The naked or topless females in OD&D and AD&D are mostly monsters, demons, or goddesses, like the harpy from last time or the memorable Loviatar. There's a certain amount of "realism" behind the nudity - how ridiculous does this foul carrion bird from 4th edition look in a smock?
equal opportunity monsters of the present-day Otherworld miniatures line.)
But isn't it odd that the female adventurer pictures in old D&D are mostly reasonably clad and mostly not sexualized?
Since those days, it seems that the "artistic nudity" or "realistic nudity" loopholes in mainstream gaming art have been sutured firmly shut. And yet, although more women are represented, their sexualization - particularly in player character representations - is even more evident. The difference between female and male representations, now as then, assumes that woman, not man, is the proper object of visual erotic delight.
I am reminded of Roland Barthes' essay which begins, "Striptease--at least Parisian striptease--is based on a contradiction: Woman is desexualized at the very moment when she is stripped naked." Eve, nude, has the possibility of being innocent; Eve, in pasties and G-string (or costumed with a cleavage window and thigh slits), does not. The covering of nipples and pubis satisfies the letter of the obscenity law, but sexuality is not a mere matter of obscenity. Going back to the infamous succubus from the AD&D Monster Manual, what's striking in light of adolescent memories is how covered up she actually is, by hair and pose and strategically placed limbs:
Can you really say Pathfinder's present-day iconic character, Seoni, is much more covered up (except by tattoo ink)?
Riker in "Angel One"), is this really progress?
|A real matriarchy would have him in short-shorts, too.|
Next and last post in the series: What these issues mean to players today, and why the endless three-way flame war over sex, gender and art can be reduced to false premises.