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?