hey like or reblog this if you would actually be really opposed to Tahno cutting his hair as any kind of positive character development, as in, to show he’s grown or is a better person or to make him more acceptable.
Because a boy cutting his hair does not carry the same history as a girl doing it, because there are already rigid gender stereotypes saying men cannot be pretty and cannot have any kind of length to their hair (and his isn’t even that long!) and that femme expression on a man constitutes a character flaw.
Because to have him cut his hair in such a way would imply that his earlier femme expression is “just a phase” that he needed to “outgrow.” It’s different when real people get haircuts, but a fictional character’s haircut is a conscious authorial choice, it’s symbolism, it sends a message. It says that Tahno could not be a good guy or redeemed or even a romantic option for Korra while still remaining gender non-conforming even in such a small way, that his gender expression needed to be “fixed,” that there is something fucking wrong with his hair as it is now or it symbolizes something bad.
Because in animation hairstyle is a big part of making characters distinctive, and lopping off his distinctive do would make him less eye-catching and make him look kind of boring.
Because everyone can tell it would be offensive to say Asami should stop wearing makeup and skirts and cut her hair as character development, because Asami knows who she is and expresses herself femininely because she enjoys it and it would be misogynistic to treat this as something in need of repair, but femininity on a boy is something we still think it’s okay to erase and beat out of him with trauma and call it character development.
(note: I have had him cut his hair once in fic, and consider it another time. In both cases it didn’t mean anything good. The time he cut it it symbolized self-destructivenesss and a sort of nihilistic surrender of identity, he was an absolute trainwreck in that fic and was not headed in the direction of positive growth; the time he thought about it it symbolized low self-esteem and a willingness to conform because maintaining his self-expression in the face of family criticism was just another battle he wasn’t sure he had it in him to fight at the time. I have never once written him getting a haircut to show improvement or redemption, and never will.)
oh my fucking god literally no one cares that much
and there’s nothing canon about tahno being gender queer, so like ??? where is this homophobia argument coming from? cutting his hair might not match up with YOUR headcanon but his representation in the show is very much male and very much heterosexual
and ever consider that it could be a symbol of him focusing on more important things than being a public figure?? and maybe like wowza after his bending was taken away he doesn’t want to identify with pro-bending anymore, including his style during the height of his fame. like idt anyone is thinking MAKE HIM A CONFORMIST!!!!! jesus.
also like… no one is trying to “fix” him. it’s not like a personality thing, it’s…just a headcanon about his hair length. it’s really not that meaningful.
Um okay firstly you keep saying it’s not important while obviously being worked up about it yourself. Can you not do that, it’s a derailing tactic, it basically distracts from the content of my words by saying the entire issue is unimportant. If you think it’s unimportant, then stop discussing it with me. If you would like to have a conversation, let’s just have it at face value as two people who are interested enough in the topic to have opinions on it.
Secondly, nowhere in there did I say Tahno was gay or genderqueer. His sexuality did not even come up, since gender expression has literally zero to do with sexuality. Korra has a mix of masculine and feminine gender expression, and what does this tell us about who she likes to sleep with? Absolutely nothing.
I will thank you not to imply that “very much male” is synonymous with heterosexuality, though. THAT is heterosexist and probably some kind of cissexist too and erases tons of people. You seem to have a lot of ideas about gender expression directly correlating to sexual orientation. Sorry, but that’s wrong.
I think you’ve really confused “gender expression that isn’t completely stereotypical/socially accepted” with “genderqueer.” People who identify on the gender binary (anyone who considers themselves strictly male or strictly female) can still mix up their gender expression. This can include wearing clothing items made for the other binary gender, wearing or not wearing makeup or jewelry, haircuts, even things like hobbies, tone of voice and word choice, or way of carrying themselves. Hardly no one presents as 100% male or 100% female, and this doesn’t make them any less men or women if that’s how they identify. Sokka identifies as male through and through, but fretting over whether to buy a purse was female gender expression. These are STEREOTYPES, and people are not stereotypes, we are more complicated than that.
In other words, gender expression is not what makes you genderqueer, identifying as genderqueer is what makes you genderqueer. If Tahno wore a dress and lipstick that would not make him genderqueer. If Tahno said, “I don’t really feel like a boy, at least not all the time, but I don’t know if I really consider myself a girl either,” that would be an example of one way to be genderqueer, and it wouldn’t matter if he shaved his head and ditched the eyeliner. No one is saying he is is canonically genderqueer, so that’s kind of a strawman, and one that kinda bugs me because it seems in a hurry to distance him from a queerness NO ONE EVEN BROUGHT UP.
Now, back to the stereotypes—because these stereotypes are restrictive and uncomfortable, even for heterocis folks, there’s some leeway. There’s like a certain percentage of variant gender expression you’re allowed before it’s considered “weird” and you start facing unpleasant social repercussions and discrimination. When we don’t sense the line intuitively, we find it real fast through experimentation, and know how far it’s safe to go.
Additionally, due to misogyny, the rules are very different for boys and girls. Essentially, divorced from the gender of the person performing the gender expression, femininity is always bad, shameful, weak, and degrading, and masculinity is always strong, praiseworthy, and good. Think this is fucked up? Well, now you’re getting it. So, you’d think everyone would just express themselves as super male all the time, right? Wrong. Women are allowed more male gender expression than men are allowed female gender expression, but there are still limits. Korra is allowed (and praised for) being muscular, outspoken, confrontational and physical, but she isn’t allowed to have hairy armpits. Society polices exactly how much gender variation is acceptable, and if you go over that line, things get nasty fast.
Therefore, while women are pushed to walk a tightrope between male and female gender expression, never becoming manly enough that they’re not fuckable in the male gaze (because that is unacceptable for a woman in the patriarchy) but not being so female they’re seen as disgustingly useless, girly, and weak, men are pushed to avoid anything feminine at all costs, because even the slightest brush with the feminine is seen to completely destroy masculinity. This concept is called “fragile masculinity,” in which the so-called stronger gender is vulnerable to the slightest corruption from the weaker one. Women began to wear pants in the 1970s, but men in skirts are still not socially acceptable, and we even cast judgment on traditionally male skirtlike garments, such as kilts and sarongs. I wear men’s clothes all the time and am perceived as no less feminine for it, but a man wearing women’s clothes really isn’t viewed the same way.
Tahno’s presentation, overall, is masculine. He’s like maybe 85-90% masculine expression, to pull a number completely out of my ass. His haircut isn’t female, exactly, but it has feminine qualities, it’s ambiguous, and aside from Sokka in The Warriors of Kyoshi, he’s the only speaking male character to wear female-coded or ambiguous makeup (war paint which is socially constructed as male doesn’t count). His features are delicate, which in-universe isn’t expression, but was a conscious animation choice. His body language is more emphatic and emotional than is accepted for men. In other words, his gender expression is only very slightly feminine, but this is deliberate and significant. I believe it was actually done as part of his villainy, to make us feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unnerved by him. He isn’t far enough over the line to actually become so offensive he’d have to be erased from media representation entirely, he’s just a smidgen over the line, challenging gender norms subtly without actually flouting them.
I am honestly disappointed and offended that this was done with that purpose in mind, that his gender variation was intended to make us DISLIKE him, and that his character was discarded so easily. It’s part of why I’m so passionate about him, because he may have been created as he is for flawed reasons, but I adore him and his expression and I think people like him have the right to exist and be loved. This is healing through fanwork, this is sending a message that those codes are no longer interpreted by the audience in the way they used to be, that we reject these rules about what a man can and can’t be.
A desire to see him cut his hair and present as more masculine does not exist in a vacuum. Seeing shorter hair on him and less makeup as more conventionally attractive does not exist in a vacuum.
Thirdly, this IS about his personality, as the OP said it was part of meaningful character development. This is absolutely about fixing him and what are perceived as his flaws.
Fourthly, even if you associated it strictly with pro-bending (which would be tricky and dangerous because all the gender expression readings are RIGHT THERE and you can’t get rid of them) I don’t think identifying as a bender or a pro-bender in itself is a part of him that it’s healthy or positive to destroy, I think that a person’s identity is very important and removing huge chunks of it can be extremely damaging, and I would really be unable to see any story in which he disavows himself from his bending entirely as a positive development in any way.
Anyway, uh, this has been a crash course in gender theory, I hope you enjoyed it and hope you learned something. This is exactly why media representation and discussions of it are important.