Dragon Magazine in 2010: Pictures

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.

The uneven

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:

That chainmail practically requires an exotic armor proficiency.

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.

One of these cows is not like the other…

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:

While female mages… not so much:

Cleavage – apparently an important somatic component for female spell-casters.

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:

Illustrations within three pages of one another and by the same artist. It really doesn’t get any more blatant than that.

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?

Every time I think I’ve found the basement, there’s always another level.

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.

56 thoughts on “Dragon Magazine in 2010: Pictures

  1. Ok first of men or women not wearing pants is not suggestive in and of itself, if they have clothes on that can effectively replace pants then they are clothed and not suggestive, also the giant is wearing some sort of medieval shorts or trunks so he is clothed( as is the dwarf all you see are the kneecaps), and you yourself speak fondly of a woman wearing the same amount or more nudity a few pictures lower(the lady actively swinging the hammer). If she is good enough and not provocative then why are you bloging so negatively about the dwarf and the giant, are you having a double standard there or were you serious about the only good thing being on her is that she is in an active pose? They gave the battle priestess a freaking chest slit!!! Nothing more to be said about that. I am not touching the minotaur thing with a ten mile stick. Ok the wow mage thing I agree with you for most of it: yes I would like to see equality between the sexes but that means more nude male mages and a lot more fully clothed female mages like the one in the top right, you missed two things about her: a) every male mage is wearing a tight belt and so is she and b) that is the reason you can spot her boobs, I could not spot a chest slit or a naked part of her chest (please correct me if I am wrong) and yes I do think her right shoulder should not be exposed. Not to sound overly male but how am I supposed to make a decent judgement call about your mage inequality example when you did not say if they were the same mage class, it matters to me more than if it was done by the same artist. Um the first drow thing what class is the male and what class is the female, because again it matters to me, if they are both fighters then it is crap, if she is a priestess or a healer then it is overly sexualised but it is within cannon( the drow goddess pimps her priestess out to demons in most stories, so the drow society is not a matriarchal society as you mean it, yes the women are higher than men but both gender are just playthings for their own deities and as such men are just warriors and low level mages while women use men as their sex toys and are also pimped out to all sorts of nasty things during their religious rites, at least those are the drow I read about, real disturbing stuff). Now about the there is always another level to the basement pictures if the girl on the left is the class I think she is then she is wearing a lot more then men of her class, all they wear is a fur speedo, a pair of boots and a pair of gauntlets( also this is something I saw as a kid and can’t recall the name of so I could be wrong, some sort of barbarian gladiator class). Now the before mentioned blue girl with an active pose and a hammer, if I am not mistaken she is some sort of steppes tribal warrior and as such is missing only her shoulder plates to be on par with her male counterpart, now the rouges male counterpart should have an exposed bellybutton too as I get the feeling that she is from a tropical settlement, I get the ,,breastplate” gripe about the dwarf but I do not see any exposed skin on her chest so what is this about a cleavage window and no snow is not evil and I have been know to wear a simple T-shirt and some light long-legged pants outside in snowfall on -10 C. Now the this is what i want pictures: are you sure about the second one from the right top side? Because that women has the same cleavage window you described for the dwarf. That is all for now and for this post please correct me where you think I am wrong.

    • Okay. I had trouble following that massive wall of texts. Please – paragraphs are your friends. I can’t read everything when it’s one massive wall o text. So I’m going to respond to the few points that I was able to extract from the text brick…

      The whole point of calling anything without covered legs suggestive is to eliminate possible bias in the results. I recognize that I am insanely biased in this regard, so I engineer my criteria so that – if anything – it’s biased in favor of calling things NOT sexist. Thus my point about why the first images are not sexy even though they were counted as sexy. It’s just an explanation of some of the results I encountered and why the numbers are only good for general trends and not for specifics.

      As for the “it’s their class” or “it’s canon” or “it’s their society” arguments for why boobular outfits are okay for female adventurers… dude, you realize that D&D is written by people, right? The “cultural reasons” and “canon” you refer to are just justifications for having women run around with almost no clothing on.

      • “As for the “it’s their class” or “it’s canon” or “it’s their society” arguments for why boobular outfits are okay for female adventurers… dude, you realize that D&D is written by people, right?”

        Oh my god, yes. the number of people that think that stories spring fully-formed and sacrosanct from the ether is one of my greatest peeves. the only way “it’s their culture” is ever a legitimate defence is if your story takes place in actual history.

      • Um the it’s their class thing is more about how much and what type of clothes are worn, because I advocate that both men and women wear the same amount of clothes for a certain class. In other words if a woman has a chest slit the man better have the same thing or I call it overly sexualised, and even then the woman’s chest slit should be smaller and the area of her chest should be more clothed than the man’s as is the way in real life, if a guy is shirtless the girl still has her bra on.

        And if there is a type of clothes, revealing or not, that is class specific I better be given an explanation for it, because sexual or not I refuse to take such a thing at face value.

        Now the it is cannon thing: I find most drow females overly sexualised and with ridiculous and impractical outfits when shown on pictures and yet in cannon that I have read, there is no chain mail boob slit or a revealing robe, when drow females get all nude and sexy in their descriptions so do the males.

        • I advocate that both men and women wear the same amount of clothes for a certain class

          And yet that is clearly not the case. As witness by the pictures of mages. Male mages ALWAYS are completely covered. Female mages, not so much. Ditto with plate-mail cleric versus swimsuit cleric.

          • Ok I already said I agree with you for the plate mail cleric thing, also is it realy that hard to read that wall post, because I have read books written in that style, no joke, but it might have been a poorly packed PDF file.

            Again, and in with different words, if a man and a woman belong to the same order of mages then they should wear the same type and amount of clothes.

            For example the skimpy clothed female mage you use for the inequality example, if her male counterpart is not wearing just a pair of boots, a pair of gauntlets, either a pair of shorts or trunks or some form of underwear you can wear in public, and maybe a leather belt or two strapped across his chest or less than that then you are correct and she is not properly covered and is so only for the sexualisation value of it.

            But even if the male version of that mage wears the above mentioned clothes, I want a good reason given to me as to why.

            And yes the pose she took up is unrealistic, if she realy did throw a spell from that position the arm with the book would not be turned so outward, I have put my arm into that position with a book several times it always end the same the book falls out of my hand.

            • Yeah, wall-of-text posts are somewhat equivalent to massive run-on sentences — all the thoughts in them get mashed together, and it makes the thoughts that you’re writing seem jumbled and confused. Paragraphs (like sentences) enforce separation of concepts, which does a lot for the readability of one’s comments. /grammar police

              And yes the pose she took up is unrealistic, if she realy did throw a spell from that position the arm with the book would not be turned so outward,

              That’s not why the pose is unrealistic, though. Holding a book on one’s arm is trivial; having one’s breasts and butt both facing the audience while looking away from that same audience is not. (Seriously, that mage’s breasts are facing 90 degrees away from the line formed by the rest of her body… unless what looks like her right breast is actually on the center-line of her body, and there’s a third breast on the other side or something o_o)

              • OK two things:

                1) Thank you for pointing out and explaining how confusing a wall of text post can be for people other than myself (never had a problem with it and yes I prefer to be able to talk to someone in massive run-on sentences, but if they can not understand me then I am perfectly capable of using proper grammar).

                2) Also thank you for pointing out another communication problem I have: I do not speak my entire thought process when arguing (I imagine this makes it hard to follow my train of thought).

                So to clarify: the only unrealistic thing on that picture in the terms of physics is the way she holds that book, she would need a levitation spell (or something like that) to keep it there.

                Now in the terms of biology: I can do that pose she is in, but I can not think of a good reason to take up such a difficult and distracting thing for an attack whose accuracy and strength depend on my concentration.

                So to answer the lower part of your post the pose she is in is not unrealistic because it is physically impossible, but because it is equal parts stupid and insane, and that is what I forgot to say.

              • I still disagree about the feasibility of the pose. I mean, of course you can pull off the chest-facing-camera/butt-facing-camera part of it, if you’re willing to put up with the discomfort. But the position of her back is anatomically impossible — if she’s twisted at the waist, the line down the center of her back shouldn’t be visible, and more of the front should be showing at the waist.

                I absolutely agree that it’d still be absurd even if it was possible. But I think it’s an example of terrible anatomy as well as an example of absurd posing.

              • Ikkin when I said that I could do THAT pose I did mean the whole chest turned to the left and stomach is centered thing and yes also the crazy my spine is twisted half-way and still completely arched freaky thing, on a side note I use that and about 4 or 5 more tricks to freak out my friends here and there, but I am a freak in that regard: my muscles and bones are more flexible then most peoples so I can do that sort of freaky thing.

                And before you post another answer to my answer: if I ever held that pose for a significant amount of time I would need a deep tissue massage minimum to unwind my muscles afterwards.

  2. As a member of the target demographic for these works (or near enough), one who is apparently only going to care if a girl in a picture looks ‘hot’, I can state that the fighter lady in the bottom image, bottom-right, is the most appealing of this entire lot. :S

    The midriff-baring rogue in the second-to-last picture would be no less appealing if she covered that up. A good artist should not have to rely on cheap sexuality to make a character look more compelling. Her facial expression and body language are testament to that.

    • I agree that the women in the bottom sets of pictures are far more interesting overall than the women applying the “distraction = AC” gambit. On a subtle level, I think the implication is one of substance over style. The chainmail bikini mindset applies sexualized thinking to acts that are not intentionally sexual, and applies it to both men and women. It assumes that all men think with their crotch and will allow that to override their normal actions, and that women need to exploit that in order to compete. Both of which, of course, are silly. The “wouldn’t you be distracted by bouncing boobies” argument is almost universally posited by individuals who themselves are in a position of, shall we say, desperation for attention from another.

      In most life and death situations, at least in my own very limited experiences and what I’ve heard from others, you really don’t care what the other side is wearing or not wearing, you’re usually too invested with the rather important task of not dying. To that end, individuals geared for combat with that in mind imply a greater sense of competence, seriousness, and believability. Moreover, it implies greater intelligence, decision-making skills, critical thinking, and overall bad-assery.

      All of which, I think, are highly attractive traits by themselves, and make for far more memorable characters.

      Now if I can be allowed my cavemanesque moment, that Ranger? A+, Yes Please, Thank you.

  3. I’m in agreement with the other pictures, but the female battle priest does not seem overly sexualized to me. She is in an action pose compared to the passive pose of the male priest.

    Maybe I’m missing something.

    • Maybe I’m missing something.

      Yeah, you are — the ridiculous cleavage-baring armor. =/

  4. The mage with the book and the snake is really doing my head in. Her spine is so twisted I can’t even begin to imagine how she can breath, let alone cast a spell that would require any amount of concentration. Just… ouch.

    I think artists using even a little correct anatomy would be a huge step in the right direction.

    • I have altered bones and musculature that allow me to do things most people can not, even with a lifetime of yoga and I can do that pose and honestly it is murder on the knees, if she took up that pose in the process of throwing a spell it is possible but not very likely, however if she is chanting and/or channeling in that pose then that is downright an epic feat because 5 minutes into such a pose you knees start screaming.

      • Oh and yes someone who is very good at yoga can do that pose to but they will tell you the same thing it is murder on the knees.

  5. Again, some of your examples and things you pick on seem a little pickier than necessary, which again I attribute to my living in a warmer climate. The first picture of female mages, upper row, second from right? As soon as the weather hits 70 or so around here, most girls and women under the age of 40 are showing at least that much skin, be it through midriffs showing, shorts, skirts, or tank tops that show more chest. I think because I am so used to seeing that in casual, everyday life, it seems less sexualized than the other, more obvious examples.

    In the “not quite as bad as bikini luchador” picture, the one with the hammer? While I am inclined to believe that she was designed to have her legs exposed on purpose, I’m inclined to forgive that because it makes some sense. The way her lower body is attired, the areas more likely to be hit (outside thighs) are armored, while the rest is left open for better mobility. Again, not saying she wasn’t sexualized, but just that the armored skirt thing works in a Roman Centurian kinda way, so I would personally overlook that.

    Most of the rest of your examples I agree with. There’s really no need for them to be showing as much skin as they do. Also, the ranger (?) with the wolf? Easily my favorite character, male or female, that you posted a pic of in this entry.

    • It’s not so much the specific examples that I see as being the problem – it’s the trend. The fact that male mages get to be fully covered 100% of the time and that it is damn near impossible to find a fully covered female mage is problematic. Should women be able to dress like that if they choose? Sure. But the fact that there is such an overwhelming disparity speaks to sexualization, not choice.

  6. Hi, I just found your site while I was reading the Paladin in Citadel blog. I just wanted to say that I really like what you’re doing here. I think it’s a fresh perspective that I haven’t seen in the gaming blogosphere before. Can’t wait to read more. Thanks!

  7. 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.

    I doubt that would be an easy argument to make. A quick Googling says that full plate mail weighs from 40-70 lbs. Considering the fact that my backpack in high school weighed about 40lbs, I rather suspect a woman with significant battle-training would be able to cope with the weight. (And in any case, the alternative to plate mail is chain mail, not random open spots, but you already know that)

    • I agree with you, but I get so tired of the “women aren’t as strong as men and can’t be expected to fight in plate mail” argument that ALWAYS comes up that I’ve just given up on that front. :/

      • I guess I just don’t see why you should even humor that argument. If you post a link to a female armored SCA fighter, it should be self-evident enough that anyone who’d agree with you on the minotaur thing should get the point. You’d still get arguments, of course, but those making them would make a point of disagreeing no matter what you said. =/

        • You’re probably right. Sometimes I have more energy for arguments on the internets than others, and I guess this was one of the times in which I had less. I’ll try not to let personal weakness get in the way of reason. 🙂

          • Well, that’s understandable. I just don’t really think it’s an argument that should even require all that much effort to begin with. I mean, most male armor designs are so absurdly overdone that the characters wearing them ought to need a crane to lift them onto a horse (and wouldn’t be able to move off the horse) – no one worth arguing with would waste time arguing that a woman might not be strong enough to wear reasonable armor. 😉

  8. On further thought, I believe the only point I would disagree with is that bare legs = sexual (though kudos anyway for using it as a common standard on both sexes), simply because it’s generally quite common in fantasy art–albeit, for men it’s usually only used for fighter/barbarian types.

    The exception, of course, should be if the garment itself is blatantly fetishistic–briefs, bikini bottoms, loincloths, and such–or if it’s wildly impractical for the environment the character is depicted in (cold weather, dense forest, some such).

    If a lady’s legs must be bared: would it be so hard for artists to give ’em some real muscle tone? Doesn’t matter if she’s a wizard or something; if you’re an “adventurer”, your legs are getting a hell of a log of exercise–if not by walking, then by riding horses (or whatever mount-flavor you have in your setting), which itself builds a ton of muscles in the legs. I see these particular illustrations aren’t particularly bad about this, but it’s annoying how in the general realm of entertainment we’re supposed to buy skinny, stick-limbed supermodel types as fearsome warriors.

    • It’s so hard, though, to create consistent standards that aren’t biased when you get into “well these uncovered legs are okay but these ones aren’t”. I mean, I went to a Catholic high school and I remember thinking the regulations about how long shorts/skirts could be were completely asinine. So I’d rather err on the side of caution and just say that anyone with uncovered legs is suggestive. It avoids getting mired in arguments about specific examples.

      And re: muscle tone – OMG YES. I’m so tired of stick-women with no muscles as adventurers.

      • I completely agree. This is a huge pet peeve of mine that you see in moves, comics and games all the time. If you want to create a strong female character why are artists so afraid to make them physically strong? I’ve seen so many character concepts undermined because we are supposed to believe a hundred pound waif can cold cock a five hundred pound ogre.

        Yes it might be magic, or martial training or whatnot (though you think all that training would result in some hardened muscles), but for some reason these rules apply only to female characters (how many Raistlin-esque warrior men do you see in these media running around beating people up? I can’t think of a single example).

        I would love to see more gender balance in character class depictions, but something tells me these artists (or their art directors) don’t get it.

        • Wundergeek, if you read this, don’t let the first version go through moderation — the links didn’t work right, so I’m reposting.


          I think there are a few legitimate problems, and a whole lot of artists just wanting women to look sexy. =/

          The legitimate part is this: male and female bodies treat muscle growth differently, such that it’s a lot easier for men to be bulky than it is for women. A female adventurer probably wouldn’t look like a mountain of muscle, when the #1 ranked female MMA fighter looks like this.

          On the other hand, a lot of it probably has to do with the mistaken fear that muscular women would end up looking like female bodybuilders, which would likely alienate a significant portion of the potential audience (and not necessarily even just the male portion).

          And, on the mutant third hand, there’s the not-necessarily-slight possibility that some artists don’t really understand the difference between this level of muscle tone and this stuff, which is definitely a problem.

          Of course, it’s entirely possible (and likely) that the artists aren’t making any of the above considerations, and just drawing what they find attractive. But I think that those problems would remain even if they were convinced that they should consider their characters’ physique beyond whether they find it attractive. =/

        • It must be a marketing thing.

          I haven’t met another man who honestly prefers the flimsy-waif look to that of a genuinely *powerful*-looking woman–and have met many who’s appreciation for the latter borders on the obsessive. >_>

          Yet, marketers don’t think that’ll sell, they’d rather go with tired sexy cliches, which they think are safe, despite how stupid it looks.

          For notable exceptions to this moronic trend, see: Diablo III female barbarian, Warcraft in-game orc (bodybuilder) and night elf (athlete) females, and the entire female cast of Street Fighter IV.

          Seriously, though their costume designs could be the subject of several articles on this blog, Capcom deserves some credit for the effort they went through to make us believe a teenage girl could punch out M. Bison.

        • What is a Raistin-esque warrior man? What are the parameters for such a character?

          Also if you are looking for an example for an unhealthy built male that can kick a 500 pound ogre the only one I can think of is Raziel from the Legacy of Kain series, and yes I know he is an ex-seraphim priest turned vampire turned wraith (long story) who is literally skin and most of his bones and some muscles on his legs and arms but he is male and unhealthy built.

          • They mean a guy who’s visibly thin, frail, or otherwise distinctly *not* musclebound or athletic. (“Raistlin” refers to a D&D novel-series character who is this–incidentally, he’s a wizard)

            It’s very much the exception, rather than the rule, whereas for female character, it seems to *be* the accepted rule, for all its stupidity.

  9. This is pretty terrible to be honest, this is one of the reasons I avoid WoW in favour of LotRO, from what I have seen so far all armour types provide the same coverage for women and men of all races. I have no problem with a revealing set of armour however, if the male equivalent is as revealing.

  10. OK on topic a question: Nickelodeon will be releasing an anime series in 2012 titled: The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra. Here are two production pictures from the show: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/36/Korra-action-shot.jpg and http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4b/Avatar-legend-of-korra.png ,so I would very much like to get your opinion on Korra, as she is an avatar: a super-mage that is proficient in all of the 4 main elemental magic schools of her world, where as other benders (elemental mages of that world) are only proficient with one.

    • We should probably check with Wundergeek to see whether she thinks these sorts of off-topic comments are something she wants to deal with, considering it is her personal blog, but I’ll field this one for you.

      To clarify a bit for anyone who hasn’t seen Avatar: the Last Airbender, describing benders as mages is… incomplete, at the very least — they’re martial artists first and foremost who control the elements using kung fu.

      Avatar: the Last Airbender was always fifty different kinds of awesome (apart from that travesty of a movie), and Korra is exactly what we need to see more of if those production images are anything to go by. I’m still kind of surprised by how much muscle they were willing to give her, even knowing the show’s track record with awesome female warriors.

      • Um you might be right on the first thing.

        Wundergeek do you have limitation on how off-topic a comment can be within the topic of this blog before it is inappropriate?

        Also in my perspective this post talks about the overly sexualised and unrealistic styles of artists when depicting women in a visual medium, so I asked a question about two images from that medium that I found online, all the posts I have read gave me the impression that such a question is OK.
        Was I wrong? Yes,no or 50-50?

        OK benders are mystical warriors who have the ability to control one of the four prime elements through a combination of physical conditioning (a specific martial art training for each element) and mental preparation (remember the spirit and blood bending skills, each of those 2 requires a specific mindset).

        The movie is what it is and attempt to put 10 hours of an animated show into 2 hours of a live action movie, it is bound to be an epic fail unless a lot of those 10 hours is filler material.

        And yes the original Avatar rock in many ways, to name 2 that might be on topic here: the tough as mountain stone (later steel) and blind (she is not so much blind as her eyes just do not function) earth bender Toph Bei Fong; Water bender and healer Katara who is perfectly capable of holding her own in a fight and in fact saves the day a couple of times be it through combat or with cunning or both, on a side note I weep for anyone dumb enough to pick a fight with her on a night of the full moon.

        • I’m okay with things diverting briefly into OT-land, as long as it’s brief and it’s not an endlessly rehashed subject.

          As for Korra, I like the design but I can’t comment anymore than that, never having seen the series or the movie (thank god) in question.

  11. Excuse me in advance for my english : I’m French, I read English but I talk/write very badly. I want to thank you very much for what you do in this blog. I’m a woman player who loves Fantasy et Science Fiction (books, movies, games, etc.) and I need to support a minimum sexualisation of women : unless, I have almost nothing to look or play. But I’m tired of all of that and when I complain and argue with other players, I feel like I’m strange to notice all that boobs, ridiculous armores and all sexy stuffs, because for them it’s normal. Even if I like play both male and female characters, I like even more to have the choice. When play a women is play half naked, there is no choice (or no pleasure for me).

    So when I have discovered your blog, it was an enormous relief : I’m not the only one and no, all this sexy crap is not OK. The last straw that broke the camel’s back is when I went at Tera website : I was interessed for the game but the main page persuades me that is too much.

    It’s frustrating to be restricted by my poor english level (in French, I would say more and more subtle, and sorry again) and I hope it’s comprehensible anyway.

    To sum up : thank you.

    • No endure, not to support. Or to put up with. It’s the same word in French…

      • Hey, thanks for the comment. I appreciate that you took the time to wrestle with a second language to comment here. And I’m glad that my blog isn’t falling on deaf ears. 🙂

        • Because of you, I notice now consistently the pose “Hey, I can show both my boobs AND my ass !” Despite my suffering to write in english, I need to thank you for all your work. 🙂

  12. I just found this website today – awesome post! As a women playing tabletop games, I get sick and tired of women running around in armor that seems to cover nothing that armor should cover. I really wish more artists would draw women like you showed in the final selection of pictures – they are so badass! I wish all rpgs and miniatures had art like that. Great post!

  13. Long time lurker, first-time poster (unless I’m forgetting myself), but once again, a great analysis!

    I think a lot of this is character designers not considering the rationale for why their character should be dressed as they are, which is a point you make as regards the hellish winters of Canada. Before sticking their female mage in yet another revealing/impractical/death-by-exposure-inducing outfit, they should think why is she wearing this? Why is she making this ridiculous pose? If you’re going to make the argument that mages have to wear less because of somatic components to their spells and the fact that armour dulls their magical senses or whatever (which would be the halfway-decent justification of silly poses and attire), then you have to think why are all of these male mages wearing confining robe and whatever? They really ought to be consistent and have their male mages do the same, thrusting their asses out and exposing their chests and all that nonsense.

    Also the whole heavy armour cleavage thing is mystifying, unless the goal is to get your chest filled with pointy metal things. Pretty much every heavily-armoured character, male or female, looks much more badass (and sensible) when it covers them fully.

    Please keep doing these! They are entertaining and enlightening to read (though I imagine a little soul-destroying when you see how bad the situation generally is).

    • Also the whole heavy armour cleavage thing is mystifying, unless the goal is to get your chest filled with pointy metal things. Pretty much every heavily-armoured character, male or female, looks much more badass (and sensible) when it covers them fully.

      I have promised myself that should I ever find myself in a duel with a woman in cleavagey armor, I will stab her in the boobs just on principle.

      And honestly, this stuff isn’t soul destroying… any more. It used to be, before I discovered that, this being the internet, there is so much worse out there.

  14. As usual, I find some things to agree with, and others to disagree with.

    The art towards the end of the post is absolutely better than the stuff at the start. There needs to be more female characters being portrayed that way.

    I’m intrigued why the artist posed the girl with the wolf the way they did though. The “looking over the shoulder” pose is pretty much textbook sexualization. It puts the subject’s butt right in the middle of the picture. She’s also wearing tight pants, though somewhat obscured with other gear. Typically though the artist would turn the subject a bit more, so some of the breast would be visible as well. I’m really curious what the artist was thinking about here. Was he/she trying to not sexualize the character, but felt obligated sexualize it a bit anyways? Did they want the character to be a bit sexual, but not in a way that makes her seem weak? Very intriguing, and whatever their reason, I like the result.

    On mace wielding bikini warrior: That picture is from Dark Sun. The aesthetic of that world is piecemail gladiator style armor. In art of the setting, you fill find plenty of male characters attired similarly. Lots of bare chests, bare legs, armor on one arm but not the other, etc. I won’t defend the “armor panties”, but otherwise the picture is completely okay with me. Here’s what I consider to be the most iconic piece of Dark Sun artwork:

    • Looking over one’s shoulder at the viewer is not inherently sexualized, I think. It can certainly be used as a method of drawing attention to a character’s sexual parts, but it’s down to the character’s clothing to create that kind of effect.

      Since the ranger’s clothes deemphasize her figure as much as possible given her armor class, the artist’s intent, in this case, is probably the same as it would be if the character was male – to characterize the ranger as a mysterious and wary person.

    • Plus don’t forget the dark sun world is a dessert, so I imagine some artist somewhere is thinking “less clothes=less heat” but I’d imagine it also means “more sunburn” which can’t be comfortable in your bikini region.

      • Dude, this. I’ve been fortune enough to have gone to Egypt, and yeah. Contrary to what you’d think, nudity is NOT your friend in the desert. The movies are not exaggerating about how powerful desert sun is. Look at desert cultures like the bedouin and the tuareg – the fact that they wear so much clothing isn’t just because they’re “used to it”.

        That’s such a basic detail that I can’t really forgive the Dark Sun creators for saying “well it’s a desert”. Why don’t they just say “we like naked people”? I’d respect them more if they were at least honest.

        • I don’t think you’ll see them try to justify it with the “it’s a desert” line of thought. The gladiator motif has been core to the setting from the beginning(for both genders), and they have never tried to deny it or make excuses for it. Heck, it was important enough that in the orginal Dark Sun setting, they actually had rules for piecemail armor.

  15. Looking over the shoulder isn’t neccessarily sexualized, but when it’s used to put the character’s butt dead centre in the middle of the picture, I think it really leans that way. It’s borderline though, could go either way. Which is what makes me curious what the artist was up to.

    • I think this might just be a case of multiple interpretations making it impossible for the artist to avoid sexualized visual tropes. She’s in the center of the picture horizontally because she’s the picture’s focus; her butt is in the center of the picture vertically because the camera is low and it’s a full-body shot. The camera is low because it makes her more intimidating; it’s a full-body shot because otherwise the wolf wouldn’t be placed right. The artist wouldn’t have many other choices if they wanted to have her give that same impression.

  16. D&D pseudo fantasy fashion often turn me off. Sexist or not, pseudo-fantasy-fashion kind of paste modern day tropes on the characters & their world. Like their cloth are too “cool” or too “designed”. Hard to clearly explain, but it often bug me.

  17. More coming up.
    I’m writing a saga that I’d love to see as a table top RPG as well as online MMORPG.
    But first of all, a novel, then a graphic novel (drawn by me), a movie, bwahahaha! I can haz fame?!?

    Well, to be concise:
    1 – Embarrasingly enough, I havn’t really read this article in depth. I’ve only gotten the gist of it, but hey, it’s 4 AM, I’ll read it asap-after sleep.
    2 – In my saga the two main characters are female. Not “feminine”. But they happen to be women. The cast is otherwise “equal”, but I do notice that the men are slightly more, let’s say… dudes in distress while the women are the one saving the day. And there is also an entire human army consisting entirely out of women.
    Aaand they sure don’t go letting their precious body heat ooze out of an exposed bosom.

    3 – I don’t know why I’m using these numbers. Anyways – The two heroines of the saga will not be designed to increase popularity “in this world” by sex appeal. They might come across as sexy as hell, sometime, somehow, that depends on what turns the audience on, but pyromaniacs and people with a craving for whips, domination and brutal violence are sure to be pleased. Not the ordinary “I’m dressed to come across as a female specimen in heat” though, never that. Ok… I’m tired, perhaps they will dress that way, but then it will be becuase they are actually sending that signal to their actual surronding, for some reason, not to make the audience of Earth drool.

    I agree with you. I think. Better read this carefully though, but I -think- I agree… 🙂

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