I don't ordinarily publish posts like this, but as I've been looking at hundreds of pictures of armor lately, trying to find good representations for the armor I use in my world ~ near impossible ~ I have been also been looking at an assortment of other pictures.
Basically, women fighters. I have a couple of these in the online campaign of late and I was asked lately what a 18 strength woman fighter would look like (see the comments section). I felt I could put up a sequence of pictures, as most everyone does who isn't interested in writing a lot of words, to engage the discussion on women in armor.
I've sought a collection where the armor worn is legitimate, and where the women look like they actually could put up a fight. I've emphasized real over a staged, presented depiction, to get a sense of what this might look like on the battlefield, since D&D is not necessarily a sexist representation of a medieval/renaissance battleground.
I'm not necessarily concerned with authenticity here. I have been on the wiki, but here I just want a vague representation of what the battle maiden might look like. Basically, for the most part indistinguishable from a man.
This woman, for instance, could easily be mistaken for a man at a distance, until coming face to face with her. The loose clothing around the legs is the same, the stance is the same, the helmet conceals most of the features and if she's a long time fighter, she has the bulk to carry it through.
There are women who are fighting, exactly like this, all over the world, enjoying the opportunity to grunt and dish it out with the men, as hard as they can, with all the subsequent bruising and soreness that follows the next day.
This next is the kind of thing I was definitely looking for. Here the woman is exhausted, showing the fight she was just in. Or at least I like to think so. She gives all the look of someone who could have lost her match, her face is showing a sense of discontinuity, as though her mind is thinking over the match and not in the present. It's easy to imagine her moving over the grass, helmet and shield hanging loosely from her grip, but a natural, comfortable rhythm in the greaves and heavy dress.
I was looking for women who weren't necessarily the most charismatic. I don't think that matters. Part of the issue of dressing every woman up in partial armor is that it emphasizes the need for a hot body, pert breasts, pretty limbs and so on. Here the issue isn't how good she looks, but how good she fights. Can she beat the hell out of the other person. In a stand-up battle, that's key.
There's some of that with the woman on the left, here. She's either been in a fight or she's gearing herself up for one. She's relaxed, ready to go (possibly again), eyes watching the battle going on with a comfortable, confident air. I especially like this picture, I like her apparent willfulness, the easy way her hand rests on her knee. The ring, however, would be a bad idea in a real fight.
With my turns around comic and fan conventions the last couple of years, I can't help being impressed with the quality of armor being made. Yes, it is made of modern materials, certainly anachronistic with the period, but when it comes to smashing each other in open fields, like so many are doing, the source of the materials or their museum-legitimacy don't matter much, do they?
Here's another example of banged up armor. I had my doubts if I ought to have included this picture, as the woman here might look a little made-up and staged for the picture. Still, I wanted to include it just for the armor. I like a suit with some dents in it.
Note, for instance, the apparent state of the padded cloth on the inside of her elbows ~ torn and frayed, filthy, certainly not the standard trope where depicting fantasy characters in pictures.
There isn't near enough dirt where it comes to actual characters in the actual world. Baths were rare and, where no central heating existed, potentially life threatening. That old phrase about "catching a chill" used to mean something serious. William T. Sherman died of pneumonia brought on from exposure to the rain while carrying the coffin of Joseph E. Johnston, and that was 1891. Colds and catching pneumonia used to be a very serious thing. People avoided baths like the plague, they wore the same clothes on the road for weeks, even months at a time without washing them. For the most part, travellers ~ adventurers ~ were filthy.
I'll finish with this one, because I am getting tired. I don't know what special point I can make about it. The money purse is a nice touch. The quarterstaff is a bit too much of a prop, I think ~ a real one would be a lot smoother, less painted. Some of the documentaries I've seen would argue it should be a lot thicker, too, but I don't really know about that. Dimension is one of the hardest things to be historically certain about.
So here I'll part with the subject. I couldn't just post pictures, it wouldn't be like me. Chances are I'll have to mess around with blogger for half an hour after I post this, trying to get the words to appear in the right places next to the pictures, as the blog program is anything but design-friendly.
I'll try not to do this sort of thing often. It's not the highest class of intellectual character. Not really.