So, I do a google search for “fantasy women art” and this shit pops up:

Fantasy Women

We’ve all seen it before, and it’s fucking absurd. Do any three of those women look like they’re ready to take a sword-swing from those angry warriors behind them? Do they look like they could stand any sort of a chance in a pitted battle against even a moderately armed and armoured child?

No, no they do not.

So, in comes one of my new favourite websites: Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a collection of artwork from around the web that features female characters wearing reasonable, functional and cool looking outfits. Like, you know, the kind that you generally find on male characters?

Art by Alex Alice:

Art by Alex Pascenko

Art by Jason Chan:

Art by Jason Chan

Art by Wayne Reynolds:

Art by Wayne Reynolds

Art by Marek Okon:

Art by Marek Okon

Art by Alex Pascenko:

Art by Alex Pascenko

Art by Christopher Miscik:

Art by Christopher Miscik

The About page on the website explains the ideal:

Nothin’ wrong with sexy!

Cheesecake has its place.

But I like pictures of women who look like they are legitimately bad-ass. Women that don’t fight in high heels. Women that clearly give a shit about the practicalities of getting in a lethal situation. Women who could most definitely kick my ass.

Women fighters in reasonable armor.

I think we can all agree and appreciate the sentiment, no? What are your favourite images (painting, illustration, photograph, or even film) of female characters who’re dressed like they’re ready for a fight or to save some lives, and not an orgy?

One thing that I feel obliged to point out is that the majority of the artists of the images on Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor are male, including all of the images above. I’m not laying blame on the editor, who has the best of intentions, but it is a curiousity, especially when you consider that all of the professional artists on this year’s Hugo ballot are also male.

So, who are your favourite female Fantasy and Science Fiction artists?

For further discussion of the role of women in Fantasy and Science Fiction, make sure to check out my coverage of Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the current “Women in SF&F Month” at Fantasy Cafe.

  • Justin April 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

    But I don’t think I’d want to sleep with any of those women…. (tongue firmly in cheek)

  • Aidan Moher April 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Well, I doubt any of them would want to sleep with you either, Justin.

  • Justin April 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Indeed. Obviously I’m being a smart ass to point out that fantasy books are marketed to men, sex sells, and thus we get that kind of horse shit on covers. I can’t imagine wanting my daughter to read books that perpetrate that kind of image. Love the art.

  • AM Lyvers April 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

    The first picture looks like the artist used strippers as models to secure that sexed-up pose. This kind of reminds me of Zack Snyder’s Suckerpunch. He swore up and down how it’s all about empowering females. No, dude. They’re little girls in little outfits, living out your fantasy on what a woman should be. Not what she is. Same goes for that first picture.

    The others look alluring and mysterious. I want to know what their stories are.

    Just my two cents.

  • Paul (@princejvstin) April 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

    That’s a great tumblr, and a useful “corrective”

  • Dan J. April 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

    While I won’t argue with your overall point, the first picture is titled “300.” (The file is called 300_by_Varges.jpg.) The warriors behind them don’t appear to be wearing any more than the female figures (they just don’t have their cloaks thrown back) and the figures appear to be patterned after the comic book/movie “300.” In both the comic and movie, the male Spartans weren’t wearing any more than what the females are wearing in the opening picture. So I don’t think the picture does much to illustrate the point you’re making. (That doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid point – I fully concur that it is.)

  • Jacob Ruby April 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    An interesting coincidence – there’s a similar posting, also out today, here at BookLifeNow:

    I love some of the examples you post – the point is well illustrated. I don’t mind the occasional over-sexed image, especially when the art itself is done well (Frazetta comes to mind), but often it’s not and the whole thing has been way over done.

  • Aidan Moher April 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Funny enough, the Wayne Reynolds’ artwork was commissioned by Paizo, the publishing company edited by Sutter, the fellow who wrote that article on Book Life Now.

    Thanks for posting that, Jacob.

  • Tracy Hurley April 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    You might be interested in the Kickstarter project I’m doing with Daniel Solis, the Prismatic Art Collection. We’re raising money to hire a diverse group of artists to create inclusive fantasy art and releasing it to the Creative Commons under the Attribution & Share-Alike license.

  • Aidan Moher April 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    What a fantastic idea, Tracy!

  • Adam Whitehead April 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm
  • D. D. Syrdal April 19, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    John Scalzi did a post about this awhile back, wherein he referred to the mostly-naked women warriors depicted in sci-fi as ‘strippers with swords’. It’s also a popular style on most urban fantasy (the bare midriff, back to the viewer to show off sexy ass, tramp-stamp tattoo) and I’ve blogged my disgust with the trend as well. I’ve seen other posts that purported to show ‘real’ armor, but these are far and away the best I’ve seen.

  • Micael Martel April 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    well, in spartans defense, they did quite well with wearing almost nothing on their body XD. If you want to see badass women read the comic Glory, for once the heroine is in full armor. And I do have to agree that seeing almost naked women fighting in crazy barbarous fight get really tedious.

    P.S. Quite frankly those women in full armor look a lot more sexy like that.

  • Danielle April 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for sharing these…beautiful and realistic.
    What about another list with women who aren’t size 2 models…women with curves, but tastefully done…bet that would be even harder to track down.

  • Jacob Ruby April 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Danielle – most of the women Frazetta painted were not small but generally very curvaceous. Of course they did not wear much, either, but his was a different time (and perhaps was one of the major influences for the start of this theme).

  • […] Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor. [via A Dribble of Ink] […]

  • Wade April 19, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    The Red Sonja novels published some 30 or 40 years ago had covers of the titular fighter in skimpy “armour” (well, the artist was Boris Vallejo…). However, the authors not only actually described her as wearing armour little better than on the cover but they had a very good hook to do it: she was a divinely gifted warrior who fought in a way that did not need armor. Naturally, Sonja had frequent problems with the unwanted attention, even though she chosen her outfit.

    But in the third book, it gets destroyed, and she has to wear something less fanciful and rather more practical. The authors take the opportunity to explain where the flashy, sexist armor came from (it was made by someone who wanted her to look sexy). She keeps the more practical armour to the end of the series.

    So despite the mysogynistic image, there was a real purpose based in the story. That said, most women warriors would not, of course, be as good as Red Sonja and will need genuine protective armour.

  • Jon Courtenay Grimwood April 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Spent quite a lot of time trying to get armour right and functional for one of the female characters in the third Assassini book (not out for a year so not pimping it!), and read somewhere an armourer’s comment that a breastplate shaped to the breasts (as a few of the examples are above) risks smashing the breastbone in a fall. That said, they’re good looking examples and actually look like plate and mail. I found statues, paintings and drawings for Joan of Arc, particularly early ones, are a good jumping off point for female armour, which, no surprise, looks much like male armour :-)

  • dada April 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    but… you shouldn’t underestimate the power of CHA 18/00 in a fight ;-)

  • Sarah M. April 20, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Wow. Thanks for turning me on to that website. It’s what I’ve been looking for for years!

  • Paul (@princejvstin) April 20, 2012 at 5:31 am

    @dada. Wait, foul. Only strength gets percentage values for score above 18 and below 19. :)

  • Malek Elmadari April 20, 2012 at 6:37 am

    In today’s society, men are typically defined by their financial success where as women are defined by there sexuality. In the settings you typically find in fantasy fiction, the power that we attribute to wealth is found in battle-reputation but for women it is still sexuality…

    This sucks for women, because for men, both wealth and reputation typically grow with time…

    sexuality on the other hand…

    Also, I hate it when people try to define the objectification of women as empowering them–as if to say that they are bold and strong enough to have their asses hanging out without being too insecure to do it…The notion is completely absurd. Backwards logic.

    As a muslim-american, I have sisters who dress in moderate clothing and thereby have found other ways to define themselves. They are brave, smart, wise and nurturing….

    When one dresses so provocatively…its like a premise to your character–not just for others but for yourself.

    You then subconsciously begin to behave in a manner that complements the dress because you need to insure that others are convinced by the persona you are presenting.

  • Gabriele April 21, 2012 at 5:43 am

    yes, definitely one bulge, not two. :) And generous padding because boobs are sensitive, so female armour does enhance that feature a bit. Much like male armour that other feature – most of it looks like wishful thinking ;) but’s about the padding.

  • […] Death to the Chainmail Bikini! Long live Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor. […]

  • […] Death to the Chainmail Bikini! Long live Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor. […]

  • Raphael April 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Agree with Dan J. regarding the initial image.

    As for the rest, are you sure all that armour is reasonable? ;)

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  • Sorceress of the Sea June 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I really wish they’ll make a page for female mages like this too. Because come on, they won’t waste their mana on protection against cold all the time! :P

  • […] Women Fighters in Reasonable Armour […]

  • […] Women fighters in reasonable armour; […]