Friday, April 19, 2013

The Problem With Women In Fantasy Art

While it might be strange to say this since I'm a guy, but I have always considered myself a feminist. I have always believed that everyone should be treated equally, no matter what their gender is, and the objectification they suffer from in both our entertainment and society is both stupid and wrong. So, with that in mind, it should be obvious that I've always had a problem with the depiction of women in fantasy art. 

Art by LuckyFK on DeviantArt
The "sexy armor" that a good number of women in fantasy art are shown wearing is both impractical and idiotic. For example, the above image shows what would logically happen when a character wears "sexy armor" instead of more practical armor. The "sexy armor" doesn't cover a number of vital areas on the human body, which makes the armor rather pointless when you think about it. Why would anyone wear armor that would leave the chest, the stomach, the legs, and most of their arms and head uncovered? The only reason she's wearing the armor is to appeal to the male audience the designers assumed would be the majority of their customers. 

Art by Eric Belisle
The depiction of women in fantasy art can also be idiotic because of the lengths they will go to make the character sexual in one way or another. The minotaur picture above is a perfect example of this. The artist has given the character this slender, curvy body that should not be able to support that thick neck and large head of hers. That neck and head of hers would be heavy, and it would require a muscular body to support it. The only reason she has this body is so the readers would find it attractive, even though it doesn't make much logical sense. 

Art by Wayne Reynolds
Now, not all depictions of women in fantasy art are bad or exploitative. The above picture depicts Kyra, the iconic cleric for the Pathfinder RPG and is an example of a good depiction of a female character in fantasy art. Her armor actually covers her and she is not sexualized in the slightest. Plus, she actually looks like someone who could hold her own in a fight and actually wield that scimitar she's holding. 

Art by Eric Belisle
This piece depicting one of the characters from Dave Gross' Pathfinder Tales novel Queen of Thorns is another good example of how women should be depicted in fantasy art. She is wearing practical armor and looks like a cool character and makes me want to know more about her without the art trying to make me fantasize about her in a sexual manner. 

I want to make something rather clear. I don't think all sexual art with women in it is bad. If it makes sense for the character to be depicted in a sexual manner or the art is part of something where the point of it is to be sexual, that I'm okay with it. I only object to art that is overly-sexual for no real reason beyond "sex sells". When the art shows women in "sexy armor" and posing in ways that would probably break her back, you are sending a message that this is the norm and female characters should be like this. However, when you should pictures of women in the same style of armor as the men, you are showing these characters are equal and the women can be just as cool as their male counterparts, even more so at times. 

Having art that depicts both the sexes in a positive light that makes the readers say, "That's awesome, I want to be that guy or girl" isn't too much to ask, right? 

10 comments:

  1. I agree. Nice post.

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    1. Thanks :) I've been meaning to write this post for awhile, but I wanted to get my thoughts in order before I tried to tackle this subject.

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  2. I agree too - as a fellow feminist with a Y chromosome. (You're not aline in that either Cody!)

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  3. First off, it's not strange for a man to be a feminist, it's pretty en vogue, actually. Also, the biggest misogynists are women. I agree that a good number of representations of women are rather silly and unnecessary. As a heterosexual guy, I also find many pictures, armours etc. exaggerated, like, yeah right, do we really need this now? Still, eroticism is part of the world and dressing up in an erotic fashion exists and some people, both men and women, enjoy it. Furthermore, I'm suprised that you only talk about the female sex. As a feminist you might be more empathic towards women than men, but the situation for men ist acutally the exact same. Conan the Barbarian doesn't run around half naked for no reason... . Actually, women are nowadays cast typically as being ├╝ber-men: They are not only just as strong, they're at least as intelligent AND dead sexy. So really, maybe we should start to think about the representation of both sexes, although gender mainstreaming is almost exclusively concerned with women. Ah... and I'll wear a bathing suit from now on ;-)

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    1. I understand some people like to dress in erotic fashion, and I have no problem with that. If they are doing that because they want to, then its fine. My problem comes in when they feel like they have to be dressed in that clothing.

      Also, while my gender can also be depicted in a sexist way, it seems to happen a lot less often. I decided to look at strange depiction of women in fantasy art because that's where my thoughts were at when I wrote it. Maybe, in the future, I'll post a sister post to this one dealing with the bad depictions of men.

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  4. I was delighted with Eric's depiction of Oparal, and I'm glad you responded to it as well.

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    1. The picture was one of the reasons I actually picked up the book when I was at my local bookstore last week (sorry for getting the name wrong by the way. That's what happens when I don't proof-read). The picture made me really want to know more about Oparal.

      Also, thanks for the comment :)

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  5. It could be as a feminist, you're not the target audience? I, as a non feminist, (and no I'm not a misogynist) find erotic depictions of women very entertaining. I would not expect a woman or a man to go into a real life combat situation wearing virtually nothing. I have never met anyone that stupid. I am fine with it in a fantasy setting. I also don't believe in Magic, Dragons,Elves,Trolls, the Matrix, or any number of fantastic stories that creative people come up with. I don't believe in any of them either, but I still enjoy them. Many people, both men and women consider the human body an art form, and enjoy it as an erotic art form depicted in fantasy and science fiction settings. All a person can conclude, if they don't find this sort of thing appealing,is that they aren't the target audience. Why spend time looking at something, reading something, or watching something you simply don't enjoy? Even worse, why complain about something that is obviously not meant for you to enjoy? It's no worse then all the complaints you see or hear about Twilight, despite it's continued success. Justin Biebers continued success is an obvious example. No shortage of people complaining about him. I don't like either the show or singer, but I respect that they have an audience, and I don't need to announce to the world how or what kind of dislike I have for either of them.

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  6. @ Dewayne Holland

    You know what's more annoying than someone announcing to the world how or what kind of dislike they have about the show or the singer? The idiot announcing their know-it-all-viewpoint of what they dislike about said person's viewpoint. Why did you bother reading the post? Ironic, don't ya think? In other words: you're a douchebag.

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