One of the things I love so much about Donnic’s role in DA2 is that throughout the game, he plays the parts traditionally occupied by a woman.
Here in Act 1, he is the vulnerable damsel in distress: he’s in over his head, overpowered by forces he doesn’t understand, and he’s saved at the nick of time by our fearless hero, completely wowed — dumbstruck even — by her strength and skill and prowess. He thinks she’s beautiful, not because she’s in a pretty dress or laughing coquettishly but because she just saved his ass from a fuckton of gangsters. (As a side note, the OP must have turned off persistent gore, because at this point, my Aveline is usually covered head to toe in blood — which only supports what I’m saying.)
In Act 2, Donnic is the prize to be won, the trophy to be fought for. Winning his love is the cause for which Aveline bends over backwards and makes a complete ass out of herself. We’re not given a reason as to why Aveline would go to so much trouble on Donnic’s behalf, but this is only curious because Aveline is a woman; for there are plenty of male heroes in literature, from Shakespeare to Bronte, for whom we’re given no reason, apart from the fact that the hero once looked at his prize and decided, I must woo her. .
In Act 3, Donnic is the supportive spouse. He lends her a hand in her endeavors but does not eclipse her; he is content to stand in the ranks with all the other guardsmen and bask proudly upon the leader that his wife has become. His sphere is the domestic: His interactions with the other characters—Fenris and Isabela—are primarily social, and even when he visits the Rose he does so in order to provide Aveline with a happier home.
I find the way that Aveline and Donnic’s relationship subverts gender stereotypes incredibly empowering for both sexes — not just for women who might find themselves the literal or metaphorical breadwinners of their relationships, but for the men who fall in love with them. In Donnic’s example, you have a man who highly values his ability to support and enable his competent spouse; who is made vulnerable and readily accepts help from others without making a stink over it; who allows himself to be the object of another’s affections (rather than demanding it happen, like so many romantic heroes); who is strong, yes, but who doesn’t have to make more money or have more status or hold more power than his wife, or “be the man”, as it were (god do i hate that term).
I mean, lots of fantasy stories have kickass women, but few represent any men who appreciate them for that. Men like Donnic, who don’t want to dominate or surpass their woman’s kick-assery but instead support and enable it, are so rare in fiction, and it’s just another reason why I think Dragon Age is the best series on earth because: feminism.