Quickies

Quickies: Boob armor bingo, IWD censorship, and a contest for women video game designers

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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27 Comments

  1. When I was a middle school .boy, I used to check out the “fantasy” section of the bookstore. The covers were quite titillating. I think that I was a prime example of the target market of all the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels (like the Mars/Barsoom series). A kind of nerdy, heterosexual male who was mesmerized by scantily clad women.

    I kind of view it as there being a time and place for everything. Sometimes a little “fantasy” is nice. Of course female warriors wouldn’t really go into battle with brass bikinis covering only a small portion of their bodies. But, if realism were what we were after, it wouldn’t really be called “Fantasy.”

    I think if we look in a Barnes & Noble store these days, we’ll find a rather wide array of fantasy type novels. The Romance section seems to be as geared toward the heterosexual female audience, and the imagery reflects what that market is thought to be demanding. But, most of the bookstore has nothing resembling these kinds of book covers, and such, so I think there is a diversity of representation. Pretty much whatever you want to buy you can get. Taken in isolation these may seem sexist, but in reality they are no more sexist than the Romance novel with the shirtless male object of female fantasy on the cover. The images serve the same purpose.

        1. Actually, he’s two away from a bingo, but he hit at least six cells on the bingo card.

          You will note that no one here thinks the “Savage” series by Cassie Edwards is quality literature, and no one thinks it isn’t sexist and racist. But getting back to boob armor and such, these character designs are deathtraps. You know what happens if you trip or are thrown forward from your horse in boob armor? Your sternum shatters. You know what happens if you expose vital organs in your armor? That’s just places for your enemy to stab you. You know what would be better armor than a mail bikini? Anything! (Also, nothing, since all the mail does is add extra weight.)

          1. Certainly all the criticisms of the realistic uses of boob armor and mail merkins are well-taken. But, these are games and such. Realism ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

      1. I did see it. But, hand-waving or dismissing an argument away is no way to discuss an issue, IMO.

        Even in the “Fantasy” sections of the bookstores and video game stores, there are plenty of fantasy novels, games etc. that do not display women in fantastical, sexually suggestive outfits. To me, if the issue is “discrimination” or disparate treatment, we need to look at the whole picture, and not merely isolate examples of fantastical costumes and suggest that therefore there is a big problem. In neither the overall gaming world, or the overall book world, do we see all that much of this subgenre that reflects fantastical outfits. In my view, anyway.

        The question becomes — is there no room for titillating imagery geared toward or marketed toward a certain demographic? Or, must every cover of every fantasy book be sanitized for realism and acceptability?

      1. One of my favorite scenes is where Jaime says “Her name is Brienne.” Hypocrisy is so heartwarming. (For those who don’t understand, ‘wench’ becomes Jaime’s pet name for Brienne.)

        GRRM says a lot of the more heroic characters will get darker as the series goes on. We already see Brienne getting darker in A Dance with Dragons.

          1. A lot of it is the POV system. As such, POV characters become more sympathetic.

            Like I said, I’ve read all the way to book 5. It’s interesting to see how different characters react to the various traumas they go through. Brienne is one of the few unambiguously heroic characters at this point in the series, though she starts to take a greyer shade in A Dance with Dragons, and I can’t really describe why without massive spoilers.

          2. Jon Brewer: Yes, GRRM also said in the commentary that he likes grey characters, and you are right about POV – once you understand a characters motivations, they become more sympathetic.

            It is interesting the way the filmmakers manipulate us so that suddenly we find ourselves barracking for a monster!. It was the same deal in Breaking Bad. I guess that is a good commentary on the nature of evil and forces us to check our own moral compass.

          3. GRRM specifically said the only character who is pure evil in his books is the Mountain. (Given the first thing we learn about him is that he rapes the princess and murders her children, yeah.)

  2. There are also a lot of missing Indian women in Canada right now. Harper refuses to let the UN help sort things out. (Which is weird to me, because you would think nobody would be pro-abduction.)

    Interesting about the boob armor. I find the climate excuse funny because that would only apply if male characters were similarly attired. (They rarely are.)

  3. Oddly enough, boobplate is the most justifiable, I think. Obviously it’s silly for a lot of reasons (What if your boobs don’t happen to be the exact size and shape of the armour?), but… well the justifications for the response admits the expectation is for consistency, not realism. In some places it is consistent (if the male version of the same has sculpted abs, or the like. Obviously one is still power fantasy and the other is objectification). Or, for example, Mass Effect’s heavy armour, which is more or less consistant between genders: http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100209161743/masseffect/images/d/de/Heavy-human-Phoenix.png (What actually gets me about this armour is the weird V neck on the female version, that seems to be suggestive of a shirt that would show a little bit of chest… but doesn’t actually show anything. Also the armour is noticeably less thick, especially around the shoulders.)

    My go-to for armour that looks feminine, but isn’t at least stupid looking is the armour from Alice in Wonderland, actually: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2502/3775857286_e92e740a95_o.jpg

    It at least doesn’t look dumb, I don’t know how practical it is. (It needs a helmet… it may have had a helmet, but in all the pictures I found, she wasn’t wearing it.)

    1. “What if your boobs don’t happen to be the exact size and shape of the armour?”

      Not that Real Life often has much to do with video games or fantasy TV series … but IRL heavy plate armor was almost always custom made. It had to be because even boys don’t come in one size.

      1. That’s a very fair point. I was actually thinking more in terms of modern/futuristic body armour, like in the first picture. I don’t know if that’s generally custom made, or if it just comes in a variety of sizes, which may be more practical now that mass production is possible. Of course I’m sure custom made would offer better protection, but it may be possible to get at least serviceable protection from mass produced armour. … Maybe.

        It’s probably becoming rather apparent that I know very little about armour.

    2. Actual plate armor does not follow the contours of the body. It is designed to deflect blows. It can be pierced by a heavy enough sword. So it can’t have any acute angles that would catch a blade.

      The plat stuff is typically designed to be worn on a horse because plate armor thick enough to provide protection is too heavy for a human to walk in. The medieval knights were hoisted onto their mounts with a crane. A knight expecting to fight on foot would wear chainmail over leather. That is more than heavy enough.

      Brienne can’t wear boobplate because the books clearly describe her as being indistinguishable from a man when fully armored.

  4. I wonder, and I hope this doesn’t irk anyone too much. But, I am curious what people think: Is there any place at all for fantastical clothing/armor on characters which unrealistically accentuates sexual body imagery? I.e., is there any place at all for titillation in these genres?

    It seems to me that it’s obvious that most males are heterosexual. Most females are heterosexual. That generally means that they find the opposite sex attractive. Heterosexual males tend to find the female form, often an exaggerated female form, sexually attractive. Heterosexual females also often find an exaggerated male form to be sexually exciting or attractive – titillating.

    So, the question is, is it “sexist” to play to the prevailing mechanisms of titillation? Does it matter if all major target markets are being serviced – that is, does it matter if there is product available that offers the same or similar titillation to all major target markets? Or, should it all be eliminated in favor of modesty and realism?

    This line of discussion occurred to me because I was thinking about my initial comments where I suggested that there was fantasy art offered for both males and females and depicting both males and females. That argument is apparently on the bingo sheet, and is resoundingly ridiculed here. It seemed my equivalency point was soundly rejected, and it was noted that there was no equivalence.

  5. I’m glad FYI walked back their original stance on trans people, but I still don’t see any mention of paying any of the women who create the game. I’m kind of surprised you’d post this without even a note on the massive shitstorm it stirred up in the female game design community on twitter.

  6. I’m not sure about that game design competition. First off there were far more than 2% women involved when I was in that business, but admittedly that was a long time ago now. Gaming has overtaken film budget wise. It is hard to see how any part of the graphic arts industry would have so few women involved.

    It is however a part of the computing industry notorious for low pay (relative to other opportunities for skilled staffers) and shitty working conditions. The term designer could mean anything though, from art design, to programming to design of game mechanics.

    Innovative game mechanics are really rare. We get a new gaming principle maybe once every couple of years. The usual pattern is that there is a blockbuster with a new principle which is then copied in ever fancier remakes for the next decade.

    The big problem right now that nobody has a handle on that would be worth a lot more to solve than a new game would be working out how to stop the male gamers being less boorish to women in multiplayer games.

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