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The Problem With Women's Armor, According to a Man Who Makes Armor [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled The Problem With Womens Armor, According to a Man Who Makes Armor [UPDATE]

Ryan, aka "Jabberwock" makes armor. He therefore knows more about armor than I do and maybe more than you do.


He has noticed, as you might have, that the armor that some female characters wear in video games, comics and movies is ridiculous. Some of it is not.

Well, what can he tell us about ladies' armor, both the real kind and the glorified tinsel that we see in some of the world's most popular fantasy fiction?


One lesson: we should barely be able to tell the difference between the shape of functional men's armor and functional women's armor.

Plate armor is the way it is largely out of necessity. The layout and articulations of the plates are the best solutions the designers could come up with to balance mobility with protection. Also, note that nobody was naked under their armor. There was a ton of padding between the metal and the flesh that absorbed the energy of the blows. That means the difference between male and female plate armor is relatively trivial because once you've padded it out and left space for movement, you've all but erased the figure of the person inside.

Illustration for article titled The Problem With Womens Armor, According to a Man Who Makes Armor [UPDATE]

Another lesson: the so-called boob plate can be made (Ryan made the one pictured here), but it would be dangerous to wear in battle.

That there, that is a boob plate. I made that one. The woman in the photo asked for it to be like that. She fights in it. I worry constantly that she's going to fall hard and it will crack her sternum, even with the padding. Note also that it seems almost perfectly designed to guide sword points and arrows into her heart. They still have to penetrate the armor but, honestly, that's a design flaw. However, it looks good and makes her feel sexy and badass at the same time. That's important too.


Ryan has good things to say about the armor designed for female characters in Mass Effect games, but less complimentary things to say about the armor in, say, World of Warcraft, pictured at the top of this post.

I've never made a suit of armor. I'm trusting this guy.

Illustration for article titled The Problem With Womens Armor, According to a Man Who Makes Armor [UPDATE]

UPDATE: A reader points out that the image atop this post is not an official World of Warcraft image. The image was used in the original story that I'm writing about here. But WoW's depiction of women's armor isn't quite as salacious as we can see up top. I'm adding a second image here, from Blizzard's WoW artwork section, to show a clearer example of feminine armor that is closer to what Blizzard uses in its game.

Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits [Mad Art Lab, via Twitter]

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I think women should just wear regularly crafted armor. You want to see a severe lack of sexism? Aveline from Dragon Age II. Not once has she ever had "boob plates" or "Bikini mail" or anything like that. It's a simple plate mail worn by both genders equally.