Red Sonja is awesome.- Dethtron
Really, what can I say? At some point, I have to go to the obvious material. I've been trying to avoid the topic for some time, hoping to come up with some wise & witty commentary regarding the elephant in the room: women in fantasy art.
Screw that noise.
I only have a few comments in regards to the De rigueur damsels en dishabillement. No, they're not terribly consistent or logical. I never said I was consistent; just opinionated.
I "Get" It.
Looking at sexy girls while playing out fantasies makes the fantastic BETTER. As discussed in Dark Thoughts, I don't really have any issues with this sort of thing. I fully identify with wanting "play life" to be as awesome as possible. It simply makes sense to me. I'm not going to crush your fun over something so minor.
There is a trade off, though.
When you (generic, general "you", not personal "you, the guy reading this" you) have art like this featured on your book, your t-shirt, your Codex, your supplement or other easily visible feature of the game, it tells me somthing about you or the game. For me personally, what I learn from the art has a lot to do with how often it appears and where it is in the material. If a guy's just wearing a Dawn shirt, that's one thing. But when the only females in the book are wearing illogical or scanty clothing, that's another. If every woman pictured in the game is a nubile young thing or a toothless hag, I have learned a valuable lesson and I keep it in mind. Don't get mad when I use it to my advantage.
That's a Double "D" Standard, there.
If the art featured in a piece suggests armor (even illogical, ridiculous, titillating or otherwise eye candy) don't be surprised when I expect to be able to wear it or use it in game, regardless of my class or gender. This subject alone has soured me over D&D more than I can explain. Without getting into the (de)merits of D&D's class restrictive system, it's important to be aware that I expect that if a game shows it, the game should be willing to let players USE it. I'm paying good money, time or energy to sit down and give your product a chance- don't gyp me out just because I'm a girl.(Or your marketing department has no idea what your game is about, which is even more infuriating.)
The art is rarely the problem.
if a cover's got a girl in a chainmail bikini or something akin to that, it's not automatically "out". The art has nothing to do with whether I find the game or the people in/running it offensive or sexist. It's the people. Everyone's version of offensive is just a little different. Mind is NOT "that of which I do not approve". It's far closer to "that which promotes disrespect and/or hate of others".
A fine feature of the female form doesn't by nature disrespect women (to me). In fact, it appears more the contrary to me. I like looking at a great looking lady just as much as I enjoy a well made man. I find most art depicting ladies in fantasy art to be portraying a high level of respect for the female form and the opportunity to look at without a lot of guilt.
Very little art that I've seen truly conveys disrespect or hate. It's people that do the most damage.
Most of the damage I've experienced is unintended, which is a tough thing. In those cases, I usually find myself doing a furious internal debate of "show them the error of their ways" versus "get while the getting is good". It usually has a lot to do with who is behaving "badly", and how much I have invested in the game, the people, or the character in the game. Sometimes, though, I just don't have patience for it.
If I find myself in a game where the women are the milk maids or the matrons running the hospitals and not the folks making choices, actively pursuing adventure, or frickin' need rescuing, I cringe.
If the populace, government, power structure or other mechanisms for advancing in the game exclude females, I get downright worried. Even factoring in age of those playing the game, this sort of thing gives me serious pause.
If the women are fodder for babies and nothing else, I fond other people to play with. I have better things to do than perpetrate that kind of junk, and even a slaver campaign is more work than I want to do.
The "flip side"? The games where all the bad guys are girls. Evil queens, necromancer priestesses, warrior princesses with terrible agendas? Not so bad ON THEIR OWN. When the whole gamut is nothing but bad girls that need a spanking, time for me to move on.
Some of you wonder why I wouldn't take the time to correct the folks in these examples. If it's such an affront, why not speak up?
To be perfectly honest, I've discovered through a LOT of experience, that even with an enlightened, forward thinking man, it takes a great deal of time and effort to fully explain just how their thinking is wrongheaded. Multiply it by 5 or 6 (the average size of a game group- and trust me, if I'm educating one, I'm educating them ALL) and I might as well be asking for a month of Sundays instead of enlightenment and better consideration towards women.
These are just the obvious examples. There are a lot more subtle, distracting, annoying and limiting perceptions that I haven't touched on- and many that I've yet to experience. I have a tough time already, being a woman in a male-dominated world; and the amount of work I still have to do for my personal self is staggering. I'm not always willing to be the torchbearer for the 'fun' world- usually, I just want to have a good time. Every now and then, the curse of not being taken seriously flares up, and I step up to the task of helping knock a guy's brain into the 21st century.
That job takes a lot of patience and a very good vocabulary. Good thing I'm up to the task!
and you, gentlemen... will you aid the cause? if so, thank you- and please share some thoughts on how to approach it.