Complaints: Sexist artwork.

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So I pick up my 4e Player's Handbook the other day and I immediately have to heave a huge sigh. Not in protest to the release of a new edition, but because the Wizard on the cover has her midriff exposed, is flashing us a little thigh, and has really absurd cleavage bursting out of a ludicriously tight top.

Elf Ranger on page 40 appears to be wearing Jennifer Lopez' Versace dress from the 2000 Grammy Wards.

Human Rogue on pg 46 also with midriff, cleavage (significantly reduced though), and wearing some sort of strange BDSM pants that expose the backs of her thighs?

Tiefling female on page 48 is wearing a chainmail shirt that for some reason leaves 50% of her torso bare, including, once again, the belly (but hey, when has anyone in a swordfight ever been stabbed in the stomach, right?).

Another warrior woman who apparently feels that her midriff requires no protection on page 234.

Cleric (I think?) flashing bare thigh on 258.

The less said about the Rogue on with her leather-straps over exposed belly and skin-tight latex over breasts outfit on page 297 the better (why does her armor only protect one arm but leave the other completely bare?).

Tiefling woman on 313 firmly establishes unwritten law of adventuring which says that women are not allowed to cover their midsection at any time.

I'm not even going to adress the issue of Dragonkin breasts, because I know what a contentious mess that was prior to launch, but I think my point has been made.

Now, I'm a 25 year old heterosexual male who has absoloutely NO qualms about seeing the female form displayed. But these images are clearly absurd; when your leather or chainmail ARMOR leaves huge swaths of your torso exposed, you really have to wonder what would possibly possess a woman to wade into battle dressed in such a fashion.

Besides defying common sense, this sort of art helps perpetuate the stereotype of male gamers as immature, crass, and clueless adolescents who indulge in absurd fantasies to compensate for their lack of ability to interact with the opposite sex. Putting a woman dressed like an exotic dancer on the cover of the core manual just a few inches under the D&D logo certainly doesn't help the game's public image.

I understand there are some contexts where this sort of thing is thematically appropriate (Succubus, Nymph, etc) and even some occasions where it's not appropriate but is still fairly harmless (you'll notice I didn't object to the cleavage on the Half-Elf Ranger on page 42), but it shouldn't be the norm. It's ridiculous, it insults our intelligence, and frankly, it's offensive. I can only imagine what a female gamer thinks when she sees this kind of thing. I hope that in the future more reasonably wardrobed females (such as the Paladin on 224) will be featured in the pages of WotC products.
But... it's tradition... and they've left so few of them lying around, too...
To actually be sexist, it would have to be exploitative, not just titillating and not just inexplicable nerd rage over impractical armor on magical demon women.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
DeceptionX7:

First of all I would just like to congratulate you on your argument. You conceded points, cited examples, and clearly addressed your identity to provide a moral framework by which we can view your argument.


I have not got the books yet (I have my University exams until 18th, and much as I love D&D, unless it can offer me a future, I'm focusing on exams for now). However I have seen several pictures (daily art previews etc) so I know of what style you're talking about.


I had a similar moan with my friend the other day, over certain video game companies’ presentation of women, which concluded in the realisation that there are incredibly few admirable female video game characters. I bring up this point, to suggest that whilst there is nothing I can do about this (in that, these same sexist video game companies will continue to produce idiotic ****), D&D at least is an open book (pun....partially intended ;)).


Despite artwork that seems to lower the standing of females in D&D, thankfully there is nothing that stops DMs from creating a world where women do not conform to these stereotypes, and are allowed to wear all their armour .


All this said, I have not seen the books in detail.
It boggles the mind that they went to the trouble to create a forum with a wonderful community (Astrid's Parlor) which addresses specificly these issues, among others. Yet they still decided to go with rediculous eye candy for art.
It boggles the mind that they went to the trouble to create a forum with a wonderful community (Astrid's Parlor) which addresses specificly these issues, among others. Yet they still decided to go with rediculous eye candy for art.

Well it is interesting though, in general on the thread on Astrid's Parlour it seems the fair majority like the new art overall.
There's more reading on this specific art topic over in the Astrid's Parlor section of the boards. Critiques of older editions or fantasy in general, but also things desired in 4e.

Regardless, I have to wonder if in fact you are joking here. Having just gotten the books, I'm actually impressed with the representation (on multiple levels) in the artwork. PHB 297 is one of the coolest pics in the book...one of my faves actually. The woman is well painted, an active heroine, and there's nothing wrong (IMHO) with her being sexy.

Sexy cool is okay. A picture that necessitated complaint (and one not unfamiliar in earlier fantasy artwork) would more likely have her minus the straps and sleeve(s) of her top, minus the legs of her pants, and plus some knee high boots. That would be over the top.

Are you considering previous artwork in your evaluation?

PS (I did laugh at your Jennifer Lopez dress comment. :P )
Yeah, I often feel the same way when I see the impractically garbed women in some of these images. That said, there are lots of verymuchclad women in here.

Page 4 - Verymuchclad ranger.

Page 34 - Heavily clad lady dragonborn, she's showing some cleavage... forbidding cleavage, at that...

Page 36 - More forbidding cleavage, dwarf, otherwise verymuchclad

Page 48 - Inexplicable midriff.

Pages 50-51 - one verymuchclad and one veryverymuchclad.

Page 58 - somewhat scantily clad male tiefling!

Page 70 - Verymuchclad.

Page 96 - Inexplicably exposed love handles. But otherwise verymuchclad.

Page 103 - Verymuchclad.

Page 122 - that lizard thing's not even wearing pants!

Page 129 - Double (or triple) the 'time to don,' but good coverage. And she's accessorized with her horns so nicely!

Page 142 - Just noticed this was a female... just not 'overtly' so. Verymuchclad.

Page 165 - Verymuchclad.

Page 171 - Notsomuchclad.

Page 189 - Verymuchclad.

Page 191 - Tough call here, she's definitely showing thigh, I think the other light patches are fabric. Check the lady out behind her - verymuchclad.

Page 203 - Verymuchclad.

Page 224 - Verymuchclad.

Page 226 - Verymuchclad.

Page 258 - Look closer - that's pants.

Page 296 - But beautifully composed, eh?

Page 313 - Another 'didn't notice she was a she' image. I read the face as masculine. Again, not *ahem* 'overtly' female.

What there *aren't* much of are scantily clad males.
What there *aren't* much of are scantily clad males.

Well I guess we'll have to wait for the PHBII with the Sorcerer for that ;)
I like boobies.
There's more reading on this specific art topic over in the Astrid's Parlor section of the boards. Critiques of older editions or fantasy in general, but also things desired in 4e.

Hadn't realized that Astrid's Parlor was the art forum, guess I'm off-topic here then. Oops.

Regardless, I have to wonder if in fact you are joking here. Having just gotten the books, I'm actually impressed with the representation (on multiple levels) in the artwork. PHB 297 is one of the coolest pics in the book...one of my faves actually. The woman is well painted, an active heroine, and there's nothing wrong (IMHO) with her being sexy.

Nope, being totally serious. While I agree that there's nothing wrong with sexy, there's no way in hell someone would go into a swordfight while showing off her bare belly like that.

Are you considering previous artwork in your evaluation?

To a degree. 4e doesn't seem nearly as bad as previous RPGs, but when you put Medieval Implants Chick right on the cover of the corebook I have trouble believing this is a big step forward.
There's also a guy with his bare chest showing on the cover...
Personaly, I fail to see the problem. There are much more normaly dressed women in the book, and that's not even comparing to previous edition artwork. Since when do armor in a fantasy game have to make sense anyway?
HNope, being totally serious. While I agree that there's nothing wrong with sexy, there's no way in hell someone would go into a swordfight while showing off her bare belly like that.

You're new to the genre, aren't you?

Welcome to heroic fantasy, where your value to the story (and thus your lifespan) is more directly linked to how cool or iconic your equipment is then how it would work in real life because, again, this is not the real life, this is just fantasy. Caught in a landslide, this game's an escape from reality.

What armor you wear is based on how fun it is to draw, not the fact that you've exposed parts or that you are now covered with so many spikes and barbs that technically, you should be stabbing yourself when you walk. What weapon you use is based on how awesome you look posing with it? Sword and board? Get that crap out of here! Use this giant scythe instead. Or, if you insist on a boring sword, at least etch the crap out of it.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
Let's not forget here that the only thing D&D is missing as far as art goes now are good looking men in semi-provocative dress.

Here's hoping for some loin cloth/conan action in the barbarian class art.

as to the 4th edition samples listed as sexist... not one of those pictures depicted women as inferior to men in any way.

The only thing that could be said is that the armor not being "properly design to protect" is a problem... I say "magic exists, so our normal rules on things need not always apply... perhaps a component of magic armor is to have it not fully covering the body, turning the attacker's own overconfidence that they will cause harm into a protective energy field around the target"
Careful, man. That much logic might be illegal on the internet. - Salla
I find it sexist to portray these women in such blatantly exploitive fashion. There aren't, as has been mentioned, any loincloth-wearing Conan lookalikes.
Hey, they say they know what their "target audience" wants, right? ;)
I'm a 25 year old male fantasy geek with disposable income and lots of time on his hands; I AM the target audience. :P
Really, it's not that different from how they're portrayed anywhere else. If you look at it this way, most of the movies and tv are sexist.
To actually be sexist, it would have to be exploitative, not just titillating and not just inexplicable nerd rage over impractical armor on magical demon women.

some people get offended when they see images of women that remind them of women who would not date them .. not saying thats the case here mind you.
The Male Dragonborn on the cover is showing more skin than the Female Human next to him.

The Male Tiefling Warlock on page 58 is wearing belts instead of a shirt. As is the Male Dragonborn on page 235.*

(small note: The cleric on page 258 is wearing pants. Unless she's really really sick or something and has discolored legs.)

I'm not even going to get into how many of the male goblonoids are wearing nothing but a loose loincloth.


*as an aside, this is the most awesome thing to cosplay.
I'm not gonna lie, I didn't do a comparative study, but I didn't notice too much to be concerned about. Exalted is certainly much, much worse, and it doesn't have the tradition of exploiting the female body to fall back on that D&D art does.
Hey, they say they know what their "target audience" wants, right? ;)

Overweight bald,short guys wearing a loincloth and covered in body oil.

Or is that just me?
I find it sexist to portray these women in such blatantly exploitive fashion. There aren't, as has been mentioned, any loincloth-wearing Conan lookalikes.

You use this word, but I don't think you know what it means int his context.

No, not every picture of a female showing some skin is sexist or exploitative. I don't care what the now defunct 90's 'radical' feminism says.

Show me a picture where these characters are being sexualized and not just dressed up sexy and we'll talk.

I am a 24 year old male fantasy geek who is capable of distinguishing rule of cool and the concept of sex appeal from sexual exploitation.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
some people get offended when they see images of women that remind them of women who would not date them .. not saying thats the case here mind you.

Nah, from experience, I'm sensing an overly sensitive (DID YOU CALL ME HONEY?! I WILL NOT PUT UP WITH YOUR SEXIST PET NAMES!!!!) girlfriend who also games having an influence here....
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
Check out the new MM and tell me how explicit you find the new dryad, succubus and nymph illustrations to be... hell, there isnt even a nymph this edition! All the monsters got a 'family values' revision, gone are the days of sexy female monsters

Im guessing your real problem was the absence of oiled man-nipples and bulging leather thongs... maybe you should try the white-wolf product line, I hear it has plenty to offer the gay or female player's tastes as far as artwork goes.
Hey, they say they know what their "target audience" wants, right? ;)

To generalize and probably tick off the artists who I feel by and large, did right by my gender - I think it's less "give 'em what they want" and more
"most of our concept artists and painters are hetero-males. They likes the boobs. And the midriff. And whaddya know, our mostly-hetero-male audience likes that too. Score."

So, the real underlying message to me is... the ladies have get out there and paint. And get out there and play.
OMG look at that death knight on page 130 of the DMG! He's totally showing his tum tum! Don't be prudish!

The thing that annoys me about some women's armour is that it isn't realistic as armour. The fact that it is sexy doesn't detract from the art at all, in my view. I see just as much reason to get up in arms about shoulderpads that would crush a warrior's skull were he to lift his arms or weapons that look like nothing more than shards of broken glass, as I do to get annoyed about revealing armour.

Who knows, maybe female adventurers tend to be more sexually liberal than the average woman? Just like when Lois on the Family Guy learns karate and puts her hand on Peter's groin, yelling "THIS IS MINE! THIS IS WHERE MY BABIES COME FROM!"
Don't care.

I like sexy people; most people do. I will always support characters in books that are not lifelike, that make me think it's fantastic and all look amazing in whatever they wear and/or do. It's fantasy.


This thread is a joke, right?
Neceros' Character Sheets
Many sheets for many systems.
Nah, from experience, I'm sensing an overly sensitive (DID YOU CALL ME HONEY?! I WILL NOT PUT UP WITH YOUR SEXIST PET NAMES!!!!) girlfriend who also games having an influence here....

Yeah, I don't put up with that BS. Neither that nor "Does this dress make me look fat?" The only thing to do is forge forth with confidence and make it clear that you won't back down when she's being unreasonable. Granted, this would probably only get you into bigger trouble with some girls...

In any case, I digress. Continue.
The Male Dragonborn on the cover is showing more skin than the Female Human next to him.

Yes, but in this case that "skin" is dragonscales. This figure is clearly not being displayed as a sex object. And even if that WAS supposed to be a sexy male Dragonkin, nothing about the pose or the image emphasizes that. There are no rippling abs or oversized pecs on display, for example.

The Male Tiefling Warlock on page 58 is wearing belts instead of a shirt. As is the Male Dragonborn on page 235.*

I missed the Tiefling, actually. The Dragonborn I'm not sure about, I believe he's wearing a shirt, or else the artist got lazy/rushed and excluded all the scales and gradiations from his chest. In the case of Dragonborn, just as in the case of Trolls, Goblins, and the like, I don't think that the same standards neccesarily apply as they do to more human-like beings because it would be pretty damn hard to sexualize such creatures (also, the fact that Dragonborn are covered in scales means they look slightly less implausible going into battle partially nude; not that those scales give them any mechanical armor bonus, but likely the artist didn't know that).

(small note: The cleric on page 258 is wearing pants. Unless she's really really sick or something and has discolored legs.)

It's the same color as her face?

Really, it's not that different from how they're portrayed anywhere else. If you look at it this way, most of the movies and tv are sexist.

Don't get me started. :P

Im guessing your real problem was the absence of oiled man-nipples and bulging leather thongs... maybe you should try the white-wolf product line, I hear it has plenty to offer the gay or female player's tastes as far as artwork goes.

Quoi?

No, not every picture of a female showing some skin is sexist or exploitative. I don't care what the now defunct 90's 'radical' feminism says.

Show me a picture where these characters are being sexualized and not just dressed up sexy and we'll talk.

Alright, for the sake of not getting this thread locked I'm going to avoid discussing the finer points of feminism (and misconceptions thereof). However, I object to the notion that "dressing up sexy" and "being sexualized" are two different things.

Further, my objection here is not neccesarily to the female figures being sexualizeed or being attractive, but to the complete absurdity of the context. As mentioned in OP, a sexualized female figure in a context that makes sense doesn't get on my nerves. A Queen's Lady-in-waiting wearing a revealing dress, for example, would be a scenario in which the depiction makes sense in with the character and the scene. A barmaid in a tavern with a lowcut blouse would be another scenario in which the sexualization makes sense and is appropriate (of course, the specific image and the prevalence of them would make a difference as well). But a Ranger wading into battle with her midriff and thighs bare and inviting every arrowhead, axeblade, and Dire Wolf tooth makes no sense and is clearly gratuituous.

Might I add, it's possible for an artist to create an image which is sexualized and attractive without cleavage, bare thighs, and inexplicable midriffs. I pointed out the Paladin on page 224 as a good example before and I'll do so again now.

Nah, from experience, I'm sensing an overly sensitive (DID YOU CALL ME HONEY?! I WILL NOT PUT UP WITH YOUR SEXIST PET NAMES!!!!) girlfriend who also games having an influence here....

Um, your tone suggests that might be more your problem...

Exalted is certainly much, much worse, and it doesn't have the tradition of exploiting the female body to fall back on that D&D art does.

Okay, granted, but that's hardly a defense, saying "This isn't that bad compared to Exalted" is like saying "This isn't that salty compared to the ocean". :P

This thread is a joke, right?

No.
[...]
It's the same color as her face?
[...]

Too lazy to start a full out argument on all points atm, so I'm only going to point this part out . It's definately not the same color as her face, it's not even the same texture. Look at her arm, where the elbow is, that's quite clearly some sort of cloth, as it's folding at the part where the elbow bends. Not to mention the texturing on both, the arms and legs, which are obviously not skin. The only parts that are exposed are her face and hands.
Note that the limited lightning makes this a bit harder to discern, but I don't understand how this could be mistaken for bare skin.
My friend's wife was once browsing through a larper's guide I had and pointed at a photo of a girl who had very cool and revealing fantasy-outfit. Her comment about it was 'And THAT'S why girls like to Larp!'

So why again should't such pictures be there? To prevent female players from wanting their characters to look cool?
Shaper & Maker galleries
Believe me when I say that I am a lot of things but politically correct is definitely NOT one of them.

I have to admit...I am torn on the whole "sex sells" thing. On one hand, as a 33 year old human being with a certain appendage, I love "sex sells".

But as the father of an 18 month old daughter, it honestly worries me. Before the baby came along, I would never give a moment's thought to the "How would you feel if it were YOUR daughter" point. But now I do. Before the baby I was of the "the more flesh, the better" mindset. Damn, getting married and having kids messes with your head.

There is a similiar situation rearing its ugly head on another site, IGN.com. I'm sure everyone here knows it is a site dealing with video games and movies and babes. They have always had a Babe of the Day feature, usually a look at some hot young actress like Alba or Witherspoon or some less-known up and coming honey. The site is frequented by a lot of people, including boys ages 11-14.

The problem is the Babe of the Day feature has slowly been turning into the Porn Star of the Day feature as some of the women being featured are in the porn industry. And this is all on the part of the site that is free and accessable to anyone of any age. I am starting to see more and more parents posting on there about how they aren't going to let their kids frequent the site anymore.
I love how the people complaining about sexism in RPG art are almost always men.

And as a psychologist...I must understand it...
What we really need is for everything published to be properly sanitized to be completely politically correct and safe, right? After all, we're not adults and thus need to be babysat when it comes to what we read and what we see. Let's put DecepticonX7 in charge of approving or rejecting all future fantasy artwork. It'll help ensure none of us are offended or exposed to unsafe art. It's the only way to make sure this exploitive fantasy artwork doesn't suddenly inspire us to take away a woman's right to vote or something like that.

Thank you DecepticonX7 for bringing this danger to our attention!
Said that I share the OP's point of view at a consistent degree, I must say too that I find it excessive... seems like Women shouldn't show any single inch of skin to be a not-sexist picture...
It's the only way to make sure this exploitive fantasy artwork doesn't suddenly inspire us to take away a woman's right to vote or something like that.

Women can vote? Who in the hell allowed that to happen??? :OMG!

joking of course (as I hide so Gloria Aldrich can't find me).
Forget realism! Your missing the point! They're hot!
Exp-Free Since 2004! My Fellow Game Masters! Stop giving out exp. Stop having your players roll for stats or wealth. Stop making them build each pick a different role, if they all wanna be rangers let them and don't kill them for it, stop ruining their fun.
Just be glad women have boobies, and note they have a brain to complain and raise hell if they ain't happy with folk giving 'em grief about having 'em!

jeesh, more important things to deal with in this world...

I for one, am a willing servant of our Magnificent Booby Overlords!
lol.

Go look at some of Boris Vallejo's and his WIFE, Julie Bell's, artwork, and Christos Achilleos too. Wont' post here as it is often mature. Fantastic artwork, no one has ever, IMHO, painted flesh like Vallejo and Julie can.

Fantasy is a nice escape to beautiful bodies, heroic deeds, fun and other things we may lack.
Compare it to the fashion industry, which for years has punted a really dangerously abnormal view of how women should look, and is finally admitting it's part in that problem which has lead ot so many girls becoming anorexic. See actual laws against such unhealthy models being threatend or enacted.

I'd much rather young women thought boobs, hips, muscles and acrobatics were the norm and a fun ideal, than a crazy "must have look".

My favourite pieces of D&D art, and indeed fave art in toto:
-B&W sketch, Fiend Folio, man fighting a lizard king.
-Jeff Easley, winter valley with a wizard in a sled, and his army.
-PHB, 2nd ed, party around a small dead dragon (DAMn that was amazing art). Can't recall lif Jeff Easley or Keith parkinson.
-CLyde Caldwell's "strahd" pics.
-Brom's "Belgoi Enchanter"

Not many naked women at all there, but you know...women look beautiful when painted well. Clyde Caldwell does awesome gems in his pics, I love the look of gems on flesh, I'd adore a gorgeous naked women clad in nothing but precious gems and jewellery...that would get fire in yer blood, and that is not a bad thing, jeesh.
Go ask a real woman, who's got spirit if she'd like to look like that, when she'd enjoy it
--| SILVERBLADES SUITCASE |-- Dark Sun & Spelljammer digital art & tutorials
No Silverblade! Women need big strong men like DecepticonX to protect them from the evil sexist art.

Oh no, it's going to exploit them! Help!
This thread is boring,

I like a lot of the new art. It IS fabulous compared to previous editions and a lot of other games. I don't care if the ladies or the men in the PHB are showing skin. I don't think most folks use thier PHBs to *********e, and if they do, then I promise, they are doing it all wrong.

Too much flesh for your poor little innocent eyes? Then get a sharpie and censor it yourself, don't try and assume that the rest of the community shares your opinion. Not enough nekkid manflesh or womenflesh? Good god, they make stores full of flesh peddling products where you can see all of it you want, or you could just...browse the internet.

I give WotC 9 out of 10 on the new artwork. Most of it is fabulous. All the girls and the boys look like they could kick my face in. The girls are not depicted as little weaklings, and I dont see any pictures of them in the kitchen or doing the male adventurers laundry. No thems ladies is wielding weapons and kicking ass. Does it really bother you that they look sexy while doing it? I imagine the boys look fairly hansome/sexy while doing their thing too.

It is my opinion, that this editions artwork has taken a serious look at sexism in fantasy and tried to take steps to correct it. All of the races have male and female counterparts right on the first page, none of the girls in this edition appear to be weak, they removed the damsel in distress, and all in all the womens in the artwork resonate with power and asswuppery as opposed to help me im weak and scantly clad.

I don't care if they show a belly or a thigh, or even a breast or two. I think human bodies of both sexes are pleasing to look on. This is a fantasy game, I want everyone to be extreme, the sexy folks to be CHA 22 sexy, and the hidious monsters to be R rated. Why not? Because it offends you? Cry me a river so I can float down it in my breast shaped intertube.

If you want everyone to be dressed the same, and not show of thier body, then let me ask you this: you quoted about 5-10 pages tops where flesh was showing; There are obviously more than 5-10 women depicted int he book. So many of them aren't showing bellies or thighs right? Wheres the loss of realism there. In the real world some women and men show off thier tummies, some show off the rear ends. It is just the way of the world.

If the subtle sexual imagery in these books offends you, I am guessing you have a pretty hard time completeing a real life day without finding yourself offended multiple times throughout. For that you have my condolances.

Hiding every part of a woman that would make her identifiable as a woman is not the route to sexual equality. It is the route to censorship. Id rather a few folks be offended than to never get to look at art that is pleasing to the eye, or at all provocative, just because someone for some reason thought it inapropriate. Screw them, they can just be offended.

Keep up the good work WotC. I can't praise the art int he new edition enough.

~malkav offended by breasts