless argument since no sane person is going to use any kind of armor for true life-or-death combat anytime in the near future. This is basically a puritanical attack on artistic aesthetics.
Alan Brown
154. AlanBrown
To answer the question posed above as to why women in combat is so popular in fiction, it is because we are currently putting women into the role of combatants in the Armed Forces, something the US has not been prone to do in the past. Fiction, even fantasy, is a mirror to the society that produces it.
Some above have said women have no place on the battlefield. Others point to a few mentions of women in warfare, and use it to argue that it was a regular occurence. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. (And @113, somehow I doubt that chauvinism started with the Victorians.)
155. RebeccaH
It's worth noting, too, that Kevlar vests don't have boob space. Trust the technology.
156. Richard Vail, Ph.D.
Emily, you're absolutely right (Ph.D., Medieval English History)...on the other hand, they look nice, and that's all Hollywood and fantasy fiction art care about.
160. Bhoddisatva
In regard to Nick31's earlier commments all I can say is that increasing your sex appeal on a midieval battlefield where adrenaline is spiking and self- restraint isn't high on most guys list is one of the stupidest moves a woman can choose. Its going to lead to an awful and entirely predictable consequence.

That said this is really about fantasy and its attractive enough to some artists and other people. Yeah its stupid but its not meant to be realistic at all.
161. VryeDenker
While we're trying to be scientific about this, has anyone stopped to consider the utter lunacy of depicting a dainty woman being able to face off against a battle-hardened man, orc, dwarf, etc?
162. Pixl
First of I agree and your points are exelent....but...

You are also mentioning fantasy and I have to point out that you want logical armor in a world of fireballs, dragons etc for ren fairs etc lets try and get ppl to make armor that would work right...but for fantasy...I realy don't think one should try and look for realism in that as it is what it is called, fantasy.

*sits down and prepares for any (if) "your sexist etc etc" comments to this even though it realy has nothing to do with it.*
Chris Nelly
163. Aeryl
@162, WOW, accusations of bad faith right off the bat, but I can't imagine WHY anyone would critique your comments as sexist!
164. Sir Robert
I am an armorer and I fight in the SCA. Over the weekend I strapped the breastplate on my own suit of armor and was looking at exactly the same issues. I thought that my expertise might bring some light here.

1. Padding, all soldiers wear padding under the armor, they have to.
2. Plate armor deflects sword blows, yes but it also functions to stop sword cuts, the addition of a lump will not change that.
3. Boob lumps direct blows to the heart: if anything since you fight edge on not face to face those would tend to deflect blow away from the spot but even if these blows were somehow magically directed to that slot, armorers always made the area above the heart double or triple thick because it was a critical spot, so that is a non-problem.
4. The divot when you fall, when a human falls they automatically pull into a fetal position to protect the heart & face.

So this is a non-issue in combat, I suspect that this is a political issue for the writer.
165. rizon
When I grew up, I was taught there is a differece between real life and fantasy. Guess they are not doing that anymore. The boob armor is only eye-candy.
166. a1ay
This is sort of a pointless argument since no sane person is going to
use any kind of armor for true life-or-death combat anytime in the near future.

The armed forces and police officers of pretty much every nation in the world would like to disagree with you on that one. Use armour in combat? We never stopped. There were armoured horsemen charging the guns in France in 1815, in 1870, and even in 1914; by 1916 all combatants had adopted steel helmets, and some soldiers were wearing chainmail face protection and breastplates; air gunners wore the original flak jackets to protect against flak over Germany in WW2; and of course we're now in the Age of Kevlar.

Boob lumps direct blows to the heart: if anything since you fight edge
on not face to face those would tend to deflect blow away from the spot but even if these blows were somehow magically directed to that slot, armorers always made the area above the heart double or triple thick because it was a critical spot, so that is a non-problem.

No, you're wrong here. You don't always fight edge on, in particular on horseback - and even if a lance doesn't penetrate all it has to do is lodge to knock you off. That's why proper breastplates are shaped like the bow of a ship - to deflect away lances.
Chris Nelly
167. Aeryl
@165, "The boob armor is only eye candy."

And you obviously don't have a problem with that. Yay for progress!
168. Wizard Clip
Seems to be a bit of inconsistency here regarding just whom the moderator tags for sarcasm and personal attacks.
Katharine Duckett
169. Katharine
@168 You can refer to our moderation policy for details on what constitutes civil discussion, but final decision on those matters rest with the moderators. Thanks!
170. Gerry__Quinn
Fantasy games catering for players' fantasies! What WERE they thinking?
Alexander Gieg
171. alexgieg
@168: I've had some posts of mine deleted over time. While I think in a few cases the moderation overreacted in others they were spot on, so we must give them credit. These debates have strong potential to grow into exponential flamewars and the fact they don't is due to the moderation's unabashed willingness to click the "delete" button (or however it works).

For an interesting reflection on the importance of a strong hand in moderating Internet forums and why erring on the side of restrictiveness is actually better than being permisive check this:
173. wizard clip
@171: I totally agree, and overall I think the moderator is doing a fine job with a topic that provokes strong reactions. I just noticed a pattern in the postings of one commentator who frequently aims snide comments at anyone who takes an opposing position, and said individual has received no warnings.
174. Bhoddisatva
The difference between fighting for sport or entertainment vs fighting for your life....

Its a brutal, savage affair. Not pretty at all.
175. Kg6cig

While your post is appropriate vis a vis the objectification of women in fantasy, it displays a woeful ignorance of armored combat.

First is your contention that putting boobs on a breastplate would direct a blow inwards towards the heart, which would be bad. Frankly, except for a lance from a mounted opponent, nothing is going to get through that breastplate. Having steel cups won't help any, but it won't make th armor inherently more dangerous.

Second is your contention that landing facedown could injure you. While that may be true, the reality is that if you're facedown in combat you've got way bigger problems. Specifically, your opponent is likely to stick something sharp into one of the gaps in your armor.

lastly is the convention that fighting in armor is done "edge on." This simply isn't true; all armored fighting except dagger is done with two hands (and much of dagger is as well). One tends to be much mired squared towards one's opponent than in, for example, sport fencing or Holloywood, which bears the same resemblance to real armored combat that a duck does to a 747. (Both have wings and fly, and there the resemblance ends.)

I understand that this wasn't really your point. I understand that gratuitous boobs in fantasy art, gaming, movies, etc is something that needs to be reconsidered especially in light of the increasing numbers of women gamers, who don't necessarily want their avatar to have forward mounted torpedo launchers. Not knowing anything about the actual functionality or form of plate armor doesn't help your credibility one iota, however, and there are more and more people out there who do know these things. There is plenty of research on this subject out there- I suggest reviewing it.
176. Asterios Kokkinos
Cheers to this post! Jeers to the fact that I had to scroll to the very bottom of this page to give Cheers to this post!
177. Peter Ravn Rasmussen
Just for a supplementary image, here's Ingres' famous picture of Joan of Arc (1854 original in the Louvre):

Note the complete absence of boobery in the breastplate.
178. Gerry__Quinn
Ingres' photo-realistic image also captured her halo ;-)
179. a1ay
except for a lance from a mounted opponent, nothing is going to get
through that breastplate. Having steel cups won't help any, but it
won't make th armor inherently more dangerous.

See 166 above - just because a weapon doesn't get through the armour doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. On a proper breastplate, shaped like the bow of a ship, the point of a lance or spear directed at centre chest will glance off to the side. On one of these boobplates it will either lodge (and knock you down/off your horse) or, more probably, glance upwards towards the gorget or the ventail - which would be extremely bad news.

Having a big inward-pointing centre divet is bad news here too. It's not just falling face-first on to the ground that you have to worry about - it's what happens to the force of a non-penetrating blow. Proper modern armour spreads this out, because it's made of flat ceramic plates - so when some helpful mujahid shoots you in the chest, you get a large rectangular bruise, but that's it. A pointy bit is going to concentrate the force of the blow on to your centre chest. Not good.

lastly is the convention that fighting in armor is done "edge on." This simply isn't true;

It wasn't Emily who made this statement - it was your fellow SCA type, the equally patronising, dismissive (and wrong) Sir Robert.
180. Cadderly
Love this definition of Fantasy, which is of course what this topic is about.

The power or process of creating especially unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to psychological need; also : a mental image or a series of mental images (as a daydream) so created

With that, I have seen lots of pictures of armour (the real stuff, not ren fest or SCA or LARPing) and never really saw any pictures with these "boobplates" that are seen in fantasy work, and since fantasy is defined as "especially unrealistic", boobplates work in fantasy. Real armor is not supposed to be comfortable though. It is meant to be functional as protective gear. I do not see a huge metal (mind you, it was usually some kind of steel) suit being comfortable no matter how you design it.

As for science... Most social science studies that are conducted on human nature would be impossible to run as a double blind study. How can you even create a placebo for the human reaction when seeing a naked form? Social Science has too many confounds that confront the researcher. Unlike medical studies that can very easily have a real pill and a fake pill and one can easily track the progress of how the bacteria, virus, cancer or whatever reacts to the placebo and the real deal, humans react to different stimuli differently depending on the situation. Yes I also do realize a true double blind study is one that neither the subject nor the researcher knows which group the subjects are in. However, a physician would realize the importance of social research and indeed, many paradigms are shifting in the medical world to include important social research that has been conducted over the last few decades.
181. Paul Avery
This is the most mental thread i've ever read. No-one is using 'boob armour' in real life so no-one is gonna die. Therefore, it really doesn't matter what in game characters are wearing because IT'S NOT REAL.
Can't believe so many of you are wasting your time arguing about a NON-ISSUE!
Jan Grilanc
182. DrRoxo
But, but ... what, if the metal bikini is in fact enchanted metal bikini and offers +3d6 to saving throw? :O
183. Michelle says
Other pretend things we need to retire because they would kill you if they were real:

Fighting dragons
Pissing off orcs
Messing around with magic spells and portals
Riding dinosaurs
Tabby Alleman
184. Tabbyfl55
Because armor was always purely functional, and never never ever decorative or ceremonial.
185. Patrick99
On the surface, it would appear that author has a point, but allow me to refute this thesis and demonstrate that not only is “boob” armor equal to normal chest plates, it is indeed far superior!
In nature, the one of the strongest shapes is the arch for 2-D and dome or egg for 3-D. The extra curvature allows for a structurally stronger piece of armor while using the same thickness of material. In addition, the extra slopes will help deflect more blows like sloped armor did in WW2 tanks. The shape also in reality would present a minor risk to the sternum. If the plate was worn by a man then the point in the cleavage of the armor would be an added risk, but when worn by a woman this volume will be filled with boob. For the woman the plate-boob-chest system would act like the spring and shock absorber system in your car. It would allow for maximum energy absorption and distribution. The energy distribution would be even superior to the normal plate due to the egg shaped features of the armor. Given the geometry and extra strength of this region of the boob-plate, it would have an extra feature not seen in normal armor. And attempt to damage this region with a sword in a hacking fashion would likely see the sword impacting one egg protrusion near the top and the other near the bottom. This would apply a torque to the sword in the weakest direction and could act as a built in sword breaker.
Thermal & mass:
Due to the nature of the built in shock absorber system, far less clothing would be needed under the armor as would be the case for a male in standard armor. This is why it is common to see what appears to be scantly clad women in fantasy today. Much less clothing coupled with a metal plate with a superior amount of surface area which would greatly increase the amount of heat that could be radiated away thus keeping the wearer much cooler during the heat of battle.

It has been clearly demonstrated that boob-armor is superior to its male version with ever point made by the author being refuted and in fact there are several additional advantages.
186. Kg6cig

You're right, it was Sir Robert who mentioned edge on, and I should have caught that. My apologies, Emily, for taking you to task for something you did not say.

However, a1ay, I will take you to task: I am not a Scadian, though I once was. My knowledge comes from the last several years of studying HEMA, specifically 15th Century German. When one looks at the fechtbucher, one doesn't see medieval fighters aim at the chest in armor. Ever. Even on horseback. Basically, it's a waste of time. Yes, you might take a hit. But the only time in 15th century sources- the height of plate technology- tell us to strike at the breast is during non-lethal combats. Well,not intentionally lethal, anyway.

I don't disagree with your statement that breast cups aren't necessary. The may even be somewhat counterproductive. But they aren't the death traps that they are described as by Emily. 15th Century sources tell us the vulnerable pints of armor... And the center of the chest isn't one of them. Here's why they aren't going to be used: they don't add functionality to the armor, but they do add time of labor and thus expense. Only the richest would be inclined to such an extravagance, and very, very few women of that social class would be putting on armor. Obviously, in a fantasy world, this might not apply.

As to whether I'm being dismissive and patronizing- neither of which were my intent- perhaps, as the comments were directed at Emily, she can address it of she feels dismissed or patronized. I don't believe that presenting factual information is patronizing, and you may note that I did agree that there are valid reasons for wanting to see this change in the genre. Those reasons just don't happen to be the ones she was talking about.
187. ChipNinja
I find it pretty disturbing that there are so many short-sighted posts popping out of an article like this (mostly justifying this kind of stuff).

Distraction: Not likely. Coming from the perspective of an actual soldier, I'd be completely unwilling to fight beside anyone that was that easy to distract. It'd be a liability, and your distraction could very well get ME killed because you were too busy staring.

Having fought beside and against females when I was training MMA when in, although the positioning and actions could seem sexual I was typically more concerned with not being choked out. Those girls fought harder than more than half the people there, so they were always on their A game.

To be frank about it, I found it far more sexy to be paired up with one of the girls that was 110lbs at most, who would improvise to find ways to mitigate the extra 100lbs or so of muscle I had on them. Maybe it's just me, but people that are able to improvise and think outside of the box will always be more attractive than those that rely solely on their looks for an advantage.

End of the day, you give women like that sharp or otherwise dangerous objects, the last thing you're going to worry about is their chest. Period. So sorry, but "boob plates" are only going to be a distraction for someone who isn't worried about combat - or those that have little contact with females in general.

It's fantasy: Yeah sure. It is, but that completely disregards one of the major issues. Have you tried to take a look at people's perspectives when they are constantly bombarded with things like this? They accept it, and begin to almost expect it. I got done with my military service, and worked in a high end night club for a while. Let me tell you, it affects people on both sides. Women spend their time in lingere serving the rich guys - because it gets them to part with their money. Attractive ladies come in, you give them a couple of free drinks, have them sit at a table. Guys come in, see attractive ladies and decide they want a table near them. They part with their money, and the ladies get evicted from their free table. Use the women to rip off the guys, discard both when you've got their money.

Coming back from the tangent - the people that love their fantasy. I'm currently going to a school with a lot of other geeky types like myself. Needless to say, male-to-female ratio is pretty unbalanced. If you want to see an example of the damage being done, simply walk on the campus with a female friend. I've seen every attractive female being hounded by a ridiculous number of people. They're objectified... to the point that most either shut down and become anti-social, or they give in and hook up with a new guy every couple of days.

By constantly bombarding people with sexual images of females we begin molding minds to think that it's acceptable, and even expected. If you can accept it in "fantasy" it's not much more of a step to accept it in day to day life. It's not just in fantasy, it's everywhere, and it's a stepping stone to expanding the problem as a whole. Last I checked, all the male heroes aren't being portrayed like Conan (there are a few), but virtually all female heroes are in either "boob armor" or vitrually nothing.

This is a problem, and it affects both sexes pure and simple, fantasy or not. Simply lying to yourself because you don't see how something affects you doesn't make it any less of an issue. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's why our society is so messed up right now. "It's fantasy" doesn't really justify it.
188. rizon
@187, maybe its the fact we are no longer teaching people how to seperate reality from fantasy. As for an attractive girl, I've seen them be total bitches to get their way, because they know they are attractive. Your examples are true, but the opposite is also true. A general statement like you've done doesn't mean its reality everywhere.
189. Salabra
I have written about this on many occasions (see, e.g. nut I will excerpt the relevant comment(s) here:

"Breast-mounds in armour are not only unnecessary — any but the largest breasts will fit within a standard Mediaeval (or even British Household Cavalry) cuirass — but can also be positively lethal — a glancing blow or thrust can slide off the mound into the central ‘gutter’ and then up into the wearer’s throat or chin. The fact that Greek and Roman cuirasses were often moulded is irrelevant — they we’re made for *men*."

and in Sci-fi:

"Breast-mounds *again* — this time in the form of ‘tea-cosies’ with rivets around the edges! I suppose they’re useful for feeding babies…"

I also wrote of how,

"· An uncovered thigh (particularly the inner part) is a prime target. A slash to the femoral artery can have the character meeting her chosen deity in double-quick time;
· Same with the stomach — evisceration is never pleasant, and, given the medical knowledge available in a (European) Dark Age/Mediaeval milieu…;
· An obvious cleavage is tantamount to having a target painted over one’s heart;
· It is odd how only *female* robes seem to have cleavage … or thigh-high side-splits (with little but a thong underneath)!
· Scanty clothing in the wintry environment often ‘typical’ in Europeanized fantasy is worse than lunacy!"
190. tjo
let's see how practical codpiece armor is...

No? Exactly.
191. Salabra
And I'd like to point out to Jeremy Joel et al. that women roleplayers like to see our characters dressed *appropriately* and wearing the same amount, type and quality of clothing that a man would *in the same situation*.
Chris Nelly
192. Aeryl
@188, WTF does "women be bitches" have to do with this topic? I'm genuinely curious? Cuz, sure there will always be PEOPLE(cuz seriously, men do this too) who use their attractiveness as a weapon, and it's irrelevant to the topic of women in combat using that attractiveness as a combat technique.
193. SueQ
Women: wear regular armor, swing your sword truly, live to go home.
ted sini
194. tedsini
I agree that if you are going to portray women in armor, they should be outfitted in the most practical armor. For those of us who prefer realism, however, the real question is how many women you would find in armor given the weight of it.

"Their paper, "Limitations imposed by wearing armour on Medieval soldiers' locomotor performance," just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, approaches the problem from the point-of-view of energy. By having the interpreters wear oxygen masks while on the treadmill, Askew, Formenti, and Minetti were able to measure how much oxygen they needed to stay in motion. A typical suit of armor could weigh as much as one hundred pounds, but they found that it's not the weight itself that matters -- it's the distribution of that weight. Because each arm and leg is weighed down, it's harder to move, and that makes walking and running more difficult, even as the face mask makes it harder to breathe. Walking with one hundred pounds in a backpack, you'd use 1.7 times as much energy as you would were you not weighed down -- but wearing that weight as armor, you'll use 2.3 times as much."

This is from "Just How Heavy was Medieval Armor?" . The article goes on to cite the weight of the armor as the deciding factor in the Battle of Agincourt (remember the great speech Shakespeare gave King Henry?) where the French knights had to slog up a muddy hill and were too exhausted to fight once they engaged the heavily-outnumbered English.

So by all means get rid of the boob-plate, but forgive me if I roll my eyes the next time I see a fully-armored woman swinging a two-handed greatsword as though it was made of paper mache. In fact, I'll roll my eyes for the men, too, because most of them couldn't manage it either.
195. Salabra
@194 tedsini:
While "full plate and two-handed greatswords" are exhausting for both genders, as you say, other sources are less pessimistic than the Royal Society study might suggest. R.E. Oakeshott, the early C20 expert on mediaeval armour, was fond of pointing out that a full suit of late C15 battle armour weighed only 50lb (22kg), the same as a WWI British soldier's backpack, with the weight evenly distributed all over the body. He would also point out that anyone whose role was 'fighter' had trained from a very young age.

Neil Oliver, Scottish author and co-presenter of the BBC series "Two Men in a Trench" also came to different conclusion in re-enactments on the show.

But in any case, put your female fighters in different armours - mail, leather (with cuir-bouilli back-and-breast), felt or even quited cotton. One of my characters wore a kozan-do made of cuir-bouilli plates with bronze vambraces and kabuto (with aventail)!

And thank you, Ang!

But, K.R. (and HeatDeath), remind me to continue not giving a tinker's damn about your arrogant sensitivities!

@138 Quasimofo (also @139, AstroC):
No, we're demanding that fighting women look like fighting women. As I pointed out in the article I cited at 189, if you want to play "Entertainer - Lap Dancer," that's OK, but don't be expected to be taken seriously if you dress like a "lap dancer" on the field of Agincourt!
And spandex/lycra simply looks silly outside a gym.

@ 142 Deep Thought:
You haven't read Ang's comments and sources then?

@ 144 Wrong Tree:
Women play RPGs too - why shouls we indulge teenage boys?

@ 161 VryeDenker:
How limited your world must be!

@ 162 Pixl (and 165 rizon) :
Do you demand 'realism' in Movement Rates, Armour Classes, Hit Points etc? Why? It's *fantasy*, isn't it?
(See next comment)

@ 170 Gerry Quinn (and 180Cadderley, 181 Paul Avery):
Whenever I hear men whining "but it's *fantasy*," I always wonder why it is that *their* fantasy is more important than my enjoyment of the game.

@ 184 Tabbyfl55:
I do hope you're being ironic, 'cos if you're not the answer is obvious - if you want to live through a fight, you'd better hope that your armour is *functional*!

On the question of sexual prurience, I jokingly blame the cover of the white-book version of DragonQuest - the first RPG I played at about 13 years of age ( - for turning me gay. I mean what sane girl wouldn’t run away screaming at the sight? :D. I covered it with thick brown paper!
196. Salabra
@194 tedsini:
And let them wield a scimitar, a yataghan, a kopis or...

There is a whole world of edged weapons out there!
Dave Bell
197. DaveBell
One well known instance of the fictional boob-shock event being exploited by a woman is in the "Modesty Blaise" stories. It was a edgy element of some of the stories of the 1960s that Modesty Blaise would sometimes go topless to get an extra advantage, a sort of +1 on her saving roll for surprising the enemy. Sometimes the situation was Modesty as distraction, while Willie Garvin made the attack move. This "nailer" seemed plausible.

Times have changed, and Peter O'Donnell himself once said he doubted it would work now. I'm not so sure: it's about deception. The target is more used to the sight of boobs today, but could still be reading it as a sign of harmlessness. It's about messing with the shoot/no-shoot decision.

Once you're wearing armour and carrying a sword, the target classification is easy.
200. Gerry__Quinn
Salabra@195 whined: "Whenever I hear men whining "but it's *fantasy*," I always wonder why it is that *their* fantasy is more important than my enjoyment of the game."

Because people enjoy different things. Perhaps I would not enjoy games designed to cater to your fantasies.

If there is such a pent-up unmet demand for fantasy games with unrelentingly unisex armour designs, you'd think some of the mass of oppressed lady game designers we are always told exists would tap it and make an indie hit.
Chris Nelly
201. Aeryl
@200, Plenty have and do. The fact that they are not marketed means they don't sell.
202. Wrong tree
"Women play RPGs too - why shouls we indulge teenage boys?"
I'm not saying we should. I'm saying they're the best customers, so they get what they want, which is boobed armour.
Once your viewpoint becomes predominant in a financial sense, females will begin wearing functional armour, but until then RPG companies will continue to make money they way it works best.
Regarding historical aspect of the female armour...well, there isn't one.
Women didn't fight back then and those few examples to the contrary used adapted male armours, since well...there was no female armour.
So now, if you dress a female PC into (male's) plate armour and you stick a full helm on her head, you wouldn't have any idea if that's woman or a smaller man standing in front of you and that's a problem.
Couple that with rather limted skills of an average RPG illustrator and the reason why the boobed armour and armoured bikinies were devised, becomes clear.
Again, that is not to say this is set to stone and can't be changed, but explains why things work the way they do.
Chris Nelly
203. Aeryl
@202, You act as if objectification is an innate trait, and it's NOT. Objectification is learned.

How? Well to start, unrealistic depictions of the female form, being bombarded at young men and women through various media streams. Boys aren't born, dying to see women in boob armor, they are taught from a young age to expect women in boob armor.

What you advocate is to allow this viscious circle to continue, by saying it's the audience place to demand change, when the audience has already been indoctrinated to accept objectification. What must happen instead, is to put the impetus on creators to STOP OBJECTIFYING!

I know plenty of men who enjoy looking at the female form, but I can't think of a single one that would stop playing D&D, or video games, or reading fantasy novels, if they suddenly stopped showing ridiculous depictions of women. There is no money to be lost here, and only money and DIGNITY, to be gained.
204. Gerry__Quinn
@203: Sure, boys aren't born dying to see women in boob armour. (In fact boob armour seems like just about the most disconcerting thing any newborn could ever see.)

Boob armour exists in games because it is an extrapolation of what clothing is seen as sexy in the society of the game makers. And the sexy trumps any practicality or technical issues, because these games are not about realism anyway.

Sex sells, and even if you find the frequent observation that it 'always has and always will' to be a tad reactionary, you must surely admit that in current Western society you are fighting against the tide if you wish to change it!

Look at the 'armour' worn by female Oscar winners. The same complaints could be made about its practicality, but it doesn't stop them...
205. Gerry__Quinn
I meant to add that if you take a game such as Skyrim the idea of either gender wearing plate armour is a bit absurd. For a character fighting solo, riding horses, wading through rivers and climbing mountains, it would surely be suicide, and breastplate design wouldn't be the problem.

Maybe it could be slightly justified for a tank in a party-based system, especially in a well-ordered dungeon with nice even floors (Dungeon of the Daleks, anyone?)
207. Ymedron
You know, for those argumenting that "boob shapes on armor distract the opponent lols!", why not design so male characters have boob shapes on their armor too? That'd be an advantage if the opposing soldiers became stupid because of some boob-shaped dents in the armor.
What? That doesn't make sense? Welcome to the real world.

Sex does not sell.

Need more proof? Just get on google and write "sex does not sell" or "sex doesn't sell". Plenty of articles there.
208. Gerry__Quinn
It wasn't me that posited that sexy armour would work as a distraction, but certainly if you are considering such effects, you need to take into account that any such effect would depend on the gender or supposed gender of the wearer. Welcome to the real world indeed.

If I type in "sex sells" or "sex does sell" I get lots of articles too. The existence of articles proves nothing.

Anyway, the question is not "does sex sell hamburgers" but "does sex sell fantasy multimedia experiences". The former may well be false in general and the latter true.
209. KayJay
In addition, just because something is fantasy does not mean that it should be entirely unrealistic. By creating realistic battle conditions and accoutrements, a story and world is more believable to its reader or viewer, which is absolutely important, unless your aim is straight-up comedy.

So you think people can wiggle their fingers and out comes fireballs? I'm just trying to determine how you define "realistic" or if magic and sorcery (a staple in a lot of fantasy stories) is considered "comedy" to you.
Alexander Gieg
210. alexgieg
@209: It depends on how the magic is done. If it has rules it becomes believable. If it has no rules but is very, very subtle, it also becomes believable. But if it is blatant and also has no rules it becomes silly pretty fast.

It helps to remind that in the real world all magical systems are supposed to work following clear rules. They don't work, at least that I know, but if they did they'd be pretty self-consistent and no more bizarre than the strangest of our actual physical reality.
212. Jezabel Wrote
Gosh, I love it when I come across this one on the internet. They may be between my top ten of favorite things. Realism. Yes.

And sorry, but unless the magic argument means the boob plate is somewhat enchanted to redistribute the possible damage or to completely eliminate it or something like that... Well, unless that, the argument is just bullshit to me.

I used to do fencing (no time anymore) and after what @9 said I would like to say that the protections we use there are very very different from those boob plates we see every so often in media. For a start, they are wore underneath one and even two or three layers of other clothes. Also, the are made of motherfucking plastic, not some kind of metal. That means they are soft and cand be bended without needing lots of force to do it. Furthermore, because of how are constructed the weapons used in fencing, the plate makes them bounce off it the move is very strong or fast (talking from experience). Which is also you *don't* fence without a mask. Or without gloves. You don't want a epeé going throw your limbs or your neck.
213. rizon
I always laugh when some idiot inject realism into fantasy. Sorry, but I reject reality in my games like Skyrim. After all, a world that has dragons, magic, and looting creatures like wolfs which can give you gold rings, gold and other things that you would never find in real life. If you can't seperate teh real world and fantasy games/movies, then the problem isn't with the designer, or director, but you.
214. SaintCynicism
@213 rizon

See, here's the problem with that argument: you're claiming anyone who can't separate real world from fantasy is the one with the "problem," but the people employing this argument are essentially saying that the entire "fantasy" concept could very well be ruined by taking away boobplate and skimpy "armor." When that's the case, I'm pretty sure it's not the people calling for consistency in armor design who have the problem with imagination here.

In fact, the consistency in armor design and "realism" you're supposedly laughing at is actually something that your given example of Skyrim follows pretty well (though not perfectly), which makes your argument even stranger. Yes, skimpy, totally impractical armor exists for female characters (forsworn "armor" being the biggest culprit), but if you look at that same armor on a male character, it's not exactly providing a high level of protection either, and a lot of skin is exposed on them as well. Meanwhile, heavier armors meant to actually be useful (let's go with steel) actually DOES provide a good amount of protection to both, while still affording a little big of distinctly feminine traits on female characters without jumping straight into horrendously impractical fantasy-wear. It's consistency, and at the bare minimum it's at least halfway realistic.

In fact, the game does this SO well that a vast collection of game mods exist for the sole purpose of creating skimpier outfits for the female characters. Because apparently, wolves carrying gold rings in their lootable inventory, werewolves, vampires, mages, and dragons weren't quite enough to sell some people on the "fantasy" element.
215. kisarazu
Cultures are not utilitarian. Cultures are not pragmatic. Cultures design things that are contextually appealling and contextually useful.

The argument that that all armor pieces need to be utilitarian for fantasy contexts (even though my brain appreciates it) is laughable at best, because beings (particularly humans), and entire civilizations can and will be stupid, and will freely design things that are not pragmatic - and do not make sense.
216. rizon
If someone wamts to make skimpy armor mod for a game, what's the big deal? No one forces you to download it, or use it, or even look at it. There are many mods that I don't like that I know are out there, but I'm not complaining about them. I hate to say it, but those people, like the author of this article, sound whiny.
Chris Nelly
217. Aeryl
Don't lie. You don't hate to say, you love to say it.

Whenever somebody comes along, and calmly explains that fantasy depictions of women are problematic, enforce cultural oppressions of women, and actively DRIVE WOMEN AWAY from it, we are always painted as the ones whining, not the immature and childish manchildren who CANNOT deal with women unless they are intitally made to feel inferior and objectified, because they can't handle dealing with women on an equal footing.

The big deal is that this bullshit is tiresome. That women, at all times, are expected to desire and welcome male approval of our appearance. That everything we wear must be for male gratification. That we are supposed to accept fashion requirements that actively DAMAGE OUR BODIES and restrict our movement, to satisfy the male gaze.

The big deal is that the worth of ANY person is NOT contigent on their appearance. Unless that person is a woman, because, hey what's the big deal?
219. kisarazu
Appearance and worth are not limited to females. Two males with the same credentials will be unfairly judged because of height, weight, and culturally derived ideals.

I completely agree that appearance should not denote value. However, life is not in a vacuum. And people, thus cultures, are not of one mind. And they are not going to share my opinions with me.

But that's okay, I like the differences.

Again, when it comes to clothing styles, the result will always be contextual. There have been many many strange adornments throughout the history of humankind. And most of them served some very limited context, which, if taken outside of their context, might not work so well. Firearms rendered full plate obsolete, but that did not mean that the plate armor did not serve its original purpose.

My point in all this is simply - I don't care if people make boob plate, or butt plate, or crotch plate, or oversized weapons - or showing skin on male and female. If the context makes sense for the culture, fine. But...

I rather like the idea that, "If you wear that, and get hit with something it wasn't meant for.... you're dead."

So bring on the cultural boob plate or the Conan the barbarian musclebound shirtless guy, but let's just hope that nobody hits them in the torso with a with a two-hander.
Chris Nelly
220. Aeryl
Appearance and worth are not limited to females.

All together now!

It's not the same!

Why does every sexism-denier that pops up in comments about the specific problems women face, the many ways women are oppressed, always go, "BUT WHATABOUT THE MENZ?????"

And you also are forgetting, who's the target, when Conan walks around semi-nude? Is it women? Or men? Yes the unrealistic body and armor standards are also used against men, but AGAIN, this is because these are again fanatasies catering TO MEN!!!!! Men are the drivers behind the unrealistic standards in fantasy for men AND women.

If the context makes sense for the culture, fine. But...


The rest of your response is gobledygook designed to be obfuscatory enough, no one can sensibly respond and you can declare yourself winner. What context could there possibly for having completely useless armor that people USED IN COMBAT! We're not talking ceremonial armor, we are talking about the armor used to depict combatants in a war story!
221. kisarazu
I completely advocate for fantasies that cater to women. And please understand my "appearance and worth" point was was not an attempt to deny the existence of culturally derived inequality among the sexes.

"If the context makes sense for the culture, fine." Throughout history, all armors have been made with the intent to stop a particular weapon. And throughout history, all armors have added their cultural flavor to their creations - such as adding unnecessary abs, feathers, or other adornments.

I remember watching a Batman movie and I noticed abs, pectorals, and nipples on the body armor. In my opinion, the Bat-nipples looked ridiculous. And my DC friend (deeply) hated it. But, you know what, I will support artistic portrayals, even when they don't make sense.

But again, you are right. There desperately needs to be games that cater to women.

And I do hope you understand, I am not here to pound my chest. I apologize if something I wrote made me come off as an ass.
Chris Nelly
222. Aeryl
It's not really about achieving balance between appealing to men or women. It's maintaining things that MAKE your world, by ensuring they MAKE SENSE for your world. Plus trust me, I GET my cheesecake. But even then, most the cheesecake I get is still sensibly clothed for combat cheesecake(i.e. Thor, Achilles, Cap, Supes)

There's a long discussion that could be had over objective nudity vs story necessary nudity, but I would think you accept that there's a difference.

Getting upset over ridiculous armor is a similar discussion. It's not that there aren't times when unpractical "sexy" armor could be acceptable for someone impervious to damage to wear. However, look at Mystique in the XMen movies. She wears nothing protective, her skin IS vulnerable, and she constantly engages in physical combat against people with weapons. It's ridiculous, and designed to objectify. But Wolverine, HE could fight naked and it wouldn't make a difference. And I'll get(almost) that, I've seen the trailers. But at the same time, they could make the decision to keep him clothed, and I'D STILL GO SEE THAT! And so would millions of other women and men. Because women, for the most part, accept that the female gaze isn't catered to, and we accept that it's OK to not be catered to. But apparently it's not OK when we ask that A LOT MORE things stop catering to the male gaze as much, as this thread proves.

For the most part, I would say that we, plenty of men as well are tired of being reduced to base creatures by the creators of content, ask is that if you create a world where people fight with edged weapons, and wear plate armor, they would not sensibly be wearing boob plates. Yes, if they wore leather cuirasses, they could sensibly be shaped to accentuate the bosom, but not metal plate. The only reason to do it, is if you want to appeal to the male gaze, and I'd like to think we've reached a point where that's no longer a valid reason.

The nipples are an interesting thing, because they serve no purpose, but they don't hinder as the examples in the OP do. Is it an objectification if it completely fails at being appealing? IDK, probably be, but you accept it as a (bad) aesthetic choice, and I can't argue against that.

Thanks for the apology, the clarification is appreciated.
Dan Simmons
223. andrewz
While we're discussing the realism of "boob plate" armor in fantasy role-playing games, lets discuss the realism of women characters fighting toe-to-toe with males in physical combat where, somehow, muscle mass and body weight have no factor in the outcome. Do we really want to get into the physics of such a situation? Or, let's say, human against dragon, where the dragon literally just has to fly down and land its ass on top of its opponent to kill it?

Yeah, its fantasy.
Chris Nelly
224. Aeryl
Women have always fought.

The fact that you don't know this, means YOU are the one living in a fantasy.
Dan Simmons
225. andrewz
I have no contention that women always fought. This does not change the fact that a 230 lb man fighting sword to sword against a 130 lb woman has a considerable physical advantage. Yet one encounters a false physical equivalency between the sexes all the time in fantasy games. Most games that I've seen have zero difference between male and female when it comes to character creation, physical strength, and combat. But this isn't only a male/female issue. As I alluded to in my previous post, this same impossible physical equivalency exists all the time between opponents in fantasy games. Let's apply some science!

If the argument is that non-historical, boob-plated, unrealistic armor is sexist and degrading, then let that be the argument of the original post -- which in this case it is not.
James Nicoll
226. JamesDavisNicoll
This does not change the fact that a 230 lb man fighting sword to sword against a 130 lb woman has a considerable physical advantage.

The same could be said about men like your archetypal 5 ft 6 inch Violent Glaswegian going up against bigger men and yet for some reason I never see any articles on how unrealistic characters like Begbie in Trainspotting must logically be due to the small. Why is that, I wonder?
James Nicoll
227. JamesDavisNicoll
And I distinctly don't recall anyone in the audience for Devil in Blue Dress objecting to

Mouse: You said don't shoot him, right? Well I didn't; I choked... look, Easy - if you ain't want him dead, why did you leave him with me?

by pointing out Mouse is supposed to be a small guy so how likely is it he could overpower and strangle to death a guy we know beat two people to death?

228. DanielPB
"Foisting anti-utilitarian clothing on women seems to be something that's very hard to eradicate."

The women who buy that clothing more often than practical clothing dictate to the market what it should sell women if it wants to make money.
Dan Simmons
229. andrewz
This does not change the fact that a 230 lb man fighting sword to sword against a 130 lb woman has a considerable physical advantage.

The same could be said about men like your archetypal 5 ft 6 inch Violent Glaswegian going up against bigger men and yet for some reason I never see any articles on how unrealistic characters like Begbie in Trainspotting must logically be due to the small. Why is that, I wonder?
Because its fiction/fantasy/escapism, which is exactly my point. If the armor argument is coming from a strict realism approach, then one should expect that combat be truly realistic as well. But no one expects that in a fantasy game, including myself.
Chris Nelly
230. Aeryl
@228, And who dictates to women what they SHOULD be wearing?

The fashion industry, which is made up of men.

@229, No the point went over your head. The point is that NO ONE ever makes these complaints about who improbable it is for a man to go up against an opponent that outclasses him and cries foul. People do it ALL the time, when it's a woman.
Dan Simmons
231. andrewz
@229, No the point went over your head. The point is that NO ONE ever
makes these complaints about who improbable it is for a man to go up
against an opponent that outclasses him and cries foul. People do it
ALL the time, when it's a woman.
That's fine. But why has this turned into a rant about such a discrepancy? I actually don't recall gamers crying foul of this to any real extent anywhere. In fact, the same male gamers playing their female characters with nothing but nipple coverings and metal thongs are having fun killing muscle bound barbarians with those same scantily clad female characters. So certainly they aren't the ones complaining.
232. wez
I love sexy armor, If it's fiction why the hell not? the female body is beautiful, its why coke bottles even have their shape. Practicle or not shouldnt matter in fantasy.
Chris Nelly
233. Aeryl
In fact, the same male gamers playing their female characters with nothing but nipple coverings and metal thongs are having fun

And so because men are ok with the sexualization and objectification of women, we should just get the fuck over it? Way to miss the whole point of the discussion.

And the fact that you've NEVER heard these complaints, reveals a lot about you and your circle of people.

And yes the female form is beautiful. When women can be judged for more than there appearances, this won't be an issue. But right now, studies show that women who are more willing to conform with our sexist beauty culture are more likely to succeed, to get pay raises and promotions, while men are allowed to "let themselves go" so to speak while still attaining the same success. THIS IS A PROBLEM! And it's a problem perpetuated by our fantasy culture. You can feel it "shouldn't" matter, but the fact is, IT MATTERS to plenty of people.
235. meh
Equality is great, but do women really envy the life of the medieval soldier? If you didn't succumb to a violent death, disease would take you during your long campaign.
Your heavy suit of armor was your toilet because it took a team to put it on, and that's IF you were lucky enough to take a set of it off the battlefield since the majority of soldiers were dirt poor peasants and could not afford their own. Their equpment was ramshackle and poorly assembled.
Did I mention it was heavy? Yeah. Very heavy, especially before advances in metalworking. It takes tremendous strength and endurance to wear such suits in battle.

It's really more fantasitical to imply women could successfully fight in a melee battle in such heavy suits and not be cut down immediately.
236. Sparrowhawk
@meh, I suppose, if you put the question this way, any woman would prefer being a soldier to being a war victim. It's better to sweat in armor and risk being killed to be treated as 'loot', raped, sold or discarded. That is, if you want to speak in the key of 'gritty dark middle ages'.
Speaking of 'armor being a toilet', I wonder what do you mean. No historical armor covers the crotch from beneath, so what suffers would be pants of any kind, not armor itself. And "before the advances of metalsmithing" armor simply was worse and covered less. The weight of suit of body armor that gives adequate protection against weapons of the same period didn't change much from bronze ages and floats around 25 kilos.
Speaking of fantasy women warriors, for me it's simpler to imagine that sexual dimorphism is slightly different in alternative universe, so that women are not so different from men in terms of strength and achievable body mass, then imagine some force-field projecting perforated foil armors that work just because. And that work only on females, while men need to wear something approaching the thickness of contemporary reactive tank armor.
Not that I'm so sure that all these broad statistical generalization count for much. So, men are generally slightly heavier and stronger (and women have more endurance and actual capability to bear a load for a long time, if we believe the same studies), so what? If these are battlefield conditions and not a formalized duel, there are missiles, traps, ambushes, formations, and any 7 ft male bodybuilder can just as easily die by the accident, receive a ballista bolt in the head, stumble and fall under the cavalry charge, be dragged down and killed by peasants with halberds, while a smaller and nimbler woman, running on less adrenaline, would be smarter and will survive.
If we speak of evolutionary traits here, it's necessary to bear in mind, that human is a primate biologically, not an advanced cultural tool user. Products of culture - tools, weapons - actually work more towards negating natural advantages and not increasing them. In a street brawl situation woman has more to fear from a bigger stronger male then when weapons, armors and other battlefield conditions enter the equation.
What prevented women from being fighters historically is not lesser strength, but rather childbearing and menstruation. And from these, menstruation is actually not that debilitating, especially given an advanced medicine (or fantasy analogue - magic or alchemy). Childbearing is another story. It is, as far as I understand, the main reason women didn't fight in Middle Ages - they were most of the time either pregnant or with a small child. In agrarian society, where children could start working from early age, they were a valuable resource, so the more children, the better - it's only with the ban on the child labour that the situation started to change. For the nomadic society, on the other hand, children were more of a liability until almost puberty, that is why archeologists now discover women buried with weapons and armor all over Eurasian steppes.
239. Brimstone
To all the arguments that "it's fantasy!" and therefore it doesn't matter if the armor is functional... fine. That's fine. Then I demand all male warriors in fantasy fiction be dressed in nothing but shiny codpieces. Then you can tell me this is not sexist.
Awww crap... Am I supposed to find Conan and He-man totally sexist now? =(
240. boredatm
1. You're not a scientist so you shouldn't be making statements on what is scientific and what isn't unless you have some science backing it up.

2. At best, this is a hypothesis unless you provide something other than statements that make it true like actual experimentation or classical mechanics to show what you say is scientifically accurate.

3. The whole "I don't like it because it's unscientific" is bullshit unless you are opposed to all other fiction (fantasy/sci-fi/etc.) because they're unscientific. Otherwise, you're just using science to further your own agenda.
241. Lithp
Boredatm: Are you serious?

1. You don't need hard data to confirm that large boob cups (A) have the potential to focus attacks into your chest & (B) this is bad. This is not a grievous slandering of scientific reasoning. If that concerns you, I recommend looking up blogs written by creationists, mysticists, quantum woo enthusiasts, ghost hunters, or any other known pseudoscience advocates.

2. There's a reason why boob plate has never actually been used in a real combat setting. It is at best a pointless change to a functional design, at worst cumbersome & harmful. This is common knowledge. If you want a paper that details, exactly, how it works mathematically, do your own research, because the purpose of this blog is obviously educating the public about the concept, not hosting research papers.

3. No, because not all aspects of fantasy stories are created equally. Some rules are intentionally fabricated, others are supposed to mimic the "real world," & some things are just intentionally ignored for "coolness." You don't have to argue all plot devices the same way, that's ridiculous. If you have a reason to believe that a certain plot device detracts from credibility, then you have every right to argue it. And really, is "design female characters that can be taken seriously & not as sex objects" such a horrible "agenda"?

Now, I don't bear you any kind of ill will, but I do find that kind of anal-retentive strawman rather exhasperating.
242. boredatm
1. I already do spend time debunking the pseudoscience you're talking about. I just don't see why I should accept this at face value when there's nothing really backing it up. Is this common knowledge? Is there actual hard data reflecting this to be true? Why are you demanding hard data from the pseudoscience crowd but not from this individual?

2. Since the writer is the one educating an audience, the writer should be citing data to prove their point so that others can evaluate if it's good science or not. I don't see why that's so wrong. I mean I can write a blog post about something claiming it to be scientific, but it can't be true unless backed up with evidence and sources.

3. I agree with what you said and do think you do have a point there, but at the same time, but it seems odd to be fervently against boob armor and demanding them to be removed as opposed to something like laser guns or time travel. I mean you even noted that sometimes the rules are bent to make things look cool. Why isn't that the same for boob armor? Yeah they can be objectifying and if they are useless then yes keeping them in would be in line with breaking the rules.
243. boredatm
all right I'll admit that I was wrong on point 1 and 2, though I still stand by point 3, so long as it's in good taste or something.
244. dragontrainer
Here is one sword fighter talking briefly about the armor she uses (at 1:02 of the video).
245. Sparrowhawk
@boredatm, your point 3 doesn't seem so valid to me either. At least for me, science fiction or fantasy trappings that are used only based on the 'rule of cool' seem to be in bad taste by themselves. If you speak of science fiction, numerous proponents of hard science fiction say that stuff should be either a plot device or be based on actual science. Obviously, if we speak of fantasy, we can't demand scientific validation. But, in my opinion, fantasy gimmics should be judged on their necessety to create a logical alternative reality. Magic, mysticism, advanced alchemy, near-human races etc. seem to be valid in this aspect for me. I would be hard pressed, however, to imagine why boob armor would be neccesary. The only valid case of boob armor I remember is the ceremonial armor from 'Balisarius' series by Flint and Drake. There the wife of the main character (if I'm not mistaken) had worn one when commanding an army and was viewed as a sort of a mascot by the soldiers because of that. Ceremonial armor is impractical by definition, however.
247. JVRosso
Hi! I am an illustrator. i've actually been helping a friend design a "realistic" Wonder Woman costume. I was going for her costume as being a variation of the "300" Spartan uniform...but yeah the breast plate was the problem... How feasable would her armor be as a metal (bronze?) covering with the "W" and eagle plate attached to or worn over a red leather tunic? would it even still function as armor, or more as decoration?
260. Scott Rehm
This is an absurd argument. The idea that one should always choose realism over aesthetic/visual considerations is ridiculous and no one follows that rule in artistic works. If this were about anything other than sculpted female armor, no one would give the "realism always over visual aesthetics" argument any credit. But because, in this particular case, the realism argument lines up with another argument, it is a good argument. I don't care what your views on female armor are. Telling any author or artist "always choose realsim" in any work as an absolute is ridiculous.
261. etragedy
I think the author misses the point that designs like this are entirely from the realm of fantasy fiction.

No one is trying to suggest that "boob plate" is historically accurate.
262. Abatu
has it not struck anyone here that the armor is to provide minimal protection while maintaining moblitiy?

most "good" rpgs tend to favor the unisex route

though lets take a few mmos to view it in context

the night elf race (tends to be the most used as "proof" due to concept art and such)
BUT lorewise they primarly rely upon speed and the forests (moving within the forest quietly...and jumping from tree limn to tree limb) doing this in say...full plate would not only break the limb (hurting the trees and in turn depressing and/or angering the night elf) but it would slow them down and make more noise (giving away their poistion)
they aren't "supposed" to get hit

blood elves tend to be...vain (which is an understatement) and thus could care less about how "protected" they are (they are insanely cocky..and even the lest magical boasts magical ability)

generally such things hold true for all elves..the armor is MEANT to minimlistic in design (or in the case of some just make them look good)

most mmos don't even have bikini plate (boob plate as you call it) as a common item (a few pieces here and there...generally not "endgame" and for the most part won't be bothered with after you outlevel it in an hour..though with games going the route of appearnce change to armor some choose to do so)

sure it's horribly ineffective in a combat setting
but if you SERIOUSLY think that any of the armor that "men" wear is better you're mad

those suits of armor would weigh so bloody much that it'd be difficult to lift your arm and move..let alone fight

armor in fantasy games generally wouldn't work in real life...some games would ofc..but for the most part they are designed around looks first..combat effectiveness last

@sparrow - look at it this way
you have allies that can litteraly mend your flesh in seconds and restore the strength you have lost during the fight (all rpgs have a form of healer..if it was medics and wounds actually stuck around that'd be a different ballgame were armor would be needed)

we have races in most games that are bloody garden gnomes that face off against things that have bigger feet than their entire body

boob plate all in all isn't exactly far fetched in such settings

moreso when most mmos have forms of Brez (and rpgs in general)

why wear armor if you can fall repeatedly and be brough back to life with no loss?
why wear armor when you can be repeatedly shot in any non vital location and have those wounds healed in the time it takes to pull the arrow out of your flesh?

"boob plate" is dangerous and not functional yes...but in terms of unbeliveablity

it's stranger that you can revive endlessly (are immortal)
can regenerate health
take on dragons and gods on a regular basis and then have issues killing a gost

dangerous or not..functional or not in the real world has absolutely no bearing even #3 shows that

you don't go from killing a god to getting your asskicked by a goat do you?
in wow you've fought
gods (literally)
yet on day one of MoP what happened?
that's right you suddenly were able to get your ass kicked by an animal who doesn't know magic....doesn't know any combat teqniques
isn't immortal...isn't old...isn't capable of stepping on you and ending your life
and yet it could kill you

to apply any form of logic to online mmos is nuts..because so long as there is a leveling system in place it won't work
you'll fight very difficult enemies (that are the "bane" of all that stands before them) then die to the most lowly of beings because you were/are too low level

besides it's not harming anyone that they are there
as long as they are optional and never forced upon anyone it just adds more choice and variety to the game

in most games the good/best armor for female and male forms are very similiar in appearence
boobplate..generally doesn't have a large enough slope (if any) to make it important..generally it juts out but is more like...putting a metal plate over the entirity of the chest/boobs

bikini plate however in games like wow is common..
not a common design but a common item people search out
and while i find it strange (i like things that look more like just armor..not crap you'd wear to show off but just sturdy made for war armor) complaining about it and limiting people's choices just results in taking more of the R out of RPG
which i find even worse
263. Alexa Adams-Iguchi
Not this rubbish again! Some people just like to moan to appear clever on the internet, and its all based on assumption NOT science and it's not clever.
In fantasy art and games people run around fighting with no helmet or even no armour all the time, that is far more dangerous yet I don't see you moaning about that.

The fact is a "boobplate" (breastplate) could in reality be designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing by mirroring the female form. By not having separate cups that may press on the sternum and adding adequate throat protection in the form of a bevor and besagew in the appropriate position to catch potential deflections (if there even are any).

How ironic that the images you use to state your case show "boobplate" with throat protection and normal plate with zero throat protection!
Also ironic that you mention the modern female body armour being designed to fit women, because in that modern body armour the ballistic plates are angled to accomodate boobs! Strange that in testing the bullets don't fly up at an angle and hit the women in the face, I would suggest that your assertion that blows will skid off a "boobplate" into the throat/face is based on no science whatsoever and is unfounded and untested assumption.

In battle ones opponent will aim for the weak unarmoured spots not the breastplate whenever possible, the only real danger would come from thrusting blows catching under the breast area and NOT skidding off the armour or arrows fired at close range at a mounted knight at this area, but thats unlikely as any warrior worth his salt will be going for the arteries in the lightly armoured armpit, inner thigh and/or the neck and eyes if unprotected.

"When besieging a castle always wear your helmet"
- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: Book of the Samurai
264. James N Smith
I keep seeing the argument that fantasy and reality are mutually exclusive terms, and I now no longer wonder why there is so much bad, derivative fantasy work out there.

Sure some fantasy takes place in completely imaginative worlds, but even in the best of those worlds, physics, as well as anatomy are expected to work the same way. If something doesn't work, it's still not going to work just because you stuck a dragon in it. And if that's not the case, then why do male characters still seem to follow the rule of common sense and practicality when they're depicted?

I get that guys love their fan service and all, but when it starts to get into the way of good storytelling and good art, and you're still trying to somehow justify it; it really is time to chill out a bit.
266. Abatu
@James N Smith - are you saying that you know someone that can withstand more than 3 tons of pressure on them?

because in the games that have boobpalte you are fighting giant beings on a regular basis that the laws of physics dictate would crush every bone in your body

with or without plate armor

the vast majority of the things the PC does in these games would be deadly in real life...not even deadly since usually "deadly" tasks have some small chance of success

forcesfields/magic barriers
giant creatures that if even a small portion of their weight landed would literally cause the bones in the human body to break are blocked and shrugged off
fireballs land on people on a regular basis yet the heat doesn't cause cloth to burn..or a N/PC in heavy gear to burn alive (being cooked)

healing wounds instantly on a regular basis yet people die to simple things that seemingly could be healed
MASSIVE transformations in the body that isn't even remotely possible

death occurs what? a few hundred time without any real consequence?

there are many MANY things the defy realism that make less sense than boobplate

boobplate has a CHANCE of getting you killed depending on where the blow lands

having bones and shapeshifting into a creature a tenth of your size though?
yeah no way around that causing death

blocking attacks from creatures that are 7 times your size and not being knocked back or simply crushed?
yeah not possible for ANYTHING
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267. chatrooms
@JVRosso, any chance of seeing an update on that costume? I love seeing custom made super hero art come to life.
268. Cygnus
@abatu and others who seem to not thing the laws of physics matter in a fantasy universe, you're right, many of the fantasy universes where these types of armor appear involve creatures that can exert many times the force that any ordinary piece of armor can withstand. But even if that's true, that doesn't change the fact that having poorly designed armor will still kill you faster than well designed armor. If your armor is made to evenly distribute and/or deflect force towards you, you will be able to survive a much stronger blow than if it focuses all that force into the center of your chest.

Personally, I just dislike full-body armor with boob-plates as a matter of principle. It's not like real life clothing looks anything like that, so why does armor?

I do have a theory about it though; since the majority of the occurances of this type of armor is in settings where magic is real, we can assume that most armor is in some way enchanted. So the theory's simple; where the holes are in the armor that show cleavage/whatever are, the skin is protected by magic. As for why they show the skin and protect it instead of covering it and doing the same thing? Probably the same reason witches like doing rituals sky-clad; the presence of armor interrupts the flow of magic from the body. It literally protects you more to wear less, and finding the perfect balance of armor to magic is an artform long contested by the best of armorers.

...look, I just wrote a good explanation in like 80 words. Now everyone else just has to do the same thing.

*note that this still doesn't encourage the use of fully-covering boobplate. Cleavage-showing armor, yes. Boobplate, no.
269. Passerby

"I demand all male warriors in fantasy fiction be dressed in nothing but shiny codpieces. Then you can tell me this is not sexist."

No. Instead, I will tell you this is a witless and hyperbolic logical fallacy.

If we were talking about chainmail bikinis, then yes, shiny codpieces would be an appropriate equivalent for males. However, this article focuses on plate armor, not chainmail bikinis. I can't believe people applauded you for such a thoughtless comparison.

No, the proper equivalent is not shiny codpieces, but shaped breastplates for men. It may surprise readers to learn that such tittilating armor for men did indeed exist. The Roman Empire's muscled curiasses, while commonly depicted as worn by generals, emperors, and gods, were used by common soldiers as suggested by archaeological evidence.

I think shaped breastplates have a place in fantasy settings, for both women *AND MEN* so long as less flattering designs are also available. So many of the commentators here have forgotten that shaped breastplates actually exist for men in history when they rant and rave for men to be depicted in chainmail underwear in response to shaped breastplates.
270. Can't Say
I just want to attest to validity of the supreme importance of appropriate body armor. Take it from someone who knows. Mine didn't fit right. It displaced my weapon out onto my arm and completely immobilized my back while in the prone firing position. My arm was black and blue for weeks, every time I fired was more painful than the last until I actually dropped my weapon once, and I could only see what I was aiming at because my neck happens to be hyperflexible without interfering with my breathing . Most importantly, I hardly ever hit my mark.
I was a part of the anthropometric study that was conducted a few years ago and I honestly can't wait till they make up their minds. I'm gonna pissed if they decide not to fix this problem. Thanks but I don't want to die or be captured because of poorly fitting armor. For writers out there, while artistic liscence is great, if your aim is realism at least in battle, keep some of these concepts in mind.
271. Slim14
For everyone who keeps saying what's the big deal it's just fantasy. Well fantasy and reality have a very thin line that is always crossed everyday due to the fantasy in the first place. And would you let your daughter play or wear what those fantasy games advertise as women clothing? I think not...I hope not. I'm a gamer myself and if I don't see naked men running around my screen to keep me enthralled why should there be women. It's unfair and it's makes girl gamers feel inferior to their male counterparts. And I'm pretty positive we can kick most of you guys butts in the game anyway and maybe all due to not having naked men running around our screens. It makes it seem like nothing, but porn. But games aren't porn. They are virtual simulations of entertainments to play not watch and beat off to. If you want that go buy porn.
272. JustMe
She-Ra and He-Man.. Not a lot of armour worn by anyone... But there's your example of guys not wearing much either. Think thundercats were similar as well.

Not going to argue about the reality and Fantasy of armour, as I agree with both sides. But think when you look at fantasy it's not going to change anytime soon. Too much money to be made off the fantasy, and fantasies of the players.
273. Abatu
@Slim - examine the characters that wear it as "default" very...very little of the time will they even be remotely near average..their skills surpass that of those around them to such a degree that armor really is nothing more than a choice they make

generally in those fantasy setting were it is common magic also exists...

if you could wear an outfit that appeals to your tastes AND drops your weight while maintaining the full effect of protection of heavier pieces why on earth would you choose anything else?

most people aren't "beating off to it" hell most people where it's a choice and not simply forced aren't even taking the "boobplate" option and those that do aren't generally guys

the more you practice and learn how to fight where melee is the primary fighting use the less you're going to want to look like a freaking knight..
besides the main example this article used throws it out anyway

boobplate isn't forced in wow (to get it someone MUST farm it up) and while some races do wear heavy armor some don't wear anything

seriously...look at an orc warrior (since you can transmog ONLY npcs count) most of the time their chests are completely uncovered
and they are MELEE fighters
most elves stick to magic or other ranged methods

it's an asthetic choice that the races themselves make in that game

elves (ALL elves) are insanely arrogant..and up until recently were literally immortal
the elves also live a stupidly long time with many honing their art(s) over THOUSANDS of years whereas most races die within 60

if you really think the "line between fantasy and reality" is so slim
show me airships...magic...any "race"...treants...weapons that require no ammo....items that can bring the dead back to life....teleportation..armor where the shoulders stand as tall (or are taller) than a persons head...swords that infinitly stay sharp...armor that never gets dented and is made of metal ..a midgit surviving 3+ tons of weight and surviving

the line between what most fantasy worlds are and reality is very...VERY thick
it's not a fantasy games like say...the last of us that use such things as "boob plate"it's things where if you put it into a logical sense and use physics and such to try and recreate the situation the results would be impossible
274. Abatu
oh right...and fantasy games have a habit of making magic and guns commonplate
both of which would make armor worthless

bows....yeah you're relatively safe without them being "enhanced"
and melee an oponent that can outmaunver you will simply slaughter you regardless of how much "armor" you have

ultimately in most fantasy settings armor provides such little protection overall that you might as well throw it out and wear a nightie

of course they negate all this by treating armor as magically enhanced...which would negate the need for large amounts of it if the enchantments were done properly
275. Ratzing
What is funny is while everyone is complaining about boobplate (which IS riddiculus), no one EVER complains about lack of helmets in every visual media ever. It's perfectly understandable why they don't wear helemts - 'cause you need to see your hero; but between boobplates impracticality and lack of helmets, the latter is MUCH bigger problem in terms of lacking protection. If you want your heroines to be REALLY practical, give them helmets, and THEN try to think about boobplates.
277. mashthecouchpotato
Let me be the first one to call out half of the people in the latter half of the comments for their evangelical apathy; trying to convince people that the problem isn't the problem, but people creating discussion about things that are wrong and needing change, are the problem.
(This reminds me of an 'episode' of Fox News where they swapped the percentile statistics - literally completely falsified it - just to fit their argument)

Interesting side note, a recent study in Europe found that the majority of (straight) men who purchase sex from prostitutes feel they are either divinely or inherently entitled to sex with a woman. The majority of men who purchase sex from prostitutes in this study also felt rape incidents would increase significantly if prostitution were made illegal. Lastly, the majority also agreed that after paying whatever price was asked, the man has the 'right' to do anything. Anything. In essence, a "purchased" prostitute is no longer a human being, and thus does not have rights.
Sounds shockingly similar to something, but I just can't put my finger on it.
OH that's right, black slavery.

Prevalence, commonality, existence in modern day =/= morality. All social movements have started with discussion, conversation and communication, and many regard the rights of minorities.

Again, I'm calling out all who state the "that's how things are" "argument". What this actually is, is a subliminal, passive-aggressive way of voicing one's denial of a problem and attempting to persuade others to stop the discussion, with what appears to be deniability of personal immorality if the issue later becomes widely accepted as wrong, since they 'technically never argued against it'.

As for the actual discussion here, yeah it'd look a little weird for He-Man to be standing proud next to Miss Iron Full-Plate. In fact it would be rediculous and unfair, equally as much as the opposite is. But the former doesn't happen much at all, while the latter is extremely common in all forms of fiction media. That's the reason why this is a discussion.
278. mashthecouchpotato
*while the latter is extremely common in all forms of visual fiction media
279. bevin dundst
I think this article is flawed in a major way by trying to apply science to fictional and fatasy worlds. Alot of these settings try to not be realistic on purpose and armor design is just one of those things that go along with it. I think it is better to have a balance with art direction. With some games that have it and some that don't because the last thing I think we should be doing is pressuring artists to change their work to confirm to our different standards of realism when applying it to their fantasy videogame.
280. Abulurd
"none of us want that".

That's only an opinion.
281. Nop
This would be of limited use against other female opponents, but it's well established that the sight of or suggestion of certain portions of the female anatomy cause the male brain to operate at diminished capacity. (In other words, boobs make guys stupid.)
Logically then, the intelligent tactic would be to have your male soldiers wear boob-plate, or for safety, add giant, polished metal stripper-boobs to their plain chestplates to give them a psychological advantage against the opposing soldiers. In fact, why stop there? - One could maximise the advantage against opponents of all genders & sexualities by also building giant, turgidly erect codpieces onto the crotch plates.
282. Erik Wedin
The armor pictured is NOT a plate armor in Skyrim. That is actually one of the designs for the "Hide" armor. The picture text is lying about what is portrayed I would also point out the complete lack of armor on arms and legs would be a way larger problem than plates on the boobs.
283. Karri
Boob armor existed. It was just made for men. Seriously, look at some of the Roman centurion armors. Many of them were made to portray quite unrealistic chiseled abdomens, even though that made them less practical. I suppose looking like the "perfect" man was worth it for an officer, as it certainly would look striking.

I GUESS the same might work for an amazon or similar matriarcal society, albeit only in the realm of fantasy.
284. WRM
It's, ummm, like, fantasy? None (or at least very little) of it's realistic.
285. "science"
Folks that say "literally, should, and science" while writing without a wee bit of science, are talking about things figuratively, and are not an authority but in fact an opinion on the subject... crikey!
286. P Smith
The idea of "bikini armour" really is obscene. It's not just armour for medieval war that would be the same for men and women, it's armour for sports. The "lingerie football league" is horrible not just for objectifying women but for endangering them too, with barely any "safety gear".

Hockey player equipment is designed to protect the body, not accentuate it, in much the same way war armour would protect the whole body. From a distance, you couldn't tell the gender of this player, Hayley Wickenheiser. The helmet, jersey, pads, pants and shin guards look the same as any man's.

Underneath, women's chest padding is designed to cover and protect the breasts, not highlight them, and women's jock protectors don't look much like men's but they are still worn and still serve the same function. I'd wager that medieval armour for women would do much the same.

And from people I've talked to, "medieval re-enactors" tend to wear thick cloth under chain mail for the reasons mentioned in the piece above, to protect the skin. Even hockey players wear shirts and leggings under their padding for that reason. Medieval warfare must have been brutally uncomfortable, even in northern Europe with its colder climate.
288. Reymond
"You go, Bess."? Wow. Way to cheer on a violent warmonger.
289. Reymond
Also, what if the boobplate is made of an indestructable fantasy material, like Mithril, in LOTR?
290. Thanatar
@50: "Interacting with someone you have attraction to can impair your cognitive abilities" is a pretty obvious statement I'd imagine...
291. Bob's Diamonds
Geez, I've never seen Hollywood make a movie where realism was sacrificed for looks... I don't know how these video game developers can away with this.
292. Sporkington
For me as someone who fights in armour training for bon/imcf/hmb combat I agree that the fantasy armour is definatly not the most practical. However armour ridiculously shaped to the body can be seen in males as well, just look at the corinthian muscle cuirass.
294. Snarlpatrick
Absolutely. Of course a standard breastplate, or in the case of an extremely busty woman, a very slightly modified one would be the only practical choice. You would also want a complete mail undercoat and the rest of the armour left out in these designs. Going into battle with your thighs and arms exposed is absurd as well. I never found any need for my video games to be tittilating, but I appear to be in the minority of men this way.
295. nite
I posit that practical armor can be just as sexy as "armor".
296. Lissa03
What about female fantasy armor with cutouts around the inner thigh? The femoral artery runs through the thighs, so exposing your thighs in combat seems almost as dumb as wearing a boobplate.
298. Ryamano
On exposing thighs:

I'm surprised at the number of cultures where the warriors didn't wear trousers. I'm thinking mainly on the Romans and the Scots. According to the Romans, wearing trousers was barbaric, something that Germans/Celts/Persians did. So fashion can affect even armor.
299. Ryker
@295: Maybe it's me, but what about that armor is sexy? To the contrary, the only part about the photo that many people will find remotely sexual is the unarmored part, and even that's a matter of opinion. (I do think she is very beautiful, by the way. ;) )

To the OP:
No, boobplate (LOL at the name) should not be retired, because there is still a place for it. Yes, it's probably not explicitely practical, though not the death traps they are painted to be. It certainly doesn't have a place in just about all serious historical settings and even many fantasy settings, but there are cases where it has its place, just like 300 men wearing nothing but loin cloths and helmets have their place, too. ;) (I didn't see many posters here objecting to that.)

The point is, if you retire boobplate, you also have to retire just about every other stylized, impractical armor (or lack thereof) in fantasy. Are we really willing to do that as a people that supposedly endorse freedom of expression?

Disclaimer: I'm not a fan of boobplate, and I could take it or leave it. I just realize it has its place in fantasy like other outlandish, impractical themes, like giant swords and axes, always wearing heavy plate even while just walking around town or resting at the inn, never wearing helmets - ever, and of course, just about everything about Conan, post-1982.

And all of those eaxmples are more common than boobplate, at least in my many internet searches in the genre over the years, but the OP failed to adress any of those. Are they not more blatant, wider-spread offenders to your suspension of disbelief?

In some settings, cool-factor just trumps reality. Also, I've never seen boobplate used in any fantasy work that takes itself seriously, at least not by mortal women.
300. Michael Lindsay
@ Nick31
However it should be noted that there is another component to "boob plate" you've overlooked, and that is distraction.
Nick, if you're the sort of person who stops in the middle of a battle where some people are desperately trying to carve you up kebab style on the spot and others are trying to skewer you with a variety of nasty pointy things to ogle somebodies mammeries then their probably isn't any armor in the universe that can protect you!
301. Snowskeeper
That's not the way the human mind works. When you are confronted with a life-or-death circumstance, you aren't thinking clearly--that's correct. But you're also significantly less likely to be distracted by something like, say, heavily sexualized armour. And, as the article mentioned, even if you were, the design of "boob plate" practically /accomodates/ that mistake--a blow which would might otherwise have been a glancing strike on an ordinary set of armour could potentially be turned into a lethal killing blow by the black hole that is the cleavage part of the boob plate. And for that matter, isn't your chest the /last/ thing you'd want a soldier to be focussing on during a fight? Even if you have something that would allow you to block or deflect an opponent's sword without damaging your own, such as a shield, you'd want to have that in front of your chest, not off to the side somewhere.
302. Lsrouse
Actually, historically most women especially in nordic custures fought naked and painted with Woed as the men did after consuming copius amounts of alchol. Of course back then they were not prudes like people today.

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