This piece got its start in a Twitter exchange about the ridiculousness of the armor female warriors are forced to wear in fantasy movies, games, and artwork. Eileen Wiedbrauk asked if I would write something about it for the World Weaver Press blog, but after a little bit of research I discovered the ground had already been well-covered by parodies and people with a lot more experience than I have. [see: Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits]
In any event, I'm a novelist, not an artist, and my background is in history. So I thought I would try something a little broader. Since we were discussing the realism of women's armor in a fantasy context, let's consider how realistic those female warriors are from a historical point of view, and what fantastic elements an author might want to introduce to create a society that plausibly fits the story he or she wants to tell.
In short: If we want to create a society that encourages female warriors, what might that society look like, and why?