Monday, January 27, 2014

Boob Armor and Other Anacronisms

I remember watching Xena: Warrior Princess and wondering, ever so briefly as the thought flitted past, how a woman could launch herself into battle wearing that outfit at all, much less without getting skewered somewhere in all that exposed flesh.  Granted, I didn't wonder that often, or for long; most of the time this young man in his 20's was more interested in looking at the exposed flesh than in indulging in questions of realism.  Plot?  Was there a plot to that episode?  Sorry, I didn't notice.

(Xena: Warrior Princess target market: those who have testosterone)

Recently I've seen a few articles floating around that tell of the horrors inherent in the practice of dressing fantasy women up in "boob plate."  If you're into that genre of fiction, you are probably well aware of that practice, right?  If not, here's what you do for the idea: go look Xena up, take her outfit, replace the leather with sturdy steel, and that's pretty much it.  Chain mail bikinis ain't got nuthin' on a well-formed sheet of plate metal, man.

Unfortunately, they're apparently not historically accurate.  Can you believe that?

First bit of proof, for those doubters who still prefer to imagine their busty heroines wrapped up tight in form-hugging shiny plate: no pictures exist of women wearing it from back then.  Granted, no pictures exist of women wearing what we'll just call "regular" plate back then, either.  But surely, if there were a drawing, a portrait, something--anything!--of a woman wearing that, it would tell us what everybody else wore, too, right?

Additionally, those who study warfare claim that boob plate is actually quite dangerous.  Far from drawing a skilled swordsman's eyes off of his female opponent's eyes (where they should be) and blinding him with breasts, they actually do the opposite of what armor's primary job is: specifically, deflecting his sword blows away from her center portion.  Instead, having the curves--um, where they are--is begging for his sword to, for lack of a better term, cleave right between them.

Finally, as one article I saw yesterday continues, the boob plate is quite dangerous in the event of the lady knight falling onto her chest, because that would compress a ridge of steel against her breastbone, thus potentially shattering the fragile bone and cartilage structure.  Now, that would worry me quite a bit, were I in the position to wear such, because you know how often it is that you see women falling right down flat onto their chests.

Then there's the armorsmith's argument.  See, hammering steel into armor is hard work.  (This I know; I've done it, myself.)  You want me to shape it into a leg piece, or a chest piece, fine, because those are necessary to the functioning of the armor.  But now you say that you want me to hammer D cups into it?  Ain't likely to happen, ma'am.  I don't have D cup forms, for one thing, and for another, the steel's more likely to split than to expand that much.  If it were that flexible, it wouldn't be called steel, ma'am.

No, really.  I can't make this up.  People really do argue about this.

And, I have to admit, it's a pretty sound argument.  Boob plate isn't realistic.

So now that that mess is all cleared up, I shall propose that we drop boob plate from our fantasy lore, forsooth and forthwith and all that other forstuff.  Like, as in right now.  It is, after all, entirely unrealistic, and unrealistic things--you know, boob plate, dragons, elves, walking and talking trees--you know who you are over there, Mr. J.R.R.--have no place in fantasy.

Speaking of that, the whole idea of little wrist bands stopping bullets?  Not in real life, buddy.  And a lasso that makes people tell the truth?  Nope.  Gone.  From now on, Wonder Woman can just fly Delta or United.

Finally, all that arguing is over with.  Our fantasy novels and shows will be much more normal and realistic. Now I'm'a gonna go read me a Western, okay?


1 comment:

  1. That said, there really isn't anything preventing one from doing things like putting pink (or blue, I suppose, if you're trying for accuracy) frilly styled ornamentation onto the armor, if one really cared.