Jun. 16th, 2013

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"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."

"Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards."

both by Count Aral Vorkosigan in A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
talvin: (Default)
Something I have heard recently, and it sounds very plausible, but I would love to see it tested.

When Fantasy women aren't wearing chainmail bikinis (which are decoration, and not much of that), they are often wearing armor with boobs. Yes, they are often depicted with chest armor that has sculpted breasts to accommodate (or, let's be honest: enhance) the female warrior's secondary sexual characteristics.

What I have been told is that these things will kill you! If a woman wore something like that into combat--and I would assume SCA or other re-enactor combat would do it just as much!--she would stand a good chance of being badly injured or killed because of her armor.

Here's the science as it has been presented to me:

Armor is designed to cushion and spread out the force of a blow. The outer layer, the metal, spreads out the energy to reduce the P.S.I. on a particular point. The padding underneath absorbs that energy. A whack with a heavy object that would crush bones is spread out by armor, so hopefully you get no more than a bruise. That's the purpose of armor.

The thing is, metal breasts are shaped like a wedge. The point of that wedge is aimed directly at the sternum, which is directly over the heart. So, a hard blow to the chest when wearing breasted armor would concentrate the energy at that point, possibly breaking the sternum or delivering shock to the heart. This Is A Bad Thing!

It wouldn't have to be with a real weapon, either: SCA Swords could deliver that much force easily, I would think. I do know that I have never seen a woman fighting heavy in the SCA wear something so silly as armor with tits. I have been told many wear extra padding under the armor, which is sensible: parts are sensitive! But the armor is designed like the guys': spread out the force.

This sounds like good science. It's a good hypothesis. I wish I had the resources to test it myself (on a dummy! Not a real person!), but I don't.

Anybody with a background in science, medieval combat, or metalworking?


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