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    14 Reasons Why "Avatar: The Last Airbender" Is Actually Super Feminist And Progressive

    And that's on equality.

    Here's a little story about me: When I was 10 years old, I watched some of Avatar: The Last Airbender when it first came out. Then, after like 11 episodes, I stopped. (Don't worry, I've still got my clown makeup on.)

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    Fast-forward to this past summer, I decided to give Avatar another try when I saw that it had been released on Netflix. That's when I realized, aside from being fantastic in a million other ways, this show is feminist as hell! Here's why:

    🚨WARNING 🚨This post contains major spoilers for Avatar: The Last Airbender. Like, major spoilers. If you haven't finished the series yet, look away or proceed with caution.

    1. It literally mentions sexism in the pilot.

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    In the very first episode, when Sokka is giving Katara attitude and insults her, Katara strikes back and calls him sexist. This may seem small, but I personally think bringing up such a mature topic for a kids show (in the pilot no less) is a pretty big deal! Plus, it's the first of many moments of Katara being super empowered throughout the series.

    2. There's an entire episode devoted to Sokka confronting his own misogyny and realizing women are just as capable as men.

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    In the beginning of "The Warriors of Kyoshi," Sokka's still being super sexist and believes that men are inherently better fighters than women. It's not until he gets his ass handed to him (repeatedly) by the all-female Kyoshi army that he sees the error of his ways. He even swallows his pride and learns combat techniques from them, forcing him to confront those toxic feelings once and for all.

    3. PLUS, that same episode shows that women can be feminine and powerful at the same time.

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    THIS. LINE. Suki saying this to Sokka (and giving him a peck on the cheek) shows that she knows she doesn't have to sacrifice her femininity in order to be strong, powerful, and respected. Internalized misogyny? Not today, Satan.

    4. The show tackles outdated traditions and puts them right to bed.

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    When Aang, Katara, and Sokka reach the North Pole, waterbending master Pakku agrees to teach Aang but refuses to teach Katara because teaching women combative waterbending is forbidden in the Northern Water Tribe. Does Katara take this sitting down? Nope! She challenges Pakku to a duel and proves herself a worthy competitor. And that's on equality!

    5. It also shows women actively fighting against those traditions across different generations.

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    Aside from Katara proving herself as a waterbender, a crucial element to Pakku seeing the error of his ways is the revelation about Katara's grandmother. Although Kanna (aka Gran Gran) was engaged to Pakku through an arranged marriage, she fled because she didn't love him and wanted to live her own life. This proves that Katara comes from a long line of brave, independent women whose empowerment spans literal decades.

    6. Before Aang saves the world, a woman technically does so first.

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    I'm not going to negate Aang defeating Fire Lord Ozai and restoring peace and balance to the natural world. After all, that's pretty much the entire point of the show. BUT, I will say that at the end of the first season, things are looking real bad when Admiral Zhao kills Tui the Moon Spirit, which threatens the spiritual balance of the world and paves the way for the Fire Nation to win the Hundred Year War. And who sacrifices themselves in order to restore that balance? None other than Princess Yue! She may not have defeated the fire lord, but Aang might not have had the chance if it weren't for her.

    7. Katara and Toph are both super empowered.

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    Katara and Toph ARE NOT treated like passive sidekicks in the series. Instead, they're both powerful benders who teach Aang the skills he needs to save the world and are considered masters of their craft. They don't just help Aang on his quest; they're literally essential. And they know it!

    8. And so is Princess Azula, making her an even better villain.

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    It would've been super easy to make Azula straight-up evil and call it a day, but the show does so much more for her character. It establishes and explores her deep-seated desire for power and control, which makes her cunning, manipulative, clever, and most of all confident. She's well aware of the fact that she's one of the most powerful firebenders in the world, and she definitely owns it.

    9. Even though their relationship isn't perfect, Katara and Toph still support each other.

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    Katara and Toph have a strained relationship throughout the series, but in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se," they're given a chance to bond and it's just so pure. I love the fact that Katara shares that she admires Toph, backs her up when some village girls bully her, and tells her she's pretty despite Toph claiming she doesn't care about her physical appearance. It shows that even though they aren't BFFs 100% of the time, they understand the importance of being there for one another.

    10. Nearly all of the female characters have complex backstories...

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    Part of what makes Avatar so great is the rich backstories it gives to all of its characters, but I especially appreciate what it does for the female characters on the show. From something as major as the death of Katara's mother to something as minor as why Ty Lee joined the circus, nearly every female character is given at least a little context for who they are, which unfortunately can't be said for other TV shows.

    11. ...distinct personalities....

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    No two female characters on Avatar are alike! Literally, none!!! Katara is gentle, levelheaded, and nurturing. Toph is stubborn, blunt, and hardheaded. Azula is bold, calculating, and determined. Mai is brooding, somber, and apathetic. I could go on, but you get the point. It's refreshing and makes the show so much more interesting and compelling to watch.

    12. ...AND just as much internal struggle as their male counterparts.

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    Two major plot points in the series are the internal struggles of Aang and Zuko, but this same treatment is granted to female characters in the series. A prime example is Katara's struggle to come to terms with her mother's death, which ultimately leads her on a path of revenge that forces her to confront her feelings of rage and resentment toward the man who killed her mother. This is HUGE for her character development and centers her in the show just as much as Aang and Zuko.

    13. When there's romance involved, the women in the show aren't passive.

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    All of the major romantic story arcs in the series involve the female characters having agency and making their desires known. Katara and Aang don't get together until Katara decides that she's ready. Mai openly pursues Zuko, and Suki rejects Sokka being overprotective and asserts herself. Romance is an area wherein women are often portrayed as super passive, but not in Avatar!

    14. And finally, Aang and his friends literally would not have been able to save the world without Katara, Toph, or Suki.

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    I could spend all day listing the instances in which Katara, Toph, and even Suki have assisted Aang and saved his ass in battle. But for the sake of time, let's focus on the final battle with Fire Lord Ozai and the Fire Nation. Katara is the one who delivers the final blow that captures and detains Azula. Meanwhile, Toph and Suki use their skills to stop an entire airship fleet from destroying the Earth Kingdom. And, I'll mention again that Aang uses both earthbending and waterbending to defeat the Fire Lord, which he learned directly from both Toph and Katara. It's safe to say that without those three, the final battle would've gone very, very differently, and there's a chance peace might not have been restored.

    Welp, that's all for now! Be sure to stream Avatar on Netflix if you haven't already, or if you just need a little feminist energy in your life. You won't regret it. Bye!

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