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Previously in the Great Women in Games series, which aims to explore video game girls and women who are often forgotten in top 10 lists, we looked at Kingdom Hearts' Aqua, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's Medli, and Perfect Dark's Joanna Dark.
The Mass Effect series could lend itself to dozens of feminist articles about well-rounded game women, both NPC and playable. Of particular importance is the series' playable protagonist, FemShep. I could go on and on about how she is one of the most realistic depictions of an – albeit, pretty normative – woman in all of gaming, but the purpose of this series, is, as aforementioned, to discuss characters who are often forgotten about in light of more popular, iconic leading ladies.
Spoilers ahead.This installment, then, will explore a character whose commitment to enabling the reproductive rights and feminine power of female krogan, as well as diplomacy over aggression, make her an exemplary character in the Mass Effect series, and games more generally. Let's talk about Urdnot Bakara, also known as Eve.
[Note: A complete exploration of every possible interaction with Eve is not doable in an article this size. Thus, I'll be writing about Eve as she appeared in my first playthrough of the Mass Effect series (Wrex lives and becomes clan leader, Shepard saves Maelon's data, Mordin survives the suicide mission but dies curing the genophage, all relevant side missions are completed, Eve survives the cure, and Shepard chooses to destroy the Reapers with an EMS of over 8,000) – but parts will be informed by other versions of the story as well (for example, versions in which Wrex dies). It should also be said that this article assumes an in-depth understanding of the Mass Effect universe and the three main games.]Urdnot Bakara, nicknamed Eve, is a female krogan who was originally part of Maelon's experiments to cure the genophage – the bio-weapon engineered by salarians and deployed by turians to combat the exploding population of the violent and expansive krogan. In Mass Effect 3, Shepard and the gang reclaim her from the salarians, only to find out she is the sole surviving female subject from Maelon's experiments and the salarian research lab. She continues helping Shepard and Mordin, however, by offering her body (genetics) toward the completion of the genophage cure. She survives the operation, and goes on to rally the entirety of the krogan species behind Wrex, who leads the male krogan into battle against the Reapers. In the end, Eve and Wrex, along with their new baby, Mordin, all survive the destruction of the Reapers and, unfortunately, the rest of synthetic life.But that is just a brief synopsis of Eve's contribution to the Mass Effect storyline. What makes Eve a great woman in games is her compelling advocacy for reproductive rights, feminine power, and diplomacy over aggression.As previously explained in the Great Women in Games series, it's not enough to make a woman tough. Lara Croft, for example, until the most recent installment, was essentially a dude with boobs. Adding female sex organs to traditional, aggressive masculine archetypes is not feminist – it's lazy and androcentric. Eve is impressive because, unlike most women and girls in games, part of what makes her a strong character is her commitment to becoming a mother herself and/or enabling her krogan sisters to mother children. She rightfully believes that it should not be up to other species, or even male krogan, whether or not female krogan are allowed to, or given the privilege, of having children – the right to have children or not should belong to female krogan alone. And, unlike most male krogan (save for a few, namely Wrex), Eve considers children key to a sustainable, diplomatic krogran future – not a future dominated by war and infighting.
"You should see how fast we pop 'em out!" -Wreav"The females will decide that, Wreav." -EveHer commitment to enabling the reproductive rights of female krogan is also tied to her commitment to regaining decision-making power for women in krogan society. Eve allows us to envision a society not where women have to learn to outmatch the traditional characteristics of men in that culture (in this case, violence, aggression, short-sightedness, and masculinity), but a society where women are given power because they are women, and because they are distinctly traditionally feminine – they are diplomatic, motherly, and prefer negotiation to violence.
"It’s time females took back our place in society, and resurrected our future… Maybe we can show the men how it’s done." -EveOf equal importance to Eve's focus on reproductive rights and feminine power is her successful utilization of diplomacy where aggression, violence, and threats of war fail. Even if Shepard cures the genophage and Wrex survives to become the Urdnot clan leader, if Eve dies during the genophage cure operation, the krogan forces fall into disarray and resort once again to infighting, greatly lessening their contribution to Shepard's EMS score (necessary to ensure the best possible ending[s]). It is only by keeping Eve alive that the krogan can unite against the Reapers, and then, it is only with Eve's diplomatic skills that the krogan consider allying together at all. The necessity of keeping her alive so that she can accomplish what male krogan cannot is clear from both narrative and gameplay standpoints."Enough. You can stay here and let old wounds fester as krogan have always done…or you can fight the enemy you were born to destroy—and win a new future for our children. I choose to fight. Who will join me?" -Eve
"While I don't know what fate ultimately has in store for my people, I can promise you your decision to believe in us will not be in vain. We will fight the Reapers for more than glory. We will fight them because we know there is a future for us after victory. The rest of my life will be devoted to traveling Tuchanka and speaking aloud the words no krogan has heard for nearly 2,000 years: There is reason to hope." -Eve
"Eve is in the Kelphic Valley, enlisting support from the other clans and spreading the word. She’s going to be a great leader. Most of the males won’t like me sharing power with her, but too bad." -WrexEve's strength stems in-part from her position as a protagonist and hero who doesn't resort to violence, aggression, or threats to win. Her power is a traditionally feminine one, and it's a power usually ignored or relegated to a kind of hail-mary option in most games – even most games with women.There are a myriad of other reasons why Eve is an impressive character. The three discussed here, though, are more than enough to justify Eve's place in the Great Women in Games series. Her commitment to fighting for reproductive rights, feminine power in krogan society, and the legitimacy of diplomacy over aggression as a means to win wars make Tuchanka's Urdnot Bakara an excellent model for female characters in future games.Ali is a former Game Informer editorial intern and is currently a freelancer at Extra Life and a marketing dweeb in corporate. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr.