Mass Effect: Andromeda reveals that the all-female asari ... aren’t

Susana Polo

Stop being so anthropocentric The asari are possibly the most infamous alien race to appear in the Mass Effect series. And in an era where simply having a sex scene in a video game could get it on Fox News, a romance between a female Commander Shepard and an asari character was famously Mass Effect’s only same-gender romance option. You see, though the asari are a parthenogenetically reproducing race with only one biological sex, they essentially look like blue human women with fancy head-tentacles — and they’re all female. At least, until now.

Wait, what? The Mass Effect games have pushed and pulled the asari from the realm of “the hot space babe race” over their course, establishing that yes, the asari prefer to mate outside their own species and most races in the galaxy find them attractive — even turians, who have significant physical differences from asari. On the other hand, the codex entries say, asari are not more promiscuous than other races and their military and economy are the most powerful in the Milky Way. The asari NPCs that the player interacts with are usually powerful political rulers, crime bosses, or expert scientists and researchers … but asari erotic dancers are often used as set dressing in the background of the galaxy’s bars and clubs.

BioWare/Electronic Arts Liara T’Soni, a female-identifying asari in the original Mass Effect trilogy. Characters like Liara T’Soni, Samara and Aria T’Loak are a huge part of the original Mass Effect series, and they all identified as female and used female pronouns. Which, in and of itself, was curious. The asari lived for thousands upon thousands of years in a society without gender.

They’ve been interacting with sentient species that have gender for a mere 1,500 years — and when an individual asari can live for a millennium, that’s not a lot of cultural time at all. Human women, whose appearance they most superficially share, have only been on the galactic scene for three decades. Was there a species-wide asari decision to go with feminine pronouns, instead of neutral? Is this all a quirk of translator implants?

Are there…

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