So I do middle ages reenactment through the SCA, including full contact armored combat multiple times throughout the year. I want y’all to know that I do, in fact, know what I’m talking about, so here’s a photo of battle wherein I’m the one in all black, holding the blue tipped, red/black striped spear.
Something that really grinds my gears is the depiction of armor—especially women’s armor—in fantasy/MMO/etc. Now, I understand that one ought to suspend disbelief at certain times, but really? Really? When the armor looks like this,
I want to take a hide of hardened leather and wrap the woman in it. And it’s not just the over-sexualization of female characters (which is a massive problem as well), but seriously? No woman who actually knows how to fight and wants to survive the battle will go out dressed like that. There is absolutely no way. Want to know what? Because she (or he—it can happen to men too) will die pretty instantaneously. Let’s list the things about this armor that are entirely unprotected, shall we?
I’m willing to suspend disbelief occasionally in film when an attempt is tried. Snow White and the Huntsman, which I did not see but did a basic google search, at least tried. Yeah, she’s missing a helm, gauntlets, a gorget, upper leg armor (not necessarily but extremely helpful), reliable shin/knee protection, and elbow protection, but at least the costumers tried. And yeah, obviously they’ll want to show off their main character’s face but at least they tried to give her reasonable protection, much like Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (and damn, do they do a pretty great job of it). Not even the Chronicles of Narnia fails as badly as most video games (but in reality, Peter would never go into battle without a helmet if he valued his life). Even the armor from Elizabeth: The Golden Age (which I also didn’t see) does a pretty good job of ensuring there’s at least full-body coverage.
Maybe I’m a bit of a snob because I know what it’s like to be on a battlefield where your armor is your only protection (I’m a spear fighter so, no, I don’t have a shield) and I take a lot of precautions to make sure that I have enough protection. So why can’t the creators of video games and whatnot realize that dressing a woman in “armor” designed to let the male gamer fantastize is not at all realistic. I’m especially angered by scenes wherein the female fighter enters battle without a helmet (I’m looking at you, Hollywood) because there is absolutely no way that any fighter, let alone a female fighter, would go into battle without a helmet.
And anyone who thinks otherwise is welcome to send their wives, daughters, sister, grandmothers, etc. into battle in armor fashioned after the armor I’m criticizing here. Now, if you’re looking for some semi-reasonable pictures of women in armor, I’ll point you to Fuck Yeah Women in Armor and Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor; while neither has accurate armor, they at least post many photos with armor that would provide a certain amount of protection. If you’re really interested in female fighters in armor, I recommend looking up something like SCA armor on flickr or looking into the SCA (because there are a ton of SCA photos online).