Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Some Boob Still Worrying About Women's Fantasy Armor

The chain mail bikini (really scale mail)
This post in honor of Stacy McCain's "Offend a Feminist Week."

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

Can you say fantasy?


The faculty or activity of imagining things that are impossible or improbable.

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!
More like a chain mail one piece
Oh goody, I love 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.
Oh, I thought the purpose of the two protruding metal covered objects was to trap the sword, so a clever twist of the body would wrench it out of the hands of the opponent, or even snap it off!
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.
 Now we're talking.  This armor really only covers the really important parts.  I'm beginning to think the purpose is to distract the (mostly male, and a more than a few lesbian) opponents into making a fatal error and getting within range of all the spines.

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.
Given what I've observed with other female fashion, they'd probably rather wear armor that flatters their figures and risk the chance of impalement than to wear the safe but dumpy armor that Emily would find appropriate. Armor to die for.

Linked at the Other McCain in Wombat-Socho's "Rule 5 Sunday: In the Heat of the Night."

1 comment:

  1. a bit crazy