Revisiting Practical Armor, both Medieval and Futuristic.
Revisiting Practical Armor
I came across an interesting piece on Teh Tumblrz last week. It’s called Valhallan Nebula. The source is, lightresist.tumblr.com. I’ve been interested in “practical armor” for a couple of years, after submitting a story on the subject to an anthology. The story didn’t get accepted, but my interest in the concept didn’t diminish.
“Bikini Armor” vs the practical sort
One of the most-used forms of “fan service” in fantasy fiction is “bikini armor”. Basically, put a woman in a bikini that’s plated with metal. Yes, if you poke a spear at her breasts or crotch, the metal protects those areas. Why bother, though? Just poke the spear at her thigh, let her bleed out from the femoral artery.
Of course, it’s about fan service. Nobody expects that woman to go into battle. She magically avoids thigh-poking when she does. She exists as an object of desire.
Practical Armor Problems
Women wore dresses in medieval times. They rarely wore pants, much less any sort of protective clothing. Expectations were different for them. Men fought, women maintained the household/homestead. Yes, there were exceptions, such as Joan of Arc. Remember what happened to her, though? So, the concept is problematic. Not much out there to go on.
Problematic doesn’t mean impossible, though. So, thinking through women taking up arms, protecting themselves like the men do, is interesting. Women fight well. They train hard. They prove themselves in modern forces daily. Given the opportunity in medieval times, they would have done the same. So, let’s consider that. Women want protection from battlefield threats. In modern times, that means flak jackets, helmets, good boots. Armies adapt equipment to support women. Suits of armor could have fit women, too.
Future armor will fit women. So, why do artists insist on fan service? In this piece, the woman’s breasts don’t have to be advertised as they are. The entire chest area should be dark, non-reflective, and protective.
I’m releasing that story I wrote for the anthology as Patreon content. Got a dollar a month? Sign up and enjoy!
If you didn’t have air-condition or a lot of fans, you might have lived in screen porch houses growing up.
(cross-posted to NOLA History Guy)
House with a screen porch on Iberville Street in #NOLAMidCity
Screen porch houses
Before central air-conditioning became part of everyday home life, screen porch houses lined the blocks of New Orleans neighborhoods. Residents escaped the heat of summer by going outside. There were two problems with being directly outside, though. First, most folks avoided direct sunlight and sunburn. Second, the mosquitoes! So, homeowners screened in their front porches. Screens allowed the breeze in, but not the bugs. The offered protection from the sun. The wood floor gave the rocking chair a smooth surface.
Nothing to fans to a/c
It’s hard to remember a time before so many homes in New Orleans had air-conditioning. By 2011, 88% of homes in the United States were built with central a/c. Prior to the suburban expansions of the late 1960s/early 1970s, homes lacked a/c. While many were retro-fitted with wall units in bedrooms, living spaces often were not. Families believed you should go outside. Sit on the porch. Talk to the neighbors. Many a writer and literary critic supports the notion that central air conditioning dramatically changed the genre of “Southern Literature”, because people just didn’t socialize like they used to. They holed up inside and stayed cool.
There’s a lot of merit to this concept, In New Orleans, we sit outside for a few weeks in the Spring and the Fall. The rainy season (what the northern parts of the US call, “Winter”) just doesn’t accommodate outside activity. The humidity of the Summer and early Fall drain us.
New Orleans homes
Not everyone has a Spanish Colonial courtyard to retreat to on a hot day. Shotgun homes offer good airflow, but privacy concerns often outweigh the breeze running through the house. That leaves the backyard. Thing is, the backyard isolates the family from the neighborhood. Porch-sitting brings folks together.
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