Yes, Women in Dragon Age Could Use Longswords

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Yes, Women in Dragon Age Could Use Longswords

Recently a topic keeps rearing its obnoxious head: the idea that it's "unrealistic" for women in games to wield longswords. Women, the argument goes, don't have the strength to wield heavy blades. These claims are total nonsense.

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There's no "irony of arguing about 'realism' in a game with dragons on the cover," because all stories need some kind of realism. Or to put it differently: The stupid parts of, say, Naruto don't become less gorram stupid just because it's a manga about ninjas.

Fantasy may be fantasy, but it still follows the rule of "like reality unlike otherwise stated."

I don't have any problem with the women in Dragon Age (or any Bioware game) being strong fighters, wielding swords, etc.

I think the only unrealistic aspect is that when playing as a human female in Dragon Age or as FemShep that the build of the character doesn't match reality. Femshep and the femhuman warrior DA:I characters are both really petite and skinny characters. To be realistic, both should be a lot more muscular and their bodies should reflect that.

For a perfect example: http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Vjp0gyp6--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/17g69x63n8gjtjpg.jpg

One of the thing about woman using swords, it's when they are well endowed it become difficult sometime impossible to use two-handed guard or technique with swords, even more so if you have a breast plate wide enough to accomodate your physique. That's the only point you could make against a woman using a hand and a half sword.

Rommel102:
I don't have any problem with the women in Dragon Age (or any Bioware game) being strong fighters, wielding swords, etc.

I think the only unrealistic aspect is that when playing as a human female in Dragon Age or as FemShep that the build of the character doesn't match reality. Femshep and the femhuman warrior DA:I characters are both really petite and skinny characters. To be realistic, both should be a lot more muscular and their bodies should reflect that.

For a perfect example: http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Vjp0gyp6--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/17g69x63n8gjtjpg.jpg

My character is a male elf reaver and he looks terribly unrealistic too. (not complaining)

Wait, people are saying what?

But it's particularly interesting that in a series like Dragon Age, certain players consider women with longswords an unrealistic element. After all, no one has written a two-post treatise about how the dragons have terrible aerodynamics, inadequate wingspan for flight, and don't have light, hollow bones like pterosaurs. Yet apparently some players who can accept such an anatomically unlikely creature feel that a woman swinging a longsword is a major world-building flaw.

Whilst I agree with the gist of the article, longswords aren't actually that heavy and the fighting style of real Western knights was far more complex than people assume because it's stereotyped as brutish clubbing in comparison to Grorious Nippon Katanas, I do disagree with the above point. Suspension of disbelief doesn't cover everything and often it's the little things that break it rather than the big things.

For example if I were to write a novel in which humanity has replaced their bodies with those of apes to live more comfortably on an arboreal planet people would accept the geneering and the forest planet. However, if I then had a character hold a fork back to front and try to eat with it people would rightly call it stupid.

Other examples:
Guardians of the Galaxy.

Things I accept:
green and purple people
cosmic stones
aliens
spaceships
a raccoon that can talk

Things I don't accept:
that people are going to stand there for ten seconds placidly while someone drives a spike through their head one at a time

Jurassic Park.

Things I accept:
dinosaurs are being cloned
people think this is a good idea

Things I don't accept:
knowing what an OS is meaning you know how any program running on it works
being able to toggle vital park systems back on without entering a password

Doctor Who - The Angels Take Manhattan

Things I accept:
timelords
gallifrey
the TARDIS
time travel
pocket dimensions
the weeping angels

Things I don't accept:
The statue of liberty is an angel and no one noticed or realised
no one thought to park the TARDIS a year in the future or a hundred miles away and just hire a car

It is really amusing that this longswordfighting champion is called Samantha Swords . I wonder if having such a surname inspired the choice to take up swordfighting?

Wolyo:
One of the thing about woman using swords, it's when they are well endowed it become difficult sometime impossible to use two-handed guard or technique with swords, even more so if you have a breast plate wide enough to accomodate your physique. That's the only point you could make against a woman using a hand and a half sword.

Without silicone or other breast "augmentation" going on, I am pretty sure most women would be just fine. The breastplate is just going to press them down (silicone would frustrate this). Its armor, not a pushup bra. Hell, for running and fighting, compression would be what any woman would want. So unless she had freakishly huge boobs, its not going to be a real issue.

Of course, now we are getting into the whole realistic armor vs. female fantasy armor problem. Your point is much more accurate for female fantasy armor... which would just get a woman killed rather than protect her.

Twinmill5000:
Wait, people are saying what?

I get the feeling that the author pulled this right out of his ass.

I mean, I see absolutely no reason a woman couldn't swing a longsword, or even bigger weapons like axes or warhammers in the same way a man could. It's not like men have this magical superpower that makes weapons less heavy when they wield them.

Women can pick up objects in the same way men do, and swing them around in the same way men do. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional, and anyone who thinks that there are lots of people who think otherwise (like the author) are also delusional.

blackaesir:

Without silicone or other breast "augmentation" going on, I am pretty sure most women would be just fine. The breastplate is just going to press them down (silicone would frustrate this). Its armor, not a pushup bra. Hell, for running and fighting, compression would be what any woman would want. So unless she had freakishly huge boobs, its not going to be a real issue.

Of course, now we are getting into the whole realistic armor vs. female fantasy armor problem. Your point is much more accurate for female fantasy armor... which would just get a woman killed rather than protect her.

I said well endowed women not every women, and compression doesn't make them smaller, the mass is still here and breast do not compress that much, they will be less prone to move but still they are denying you to use some technique with two hand. Because you can not compress them too much either, if you do you will restrict other movement.

It does not even need to be that big, a C cup can be enough especially if the female is not really tall. It's a concern for women in HEMA that's something you need to think of. And that's for unarmoured combat, a breast plate made to accomodate such physique would still stop you to use two handed technique, so better stick with a one handed sword.

Hell even male with over bloated pectoral muscle can not use two handed sword technique.

Not talking out of my arse here, but experience.

I had my femquisitor using a double handed sword.. what I was rolling my eyes at was the whirlwind attack, where you just hold the sword out and spin real fast, slicing through your enemies like a spinning blender (and somehow don't hit any of your allies ). Somehow that felt a bit too much while slamming the sword into the ground and setting the ground on fire didn't - probably because that one's firmly in the magic camp.

However, I never ever thought 'Gee, she's such a fragile snowflake, she shouldn't be using this sword.'

blackaesir:

Wolyo:
One of the thing about woman using swords, it's when they are well endowed it become difficult sometime impossible to use two-handed guard or technique with swords, even more so if you have a breast plate wide enough to accomodate your physique. That's the only point you could make against a woman using a hand and a half sword.

Without silicone or other breast "augmentation" going on, I am pretty sure most women would be just fine. The breastplate is just going to press them down (silicone would frustrate this). Its armor, not a pushup bra. Hell, for running and fighting, compression would be what any woman would want. So unless she had freakishly huge boobs, its not going to be a real issue.

Of course, now we are getting into the whole realistic armor vs. female fantasy armor problem. Your point is much more accurate for female fantasy armor... which would just get a woman killed rather than protect her.

Its funny you mention that because if you take Iron Bull and Cassandra in your group he tells her that he approves of her choice of a standard breastplate because a "fantasy" version would just get her killed.

SlumlordThanatos:

Twinmill5000:
Wait, people are saying what?

I get the feeling that the author pulled this right out of his ass.

I mean, I see absolutely no reason a woman couldn't swing a longsword, or even bigger weapons like axes or warhammers in the same way a man could. It's not like men have this magical superpower that makes weapons less heavy when they wield them.

Women can pick up objects in the same way men do, and swing them around in the same way men do. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional, and anyone who thinks that there are lots of people who think otherwise (like the author) are also delusional.

Sadly, I've seen some of these comments on other forums. People are stupid.

I would like to point out that Margaret of Anjou was not a battlefield commander of Lancastrian forces, her power came the fact she was acting as regent for her mentally ill husband Henry VI. The armies were commanded largely by the Henry's illegitimate cousins the Beauforts and once by the Earl of Warwick.

I would like to add to the list, Sikelgaita the wife of Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia. She conducted the siege of Trani in 1080 while her husband attacked Taranto. Sikelgaita is recorded as appearing in full armour at the Battle of Dyrrhachium and rallying the Norman knights after the initial repulse by Byzantine forces. Perhaps the closest person to a valkyrie that has existed in real history.

You could also add Caterina Sforza. She was a little later, born ins the 1460s but her career was eventful. Caterina first military exploit was holding the Castel Sant'Angelo after the death of Pope Sixtus IV, her uncle by marriage. The second exploit was after the assassination of her Husband. By various means she escaped her captors and took full personal control off her husbands duchy. Caterina later defended her Duchy from the Venetians earning herself the nickname the tigress. The next episode in Caterina life was being besieged by Cesare Borgia. During the siege the Cesare forces brought forward Caterina's captured son and threatened to execute him. At which point she lifted up her skirt and proclaimed "Her is the mold to make another". Ultimately Cesare's French forces took the fortress and the rest her life was rather quite in comparison to the rest. Caterina is also a possibly the face of the Mona Lisa.

After saying all that, I feel I must point out that there is no evidence of any of these women taking part in frontline combat. They have weilded command authority but did not actually fight.

Twinmill5000:
Wait, people are saying what?

That's what I thought 'till I started reading these comments. Jesus Christ.

I dunno. Gimme a longsword. I'm sure I could figure it out.

I do think the larger trend of `selective realism` is a bit depressing. Women are allowed to have escapist fantasies, too, you know. And if you think we've never dozed off and fantasized about taking on an army of demons with nothing but grim determination and a big fuck-off sword then I'm afraid you just don't know women very well.

Seriously, people shouldn't grump about this stuff.

"Frankly, this probably says more about the player and his assumptions than it does about the game -"

The article could have stopped right there, IMO, though the rest was interesting.

OK, I admit that Fenris is DA2 did bother me a bit; seriously, that sword looked like it weighed as much as he did, and all the lyrium markings were supposed to do was give him Shadow Kat type powers, not the ability to change and overclock his center of gravity.

But this is the same medium that gave us jRPGs and we all know what the waif-per-metal pound ratios are around there, so yeah, I didn't lose sleep over it...

SlumlordThanatos:

Twinmill5000:
Wait, people are saying what?

I get the feeling that the author pulled this right out of his ass.

I mean, I see absolutely no reason a woman couldn't swing a longsword, or even bigger weapons like axes or warhammers in the same way a man could. It's not like men have this magical superpower that makes weapons less heavy when they wield them.

Women can pick up objects in the same way men do, and swing them around in the same way men do. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional, and anyone who thinks that there are lots of people who think otherwise (like the author) are also delusional.

Keep in mind that the internet came up with the '-4 strength' meme for D&D and the idea some people would come up with this kind crap isn't too far fetched.

ForumSafari:

But it's particularly interesting that in a series like Dragon Age, certain players consider women with longswords an unrealistic element. After all, no one has written a two-post treatise about how the dragons have terrible aerodynamics, inadequate wingspan for flight, and don't have light, hollow bones like pterosaurs. Yet apparently some players who can accept such an anatomically unlikely creature feel that a woman swinging a longsword is a major world-building flaw.

Whilst I agree with the gist of the article, longswords aren't actually that heavy and the fighting style of real Western knights was far more complex than people assume because it's stereotyped as brutish clubbing in comparison to Grorious Nippon Katanas, I do disagree with the above point. Suspension of disbelief doesn't cover everything and often it's the little things that break it rather than the big things.

For example if I were to write a novel in which humanity has replaced their bodies with those of apes to live more comfortably on an arboreal planet people would accept the geneering and the forest planet. However, if I then had a character hold a fork back to front and try to eat with it people would rightly call it stupid.

Other examples:
Guardians of the Galaxy.

Things I accept:
green and purple people
cosmic stones
aliens
spaceships
a raccoon that can talk

Things I don't accept:
that people are going to stand there for ten seconds placidly while someone drives a spike through their head one at a time

Jurassic Park.

Things I accept:
dinosaurs are being cloned
people think this is a good idea

Things I don't accept:
knowing what an OS is meaning you know how any program running on it works
being able to toggle vital park systems back on without entering a password

Doctor Who - The Angels Take Manhattan

Things I accept:
timelords
gallifrey
the TARDIS
time travel
pocket dimensions
the weeping angels

Things I don't accept:
The statue of liberty is an angel and no one noticed or realised
no one thought to park the TARDIS a year in the future or a hundred miles away and just hire a car

While I agree with your general point, I'm going to try to defend the specific examples you've pointed out;

- Maybe it's only shown happening this slowly to make it clearer to the viewer what's going on, and "in-universe" it's only taking a couple seconds? I mean the first guy is still standing there with a hole in him at the end when they all drop, and it would be a lot less fun to see the cut-down version where the arrow flies too fast to keep track of.

- Interestingly this was referenced in a comic elsewhere that literally went up today - compared to how screwed you'd be if they were using some OS you've never heard of, finding out it's an OS you're familiar with is pretty great, and you don't have to take the line to specifically mean "the fact that I know this OS means the problem is as good as solved".
- Wouldn't you want turning the vital systems on to be fail-safe if someone forgets the password, specifically to avoid having too many people be eaten by velociraptors?

- Presumably they only replaced the statue of liberty with a giant angel disguised as it for the weeks or months they were working in New York for? I forget what, if any, particular plan they had at the time, but probably you could just mark all the ways to the inside of the statue as "out of order", eat anyone who investigates, and when they don't need heavy support anymore they put the real statue of liberty back.
- Probably if someone had thought of it, there'd be a rule as to why it can't be fixed that way. Maybe it's not so much the Tardis itself, but a projected future time line, like you know in Donnie Darko where at one point it shows people with a watery tentacle sticking out of them in the path they're about to go down? I can't find the scene otherwise I'd have linked it, but maybe having that timeline intersect would abort the flight no matter where you chose to actually aim the TARDIS? I mean the time travel rules are bullshit that gets changed whenever they need to, because Doctor Who is a campy sort of thing with its own extra level of not-meant-to-be-realistic beyond ordinary fantasy or soft-sci-fi and especially time travel is hard to get much of that kind of fun out of while having consistent rules that don't break stuff.

Oh, but everyone is fine with women using katanas. The fucking katana weighs the same as the goddamned longsword! And longswords are usually better balanced.

Queen Michael:
There's no "irony of arguing about 'realism' in a game with dragons on the cover," because all stories need some kind of realism. Or to put it differently: The stupid parts of, say, Naruto don't become less gorram stupid just because it's a manga about ninjas.

Fantasy may be fantasy, but it still follows the rule of "like reality unlike otherwise stated."

Not necessarily. Some of the best stories have a near complete lack of realism (ex: Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream).

However, one of the important elements is referred to as "Suspension of Disbelief" - a storyteller must convince viewers that the events are believable, even if they are unrealistic. A reader/viewer/gamer can accept a lot of unrealistic events as long as there is an underlying logic that the consumer can hold on too. Once "broken", the storyteller quickly loses their viewers' attention. For example, I can accept that there are giant robots from outer space that can adjust their shape back and forth between human-like bipedal shapes to machines inspired by earth machines, but I cannot accept Marky-Mark as an inventor. Suspension of disbelief broke; attention lost; movie dumb waste of money.

I'm an amateur author that is steadily and slowly working my way through my first novel (have written many short stories), and one of the priorities my reviewers look for in new texts are areas where the reader is pulled out of the story (ala suspension lost).

Aggieknight:

Queen Michael:
There's no "irony of arguing about 'realism' in a game with dragons on the cover," because all stories need some kind of realism. Or to put it differently: The stupid parts of, say, Naruto don't become less gorram stupid just because it's a manga about ninjas.

Fantasy may be fantasy, but it still follows the rule of "like reality unlike otherwise stated."

Not necessarily. Some of the best stories have a near complete lack of realism (ex: Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream).

However, one of the important elements is referred to as "Suspension of Disbelief" - a storyteller must convince viewers that the events are believable, even if they are unrealistic. A reader/viewer/gamer can accept a lot of unrealistic events as long as there is an underlying logic that the consumer can hold on too. Once "broken", the storyteller quickly loses their viewers' attention. For example, I can accept that there are giant robots from outer space that can adjust their shape back and forth between human-like bipedal shapes to machines inspired by earth machines, but I cannot accept Marky-Mark as an inventor. Suspension of disbelief broke; attention lost; movie dumb waste of money.

I'm an amateur author that is steadily and slowly working my way through my first novel (have written many short stories), and one of the priorities my reviewers look for in new texts are areas where the reader is pulled out of the story (ala suspension lost).

I get your point and I agree, actually. What I meant was that if it'd been impossible for women to handle a longsword (which it of course isn't), you need to give an explanation for how they can handle them. (Well, unless the universe as a whole is one where everybody goes around with gigantic swords.)

Wolyo:

blackaesir:

Without silicone or other breast "augmentation" going on, I am pretty sure most women would be just fine. The breastplate is just going to press them down (silicone would frustrate this). Its armor, not a pushup bra. Hell, for running and fighting, compression would be what any woman would want. So unless she had freakishly huge boobs, its not going to be a real issue.

Of course, now we are getting into the whole realistic armor vs. female fantasy armor problem. Your point is much more accurate for female fantasy armor... which would just get a woman killed rather than protect her.

I said well endowed women not every women, and compression doesn't make them smaller, the mass is still here and breast do not compress that much, they will be less prone to move but still they are denying you to use some technique with two hand. Because you can not compress them too much either, if you do you will restrict other movement.

It does not even need to be that big, a C cup can be enough especially if the female is not really tall. It's a concern for women in HEMA that's something you need to think of. And that's for unarmoured combat, a breast plate made to accomodate such physique would still stop you to use two handed technique, so better stick with a one handed sword.

Hell even male with over bloated pectoral muscle can not use two handed sword technique.

Not talking out of my arse here, but experience.

Thats cool they can just hack off a boob like Scythian women would do to get those pesky things out of the way. Only need one to nurse a baby after all.

Major_Tom:
Oh, but everyone is fine with women using katanas. The fucking katana weighs the same as the goddamned longsword! And longswords are usually better balanced.

Has more to do with how the weapons are used. Katanas are about slicing, using the blade's edge instead of the force behind the swing. Traditional European weapons are more about brute force, generally speaking.

That isn't to say I disagree with the article or anything, I don't at all. But this is why people think it makes more sense.

Wolyo:

blackaesir:

Without silicone or other breast "augmentation" going on, I am pretty sure most women would be just fine. The breastplate is just going to press them down (silicone would frustrate this). Its armor, not a pushup bra. Hell, for running and fighting, compression would be what any woman would want. So unless she had freakishly huge boobs, its not going to be a real issue.

Of course, now we are getting into the whole realistic armor vs. female fantasy armor problem. Your point is much more accurate for female fantasy armor... which would just get a woman killed rather than protect her.

I said well endowed women not every women, and compression doesn't make them smaller, the mass is still here and breast do not compress that much, they will be less prone to move but still they are denying you to use some technique with two hand. Because you can not compress them too much either, if you do you will restrict other movement.

It does not even need to be that big, a C cup can be enough especially if the female is not really tall. It's a concern for women in HEMA that's something you need to think of. And that's for unarmoured combat, a breast plate made to accomodate such physique would still stop you to use two handed technique, so better stick with a one handed sword.

Hell even male with over bloated pectoral muscle can not use two handed sword technique.

Not talking out of my arse here, but experience.

Well, fair enough, except one, you are saying its a shape issue as well as a mass issue and two, you are talking about a very specific subset of techniquest specific to unarmored two-handed sword fighting that, by your own admission, men with large pecs and anybody wearing armor also can't perform. I mean, I totally hear what you are saying. Its not different than saying a person with short arms is not going to reliably be able to perform some counter-punching techniques or that a person with really long arms will encounter difficulties performing certain infighting techniques related to foil fencing.

But I think in terms of the big picture, a woman's mammary glands just aren't going to preclude her from using two-handed weapons in combat, including two-handed swords. Everyone who seriosuly pursues some martial form of training learns how to fit what they learn to their own strengths and weaknesses.

http://teadrunktailor.tumblr.com

This is my friend Alison, she knows how to joust and swordfight with a full weight weapon... people who think women can't use longswords or heavy weapons are wrong.

I've got another female friend who also swordfights, is "well endowed" and actually did some VA for Dragon Age Inquistion... anyone who says women can't use longswords is wroooonnnggggg

Exceptions to the norm do not define the norm, folks. While some women are capable of surpassing the average male it doesn't mean that it's going to happen approaching a 50/50 split that Thedas likes to give us.

It's not established that women are on par with men physically in Thedas, in fact the opposite is true, and the reason for female warriors being fewer than men in reality are still present in Thedas - and I'm not just talking the average physical build.

Offer more body type options, not the same damn model. Cassandra doesn't work because she's tiny, not because she's a woman. Just compare her to Iron Bull.

im more weirded out by the lack of spears you find in games

Abomination:
Exceptions to the norm do not define the norm, folks. While some women are capable of surpassing the average male it doesn't mean that it's going to happen approaching a 50/50 split that Thedas likes to give us.

It's not established that women are on par with men physically in Thedas, in fact the opposite is true, and the reason for female warriors being fewer than men in reality are still present in Thedas - and I'm not just talking the average physical build.

Offer more body type options, not the same damn model. Cassandra doesn't work because she's tiny, not because she's a woman. Just compare her to Iron Bull.

I don't think you read the article.

The whole point is that the difference in strength between men and women doesn't even factor in. Longswords are light enough and the difference is negligible enough that women being the "weaker sex" doesn't matter. You don't need to be a muscle mountain to swing a sword.

Realism gets tossed out the window the second I can shoot lightning out my damn hands. My real problem is I can't use a damn long sword on any character because the damn schematics for decent sword never spawns. Damn rng system.

Wait...what? This is an argument somewhere? That women can't use swords because they're too heavy? In Dragon Age? There are people out there who are actually upset about that? I can't even fathom that train of thought. I mean, have they seen the speed at which the archers fire their arrows? Or the way two-handed warriors swing their weapon around like it's paper? Or the fact that mages can spin their weapons again and again without pulling a muscle in, well, any part of their arm? The idea that a woman can't use a sword, any type of sword, is baffling to me, even more so in a fantasy game.

albino boo:

After saying all that, I feel I must point out that there is no evidence of any of these women taking part in frontline combat. They have weilded command authority but did not actually fight.

Not to mention how notoriously unreliable medieval chronicles were. Especially because "sticking to the facts" was lowest in the authors' list of priorities, if at all. You've got your share of made-up speeches, alegories, classical references and verbatim passages ripped-off from the scriptures. Taking anything in them on face value without external corroboration is beyond ludicrous. Which doesn't stop the author from quoting them as if they were yesterday's newspaper.

Funnily enough, some of these chronicles were also ripe with mentions of supernatural phenomena. One could make a similar exercise and conclude that wizardry existed in real life. And that kind of undermines the whole "dragon" argument.

Abomination:
Exceptions to the norm do not define the norm, folks. While some women are capable of surpassing the average male it doesn't mean that it's going to happen approaching a 50/50 split that Thedas likes to give us.

It's not established that women are on par with men physically in Thedas, in fact the opposite is true, and the reason for female warriors being fewer than men in reality are still present in Thedas - and I'm not just talking the average physical build.

Offer more body type options, not the same damn model. Cassandra doesn't work because she's tiny, not because she's a woman. Just compare her to Iron Bull.

Right, compare her to a giant who towers over all humans and most other members of his own race. That makes for a good comparison. Also, accusing her of being 'tiny' is utterly irrelevant in a game with dwarves, plenty of whom wield bloody great warhammers.

The fun part is that it's pretty common in a lot of older/lower budget games to have female characters/classes using bows, which are far more strength dependent. Medieval longbows had ridiculous draw weights and even men had to train for decades before they were strong enough to fire them properly. Skeletons of medieval archers have visibly deformed spines. This is because firing an arrow with great power and range requires great effort while drawing, and women, not being as strong, would have to use bows with less power and range or use crossbows and fire less often.

Logically it would be far more effective to have the women swinging swords while the men fire arrows than vice versa.

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