Yesterday I got the boring numbers bit out of the way. I won’t spend much time discussing the numbers, since there isn’t anything new or terribly surprising about them. Today I thought I’d go through the art and pick out some interesting points. (As always, none of this art is mine, I own nothing.)
Now I will briefly mention that with regards to numbers, the number of male figures counted as suggestive is probably higher than it should be. Because I was consistent in applying my standards of what constitutes suggestive attire, it led to the classification of figures that are clearly not meant to be sexualized. I realize we’ve had the debate here over whether monstrous races like minotaurs can still be considered sexy, and I won’t rehash that debate again. However, I feel pretty safe in declaring that none of the “suggestively attired” males in these images are sexy:
As none of the goblins are wearing pants, they’re automatically counted as suggestively attired. Am I supposed to think that they’re sexy? No, I don’t think so. The giant also seems pretty clear cut. He isn’t wearing pants, but the artist has definitely taken pains not to make him an appealing figure. It might be a little less safe to say this, but I still feel reasonably confident in declaring that rocks are not sexy, even when they are ambulatory and intelligent. And then there is the dwarf. I recognize that some dwarves can be sexy, but I’m pretty sure that this guy isn’t supposed to be.
So, as with any of my posts of this sort, take the numbers with a grain of salt.
One of the most irksome trends I noticed when going through the art was the inequality in class depictions between men and women. All too often female characters were blatantly sexualized while male characters of the same archetype/class were not. For instance, look at these two clerics:
The male cleric is presented as a capable adventurer, seen with the weapons, tools, and implements of his trade. The female cleric is presented as a sex object, posed and costumed for the presumed male viewer. The illustration is especially ridiculous in light of the caption. Twice the training, determination, and grit? Does that outfit and that pose say “grit” to you? Really? I’m having cognitive dissonance here.
The minotaur on the left is, for some reason, wearing only leather armor that leaves her midriff exposed and is about as slender as an athletic human. Why the lack of armor? You can argue that human women might not have the strength to fight in full plate mail, but minotaurs are supposed to be giant, super-strong cow people. With the shield and axe, she’s clearly a melee fighter; with a minotaur’s strength there’s no reason she shouldn’t be able to properly armor herself. Furthermore, the cow head on a waifish human body is just ridiculous – with that slender build she wouldn’t be capable of standing that straight, not with that giant head and neck to support. There’s a reason minotaurs are supposed to be heavily muscled. Cow heads are proportionately large and very heavy – you need a muscular frame to support that kind of a head on a biped.
As with WoW, the biggest inequalities were mostly with depictions of mages. Male mages are almost universally depicted as wearing robes that completely cover them:
The only one of these that I would say approaches the amount of coverage of the male mages is the mage on the top right, even if she is wearing some sort of bizarre corset-robe that just barely comes up past her nipples. The amount of coverage that the mage in the lower left is ridiculous when you look at what’s not covered – the boob window exposes her cleavage and the undersides of her breasts, and that weirdo halter top shows her side, including a generous portion of sideboob. What makes that particular illustration even more ridiculous is that she’s an astral deva – a super-powerful angelic being from a higher plane of existence. Apparently cleavage as a somatic component is a law of physics that transcends all planes.
My favorite example of mage inequality, however, was this:
Except wait, it does:
So… tigers are badass animal companions when paired with male adventurers, and some kind of bizarre bedroom accessory when paired with females? This is just plain weird. And sure, some of you might be saying – dark skin, white hair, she’s a drow! Drow are supposed to be sexay! It’s, like, part of their culture and stuff. Or something. But what I don’t understand is if drow women are in charge, why don’t they make the men dress sexy too?
There’s clearly a double-standard going on here. If I was part of a matriarchal society in which being sexy was an important part of my culture, you can be damn sure that I would make the men in my life show just as much skin.
But wait, it gets even worse!
Worse that mages in club outfits? Worse than clerics in chain mail swimsuits with a slit down to their belly button? Worse than almost-naked sexy women with tigers? How can it be?
The one in the middle is bad. That’s a pretty big mace – clearly she’s going to smack something with it. While wearing armored panties, armored stripper sandals, one armored guantlet (because two just wouldn’t be fashion-forward) and a bustier. As ridiculous as the swimsuit cleric is, she’s wearing about twice the clothing than mace-wielding bikini warrior.
The one on the right is worse. She’s got to be doing several hundred crunches a day, because female abs are rarely that well defined. I’m also impressed that she’s managing to aim a shot while simultaneously thrusting out her tits and her ass. Seriously, with her spine arched like that, she isn’t drawing from a position of strength, so she must be doing lots of lifting to be able to draw that bow. Also, she’s not wearing pants. In the middle of a forest. I hope for her sake she doesn’t have the misfortune to fall into poison ivy – I doubt that there’s anti-histamine creams in the D&D universe.
The worst, however, is the one on the left. What the fuck is she supposed to be? Some kind of magic-sword-wielding bikini luchador? An S&M fantasy superhero? I don’t even know how to mock this, it’s just so bad. Talk about a good artist abusing their powers for evil…
This is not quite so bad as Bikini Luchador
Interestingly, there were some illustrations that were still revealing, but seemed to me to be trying to also present the women as having a real sense of agency or character:
The one on the left is the weakest to me, mostly because of the snow. I now live in Canada, and am going through what feels like the longest winter of my fucking life. When I see anyone in snow, I want to see them wearing clothes. Lots of clothes. Snow is evil and can only be defeated with clothes. The second one is another pet peeve of mine, the pantless warrior. But I do like the strength of her expression and the size of her hammer. (And that she’s holding it correctly and looks like she’s about to use it.)
The two on the right are the best – both of them convey such a strong sense of character. I love the cocky smirk on the rogue’s face, and I love how the dwarf is being shown as a strong defender. Both of them are such great characters and would make excellent avatars. I just wish the artist hadn’t felt the need to put a cleavage window in the dwarf’s armor, or that the rogue had something that covered her to the waist. Why can’t they be allowed to be awesome on their own terms without having to show some skin?
This is what I want. More of this. A lot more.
The assassin? Fucking epic. The bard? So awesome. The ranger is so fierce. And the fighter on the bottom right is exactly the sort of medium armor fighter I’m talking about. I just wish that women like this weren’t so rare. I’d take any of these women over a ridiculous bikini luchador anyday.