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Accumulating miscommunication
Azula, her sexuality, and shipping. 
18th-Feb-2009 07:15 am
So there was a secret on fandomsecrets today about how Tyzula shippers were worse than Zutarians because they bash on Azula het ships. Basically.

This opened up a bunch of people talking about how Tyzula shippers don't actually discriminate and that butthurt shippers should stop being butthurt (which I wholeheartedly agree with), and people saying that they think Azula's sexuality could easily be het and that they were tired of strong characters being made into lesbians or whatever. And then of course people saying that Azula being lesbian is what makes the most sense to them and all that.

To which I have to say, can't Azula just be manipulative?

Disclaimer: I just woke up and I'm kinda incoherent. If I sound like an idiot, that's why. >_o

Up until the third season, we see Azula have absolutely no interest in anything other than taking Zuko, Iroh, and when she runs into him, Aang back to her father. (And taking over Ba Sing Se. But yeah, you get my drift.) She never talks about anything else, we never see her in any situation other than what leads to her inevitable goal. This is probably because she is the lead villain of Season 2, and, unlike Zuko, she's not going to become a good guy, so we can't see her indulging Ty Lee's desire to go shopping or whatever. HOWEVER. Because of that canon view of her, I've always had the impression that she's like Zuko, only better at it - she puts her mind to one thing, and puts aside anything else. If something is not conducive to her current goal, she has no interest in it.

This includes sex. And relationships. And love.

Then let's add in the fact that she's a sociopath, psychopath, narcissist, whatever you want to label her as - it's pretty clear that she doesn't care about people. Excluding The Beach, the only time we see her do something 'nice' is to Zuko - giving him advice about Iroh and telling him to stop being a dumbass and just go to the meeting. (Note that I'm talking about the third season, here, and excluding The Beach. 'Cause obviously she was nice to Ty Lee then. >.o) Then she sort of drops off the face of the planet until the invasion, where again she's just in her Big Bad Villain role.

She drops off the face of the planet again until The Boiling Rock - and, le gasp, she actually cares about the fact that Mai just betrayed her. She's pissed. And it all gets worse when Ty Lee betrays her - after that, we see her spiraling slowly (okay, not so slowly) into a huge ball of Messed Up Azula. If you think she's a-okay during the Southern Raiders, then you're not paying attention to her. In the finale, we get confirmation that she's acting the way she is because of Ty Lee and Mai betraying her - it's triggered this paranoid schizophrenia in her, and we can guess that Ursa's betrayal of her (choosing to leave for Zuko and disregarding her) was the base for her reaction to what happened in The Boiling Rock.

NOW. With all of this in mind. What triggered Azula's downfall was a collapse of relationships very close and dear to her, and, at the very end, the collapse of the Fire Nation - which she's built her entire life around.

To me? None of that has to do with romantic relationships. Her mother's relationship with her wasn't romantic, and her relationship with Ty Lee and Mai is...friendship. Or the closest thing Azula can have to friendship. Straight from canon, ignoring any subtext or possibilities, Azula's downfall happened because her goals fell through.


Anyway, my point is, I see Azula as asexual. She hasn't shown any real canon sexual interest towards anyone, nor any interest in establishing a relationship that was romantic. Her 'suggestive' actions are part of intimidation and manipulation.

Regardless of that idea I have of her, I still ship just about everyone under the sun with the poor girl. Sometimes, I even play with the idea of her reciprocating. When I do, however, it's for a reason - she's curious, she has a goal besides being with that person, whatever. Regardless of that view I have of her, I still don't have a problem with her having sex with people - because sex is a means of control.

And the reason I ship people with Azula? (Well, for one, because it's hot.) Because she is the least conducive character in the show to a healthy relationship.

That's it. It'll never be healthy. There might be little moments where the relationship is healthy, and does work, and is endearing or heartfelt or whatever. But as a whole? She'll fuck them up. She'll manipulate them, hurt them, use them, and that's the appeal.

Azula would happily use whoever let her. So I happily have people fall for Azula, and get hurt.

That's why I ship her with everyone. That's why I refuse to limit her to homosexual or heterosexual - because, to me, her asexuality and manipulative nature cancels out gender as an issue.
18th-Feb-2009 02:39 pm (UTC)

Before I became active in the fandom, I was under the impression that Azula was asexual, and for the exact reasons you state: her ambition, her lack of interest in anything outside of her goals, her relative apathy, etc. ... I was surprised when the idea was dismissed so readily.  When I posed such a prospect on a once-popular Avatar forum -- back when it was still popular -- I recall only one person appearing to agree with me.  The rest pretty much said it wasn't possible ( and just so happened to be comprised of a majority of het!Azula-lovers ).

This perceived asexuality was actually the reason I began liking her in the first place!  ( That, and I'm a sucker for villains; always have been. )  I saw a teenager who wasn't interested in relationships... just as I wasn't.  To this day, I identify as asexual.  And, to some degree, I still believe Azula is inherently asexual.

On the other hand, slashing her opens up a world of possibilities that hadn't existed before: a new way for her to manipulate and exert dominance.  She would then be considered a homo-romantic asexual ( even though it wouldn't be a romantic relationship, that's the phrasing used to describe such a person ).  She would use the other person's feelings against them in much the same way she did before, detaching herself from them on a personal level.  If she were to have sex, it would be to exact control, not to connect or share herself with the unfortunate person.  She could still be asexual while doing this, because some asexuals do have sex, but it's not something they seek for the bonding experience.  ( In many real cases, these asexuals unfortunately feel obligated to. )  It would be a power-play.  She would never think to do it for any other reason, because the physical act itself would hold no real interest to her.  It's purely a means of dominance.

I do understand your reasoning that her asexuality and manipulative nature could, in theory, blind her to gender as a whole.  I still think her more positive interactions with women would lead her to seek them out, but point taken, acknowledged, and respected.

P.S.:  It took willpower not to come back at "her mother's relationship with her wasn't romantic".  ;D  Then again, the "romanticism" would start from Azula's end, anyway.
19th-Feb-2009 02:18 am (UTC)
Part of people's reluctance to take that interpretation of her character into consideration is probably her tendency to seem sexual. That and way too many people pretend asexuality doesn't exist. The problem with that is that they forget they're looking through their eyes - just because we see a character that way doesn't mean they are. (Like Aang being a little shota uke.)

Hmm...well, part of my thoughts on whether or not she would tend towards women has to do with the actual gender roles in the Fire Nation. Things seem on equal playing ground, so her dominating a man or a woman wouldn't really make much difference. She may tend more towards women, but the thing is she would be having sex for the mental control. Physically, of course Azula can dominate just about anyone. Mentally...maybe not so much. Because of this emphasis (I personally) put on the mental side, I don't know that she would be concerned with the body.

I guess what I mean is that, I can see Azula seeking relationships with women more readily. It was her mother who she wanted a connection with, and her being female could overlap into Azula's future companions - subconsciously, having other women connect with her like that would be more satisfying. When it comes down to the actual sex - or to going through the motions of using someone's affections for her - it wouldn't really matter to her if they were a man or woman. Hearing a woman confess her love for her would be more satisfying than a man, though. Either way, it's worship and a potential pawn for her use.

It's less her asexuality (because I know that asexuals can, of course, categorize as hetero/bi/homosexual) than it is her blanket desire to control. I do see where you're coming from, and agree with you, basically - just not 100%. :)

It was hard not to make a note about her!

I love talking to you about this kinda stuff so much.
22nd-Feb-2009 05:41 am (UTC)
It's admittedly pretty easy to see Azula as sexual, because it's such an exacting means of control.  She delves as deeply as possible when inflicting pain, searching for the most personal route.  And things don't come much more personally than sexually.

Pretending asexuality doesn't exist is, from my observation, rooted in the rejection of the incomprehensible.  People can't imagine being asexual; therefore, it "isn't real".  I can assure you that we're not soulless husks without passion.  "Asexuality doesn't exist" is such a blanket statement, much like the beginnings -- and, sadly, in some respects, continuation -- of homophobia.  It's the intolerance of someone "different".  Taking time to understand others would not only broaden horizons on a personal level, but on a societal level as well.  I know it's too much to ask, though.  Seems many people look for the easy answer.  ( Also, LOL @ Aang being a little shouta uke.  Are they talking about the same Aang from The Headband?  ;)  Sure, his personality is more passive and gregarious, but he knows how and when to take charge, too! )

You make an interesting case with the Fire Nation's gender roles.

"It was her mother who she wanted a connection with, and her being female could overlap into Azula's future companions - subconsciously, having other women connect with her like that would be more satisfying."

^This fact definitely plays into my view that Azula fancies women.  With a woman, it's possible for her to attain that failed connection.  It wouldn't replace Ursa, of course, but it would help to fill some of that void -- a motherly figure like Katara, in particular.  What do you suppose would've happened if Azula had seen Katara in her Fire Nation disguise?  Katara's hairstyle bore an unmistakable resemblance to Ursa's, after all!

I see where you're coming from, too -- and, though we may not agree 100%, "basically" works!  :D

It's not too late to give into temptation...  >;)

You do?  Really?  We'll need to talk about it more often!  I'd enjoy it, too.
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24th-Feb-2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Yeah, I mourn the days without ship wars. I don't know when fandoms everywhere started getting so full of wank. :/

Thank you very much, I'm happy to hear you think I sounded sane! The ATLA fandom's pretty terrible at taking shipping in a bizarre way; I'm glad to offer you some sanity. :D
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