Tag Archive: Strong Female Characters


It’s not news to anyone that when we see women wearing medieval type body armor, this armor virtually always includes two breast shaped protrusions. Often, this armor not only accentuates the female’s breasts, it often provides little to no actual protection. I mentioned this topic briefly when discussing the changes to Thor. Check it out if you’re interested in my feelings on the hero’s gender change.

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Note the above image of a female warrior. This is not atypical. The woman is meant to look like an intimidating foe. However, her outfit is completely impractical. She’s wielding a sword, which means she intends to be in a close fight. Any actual warrior heading into a close quarters fight would want some protection. Depending on their skill level, they may opt for lighter, weaker, or more flexible armor. However, they will always go for the most coverage with whatever they have. Unless they need to do something very specific and armor would interfere with that. Also, they would be sure to cover their vital parts. The upper chest would definitely be covered, because an arrow could easily hit them there and kill them. Their back would be defended, because they can’t see what’s behind them. Their legs would be covered because even a shallow cut could make it more difficult for them to move or escape an enemy. She would have her hair up so an enemy couldn’t grab it. However, this woman’s outfit attempts none of that. She wouldn’t even wear this under a suit of armor, for reason’s I’ll explain later. What this image is doing is presenting her as a sexual image for the male audience of the fantasy genre. The most common occurrence of this sort of outfit is in the fantasy and sci-fi genre of video games, but that’s because there are markedly fewer movies of the same type released per year. To think that millions of boys and men are seeing images very similar to this one on a daily basis is sort of terrifying.

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This image is a little different. This woman is at least covered. Only that small circle in the center of her chest is revealed. Wait… what? This is another common trend for women in fantasy. They are all armored up; except for one spot that just so happens to show off their bodacious cleavage. This wouldn’t be an issue if no actual warrior would ever actually do that. Why would you cover yourself up just to leave your 1-hit-kill spot open? I don’t think women are so proud of their cleavage that they are willing to show it off to the enemies they are killing,especially when it leaves them open to instant kill. Also, I would comment on the single left sided pauldron we see here, but this isn’t an issue with women’s armor. This is an issue with armor in general. Single pauldrons were used by horseback knights using lances and spears to defend their non-weapon bearing arm. With a shield, this pauldron created a virtual barricade between the knight and their target. This became a trend for non-horseback warriors in media. I’m not entirely sure why, but I believe it has to do with Final Fantasy. Square Enix loves to make asymmetrical character designs. Many of these involve the characters having only one pauldron, usually on their non-dominant arm. This could have utility for a foot soldier, though there are better ways to protect yourself and keep mobility on the ground. It’s more of an artistic choice than a practical one, which in these situations is fine as long as they aren’t trying to treat it like its practical.

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This picture is just one of the many images of women in body armor that is both impractical and impossible. These images are perpetuating a sort of male fantasy that is unhealthy. There are three things I’m going to focus on here. The first is how the breastplate perfectly wraps around the woman’s breasts. It also looks to be just covering where one would expect to see a nipple. There are a few problems with his. The first is that nobody wears armor immediately on their body. They have something under it, generally some sort of shirt. This woman clearly has nothing under her breastplate. This would cause irritation of the skin, and would quickly lead to problems, most likely infections. The next thing that isn’t proper about this armor is that it fits her breasts perfectly. The cups were the exact right size and produce that perfect ball shape. Even if its acting in a push-up bra fashion, that makes no sense. No warrior would be like “I’m going to kill some people in a battle for my kingdom/freedom/justice/etc., better wear my push-up breastplate. Gotta look busty in this battle.” It would probably be more like “great, what do I do with these things?”

The second big issue with this breastplate is how it hugs her skin so tightly. This would severely restrict her mobility since twisting her body could cause the breastplate to grind on her skin. This might also just stop her from twisting all together. Armor causes the body to move in the confines of its shape. If it is shaped exactly like your body, you cannot move much. It also acts to accentuate her body shape.

The final issue with this armor is that it exposes almost half of her torso. Her upper torso is completely unprotected, leaving her heart and lungs vulnerable to an arrow. The armor also reveals a section of her midriff. This is dangerous for many reasons. Whereas this allows her some bending movement forward and back, this is a way for her to potentially stab herself in the stomach. The bottom of the armor is pointed. Imagine she needs to bend over suddenly. That point goes right into her abdomen. Ouch.

Her legs are also terribly unprotected, but that was discussed already. The clothes over her crotch could be an artistic move. However, it would be more realistic to wear a tabard of your kingdom’s symbol, or have the symbol on your armor, rather than have a cloth hanging from your belt which could easily be tripped over or grabbed. This is something that is common in general warriors as well. I believe that it started with the undershirts or tabards that people wore under their armor were longer than the armor and ended up handing down below the armor. They probably ended up getting scrunched between the legs as we often see. However, designers have started just putting them between the legs, essentially ignoring any idea that they are part of a larger garment. That’s just speculation, though. I’m no art historian.

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These two women share many similarities with the above woman, so I won’t repeat myself. The most notable thing here is that the parts that are unprotected are the sexualized parts. The one on the left has essentially no protection on her bottom. This paints the image of a strong woman whose sexuality is open and vulnerable. Her breasts are pushed up, but at least her armor is supported over her shoulders, which is something the previous woman lacked. This will give her more freedom of movement while ensuring her armor didn’t just fall off for being loose. The woman on the right has much more armor, but her modesty is not kept. Her breasts, stomach, and upper thighs are revealed and vulnerable. Again, her breasts are exposed, as is a perfect shot at her heart.

 

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This is probably the closest thing we have so far to a normal piece of armor. This is from the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This female warrior is wearing Daedric Armor, the best heavy armor in the game. It covers her as it would any man, except for one thing. It’s got beast protrusions. Why is this a problem? Well, I will answer that question with a question: When women play sports, what do they wear on their breasts, generally? The correct answer is a sports bra. Sometimes they don’t wear a sports bra and end up wrapping their chest. Why do they do either of those things? To push their breasts close to their body and keep them there. This helps them with balance and coordination. This prevents larger breasts from hitting into the arms or getting in the way of whatever they are doing. Similarly, women in fictional fantasy world would have the same concerns. Their breasts would not be out of their body much. They wouldn’t be using those breast protrusions even if they were actually in the armor. In real life, breast protrusions would end up being a hindrance. They would reduce the range of motion of the arms, perhaps drastically depending on the size. If a woman didn’t have her breasts wrapped, and instead was wearing a normal bra or something, they would more than likely get pinched between the armor and her skin. Often, warriors will wear a mail shirt underneath their armor. This mail shirt would effectively make the breast protrusions useless. If she were to fall onto her chest, the base of the protrusions would press into her chest (think of what happens if you press a glass cup against your body. Now have someone do it with a bucket and all of their body weight. Exactly.) CHEST ARMOR SHOULD NOT HAVE BREASTS.

 

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of instances of women wearing realistic, era-relevant armor. Historically speaking, there weren’t too many practical uses for female armor, so this is a work in progress. However, I am fully aware that these designers are fully capable of figuring this out. They are aware that these are impractical armor designs. They chose to put these women in these suits of armor to sexualize them. This removes the idea that these women are actually capable warriors and suggests they are just there as eye candy. Despite what many would claim, this is the way the mind views it.  The image below is a great example of what a woman in armor should look like. This is also from Skyrim. Comment below with some really great or really terrible examples of women in armor.

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I was bored and nostalgic yesterday. I decided to watch Wall-E again. When Wall-E was first released, I was completely enamored. I loved the lack of dialogue, the effects which are probably still the best animation Disney/Pixar has ever done, and the overall story. I loved Wall-E, because he was this cute, lonely little creature (robot) who gets thrust into this huge conspiracy that is way beyond him. It is also a massive political commentary on human waste and consumption. It shows the terrible things that can happen when we get greedy, like the destruction of our planet, and the increase of sedentary lifestyles. Laziness, gluttony, all that fun stuff. However, where this film truly shines is its female characters. All of the characters were strong and well developed, even the robots, but I write about female characters.

I guess that’s a lie, because I’m going to start by talking about Wall-E.

Wall-E is completely unexceptional. He’s not too smart, doesn’t have a variety of skills, and sort of just bumbles through the movie. However, this makes him a strong character because, although he isn’t your normal, garden variety hero type, he’s still the hero. He has a strong personality that you immediately fall in love with, and you’re rooting for him the whole time. His unrequited affection for EVE makes you root for him even more, because you know that he’s the underdog, and you want him to win. He saves the day not for the girl, but because it’s the right thing to do. He just wants to help, and he knows that getting that plant in the holodeck will help. He knows the Auto-Pilot is the bad guy, and that EVE and the Captain are the good guys. He’s just a good person (yes, I’m saying person) who is willing to sacrifice a lot for these people he literally just met. Or hasn’t even met.

Mary is the one of the humans on the ship. While Wall-E is trying to get to EVE, he turns off Mary’s chair, which makes her pay attention to the world around her. She doesn’t want to go back. She loves the Axiom and begins exploring immediately. She eventually meets John, who Wall-E woke up earlier. This is the main reason I like her so much. Although John was “awake” longer than Mary was, Mary ended up being the leader. She takes John to all of the places on the ship she likes, and introduces him to the world. They start a romance because they’re the only two people on the ship besides the Captain who aren’t sitting zombified in their chairs (Again, social commentary). However, she is the initiator and leader of the duo. John, who isn’t any less able than Mary, defers to her judgment, because he respects her as a person. Even at the end, she’s the one who grabs John while he’s falling and then let’s go to protect the children. She is the epitome of a strong female character because she used all of her feminine traits and was still able to do all of that.

EVE is our main female protagonist. We meet EVE, the Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, when she is deployed on Earth in the city that Wall-E lives in. He’s immediately enamored by her because she’s something that isn’t garbage or a cockroach. However, she shows immediately that she’s no pushover. She packs a nice energy cannon on her arm which she uses pretty indiscriminately. She at first seems to just be another robot with no personality, but we quickly learn that she has a large range of emotions. She is patient, but still has a temper, as evidenced by the tantrum she throws when after searching for a long time she finds no plants. She destroys a whole line of Buy-n-Large tankers just out of frustration. She shows early on that she’s not a woman to be trifled with. She also shows a great dedication to her duty and her position. There is nothing wrong with this. As the movie progresses, she reveals more of her personality. Rather than grabbing the plant and putting it in the Holodeck, she saves the humans from getting crushed. Despite immediately bringing the plant to the captain after reclaiming it, she and Wall-E dance in space (which inspires Mary and John to explore the ship!). She’s the perfect combination of duty and honor. She’s caring and strong. She’s the leader between her and Wall-E, and she constantly feels the need to protect him.

 

Why don’t we have more characters like Mary and EVE? They show that women can fill the same roles as men, and still be feminine. They show that men can be heroes and not be the main actor in an event. Wall-E saves the day, but none of that would have mattered if EVE wasn’t there. They had to work together. This movie shows us that all people, regardless of gender, race (in this case, robot or human), ability (as shown by the “malfunctioning” robots who help save the day with their “disabilities”), and past (as evidenced by Mary and john, despite being zombified by their chairs), can work together to change the world. Plus, neither character is sexualized in any way. They get by on their own merits. We need more movies like this. We need more characters like this.