Skepchick Quickies, 8.29


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. Women’s armor in fantasy and sci-fi has always pissed me off. It is insulting to me as a man to suggest that I would expect a woman to dress in a mail bikini when she is supposed to be a fighter. I mean, is my libido supposed to completely override my sense all the time? Is the supposed to lap dance the orcs to death? Come on.

  2. I totally get the issue with the sexual objectification presented in fantasy art.

    However, from the story lines perspective it is fantasy. Most armor sets are magical. If the author wants to have string bikini chain mail have the same protection qualities as full mundane plate, then so be it. It is no different than the police shows on TV where a 90 lb women routinely take down 250 lb men while wearing their sexy heals, never break a sweat, nor get a hair out of place.

    Lets tackle the sexual objectification of women. If we want to tackle suspension of disbelief in entertainment media, lets tackle it in all forms, not just fantasy.

    Peace out,

    1. Total red herring. It’s so inane to tell us to stop worrying about one specific problem because there are other problems out there that we should worry about instead. It has to to start somewhere, and some great people have started with fantasy art.

    2. If I recall the response to “Sucker Punch” correctly, there are a whole lot of people who take issue with the “heroin chick in heels who always has perfect hair” as well.

      The pandering leads to suspension of disbelief issues. I’m all for some gratuitous sexiness, but all in all it’s overdone and movies would be better off if the fanservice was just a side dish, not the main course.

    3. JP: Context is important. Unrealistic armor CAN be justified, but it requires a bit of thought and effort, even so. (One commentor I read on a different thread about the same site made what I felt was a reasonable argument–Red Sonja makes sense, but only because ninety percent of the population of Hyberia, including the dudes, walk around in loincloths and bracers–she doesn’t really show any more skin than Conan does.

      OTOH, if you’ve got chainmail bikini girl standing next to a classic version of Lancelot, what you’re suggesting is that the women of that world are inherently sexualized, even if the armor itself is handwaved away with “it’s magic”.

  3. The comments for the religion article are littered with “but that’s not real religion” arguments
    If it walks like a duck, and swims like a duck, quack quack.

  4. How prevalent is the chain mail bikini in actual SF and fantasy though? Semi-pornographic pinup-art excluded.

    And no, I’m not just trolling for titillating imagery for my own enjoyment.

    1. When I was a subscriber to Dragon Magazine from the early ’80s to the early ’90s, the chainmail bikini was an issue. The staff was criticizing them more and more, and by the end they only appeared when they were being lampooned.

      I turned around and apparently everyone is right back to where we started from.

  5. I just did an image search for ‘Eowyn nazgul’. Interestingly, the images (mostly art, not movie stills) overwhelmingly show her in sensible armour. I’m too lazy to try to figure out when each picture was painted, so possibly it is largely a reaction to her sensible armour in the movies.

    I was looking for one particular image I remembered from the 80s. I couldn’t find a high resolution version, but it is at http://www.waynesbooks.com/images/graphics/lome2.jpg

    Once we’ve won this battle, we’ll need to point out that women warriors should be wearing helmets.

    1. Well, that subject is going to be a bit biased towards sensible armor because Eowyn was disguised as a man. Durnhelm, as I recall. I found out later that actually means ‘hidden helm’, or something like that. I’m embarrased to admit the first time I read the series she fooled me hook, line, and sinker. I was shocked when she threw off her helmet. And that’s why she’s never drawn with one.

      She’s always been one of my very favorite literary figures. Maybe second only to old Granny herself.

  6. The ‘Does religion influence epidemics’ article is a tad bizarre, not to mention full of false assertions about various religious beliefs.

    Just a few:
    1. ‘helping the sick was one way to ensure a trip to heaven’
    Which is incorrect in Christian doctrine, which is not ‘works based’.
    2. ‘Islamic teachings basically disavowed the existence of contagious disease’
    Not really, there are numerous discussions of the importance of quarantine in Islamic religious law. Islam says about as much regarding contagion as Judaism or Christianity.
    3. Jewish doctrine attributed death to God’s will and promoted the idea that only God could heal someone.
    Christianity teaches other than this? While in Christian doctrine death comes into the world because of sin, the timing and manner of death is God’s will according to Christians.

    The article is strangely pro-Christian,and is being repeated in many Christian websites. The idea that only people of one religion care for their sick, or have social norms that discourage the spread of infectious disease should be immediately suspect. To look at complex social and historical changes through such a narrow lens seems strange indeed.

  7. Regarding female fighters in reasonable armour. Thanks for the link! I think that there is in general an issue with the presentation of female warriors in popular culture, however this is certainly an issue in fantasy.

    This is not merely in the portrayal of the clothing of female warriors but also more generally in the characterisation of female characters more generally. Many a female fantasy character comes of as being some bizarre fulfilment of the author’s fantasies.

    Considering the often historical inspirations of many works of fantasy, one could make the excuse that such characterisations are historically inspired, but as the linked to blogs description of Khawla bint al-Azwar, or indeed the multitude of historical examples of female fighters, such excuses run thin. The characterisation of women as alternatively damsels in distress and psychotic dominatrix (plural?)is a speciality of fantasy writing without any support in the apparent inspiration for such things.

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