Friday, November 7, 2014

30 Day Mass Effect Challenge, Day 7: Favorite Female Team Member, Supplemental

I realized after I got to that little footnote at the bottom of today's challenge that I had way too many thoughts about the particular topic of robot sexuality (I mean, what?? Did I actually just type out those words???), so here you go.
The facts: EDI is an artificial intelligence who is housed primarily aboard the Normandy, although she is able to control the robotic body that was once for the Dr. Eva program. Like Dr. Eva, EDI was programmed by Cerberus, based upon a rogue VI that was created by the Alliance and used on a facility on Luna, Earth's moon. When Joker released the shackles on EDI - in order to save the ship from certain doom when the Collectors forced their way on - she was freed from many of the restrictions placed upon her, and throughout the third game in the Mass Effect series, EDI continuously makes modifications on her programming based on her interactions with Commander Shepard. 

The rest of this is a lot of speculation, but it's shit I've thought about since I played the game, so rest assured that it's been tediously picked at for over a year. 

Self-preservation is a major - although not the only - reason that sex exists; through sex, we procreate, therefore continuing our species into perpetuity. Being an AI, EDI does not have that instinct, and it does not seem that she really has those desires. Just check out the video where Shepard gives her dating advice:

See, it's all about emotional commitments, at least coming from EDI's perspective. Of course, it could be her inexperience with human emotions, artificial as they may be, and later on, she may choose to explore them as she chooses. But as of the Mass Effect series, she does not appear to find them interesting, other than for research purposes.

Like I said in my footnote, EDI never mentions that she had changed any part of her programming when it comes to sexuality, and being who she is, she would have broached the topic with Shepard as a means to get advice, regardless of whether or not Shepard was comfortable. 

So does this mean that EDI was asexual? It makes sense, given her interactions with Joker*, and her lack of a need (and ability, presumably) to bear children** never seemed to give her much pause. Now, asexuality does not mean that someone cannot be in a relationship or that they don't have sex ever. According to the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, AVEN, "[m]any asexual people experience attraction, but ... feel no need to act out that attraction sexually." Rather, an asexual - be they homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual - will want to engage whomever s/he is attracted to via other avenues, in "whatever way works best for" that particular person. That fits EDI quite well, actually, as she seeks to interact with Joker on a more emotional or intellectual level.

And this is why I felt that Bioware wasted a great opportunity with EDI. They showed homosexuality with Traynor and Cortez, bisexuality with Kaidan (albeit only in the third game), omnisexuality (or pansexuality) with Liara, and heterosexuality with everyone else. Why not include asexuality? I mean, sure, it's kinda creepy when you think of an artificial being, particularly one that's been created to be a male boner fantasy, having her own sexual identity, but even that is only one aspect of a person. It doesn't define them, and besides, it would have been nice to see that underrepresented part of the sexual spectrum portrayed by such a huge title.

Anyway, that's all I really have to say. Feel free to sound off in the comments, if you wish!

* Even on the Citadel DLC, where you have Shepard having moments with his/her significant other and various other characters behaving sexually (like Ashley and Vega, for example - Ash actually giggles), EDI and Joker don't behave in a way that would indicate they are involved sexually, at least not heavily. She gets him to drink more alcohol as a means to get him to dance with her, but, this is Mass Effect, and all they really do is dance rather Shepard-like next to each other.
** Considering how women are, even today, considered simply vehicles for babies, this is revolutionary; I have to give Bioware mad props for this. Even Shepard, in a conversation with Garrus, admits that their warrior lifestyle doesn't really fit children (in one of the dialogue options). And he doesn't question her decision, which is just glorious. 
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