Thursday, September 1, 2011

Body armor: a setback for gender equality

Take a look at this pic:

There is something obviously wrong depicted here in this sculpture from the upcoming video game, FireFall.  This "something" is a recurring theme that has always raised a tiny red flag in the back of my mind.  By tiny, I mean about the size of those used by cable guys to mark where a line is under your yard.  There was something amiss but it took a perceptive soul to point it out.  Once they did, it was glaringly obvious that there was something rotten in Denmark.  The statement was in this article on

Body armor for women in fiction is just completely unfair.  There is little if any logic or protective benefit from it.  Why, you'd think that by the way it is designed, it's meant exclusively for prurient appeal.  Being a man, that's probably why it has taken me so long to finally snap-to and say, "that would never be good in combat."  Imagine if you're wearing what that woman is in the above pic and you're supposedly in a sci-fi action environment with bullet and laser fire everywhere and perhaps even spiky, creepy crawly creatures.  Don't you think you might want to cover those gams?  Take a look at the comic book character, Witchblade:

Now what kind of tactical sense does that make?  I suppose it could be that since these video game and other fictional female characters are tough as nails and kick ass and take names, they might get overheated in too much armor from all that jumping, twirling, and fighting.

Oh who am I kidding?  This is an exploitation of my hormones as a male consumer.  I've been manipulated!  Bamboozled!  Not that I'm complaining all that much but it is somewhat embarrassing when I stop and think about it.  Let's be honest, this kind of thing has been going on for a long time.
Take Wonder Woman for example.  I won't post a pic of her because I think that most everyone is familiar with her appearance, nor will I go into all the more kinkerific aspects of her character that creator Marston instilled.  That could be a post in and of itself.  But again, Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior and though her skin is very difficult to harm, her outfit doesn't make much sense for combat.  Just, you know, seems to leave a whole lot of area exposed.  Cooler heads seemed to be prevailing at DC there for a time, giving her something to cover her legs and a jacket, but I think that might all be getting tossed by the wayside with this reboot.  Another example of female outfitting that makes sense is The Baroness from G.I. Joe:

See?  Sensible, practical, yet sexy as all hell.  You really can have it all if you just try a little.  And I'm talking just a little.
I know that T&A sells, especially to such a male-dominated community as geekdom...although that majority is growing slimmer by the day and I'm just fine with that.  My point is that if we're going through the trouble of creating and maintaining female characters who are tough and complex yet fully retain their sexuality (and it is indeed trouble that should be undertaken), why not make their apparel reflect that?  
I know that the "scantily-clad female warrior" look will never fully go away.  It's just pure eye candy and it sells too darned well.  I do, however, think it's time for a sensible approach to it and a reduction of the "babe quotient" when it comes to female characters.

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