The Sexualized Female ...yeah that's something...
One darned odd debate that's been floating about RPG-land ...again. Cheesecake pictures of female characters , particularly female warriors are nothing new to our entire civilization. RPGs being part of our civilization aren't too likely to avoid such a thing.
Do a google Image search for female warrior and we get a lot of women in ridiculous armor with under protected breasts and usually bare mid-rifts. Most of them will be more attractive and less physically capable then the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling used to be. It is nonsense, it isn't new and it isn't solely in the domain of RPGs.
So if one is trying to sell an RPG and there is a female warrior on the cover does it make sense to have her be the grizzled doughty veteran on dozens of fights in truly protective armor or a bit of cheesecake?
Ever notice Kathy Bates in an action adventure role? She's got the build of some of the female fighters I've met (well, minus a little muscle) but for some odd reason no one casts her or women of her build as female action stars.
Here's what female action stars look like in film:
Yes it's "the movies" but in the main it's ridiculous. I've could whip most of those women around a room and use them as a blunt object to beat themselves with and I've only got a modest bit of martial arts training. What would happen to most of them pitched agaisnt the foes they face in film is awful indeed (at least half of male action stars would face the same fate).
Yeah I'm a 220+ lb early middle aged man and no one is making me an action movie star either.
Yet pictures of me in armor wouldn't look to be in conflict with popular culture view of Male Warrior. Silly me I've got a cuirass for fake fighting that protects my chest and midsection. Even in fake-fighting the bulk of female fighters who wear armor wear armor that works just like mine. Popular culture doesn't want to look at women in proper protective gear or even recognize it for what it is.
Sexism runs deep in our culture and we aren't getting rid of it too soon. Deciding to market ourselves out of business (as it is) by rejecting popular culture isn't going to win RPG games a lot of new players.
So what to do... well we could be asses and embrace the sexism or just be sensible on occasion and use cheesecake and beefcake sparingly and temper it with authentic and plausible art also. Few female adventurers in leather fetishist armor or plate armor with their breasts and mid-riffs hanging out wouldn't be a bad idea. Male barbarian warriors in fur-banana-hammocks being riddled with arrows would be a good start to stopping the nonsense meme of the fast and unarmored warrior being effective in combat too.
We're all part of our culture, get over it. Don't be awful to each other.