The Sword and Laser discussion

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The battle against 'sexist' sci-fi and fantasy book covers

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Graeme Ellis (KAPT_Kipper) | 65 comments http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21...


This story reminded me of the Paperback cover for the Princess Bride. What cover has made you go "What?"

http://funnystuffforyourday.blogspot....


Camilla Hansen (MalazanShadowDancer) | 51 comments I find it ridiculous.. Really. I've never thought of such book covers as sexist, I never will, and I frankly don't care if the cover has males drawn in heroic poses with ridiculously huge biceps or females drawn in sexy fighting poses. It's still just a book cover to give an impression of the characters, mood and setting - to me at least.
Oh, so that means I haven't experienced the "what"-feeling about a book cover :) Except if they were badly drawn...


Ender | 59 comments Oh this again, now with book covers :)
I like the discussion on this topic. It made me realize that I simply like these "sexist" covers and don't care much what other people say. Sorry folks, I was born this way. And in the bbc article, the guy just makes it look silly. Although holding a toaster instead of a cyborg's head definitely is funny. Mostly because of BSG.

When I was a kid (I think around 12 years old but I am not really sure) and I was recommended Up the Line by Robert Silverberg by my family, the cover made me go "What?"
cover for czech edition (I couldn't find it on goodreads)
(And so did the content.)


Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments I love the commentary Jim Hines has put onto these covers - sexy is fine if you are strong enough not to feel excluded. As a librarian who works with kids though, anything that excludes a group of readers, albeit subconsciously, is a problem. They don't exclude everyone, but how often do we hear comments along the lines of 'I picked this up despite the cover', and then think of reluctant readers. I WANT to share the love of books and reading with them, which I can't if there is a barrier. Most of the ones that are rebelled against make me giggle at their stupidity, but I am older and stronger... :)

Covers that make me, personally, go WHAT? are the anatomically impossible ones. OK, Catwoman may have a spine that twists, but a cover showing someone who is supposed to be fully human twisting like a cat just makes me boggle. That and the three hands romance covers (not kidding)


message 5: by Graeme (last edited Jan 19, 2013 10:06AM) (new)

Graeme Ellis (KAPT_Kipper) | 65 comments Emy wrote: "That and the three hands romance covers (not kidding) ..."

lol, It almost looks like he has 6 fingers too. Looks like a great mutant fantasy romance.


message 6: by Louise (last edited Jan 19, 2013 10:24AM) (new)

Louise | 343 comments I find its not so much that they're sexist, but dated. I don't tend to want to read anything with that kind of cover because I don't like being told what the characters look like. I like something simpler, and neater. For example, I like the cover of the Eye of the World copy I bought myself: The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1) by Robert Jordan but loathed the cover the library copy I read first had: The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1) by Robert Jordan


Rik | 501 comments Reminds of the never ending debate that goes in comic books where nearly every female character is near anorexic yet has DD breasts and likes to do brokeback poses in outfits that barely cover anything.


Zayne | 60 comments Really? Sexism again? -_- Ok, look: Girls like seeing guys with muscles just like guys like seeing females striking hot poses (if it fits the character that is). There's nothing sexist about it. It's just the way of things.

And Louise, what's wrong with the library copy of The Eye of the World?


Louise | 343 comments Zayne wrote: "And Louise, what's wrong with the library copy of The Eye of the World? "

I just don't like the style, or the fact that it shows the characters. Its just too...bitty...too 80s maybe. Too like everything else coming out at that time. I like covers with more subtly, so I prefer the cleanness of the newer version with just the snake symbol on it.


Sara (medusasmirror) | 43 comments Amusingly enough, during the last audio podcast when Veronica was listing all the Heinlein covers with sexy, naked ladies... Yeah, I own all those. And they don't bother me. I clicked through to the BBC article and the very first cover he was making fun of was for Alien Diplomacy, which is the book I'm currently reading. I think the cover is ugly, but I'm not horrified by it. There's actually a plot based reason that she's in an evening gown shooting robots. On the other hand, I look at comics covers fairly often and get frustrated. It's the anatomy rather than the skin that gets me. If it's physically impossible for the human body to contort into a position then maybe that's not the position to put any of your characters into, male or female. Honestly, the book cover trend that gets to me most is the girl in giant evening gown vs guy in a hood. They aren't sexist, they're just boring.
Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1) by Morgan Rhodes Bewitching (Kendra Chronicles, #2) by Alex Flinn


Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Zayne wrote: "Ok, look: Girls like seeing guys with muscles just like guys like seeing females striking hot poses"

Actually, I'm not sure that's true. I mean, sure, there are women out there that are into muscles, but I think the muscles more strongly represent what MEN think women will find attractive, and what men aspire to be like, just like beautiful slim women grace the covers of women's magazines.


message 12: by Ender (last edited Jan 19, 2013 01:53PM) (new)

Ender | 59 comments Ruth wrote: "Actually, I'm not sure that's true. I mean, sure, there are women out there that ..."
I think most women do like muscles and some of them know it and few of them admit it. Sure, they might not find it that important any more, but we still have the human DNA, right? Maybe I'm wrong, it's just what the women I know said. Wait... what if all this is a big mystification women plotted to make men torture themselves for no reason?!!
Then again, the cover doesn't represent a picture of your life partner, it's just something to attract your attention and make you buy the product. Or please your eye when you look at it. It's also cool when it relates to the book content itself.

Louise wrote: "... I don't like being told what the characters look like."
I'm not sure if I had any problem with this. Usually when judging the cover I don't know what character or thing from the story does it represent yet and by the time I find out I already have my own picture of it.


Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments Ender wrote: "Ruth wrote: "Actually, I'm not sure that's true. I mean, sure, there are women out there that ..."
I think most women do like muscles and some of them know it and few of them admit it. Sure, they m..."


Count me out of that group of 'most women'. Overly muscled men make me giggle not swoon :D The veins look like they've been sewn together Frankenstein's monster style, lol... :P


Ender | 59 comments Ha ha, OK. Interesting way to look at it, by the way.


message 15: by Ruth (last edited Jan 19, 2013 03:39PM) (new)

Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Ender wrote: "I think most women do like muscles and some of them know it and few of them admit it."

Forgive me if I'm misinterpreting this, but it sounds like you're saying that the majority of women either do not know, or deny, what appeals to them, insisting on not liking muscles when, actually, they do. This is a little insulting, and kind of agrees with what I was saying about men thinking it is what women like, even, apparently, when they say otherwise.


Ender | 59 comments @ Ruth

Yeah, I basically said that, definitely not a misinterpretation. But I didn't want to insult anyone. I can elaborate. Or skip all the rant and read the end, this got out of hand.

What I tried to imply is that humans are still biological beings affected by subconscious and unconscious stimuli. Sometimes we realize these when the manifestations are obvious enough but sometimes we don't. One example of a case when we don't really realize it I can think of would be pheromones. Both men and women are affected by them and it's basically a smell if I recall correctly.

On biological level I think most women would be attracted to muscular men rather than weak ones (there are some studies proving this but their credibility could be questioned, they made me think that the 'most' is right word to use anyway) and based my, perhaps too sarcastic, comment on this assumption. It seemed just as natural as liking the look of good looking people better than the look of not-so-good looking people. We even incorporated this in our languages after all.

I think men could perceive the habit of putting sexy women on covers in similar way, as if they couldn't appreciate other qualities of women than their look. They can, of course, but the other qualities are not as easily depicted.

In the past times males had the choice a bit easier and the look was more important for them when all the woman's quality they needed was the ability to give birth and take care of the child long enough. And even with wrong choice they were not really wasting anything precious. Women on the contrary always had to find the balance between strength and capability of sticking around and taking care and generally their choosing process had to be a lot more complex since their investment of energy and resources was significantly larger (disregarding social aspects of pairing here, of course). Anyway the strength aspect is there, perhaps softened even on the basic level, though.

It does agree with what you were saying about men thinking. But insulting? If anything it only shows that I am too short-sighted.

Oh my dear this is a long one, just read the ending.

I'm sorry I expressed my point of view on this sensitive topic in such insensitive way.




Louise | 343 comments The trouble is, these images aren't really of muscular men. They're unrealistic caricatures. Which makes them into cartoon-ish characters that I can't really take seriously.


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1726 comments Zayne wrote: "Really? Sexism again? -_- Ok, look: Girls like seeing guys with muscles just like guys like seeing females striking hot poses (if it fits the character that is). There's nothing sexist about it. It's just the way of things. "

Please don't assume the universality of your personal preferences or the social norms in which you were raised. There are quite a few men out there with absolutely no interest in seeing women in "hot poses," and likewise women who don't give a damn about muscles on guys. Even among those that do, not all of them want those things on the covers of books they read in public.

But even to the extent that your claim is true, it's irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is the asymmetry in the depictions of men and women on book covers. If you pick up an SF novel that features a hunky beefcake with his chest exposed and the image composed in a way that appeals to the female gaze, that's vaginal fantasy and not only will most guys refuse to read it, many will complain about its very presence in the SF section. But if you take an SF novel with a cover that shows a busty babe with her midriff bared while striking an spine-twisting pose that's completely impractical for any purpose save making sure her boobs and ass are visible in the picture -- that's not penile SF, that's mainstream.

Now, sure, there are some hunky men on mainstream SF covers, but they're never sexualized in the way that's so common for women -- they get to wear cool clothes and armor instead of improbably tight pants and low-cut dresses, and they get to hold their weapons in much more natural poses that aren't designed to show off certain body parts. And you are far more likely to see a guy of average or even schlubby physique on a cover than you are women.

And then people wonder why there aren't more women interested in SF.


Kevin | 485 comments I don't care where you fall on this topic, you have to admit that this is glorious:

http://www.jimchines.com/Pics/Flandry...


Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Ender wrote: "I'm sorry I expressed my point of view on this sensitive topic in such insensitive way."

Don't worry about it. I see your point. I disagree, but I know where you are coming from.

KevinB wrote: "I don't care where you fall on this topic, you have to admit that this is glorious:

http://www.jimchines.com/Pics/Flandry..."


THAT is a thing of beauty. I don't normally go for the larger figure, but Pat's pout has won me over. *sigh*


Brandt I think the real problem here is that most authors doesn't get to choose their book-covers.
Most often the task probably goes to some cynical publisher-employed marketing guy who only thinks of wooing the crowd that might choose a book by the cover, and doesn't care about how the cover fits the book.
So we get covers that imply violence, sex and beauty, because that what they learn in marketing class sells.

That this is the profitable approach tells us one thing. Not that publishers are sexists, or some other sort of bigot.
But that people in general are superficial and predictable beings, that buys stuff if it appears sexy, hot and dangerous..

If you object to this simplistic view of people. Then vote with your money, and buy books that have a higher standard or where the author have had a say.
That will benefit the self-published authors, and put pressure on the publishers to do a better job.



@Ender
I saw a documentary on danish television that kind of relates to what you are saying.

A number of women where played a selection of different male voices and told to rank them in accordance with what person sounded more attractive and suitable as a boyfriend/husband.
The men with deep voices turned out to be clearly the most attractive.
(found this on google http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a...)

After watching that documentary, i started noticing how guys will often lower/deepen their voice when speaking with women they find attractive..
I have even found myself doing it, and felt ridiculous for it..

I guess that shows us, that knowing something is superficial, and not something an intelligent person should care about, isn't the same as being unaffected by it.
I think a big part of all of us works on caveman-autopilot, and is beyond our immediate control.


Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Very interesting article. Certainly there are some of these things which the mind still clings to, though things are not the same as they once were, as the article points out. The voice pitch idea is something I found particularly noticeable in Japan, where I lived for a year. I noticed Japanese men do tend to deepen their voices when they are addressing people with respect, whereas women tend speak much higher than they do in daily conversation with friends.


message 23: by Ender (last edited Jan 20, 2013 05:01AM) (new)

Ender | 59 comments @ Brandt
Interesting article, I can imagine the feeling after finding myself changing the pitch of my voice and realizing the scientific background, ha ha. Actually I might not have to imagine soon... And about the voting with money thing: What if those people really wanted to read the book and all the editions had the unwanted kind of cover?

Another thought I got after reading in this topic: Perhaps it is a bit sexist having all these covers with certain kind of women on them and few with muscular men. But it seems to me that the only most sexist participant in this case is our mother nature. Hell, she even made our bodies different, how sexist is that? Kind of reminds me of Monty Python's Life of Brian (this scene).

And what do you think about these? Is it the Frankenstein's monster or unrealistic caricature, Emy, Louise?
Hvězdy, ty studené hračky (Petr Chrumov, #1) by Sergei Lukyanenko ...or these sexy ladies: Tma 2.0 by Ondřej Neff Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
(although with Friday it is certainly Heinlein's fault)


Brandt @Ender
What if those people really wanted to read the book and all the editions had the unwanted kind of cover?

Well, if people want to take a stand, and do war for what they consider good taste, then those books would be some of the casualties..


message 25: by Emy (last edited Jan 20, 2013 06:23AM) (new)

Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments Ender wrote: "@ Brandt
Interesting article, I can imagine the feeling after finding myself changing the pitch of my voice and realizing the scientific background, ha ha. Actually I might not have to imagine soon..."


Interestingly it seems that men are also taught to raise the pitch of their voice slightly if they wish to appear more educated.*

Of those covers, Lukyanenko is worth reading although the cover would possibly still have put me off if I'd not known how good he was. Heinlein cover makes me think that it's got no substance to the story. TMA 2.0 is interesting because it doesn't fit in a stereotype for the SF/F genres so I'd give it a second glance from "Huh?". (The description on TMA 2.0 doesn't elucidate anything for me, and I don't know Czech well enough for the other description).

At the end of the day, I want to see covers that
1. Reflect the story (no brunette beefcake please if the hero is a skinny ginger!)
2. Reflect the time period (if it's Historical, do 5 minutes of research to not show something 2 centuries out of date - hell use a contemporary painting if you can't commission!)
3. No exclude readers - have alternative covers available, but don't make my teenage girls or boys not read a book because the cover isn't geared towards them.

Here's two cover which try to include readers by attracting them in via other books they may have read. Broadening access is awesome - INCLUDE readers, not exclude them.**

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

And compare the 'childish' HP1 with the 'adult' version (no textual content difference)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling

Also, let the story sell itself - if it's a good premise, I'll read it. If the cover is shite I'll probably not pick it up to find out the premise is good...

* Public school friends/acquaintances at university describing some classes on it...
** Hmm, I'm feeling shades of the "geek girls aren't geeks" thing.

The Bottom Line: What doesn't exclude you, may exclude someone else - have alternatives. Maybe that's the way forward with eBooks - choose your cover when you get the book?


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1726 comments Brandt wrote: "
@Ender
I saw a documentary on danish television that kind of relates to what you are saying.

A number of women where played a selection of different male voices and told to rank them in accordance with what person sounded more attractive and suitable as a boyfriend/husband. The men with deep voices turned out to be clearly the most attractive. (found this on google http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/a...)"


Was the survey conducted across a wide variety of cultural groups to ensure that it actually is a biological tendency and not a social standard?


Brandt Well it was danish.. So that kind of limits the cultural diversity..


message 28: by Rob, S&L Forum Mod (new)

Rob (robzak) | 2727 comments Mod
I just thought I'd add this to the conversation:




message 29: by Michele (last edited Jan 20, 2013 01:10PM) (new)

Michele | 688 comments I look at the cover and if its a cool picture then that's nice, but it's really all about the synopsis on the back cover, that sells a book to me. And some of those are really bad and/or misleading to the point where you wonder if whoever wrote the blurb even opened the book...

But I like cover art like Thomas Canty and Michael Whelan - beautiful pictures by themselves.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/1...

and

http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/3...


Leesa (leesalogic) | 261 comments Love Mary and her Angels!


Nathan (Tenebrous) | 269 comments I sympathize with the article, but I am a bit more concerned with sexism between the covers than on them.


kvon | 539 comments Don't forget too about the whitewashing of covers--characters who are described as black being portrayed as white. I blame this, and the gender stereotypes, on marketing departments that are afraid to challenge the buyers. Possibly with good reason, but it just reinforces the status quo, rather than challenging it.

The picture on the back of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance didn't make me not buy the book, but it did decrease my enjoyment of it.


Carter McNeese (cm1165) | 30 comments Something that I think is missing from this conversation is the recognition where some of this impulse came from. It is alluded to in the article that in the 60s Conan books changed the art, but that Conan art was a throw back to the original Pulp art. And the simple truth is that many of the Pulps were meant for men, to the exclusion of woman, and were overtly sexist. (That doesn't mean that great things weren't published in the Pulps, Howard, Lovecraft and PKD come to mind!)

Something else that is missing here is the fact that the covers that are slapped onto the books, often by some corporate hack, do a disservice to the genre by keeping it from being perceived as "serious" writing. How many "main-stream" novels do you see with these kinds of covers. This leads to all sorts on non-sense. For example, I have had friends tell me that Tolkien shouldn't be in fantasy section because "it is real literature." (On a related note, when was the last time you show Tolkien with one of these covers?)

And while I agree with Nathan that we should be concerned about the sexism that exist between the covers, the sexism that exist ON the covers is all that many people, including our friends and family, see.


Valerie (DarthVal) | 64 comments I have nothing against hot guys, or hot girls for that matter. I read a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy and I think there is on over reliance on sexualized book covers, which I find cheesey.

I agree with the earlier comment that covers should fit the context of the book. I also think that sometimes less is more for book covers.

Here are some covers that I think do it well:

The Way of Shadows


KMM's Fever Series

The Parasol Protectorate Series

King of Thorns


Clyde (wishamc) | 136 comments Oh my. This topic is missing an important link.
http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/
Warning! Serious time sink.


P. Aaron Potter (PAaronPotter) | 585 comments Valerie wrote: "I have nothing against hot guys, or hot girls for that matter. I read a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy and I think there is on over reliance on sexualized book covers, which I find chees..."


I dunno about those four covers, Valerie. The two male figures are dressed for their jobs, looking directly at the camera, clearly self-possessed and capable. The women are shot from the back or side, in the position of being looked *at* rather than the active position of doing the looking, one is executing a spine-breaking arch in a skin-tight dress which emphasizes her curvature (really, picture a guy in that pose) and the other is apparently wandering the underworld in a backless, sleeveless bit of gauze which emphasizes her impractically unbound hair.

Don't those images rather point out the gender politics under discussion here?


Valerie (DarthVal) | 64 comments P. Aaron wrote: "Valerie wrote: "I have nothing against hot guys, or hot girls for that matter. I read a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, and urban fantasy and I think there is on over reliance on sexualized book covers, wh..."

Interesting point.

I was looking at these covers from the perspective that they do not go the obvious route of displaying a half naked sexy cover image which I find annoying), but rather portray the characters in a way that fits the context of the story beyond the low hanging fruit. I still stand by my point that these covers do a good job of reflecting the context of the story than bared midriffs and/or other body parts (may take reading them to get the context, I will give you that).

However, you make an interesting point. Perhaps gender stereotyping on book covers go much deeper than heaving bosoms and washboard abs. Are men portrayed with more active body language than women? Does this relate to the portrayal of characters in said books? Hmmm, something upon which I will need to give further consideration.

Thanks for giving me food for thought.


Joe Dombrowski | 24 comments What's wrong with the fantasy book covers we have now? I like it when the guy is in full armor and thie chick is scantly clad in a leather thong and a couple leather disks to cover her boobs (because we all know THOSE are the vulnerable areas a female warrior has to protect in a fight). :)


message 39: by Joe Informatico (last edited Jan 22, 2013 10:22AM) (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 720 comments I always feel the need to point out this excellent and informed article on female armour whenever this sort of topic comes up.

Carter wrote: "(On a related note, when was the last time you show Tolkien with one of these covers?)"

You probably never will, because Tolkien's books are asexual sausage parties. Which is a whole different issue.


Joe Dombrowski | 24 comments Joe wrote: "I always feel the need to point out this excellent and informed article on female armour whenever this sort of topic comes up.

Carter wrote: "(On a related note, when was the last time you show To..."


The picture of the guy in "useless" armor is priceless. I seriously lol'd!


Paul | 2 comments This is also true, even more so now, I think, of comic book covers.


message 42: by Isaac (last edited Jan 22, 2013 12:31PM) (new)

Isaac Hamlet (potterman201) | 21 comments An interesting video relating to the topic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTGh0E...


Ender | 59 comments @ Emy
Yes, I remember the childish HP cover, it basically prevented me from even trying out the series until the Goblet of Fire came out and friends talked me into it. The 'childish' version tells more and is more true to the book in my opinion. I like the cover today, my younger self didn't find it cool enough, I guess. I was 14 or 15 years old back then.
The problem with options is money. It costs more to make two editions. I'm not sure if I get the 'include' and 'exclude' thing. Well, I can imagine a picture that turns away certain group of people, if that's the 'exclude' case, but how do you include them other than preventing excluding them? Damn. I'm not even sure what I wrote, be benevolent.

The Tma 2.0 cover was meant partially as a joke, it fits the story well but the lady on the picture is a mentally disabled young girl, dressed properly.

@ Valerie (and some reactions)
The pictures you posted, I find them fine. I don't see anything bad about a girl walking in nice dress. Seriously, girls do that. They wear dresses and they walk too.
Soulless - I think they aimed for funny look which worked for me.
The guy sitting on the throne in the middle of dead people he probably killed. Badass enough.

The sexism in western society exists, of course. Art reflects the current situation, trying to adjust it to any (untrue) ideal would perhaps cover the problems - I'm not sure if that's what we want. And by problems I mean real problems like different salary for the same job and such (not % of skin shown on billboards).
There is so many things different about men and women in real life, why should they not be different on book covers?

About the female armors - College humor made a point in very funny way. The Ryan's (Mad art lab) article was interesting read but I'm not sure I can agree with everything said there. Then again, I like Red Sonja and I don't give a damn if she's freezing and fighting in completely inappropriate wear. Not everything has to be 100% true to reality. I don't even mind dragons and blaster fights. I'm that tolerant :)
I see it as a kind of style, artistic exaggeration. I'm pretty sure people designing fantasy armors don't actually want anyone to use them, they just want to please our eyes. Some make it more true to reality, and it can be refreshing experience, some don't care. Generally speaking I would like to see more of the realistic ones, however completely removing the Conan the Barbarian style would be unfortunate.


P. Aaron Potter (PAaronPotter) | 585 comments Joe wrote: "What's wrong with the fantasy book covers we have now?"

Too many of them make 50% of the population look like nothing but incompetent, easily victimized eye-candy.


Valerie (DarthVal) | 64 comments Isaac wrote: "An interesting video relating to the topic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTGh0E..."


AWESOME! Thanks for sharing.


message 46: by Joe Informatico (last edited Jan 22, 2013 05:24PM) (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 720 comments Ender wrote: "The Ryan's (Mad art lab) article was interesting read but I'm not sure I can agree with everything said there. Then again, I like Red Sonja and I don't give a damn if she's freezing and fighting in completely inappropriate wear. Not everything has to be 100% true to reality. I don't even mind dragons and blaster fights. I'm that tolerant :)
I see it as a kind of style, artistic exaggeration. I'm pretty sure people designing fantasy armors don't actually want anyone to use them, they just want to please our eyes. Some make it more true to reality, and it can be refreshing experience, some don't care. Generally speaking I would like to see more of the realistic ones, however completely removing the Conan the Barbarian style would be unfortunate."


You say you read the article, but you clearly didn't comprehend it.



This is fine, because neither Conan nor Bêlit are actually attempting to wear armour. The artist has made a style choice that warriors of both sexes will wear skimpy clothing of hide. Both look perfectly capable and badass. Perfectly consistent and fair.



This portrays Red Sonja as someone who knows what armour is, but doesn't know what it's for. A male dressed equivalently would look like this:



It would be more fair if Sonja dressed like this more often:



You see plenty of ridiculous chain-mail bikinis and plate lingerie on female fantasy characters. You almost never see male characters in metal codpieces and nothing else. That was the point of the article. Not that you have to be realistic, not that you can't have an exaggerated art style, and not that you can't have sexy characters. But artistic choices that make male warriors look strong and sensible while at the same time making female warriors look like, to quote P. Aaron, "incompetent, easily victimized eye-candy" are ridiculous and thoroughly unnecessary.


Ender | 59 comments @ Joe
It is quite possible that I didn't fully understand the article, although the paragraph you quoted is not my reaction to that article, it's my perspective on fantasy armors in general.

I can see the problem with metal bikini and the comparison to the male version of body revealing. But it still works for me. It intentionally reveals the body and it still works as a symbol of fighting capability of the woman wearing it, muscles work as this symbol on male characters. Why does it make the beauty look incompetent and easily victimized in your eyes is a mystery to me. Pop culture actually teaches us that wearing such weird pieces of 'armor' doesn't prevent those women from being just as badass as their male counterparts who wear some rags if muscles are wanted to be shown or are completely covered in metal if not.


message 48: by Sean (last edited Jan 22, 2013 07:26PM) (new)

Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1726 comments Joe wrote: "What's wrong with the fantasy book covers we have now? I like it when the guy is in full armor and thie chick is scantly clad in a leather thong and a couple leather disks to cover her boobs (becau..."

Absolutely nothing as long as you suppose that the fantasy genre is the literary equivalent of a Tonka toy and we should do everything in our power to discourage icky girls from touching it lest they infect it with their dirty girl cooties.

Ender wrote: " But it still works for me. It intentionally reveals the body and it still works as a symbol of fighting capability of the woman wearing it, muscles work as this symbol on male characters."

Why does a warrior's body need to be revealed just because she's a woman? Men on book covers get to wear armor and cloaks and all that cool stuff that keeps their skin covered, so why are women expected to put their goodies on display?

Why does it make the beauty look incompetent and easily victimized in your eyes is a mystery to me. Pop culture actually teaches us that wearing such weird pieces of 'armor' doesn't prevent those women from being just as badass as their male counterparts who wear some rags if muscles are wanted to be shown or are completely covered in metal if not.

Except when they get depowered and have to be rescued by a man, or worse still, killed and stuffed in a fridge to provide a shock to the male character. The pop culture concept of what a badass woman is like has some serious issues with it, even without using it as an excuse for fanservice.


Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments Sean has iterated this very well, I think. The problem for many, though, is that they are not seperating what THEY are OK with (or even like) from the effects it IS having on others. As Ender says here, "the childish HP cover, [...] basically prevented me from even trying out the series", and yes, the point of inclusion is not excluding...


Joshua | 31 comments Rob wrote: "I just thought I'd add this to the conversation:

"


Wow...


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Up the Line (other topics)
The Eye of the World (other topics)
The Eye of the World (other topics)
Alien Diplomacy (other topics)
Falling Kingdoms (other topics)
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Robert Silverberg (other topics)