The Problem With Women’s Armour, According To A Man Who Makes Armour

The Problem With Women’s Armour, According To A Man Who Makes Armour

Ryan, aka “Jabberwock” makes armour. He therefore knows more about armour than I do. He’s noticed, as you might have, that the armour 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’ armour, 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 armour and functional women’s armour.

Plate armour 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 armour. There was a tonne of padding between the metal and the flesh that absorbed the energy of the blows. That means the difference between male and female plate armour 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.


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 armour but, honestly, that’s a design flaw. However, it looks good and makes her feel sexy and bad-arse at the same time. That’s important too.

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

I’ve never made a suit of armour. I’m trusting this guy.

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


  • It’s a fantastic article that brings up some incredibly logical points on the matter. Even if you’re sick of reading these things, it’s worth reading this one.

    • I had a laugh about this with someone who’s part of the Creative Anachronists Society at USYD (kind of like a role play/LARP society) a while back, who design and make their own armour. The whole ‘literal breast plate’ thing is laughable, because it doesn’t take a genius to see that if someone slashed at it, the metal boob cups will conveniently guide the blade directly into sternum

  • I actually was linked this by someone yesterday…

    He brings up some good points…

    But you still have to remember that they are just games… and if the developer says it protects them, then it protects them… even if it shouldn’t.

  • I think my favourite game when it comes to female armour design would have the be Dragon Age Origins. When my tank specced human female warrior put on a full set of plate armour it looked the same as when it was on a male character. It covered her completely and wasn’t form fitting. It was awesome. Mass Effect and Skyrim also do a good job with female armour.

  • I guess this is like the difference between cotton tails and lingerie.
    Women wear skyrim armour when they are going to kick some arse. They wear wow armour when they want to get some arse.

  • I would like to read this article but it says the page is suspended.

    What’s said here matches with what I know from my admittedly brief time sword fighting, though. I’d still ditch the plate for anything but large scale battle for something lighter – not getting hit is a lot better than getting hit a little less, and plate isn’t going to do much against the stuff you fight in mmo’s.

    • In that world of magic, Elves and beasts if that armour isn’t protecting said Elves from the magic and the beasts, then yes, it is the problem.

      • it’s magic armor that boosts your strength, intelligence, health etc. seems pretty logical it just magically protects you from blows as well.

          • Because of class restrictions… duh

            The armour comes with stats (agility,str etc) and if you look up the top it also comes with a magic armour rating, so It doesn’t matter how impractical the armour looks it still has a magical armour rating. 😛

    • It’s not a case of suspension of disbelief, it’s a case of internal consistency. By the rules of the world, heavier armour provides more protection, and so female armour provides less protection. By the rules of the world, elves, dragons and beasts exist.

  • This is one of the things I’m liking about Dark Souls. The armour remains practical no matter which sex picks it up.

    I imagine the same problems exist for the male equivalent of body sculpted armour. The crevices and edges around the pectoral muscles and abdonimals would be a sword catcher, rather than helping it glance off like a proper breastplate.

    But no one ever complains about males being objectified…

  • Obviously that sort of armor isn’t practical, but it’s a game. I don’t mind when female characters wear proper armor or the sexy armor 😀 Men are sexualized in games too.

    • Examples please?? I hear this a lot, though I think it’s usually people thinking muscles and bare chests are ‘objectification’ which is incorrect.

      • Yes they are. Maybe not in an overly extreme way, but they still are. Does it make it wrong to do it? Of course not. Same as skimpy clothes on ladies isn’t wrong in context. It’s the ‘in context’ part that people screw up.

        • No, because the hulking muscles and bare chest is part of a power fantasy. Men aren’t being objectified, they’re playing an avatar that men want to be, not one that women want to sleep with.

          • So by “objectification” you’re exclusively talking about sexual objectification?

            Question: why is it degrading to focus on a person’s sexual nature? To portray them as a sexual creature?

            We’re members of a species that reproduces sexually. Sexuality is part of our nature.

            Why is it, for example, more degrading to focus on a specific person’s sexual nature than to focus on any other attribute of a person?

            Female characters being made into sexual fantasies for men is no more “objectification” than male characters being made into power fantasies for men.

            And that said, if you really think all those buff dudes in video games and comics AREN’T sex objects for women, you REALLY don’t hang around that many women. There are PLENTY of women that find a whole panopoly of various male fictional characters to be sexually attractive. These men are just the OBJECTS of a woman’s sexual desire.

            I simply don’t see what is wrong with either a man or woman perceiving any specific person as a “sex object” (i.e. object of sexual desire). Now, IF you mean something more extreme, like “a being that exists EXCLUSIVELY as a means to the satisfaction of my sexual desires” then you have a point, but I don’t think that when someone sees someone they consider hot, they suddenly think “this being doesn’t really have a conscience or anything, they’re just a glob of matter that can give me sexual gratification.”

      • Do you know how much effort it takes to get a body like that? Isn’t the promotion of such unrealistic standards a core part of objectification?

      • You said it. Men and women are objectified differently, because they are different.

        Skimpy women and hulking men. That’s how it works. And honestly I prefer it that way to skimpy men and hulking women.

  • What’s wrong with the armour in the WoW pic? I get around in that kind of thing all the time, it’s totally practical.

    • Pretty sure that’s Tyrande Whisperwind, who is a priest. In which case, her “armour” is technically cloth and not metal. Author should’ve researched the subject a bit more.

  • The Night elf in the picture is Sylvanas Windrunner from wow before the Lich King killed her and turned her into a banshee queen, the cat beside her was her pet, as she was a ranger general hunter, the cat was actually a druid, who was cursed never to take human form again, was Sylvanas’s most loyal companion, although not confirmed with Blizzard. And yes, Sylvanas was a beautiful Night Elf before she died, and so was her cat.

    • Not really sure where you’re getting most of your info.
      Firstly, the character is Tyrande Whisperwind (who did ride a tiger in Warcraft 3, whereas Sylvanas was always on foot) as labeled by the author on his deviantart page.
      Secondly, Sylvanas had a Night Elf model only in WoW and there is no official information stating this as a fact (her model was eventually replaced to that of a blood elf, and then given her very own model). Lorewise, she was born a High Elf, died a High Elf, then was transformed into a Banshee, then turned into a Dark Ranger upon reclaiming her physical body, and finally became the Banshee Queen (albeit still in her body) at the end of Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne.

      You can verify this information at and

  • I wonder what Joan of ark would think. definitely is an entertaining piece, nice quality of work. We are starting to see more sensibility with regards to female character armour design, take female spartans in Halo, their armour though slightly different from male armour does protect the wearer just as well.

    Beautiful but with a menacing weapon and a tiger i would rather just take the bananas and be off down the road.

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