This has probably all been said before, but one of the things that I find most disappointing about the romances in SW:TOR is the absolutely glaring disparity in tone when you look at the different options for male and female characters.
So many of the options for female characters involve them coming to terms with the man’s autonomy and independence. Pierce straight up refuses to continue pursuing a relationship (nothing wrong with that, obviously, his penis was appreciated, used and then dismissed, okay fine). Andro and Doc both reluctantly come around to the idea of monogamy, but continue to stress the importance of independence in their lives (and also imply that it’s the characters special brand of witchcraft that got them into a steady relationship at all, not that, you know, being serious with a woman has value in itself). Corso, to the bitter end, maintains that the smuggler is someone to be protected by his big strong bumpkin arms, even after she repeatedly reminds him that she’s capable of looking after herself. He asserts his decided role over and over again. And if you wouldn’t like Patronizing with a side of Sexist, there’s Darmas, who… Right, can’t say WHY that’s a whole other basket of snakes, but trust me it is. (/weep)
But Quinn! You might cry, Quinn loves serving the SW! Right, but Quinn volunteers his submission (although don’t get me fucking started on how his romance ends up, Christ), a direct counterpoint to Vette’s involuntary slavery (if you go that route). Jaesa’s sexual liberation comes at the cost of completely destroying everything she knows and loves. And four female romances are the male characters’ padawans/apprentices. If you don’t think there’s a troubling power dynamic emerging there then I don’t really know what to tell you. Man in Position of Power Seduces Younger Woman With Less Professional Power. Sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t even begin to cover it. Elara’s situation (and the way it unfolds, unfortunately) is not much different. Let’s not forget that the only real reversal of this dynamic is with the Female Trooper and Aric, though not surprisingly he begins as your superior. (I can’t comment on Iresso because I haven’t seen his romance all the way through yet.)
I mean, can we just discuss the extremely interesting opportunities they missed to break free of some of those stereotypes? How cool would it have been for a light-leaning female Jedi Knight to take Scourge as a Padawan and redeem him. I’m not even asking for a romance there, although I’d like that too, just an opportunity for the female player to fucking exert influence over her male companions for once. It actually blows my mind that they didn’t notice the ubiquity of the roles there - Well-meaning but ultimately smitten Jedi Master falls for and corrupts his Padawan. Come the fuck on. It’s not just cliche, it’s demeaning. It’s tired to continue over and over again to put dudes in this position (Vette, anyone? Fuck.) and dress it up as some romantic Star Wars wet dream. It’s just fucking weird, and there’s also very little basis for it anywhere in the SW Universe. Mix in that every single female Force-using companion in the game is young and beautiful, and it’s not difficult to see what I’m driving at here. I think the only non-traditionally gorgeous romance option for guys is probably Akaavi, and if she didn’t float your boat you could just go for Risha instead. I happen to love Aric and Vector, but I can’t even imagine the bitchfest that would ensue if a male character’s ONLY choices for those classes were Cat Man or Bug Man. (And God bless you, Kaliyo, you under-valued goddess, you.)
It all adds up to this weird soup of imbalance that makes me want to slam my head against the desk. Did nobody really step back and say: Holy shit, you guys, I think we have a problem here. Nobody noticed that all but ONE female companion is romanceable, and then only because that one single character is a robot?? It doesn’t seem possible, right? You’d think someone would notice that or make the connection. Or even worse, maybe a few people did but it wasn’t deemed an issue. That’s scarier, to me, that maybe the gross imbalance was recognized and then ignored.
Ugh. This isn’t even coherent anymore. I love you, game, but sometimes I want to scream and chuck you off a cliff. :|