Any fantasy fan knows the drill. While the male combatant gets the Helm of Stability and the Breastplate of Swarthiness, the female fighter is stuck shivering in the Bikini of Revealing.
Not so on Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor, a Tumblr that celebrates the exceptions to the rule. Created two weeks ago — by a man — the blog already has 2500 followers.
Kirin Robinson, the blog’s founder, said it started on Twitter as a hashtag of the same name. But when he started getting a high volume of submissions, he launched the site.
Robinson, a fantasy gaming hobbyist, said in an interview that he doesn’t mind a bit of T&A. But it’s become so “ubiquitously crowbarred” into games that it’s become the rule, not the exception.
“I think the art directors and decision-makers have been pretty cavalier about hand-waving away the cognitive dissonance of portraying supposedly powerful, martial women as impractically-dressed pinup girls,” he said. “They’re operating under the assumption that boob hypnosis or whatever will trump it.”
A new father (of a baby boy), Robinson, 35, said that while he obviously can’t claim total understanding of the female perspective, he can see why scantily clad female characters can be insulting to the women in his life.
“It’s quite clear that this is something that has to be consciously overlooked for a lot of women to be able to enjoy the hobby,” he said.
However, rather than writing an angry rant about gender bias in fantasy games, Robinson decided to poke fun. He said webcomic artist Kate Beaton and her “Strong Female Characters” comic was a huge inspiration.
“I fully approve of humor as one of the best ways to deconstruct this kind of stuff,” he said, adding that it “makes it a lot more accessible for people to think about.”
So far, the Tumblr has been met with positive reactions and some “nitpickiness” Robinson said. But he chalks that up to the enthusiastic, geeky community.
“Some people get ridiculously nerdy about authenticity,” he said. “I try to take that kind of critique with a grain of salt and keep telling myself that we’re talking about fictional depictions of fictional fighters.”