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BryanSyme's avatar

Lisbeth sister of battle

My dark heresy character has just became a full-fledged sister of battle. So I took the time that I probably don't have to painter. I specifically designed the armor to get rid of those stupid and sexist missile tits.
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© 2017 - 2022 BryanSyme
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BryanSyme's avatar
Without said mother shells on the front, and with the atrocious female face design GW approves, you couldn't tell a sister from a Guardsman or Astartes in wigs... Regardless, it is a shame that masterpieces such as this can only come from sensible fans, keep being awesome.
BryanSyme's avatar
Thank you vary much!
Kusar's avatar
Much better breastplate!
BryanSyme's avatar
Honestly I'm not entirely happy with it. But I've never been a fan of boob plate so it's better. I'm glad you like it!
Masterix2442's avatar
BryanSyme's avatar
D3AD-MAD-HATT3R's avatar
Stylish and practical. I love it.
whitescar's avatar
Awesome Soror and congratulations on her promotion! :P

I see you also down-sized her guns, in addition to the "guns".
Personally I don't mind the over-emphasizing aesthetic. It's for the "Heroic" 28mm scale of miniature where it's very hard to make out details at range, so you need to have inordanely large details like hands, guns, etc.

Having another army of power armored dudettes isn't aesthetically interesting, even though it would be a massive improvement from just more Space Marines.

It also works well with the general 40k aesthetic which is "space renaissance" and has always been over-the-top and ludicrous. Reason I don't like the new Primaris Marines (beyond their backstory) is because the designs are too... sensible. The armor looks more like something you might see in Dead Space and designed by people who actually think about what they're doing, rather than adding useless detail on top to appease a Machine God or venerate the Immortal Emperor of Mankind.

Sexism is not aesthetics, it's how people are viewed. Officially at least, Sorors have not been described as sloots in boob armor and the only sexist thing out there is viewing them as somehow immature because of the design. They can have boob armor or have flat chest plates, it doesn't really matter from a "sexism" point of view, unless one thinks that drawing attention to gender is inherently sexist, in which case I guess they shouldn't be calling them Sisters, but something more gender neutral...

I personally prefer being able to tell at a glance which models are badass warrior women and which are the oiled up Spartans of the Emperor's personal 300. But that's just my view. I like my 40k whacky and over the top. Too many "sensible" franchises out there.
BryanSyme's avatar
You make good and well thought out points. And I definitely see the appeal of the crazy over the top aspects of the universe. And I have to admit the bolt pistols were not undersized on purpose. I'm just too used to drawing realistic weapons that I failed to exaggerate them enough. I do disagree with the other army of power armored dudettes being aesthetically unpleasing. I love the sisters of battle. I love them because they are powerful religious fanatics don't have to be genetically modified to be bad ass. Emphasis on the religious fanaticism. There the Army of the church which I think is the most messed up and therefore coolest aspect of the Empire.

Plus I am an professional illustrator. And I am very well-versed in the language of visuals. What they mean, what they emphasize and the messages they convey. And  boob armor is a sexualization. It's mail equivalent would be a codpiece. And until I start seeing those on space Marines I'm going to call it what it is.
whitescar's avatar
(Sorry, this one got a bit long. ^^")

The reason why you would "have" to exaggerate the bolt pistols is the same reason those boob cups are so ludicrous in size. Because Warhammer is a miniatures game and the aesthetics are designed to emulate the Heroic scale of miniatures.

The scaling of certain easily visible and identifiable parts is totally out of whack and makes no sense, but it is the aesthetic which they've gone with. For example, the barrel diameter of a Leman Russ is supposed to be 120mm. But if you use that measurement to dimension the rest of the tank, the only feasible crew that could ever fit inside it would be 5 year-olds... ^^"

With that in mind, putting "boob armor" on a model is a visual choice to convey the fact that model is a woman. If you add heavy armor and slap on a helmet, it's almost impossible to differentiate between a male and female person in power armor. At least when we're talking miniatures, which you have to keep in mind when talking about 40k. In the end, all the fluff is just window dressing for a game revolving around collecting and painting miniatures.
Is it sexualization in as much as it depicts the sex of the model in an easily identified manner? Yes.
Is it sexualization in as much as it means to make the models desireable as objects of sexual fascination? Not really. If you want to look at things which one could far more easily call Sexualized, then look at Slaanesh and Dark Elf Witch Elves -lineups. 

If you have followed where Warhammer and 40k have come from and how models have evolved, you will know that certain female models used to be very scantily dressed and have exposed breasts. The Dark Elves and especially Daemonettes were notorious for this design. However, these have been toned down considerably and covered up or otherwise dialed down, making them more "evil" and "malicious" rather than "mesmerizing". It goes to show that GW is clearly cognicent about "sexualization" in their line-up, and the danger I am seeing is that if they are too self-aware of it we will either never get any new lovely minis OR when they do come out, they will be safe committee design which will be almost indistinguishable from their male counterparts. And I at least would find that to be rather dull.

Furthermore, if you look at the line of models which the new Sisters of Silence mirror (since we are unfortunately bereft of new Sisters of Battle), the Adeptus Custodes, you will in fact see armor which is very much designed to emulate in shape a muscled, naked male body.…
This is doubly true for the Age of Sigmar line of Stormcast Eternals…
Even Horus Heresy Space Marines aren't outside this design philosophy.…

You mention that the male equivalent would have to be the Codpiece, but I would disagree. When we want to depict a desirable man in adveritising, do we focus on his crotch and make his bulge extra massive? Or do we show him without a shirt, a faint stubble on his chiseled jaw and a shredded eight-pack with massive pectorals? Only when it comes to outright porn is the size of a man's "codpiece" of real value and sexualization. When talking about everyday design choices of making men be sexually desirable, a broad and muscular chest is the way to go.
Similarly as we do emphasize a woman's bust or butt (and the hips-to-waist ratio).

To reiterate, I'm not arguing that you're wrong to think and feel how you do, per-se, however I am trying point out that the extent of the "issue" is not as grand as you make it out to be.
I love SoBs as the crazy fanatics that burn heretics (and maybe a few others, but they probably deserved it anyway) at the stake and bring down the Emperor's Holy Wrath upon anyone, even if they are the venerated Adeptus Astartes. However, like you, I also find that the most amazing thing about them is that they accomplish all of this while being un-modified humans with just a burning passion and purity of purpose, all the while being an order solely consisting of females.

Considering how monochromatically male most of 40k is, it's great to have a faction of women and I don't think that diluting that fact is a smart move. Sure, boob armor is not exactly "high praise", but on an easily identifiable visual level it does make them different and underscores the fact that these un-modified ladies are kicking Xenos arse with Humanity's Finest (TM) without breaking pace. I would personally find it yet another nail in the coffin if we got a new line-up of Sororitas which looked like Space Marines, but with lady heads. Because I can make those already. What I would like to see is the iconic old school Sororitas polished up and brought back to spit fire and fury in the face of Heretics, Mutants and Xenos. Considering that in official literature everyone seems to have nothing but respect (begruding or otherwise) for the Sororitas, rather than the same sort of sexualization that underlines even our female soldiers in today's world, I cannot really see the issue.
BryanSyme's avatar
I am very much enjoying this conversation. And will respond to each paragraph in order.

I understand that miniatures must be exaggerated and that the measurement certainly don't match up. But in the sisters of battle case you know there women. Just like you know space Marines are men. Stick a Florida Lee on their and you're done. And just have the models that are wearing helmets have long hair and feminine features. There's no need for the boob armor. There's plenty of conversion kits out there with female heads that you can put on Imperial guard and boom their female Imperial guard. So I don't think the need for boob cups is valid.

Depicting the sex of a model is enough by giving them long hair. And just not making the armor as big and bulky as space Marine armor. And it is totally sexualization. Your drawing attention to their boobs. Like I said before it's the exact same thing as putting a codpiece on a model. And as far as the dark Eldar and demons of Slaanesh. They should be sexualized. That's their whole thing.

I think that is a legitimate fear. Like I said above I think that both those factions should be sexualized. And personally I think it would be much better if they did have exposed breasts and the like and just added mail sexualized models. Or creepy hermaphroditic ones. I think sex is great in an excellent way to sell and portray diversity and meaning. I would just like to see it not all put on the shoulders of the female models. In this case were talking about space nuns so I think a pair of missile tits on their chest is pretty out of place.

Excellent reference! You're right they are. And to add weight to your statement I think the sisters of silence armor designs are not sexualized. No wait nevermind just check them out. They have boob armor to. Dammit.

That is true. I suppose all I can really say to counter that is that the vast majority of female players I have talked to find it repugnant and very sexist. So I will say that I don't believe the sexualization of a man is the same as the sexualization of a woman I know that sounds unfair but here's why I feel that way. Women live in a different world then you and I. They are physically less strong by far than men so the possibility of rape and assault is a real and constant threat. Especially taking into consideration that a large portion of men still glorify the idea that a man's worth can be judged by female conquests. So I think of it like this. What if you would I lived in a world where there was a third sex out there that was vastly stronger than us. Let's say the equivalent of space Marines. And all of them wanted to fuck you. And they derived their worth from the amount of sexual conquests they acquired. Now you're walking down the street past a group of them. And they start telling you that they love your ass and can't wait to break off a piece of that. I'd be terrified. And that's the world that women live in every day. So when they tell me that something makes them uncomfortable I listen. And do my best to make things easier and less uncomfortable and frightening.

Does that make sense?
whitescar's avatar
From an in-universe perspective, diluting the fact that the Sorors are female would be dangerous. Since the only reason they are allowed to exist is via a (frankly stupid) legal loophole which barred the Ecclesiarchy from having "men under arms" in the wake of the Vandire fiasco where a rogue Cardinal tried to take over the Imperium. Against that backdrop, it would make sense for the Ecclesiarchy to want to underscore that these are Women who are fighting for us, rather than Men.

Nowhere within the actual Canon are Sororitas actually sexualized, however. They're not there to be sexy. If you want the sexy, you have Dark Eldar and Slaanesh for that. Even the thought of the Paragons of Imperial purity of Faith being objects of sexual desire (and thus power for Slaanesh) is paradoxical. Simply because they have boob armor does not mean it is there for a sexualized purpose. If women cannot show their physique or people cannot be reminded of a woman's body features without it being "sexualization", I think we have swung back and begun oppressing women in another way. I'm not saying it's like demanding burquas or anything, but the simple existence of such features is in itself not sexualization. At least not in a bad way or in a way which takes anything away from the Sororitas.

At least I have never felt that the SoBs were lesser for their armor or thought about them as being inferior warriors for this design choice. But I understand that other people do see things differently.

The old style of "missile tits" is certainly a tad on the nose and if you look at the new range of Sisters of Silence, they still retain the "boob cup" armor plate, but are far more sensible in the execution. I feel that is probably a good compromise in terms of aesthetic design and appeal, without going into the realm of half-naked warriors fighting around heavy artillery (sorry, Repentia).

I personally don't think that girl players would be fond of fighting against an army which had massive codpieces. As far as I am privy to the machinations of the fairer sex's mind, the size of a man's junk or the contents of his Codpiece are not that important and obscenely large ones (built in proportion to the "missile tits") would be downright frightening, rather than appealing. Like I said earlier, a chiseled male upper body is what attracts women and the V-shape of broad shoulders and pecs narrowing down to a tight abdomen is what women seem to desire when talking about "sexualization". Just having big meaty todgers waved around does not seem to be appealing to them.
I can certainly see why some would want big codpieces as some sort of "equality" motion, but I personally think it's a tad petty. Not only because it would look very silly, but it also wouldn't accomplish any actual positivity, unlike more sculpted chestplates ala Batman and Robin. (#FreeTheAstartesNipple!)

I can certainly see your last point and in terms of the actual world, I'm behind you 100%.
However, we're talking about a dystopian future here and I doubt that the aesthetic choices of powered armor design for a collective sorority of brainwashed religious lunatics who burn people alive who don't agree with their dogma is a healthy and positive female role-model to aspire towards. Nor that any woman should feel that their world somehow becomes safer if these "missile tits" are removed. Because if the design of breast plate in a miniature wargame (whose primary population seems to be geeky teenage boys and neckbeards with bad BO) is the defining problem in the lives of women around you, then I would say they have it pretty well for themselves. ^^"

Not to poke massive holes into things, I cannot help but find it problematic that you on the one hand state that sexualization would be a great way to sell things, but on the other hand you seem very self-conscious about complaints leveled against sexualization.

The issue, as I see it, is not in that Warhammer (or even society as such) depicts women (and men) as sexually desirable. The problem is a separate culture entirely which normalizes rape, victimizes men as "just being men" or having been "goaded" into action by the appearance of women. Of course men will have a sense of self-worth associated with procreation. As long as the dating game is one where men ask women out and "courting" takes place, it is a sign of success when you are able to 'finish the job'. This stems from our basic biology as humans, where women have to be far more discerning with their mates than men do, since we're not stuck with the consequences of our actions for 9 months.

That all said, what needs to happen is for men to start taking a long hard look at themselves and others around them and stop defending or accepting bad behavior. Every girl is someone's daughter or sister and if you find it distasteful if what you did happened to your daughter or sister, then perhaps you shouldn't be doing it?

This has nothing to do with sexualization, however, but male behavior and normalization of sexual violence against women and that is an entirely different discussion.
Because I don't think there are any canonical depictions of rape of Sorors (there may be, because Slaanesh, but that's his/her/its thing), but there is a lot of depictions of them fighting, killing and dying valiantly in battle. Which I think is a fairly good role-model as far as 40k goes. So to that extent, I wouldn't worry about the boob plate moreso than how the characters are shown and depicted. They're not feeble victims, but powerful warriors. They stride into battle where men falter, lifting the spirits of failing battle lines of Imperial Guardsmen and leading the charge against horrific demons and xenos beasts with a fire in their eyes and a prayer on their lips.

That sounds like a very positive image overall and I guess if the goal was to empower women, then these ladies would do a good job. They don't have to hide their gender in the field because they think Space Marines will rape them. They will stride forth and conquer in the name of their God-Emperor all the same.
BryanSyme's avatar
Good points. I have to go but I will totally respond to this later.

Thank you for the great conversation.
whitescar's avatar
Likewise! And take your time! :)

Have a nice day!
BryanSyme's avatar
Sorry I so long to get back to you. Things got really busy. And they still are so I need to make the short. I think you're totally right. The boob armor wouldn't be a problem if there wasn't such a problem. It's a symptom and not a cause. Unfortunately right now it is what it is. So it's going to continue to piss people off. I don't like it just because I don't like the aesthetic.

Thank you very much for the conversation. You've made me question and think about things. And I thank you for.

Take care!
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patmax17's avatar
I love this design, it's nice to see WH40k characters with sensible outfits! :D
BryanSyme's avatar
Thank you very much! The vast majority of people do seem to like it. Which makes me happy and gives me hope.
patmax17's avatar
I sure do, keep it up ^^

I mean, women in armor is just such a cool trope, and if the armor makes sense and looks cool like this, I just can't but love it :D
DeviantGuitarist's avatar
Definite improvement over the GW designs, the boob plates always ruined the Sisters of Battle's otherwise awesome look
BryanSyme's avatar
Thank you! Nice photography by the way!:) (Smile) 
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