The Clothes Make The Warrior Woman

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"The Clothes Make The Warrior Woman"

In the context of yesterday’s Game of Thrones discussion, I was reminded of the Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor tumblr, which I quite like. One of the reasons I think it works so well is that “reasonable” doesn’t appear to be required to mean “unattractive” or “disguising one’s gender.”

Obviously, men’s armor often displays sexual characteristics as well as protecting the bearer, whether it’s the nipples on the Batsuit or armored codpieces. If we’re going to have stories where women are warriors and get to pick their own gear, I think it’s reasonable to assume that some characters will pick things that disguise that they’re women or that minimize their sexual characteristics, while others will pick outfits that are built for style and comfort because they think displays of feminine power will unnerve their enemies (though Eowyn’s big reveal has its advantages for smirking after the fact), because riding astride is easier than riding side saddle so you need to wear pants (that necessarily show off more of your legs than skirts) or just because it feels good to display your body in all its fighting trim.

One of the many, many reasons I wish we’d see adaptations of Tamora Pierce’s books is that her female warriors uniformly have awesome fighting gear, from Alanna of Trebond’s gold-washed armor and lioness rampant-emblazoned shield to Beka Cooper’s many, many concealed knives. The Hunger Games should also be good on this score: Katniss, the heroine, tends to wear fairly comfortable clothes in the Arena, but the series is very smart about fashion and public image as something that can be approached strategically and politically, and not only through a gendered lens.

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