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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437
Finally Broke My Crowdfunding Rule
By oblivion437
Posted on 01/12/15
I've had a long-standing rule to avoid getting involved in any sort of crowdfunded activities.  I didn't donate to Shadowrun or Wasteland, but I did buy and enjoy both of them (I'm plugging both of those games right now, just so you know they're good).  I haven't...

Mass Effect 3's Female Shepard Looks Fine, Bitches!

Posted on Saturday, July 30 @ 12:34:14 Eastern by Jessica_Vazquez
Well, I've found it. The Glenn Beck of female gaming journalism. Maybe I shouldn't fall knowingly into the trap of a troll, but my hands have free time and I like to slap.

It all began when BioWare had a contest where they put six mock-up female Shepard's (Fem Shep) on a Facebook page and asked fans to vote for the one they wanted to be the face of the female Shepard ad campaign for Mass Effect 3. I don't really care if she looks like Carrot Top, as long as they don't push the release of ME3 back another year


 

However, there was a significant amount of feedback on the poll by Facebook users and fellow gaming journalists alike. One article in particular caught my attention, especially when I read the headline "Mass Effect 3: Death to Blonde Shepard", written by Kim Richards of PCGamer.com. Upon further examination, I found myself dumbstruck as she went into a discussion about feminism using an anti-feminist argument. Confused yet?

The article begins with an autobiographical summary:

I am a girl. I come equipped with girly parts, like fallopian tubes and a smug sense of always being right. But don’t let this fact make you think that I don’t like looking at other girls. I like it. I like it a lot. There’s something about the pleasing curves of the fairer sex that made my teenage years at an all-girls Catholic school a very exciting time indeed.

Well, I too am a girl with a fair amount of well-proportioned lady parts, but I have no idea where the hell she's going with this. Like Richards, I also enjoy the "pleasing curves of the fairer sex", though I was not blessed with the good fortune of attending an all-girls Catholic school. After reading the intro, I'm not sure if it's the beginning of a witty rant or an ad on the naughty pages of Craigslist. It isn't until the second paragraph that I realized the true nature of the so-called "Death to Blonde Shepard" controversy:

I have my standards. I like my ladies to have character, originality and a bit of attitude. All earnest qualities that Female Shepard Number 5 completely lacks. Frankly, if I saw her in a locker room, I’d glaze over and move on, in search of more interesting entries for my Filofax of Filth. She’s just so utterly bland.

From here, Richards goes on to support the idea that Fem Shep #5's growing popularity is an example of how people prefer to be sucked into a "...wishy washy, Barbie faced personality vacuum..." rather than choose a version Female Shepard that breaks social norms. Now I despise female stereotypes as much as the next vagina-bearer, but Richards' argument is absurd. Namely because it isn't an argument at all: it's an opinion. And then she compares her spank bank to a Rolodex. What's that about?

Just because she wouldn't look twice at Fem Shep #5 in a locker room, doesn't mean other people wouldn't. Let's keep it real here, Kim, you wouldn't be complaining about her hair color if she was behind you. Richards did have her favorite, though: Fem Shep #2.


Really?! She has the same damn facial structure as Fem Shep #5 but with different hair. All this proves is that Kim Richards prefers women with dark hair who sport a bun or ponytail. I find her analysis of Fem Shep #5 more offensive than most misogynistic comments I've heard from men in my entire lifetime. This is coming from a woman who grew up with five guys, so I've heard some pretty dumb shit.

Just look at Shep 5, then back to these words. Now look at Shep 5 again – that is the face of a woman who cares more about her glue-on nails and handbag Chihuahua. She’s not the savior of the goddamn universe.

So I took a look at Fem Shep #5 again, and back at the words, and back at Fem Shep #5 again, and the only thing I can think is "Does Not Compute". I get where her passion is coming from, but you can't complain about prejudice preventing a diverse representation of the female form in a video game, and then be freakin' prejudiced. What about the other four options BioWare put into the running to represent Mass Effect 3? I bet it would be real easy to criticize them too.



See. That was easy, wasn't it? Actually, I think the four options above would be better suited to win because they are the most diverse of the whole bunch. Sure, BioWare could have thought this out a little bit more, maybe letting gamers submit their versions of Fem Shep and find a way to narrow it down to a few finalists. But to go so far as to say that Fem Shep #5's blondness suggests she cares more about "glue-on nails" than saving the universe makes you sound like a dumb blon... well, you know. What about strong blonde heroines like Starbuck, played by Katee Sackhoff, in the Battlestar Galactica remake?


Kim, I would like you to look at Katee, then back to these words. Now look at Katee again, mainly because I know you want to. While being a complete babe, Katee Sackhoff managed to be the most badass chick on that show for its entire five-year run, completely unfazed by the shackles of the blonde bimbo stereotype. She pretty much established that blondes can be badass space marines. Isn't that what Commander Shepard is? So why then would it be so incredibly terrible to have a blonde Shepard on an ad for Mass Effect 3? Don't you watch Buffy? (If you don't, I have the right to take away your lesbian card.)

BioWare has done a lot for female gamers, so focusing on such a minuscule issue as blonde hair is unbearable. It just doesn't matter. Once you start the argument that certain female minorities aren't represented on the covers of games, you'll have to recognize all the minorities. What about Transgendered lady gamers? Or African-American lady gamers? Or Asian-American lady gamers? Or Middle Eastern lady gamers? I didn't see them portrayed in the top six Fem Shep options. And seriously, you're given the option to create whatever female character you want in the game. Don't let some poll on female depiction upset you.

Mass Effect is a great franchise when it comes to dealing with strong female characters, no matter how they look.
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