[Trigger warning: Mentions of sexual assault.]
I’ve done as much research as I can in order to feel comfortable enough to write this out. I’d like to start off by saying that I am a straight woman who benefits from the current society in which we live in today. Although I am not white (I’m half Japanese), I look the part of a white person and therefore I benefit from that as well. I am represented everywhere—my sexuality, my skin color, the gender that I identify as … it’s plastered in every major media outlet, and video games are no exception.
If you’re unfamiliar with the bi Cassandra mod, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A user created a mod in which the player could romance Cassandra as a woman and, for lack of a better term, it seemed like the fandom lost its shit. To be quite honest, this is the first I’ve been hearing of it. I had heard of the straight Dorian mod a couple months back and that was infuriating. (I’ll come back to that, though.) The creator of the mod reached out to me, and out of respect for their privacy, I will have them remain nameless. When I asked about why they created the mod, it was because:
“I always kept an eye on the romance thread there, and nobody had done the Cassandra edit yet, so I gave it a go. It worked. I was pretty happy because wowzas I did the thing. All it required was removing one flag for gender. I was honestly surprised nobody else had done it yet.”
The creator of the bi Cassandra mod had their content deleted and was harassed so badly that they then deleted all of their social media accounts. I want to point out that it is in no way okay to harass someone. It is not justified. Being upset is reasonable, but being so angry that you effectively cause someone to flee from an environment that promotes equality, fairness, and community is wrong. I understand that a lot of the Dragon Age fandom was upset about this mod, but they were in no way justified to react by harassing a user from the community into leaving.
When I asked the mod creator about the backlash, they responded:
“At first I found it hilarious. Considering there are free love mods for Origins, they certainly took their time to complain. Unless they haven’t played Origins … In which case, they should. Then the rapist accusations started. The Cassandra BSN thread even had people calling me a sexual deviant. Others outright said that I was insulting the writers.
I’ve spent many years trying to get my life on track after rape, but here we are. I am now a rapist because a woman can date another woman in a video game. Others outright said that I was insulting the writers.”
They accompanied their statement with this screencap of David Gaider apologizing for the reaction the mod produced, citing that he, himself, was not offended on Cassandra’s behalf.
I, personally, do not have a problem with the bi Cassandra mod. There’s apparently a bi Cullen mod and I’ve heard nothing but good things about that. Sexuality is fluid and is in no way rigid. If the character’s sexuality is not essential to their personality, then I don’t see a problem with making a mod.
I also mentioned a straight Dorian mod earlier. That’s different. A straight Dorian mod would be completely erasing a part of his character that is essential. His sexuality is engrained in every fiber of his being—he even has a personal quest about it! To take that away is to take away what Dorian is about. He is not just his sexuality, but it’s definitely a very big aspect to his personality. By contrast, Cassandra’s sexuality is not.
There are arguably worse mods out there that I’d rather have a discussion about as opposed to bi Cassandra. What about whitewashing? I’ve seen mods that make Isabella from DA2 fair-skinned. I just saw one recently that has Josephine’s moles removed. How about incest? There’s a mod out there to be able to romance Bethany in DA2. I don’t remember the fandom causing a stir over those mods. When I asked the mod creator about the other bi mods on the Nexus, we shared almost similar opinions. They said:
“I don’t really give a toot what people do in their games. That’s the long and short of it. I’m a lesbian, but it doesn’t hurt me or my game if people want to romance Sera as a man. It’s gross, but it’s a video game. […] But I also think these mods allow people to create all sorts of characters that represent who they are. That’s what Bioware games are all about, pretty much. If somebody wants to make a ‘feminine’ male character, but romance Dorian, who the hell are we to police that? Not everyone is comfortable playing as Beefy McDudebro, and they shouldn’t have to.
I think people need to really have a sit down and think about their actions before they attack others over a bunch of fictional characters. Especially over mods that add/take away NOTHING in their game since they’re entirely optional.”
The bi mods that users have created remind me of DA2 where you could essentially romance whoever you wanted. If you didn’t want to romance Anders as a man, you had the option not to. I feel like that’s the same mindset I have toward the bi Cassandra mod. If I don’t want to romance Cassandra as a lady Inquisitor (but let’s face it, I’d be lying) then I don’t have to download the mod. It’s as simple as that. Don’t like it? Then don’t download it. It won’t be in your game.
You know what I’d rather talk about? The improved eyebrows from the Nexus. You know, important things.