attackfish: Jet and Zuko fighting in the teashop, text "Obviously this is the place to come if you want to get murdered by lunatics" (Jet Juko TDL quote)
[personal profile] attackfish
So during an *ahem* discussion of Azula and her abusiveness, I realized I have never sat down and written a comprehensive version of my particular theory of Azula's breakdown. I've talked about it in comment threads a lot, but I have never dedicated a post to it. So in response to a user on Tumblr who blogs under the name fireroyals, I wrote it up. I figured I should probably post it here The discussion this post is in reply to can be found at my tumblr [link].


While I disagree with you as to whether or not Azula was born without the capacity to feel affective empathy, I don't at all disagree with you that Azula's childhood shaped her tremendously, or that she was abused. I think there are a lot of people who want to say it was either one or the other. Either she is a "psychopath" (an outdated term that has been widely misunderstood and keeps shifting in meaning), and she was born the way she is, and she either wasn't abused, or abuse didn't affect her, or she was abused, and how she was raised made her into who she is. I don't think either of those positions are correct. Being born without affective empathy has no protective power. There is no code that says that predators don't abuse other predators, and there is nothing about lacking affective empathy that makes abuse magically not damaging. Azula fascinates me as a character, and yes, part of this is because she reminds me of my stalker. I have spent a great deal of time figuring out what makes this character tick, and what made her stop ticking at the end. Instead of addressing your points in argument form, I am going to tell you how I think Azula became who she is. Bear with me, it's a bit of a story.

When Azula was born, I think Ozai was a man who was already deeply warped. I do not believe as some in fandom do that he gave up his family and love for power. I believe he never loved them as we understand it to start with. In his children, Ozai wasn't looking for independent people, but for a mirror. Their existence and accomplishments were there solely to reflect well on him and benefit him. Before Azula was old enough to show "promise", by which I mean a combination of cruelty and talent in areas that Ozai approved of, Ozai treated both his children like gold. Zuko was after all his heir apparent. We can see this in the comics, and also when Zuko says things like "back when [his] family was actually happy." This was not a time when Ozai's relationship with his children was healthy, but it was a time before the cruelty he would exhibit later. And this beginning, especially the positive attention Ozai gives Zuko, will have a profound impact on Azula.

Then, Azula's talents and lack of empathy become apparent. Ozai sees himself in her, and sees all those things he likes about himself in her, his own ruthlessness and willingness to use people, his own firebending talent, his own cunning and use of manipulation. He nurtures this in her, and begins to give her the lion's share of his positive attention. When Zuko shows signs of empathy, and when he isn't a firebending prodigy, Ozai, who only sees his children for the value they give him, sees this almost as a personal sight. Zuko isn't good enough for Ozai. Worse, I think he projects his own feelings of inadequacy onto Zuko. So Azula represents all that he sees as worthy about himself, and Zuko all he hates about himself. So he adores (but does not love) Azula and despises Zuko.

In the back of Azula's mind, she remembers a time it was different, when Zuko was a golden child too. This means that Zuko becomes an object lesson. It is possible to fall from grace. Everything Ozai does to Zuko, every harsh word, every brush off, every burning and banishment, is thus also something Ozai has done to Azula, because she sees in it the price of failure. This builds in her a deep deep well of anxiety. To deal with this, she hides it from herself. She masks it with a conscious belief in her own perfection. Almost isn't good enough. Flaws and weakness are unacceptable. They are for people like Zuko. She needs to see herself as better than Zuko, intrinsically, because if she isn't, she could suffer the same fate. She needs to see herself as perfect because perfection keeps her safe.

In this construction of Azula and her world, Ursa treating both her children fairly would read as gross favoritism to her daughter. Any love and attention Ursa gave to Zuko would be a sign that she favored Zuko over Azula, even if she gave Azula love and attention in equal measure. And any disapproval Ursa expressed toward Azula's actions would become a deep injustice, even if she disapproved of actions undertaken by Zuko as well. By giving both her children love, support, and limits, she was treating her worthless child the same as she did her worthy child. The human mind remembers slights and inconsistencies much more than it remembers fairness, so Azula, who has so much invested in thinking that Zuko is inferior to her and deserves his treatment at the hands of Ozai, would remember the times that Ursa was affectionate towards Zuko, while the times in which Ursa rebuked Zuko in some way, which after all is all he deserves in Azula's view, would be invisible to her. Meanwhile the same process happens in reverse. Azula, who is perfect, flawless, above reproach, would remember every hint of disapproval from Ursa vividly, while Ursa's love for her, as her due, would be ignored. Worse, Azula had been taught by Ozai's actions to view parental approval as a zero sum game, and if Ursa favors Zuko what must she think of Azula? This process is almost certainly encouraged by Ozai. When Azula said in "The Beach" that her own mother thought she was a monster, I heard two things, the first was the voice of a very perceptive little girl who picked up on the reasonable worry Ursa felt about her and her behavior, and the other as Ozai's voice whispering to Azula, telling her that Ursa didn't understand them.

Yet on another level, Azula is aware that her mother loves her. We can see this most obviously in the finale, where Azula, in the throes of her breakdown hallucinates her mother gently reproaching her, and telling Azula she loves her, but we can also see it in a scene from "Zuko Alone" that I think communicates one of the saddest things about Azula's story. In this scene, Ursa is walking with Zuko on a covered walkway through the palace garden. Azula is playing in the garden with Ty Lee while Mai glances at Zuko and blushes. Azula decides she wants to tease Mai and Zuko for Mai's crush, and to do that, she needs Zuko. She tells Ty Lee to "watch this," walks over to her mother and brother, and then plays the sweet child for her mother, in order to get her to make Zuko play with her. This scene shows how young Azula began her deliberate manipulation, and how skilled and practiced she is at it already, but it I think tells us something else at least as important, because in this scene, Azula manipulates by playing on her mother's love for her. This is the last time we see her do this in the series. After her mother leaves, this tool falls out of use until she forgets she ever had it. Perhaps she continues to manipulate Zuko this way for a while, but three years later, he is banished as well. For three years, there is absolutely no one that loves Azula, and she forgets to see herself as worthy of love. My abuser/stalker manipulated through affection all of the time. It's part of what kept me holding on to that "friendship" as long as I did. People who lack affective empathy, who are raised with love understand it. They don't feel it, but they understand it, and they use it. Azula doesn't. "Psychopath" or not, this is deeply, deeply tragic.

This subconscious understanding of her mother's love doesn't stop Azula's cleaving to her father. In fact I think it may have strengthened the drive for her to do so. Since acknowledging her mother's sincere love for her would mean acknowledging that someone could hold Zuko and herself in equal esteem, and the psychological costs of that acknowledgement were so high, she would have become even more committed to her father's worldview. And then Ursa leaves, and she leaves for Zuko, something Azula doubtless would have picked up on. This confirms her belief that her mother loved her brother more, but it also takes away a potential source of affirmation and support for Azula outside of her father. Her self-image rests on a very shaky foundation of two intertwined pillars: her father's estimation of her value, and her own belief in her personal perfection. On some level, Azula has to realize that this is an unstable situation, and so she seeks out other ways to prop up her self-image. For a while, Zuko fills this role, but her attitude towards him is still too bound up in Ozai's. So she builds two relationships that are not so intermeshed with her father and their dynamic. This is where Mai and Ty Lee enter the picture.

Azula uses her ability to control Mai and Ty Lee as a constant source of fuel for her self-image, but she doesn't love them. She doesn't care about them, but she is psychologically dependent upon them. She needs them. It never ceases to amaze and frustrate me just how many people mistake psychological dependence for love. In this, Azula is like most abusers, who are dependent upon their victims in some way. That's why they abuse. Most abusers also "love" their victims, at least as much as they feel attachment and affection for their victims, much as Ozai does for Azula. If their victim tries to leave, they react with hurt and anger, a "How could you do this to me?" response. This is not how Azula responds, however, and in this she is very different indeed from most abusers. It is this difference that I think points to inborn lack of empathy. In the series, this difference is shown in several places. The first is when she goes to collect Ty Lee.

At this point, Ty Lee has already tried to get away from Azula at least once, by running away to join the circus. Azula approaches her and asks her to come. When Ty Lee refuses, Azula doesn't become angry, or hurt. In fact she expects, and I would argue even desires this response. She then tells Ty Lee that she will be attending the show that evening. Ty Lee reacts with visible fear. At the show that evening, Azula endangers not only Ty Lee, but also the entire audience, and circus people, meaning everyone in the life Ty Lee has tried to build apart from Azula. And Azula doesn't do it vengefully. She is gleeful at the prospect of forcing Ty Lee to do something she doesn't want to do. Azula could have given Ty Lee an ultimatum to begin with, but it wouldn't give her the same psychological payoff that hearing Ty Lee's no and coercing her into changing it into a yes does. This need for Azula to assert her control is demonstrated again when she goes to Omashu for Mai. Mai's reaction to Azula is different from Ty Lee's. Mai says yes. This means that Azula doesn't get the boost to her self-image from forcing her that she craves. So she sets a situation where she will be able to force Mai to do something Azula knows she doesn't want to. Nothing will convince me that Azula had only just thought about the ramifications of setting King Bumi free. So why did she set up a hostage exchange and then force Mai to call it off at the last minute? The comics show that Mai loves her little brother, and the show itself shows just how deep Mai's love runs. This means that Mai calls the exchange off because she is more afraid of what Azula will do to her and her brother than she is of the rebels. Azula sets things up this way so that Mai will demonstrate just this fear, thereby affirming Azula's domination of her and strengthening Azula's image of herself as perfect and in control.

There is one last place in the series where this dynamic is made clear. When Mai saves Zuko at the Boiling Rock, Azula doesn't react with hurt, but with puzzlement. She doesn't say "how could you do this to me?" she says "why? You know the consequences." In fact, she is cool and collected until Mai tells her that she miscalculated. Remember how I said that Azula's self-image rested on the two pillars of Ozai's value of her and her own belief in her infallibility? Her control over Mai and Ty Lee constitute a third pillar that she has created as a backup. Azula is able to withstand Mai breaking this control without a real emotional backlash, because all Mai did was make one pillar somewhat unsteady. There is no doubt in my mind that Azula intended at this point to punish Mai, and punish her brutally, but this punishment would have been to serve the utilitarian purpose of showing others what haopens when you defy Azula, and not out of any emotional need. Then Mai tells Azula that she miscalculated. This is a direct assault on another pillar of Azula's self-image, her psychological construction of herself as infallible. Worse, Mai finishes her statement by telling Azula that she loves Zuko more than she fears her. She ranks Azula beneath Zuko. This compounds Azula's sense of failure. This is when Azula snaps. She becomes enraged, and turns it back on Mai. "No you miscalculated," she insists, as she gets ready to assert a final, fatal level of control over Mai. And this is when Ty Lee steps in. She too breaks free of Azula's control, and worse, she humiliates Azula by knocking her down.

After the Boiling Rock, Azula stops acting in her rational self-interest and shifts instead to reacting to fulfill her suddenly urgent emotional needs. This change is shown clearly the next time we see her, attacking Zuko at the Western Air Temple. I say Zuko, and not the Avatar, because Azula doesn't seem to be interested in Aang or his other companions at all. She tells Zuko she is there to celebrate becoming an only child, and attacks her brother almost exclusively, allowing Aang and the others to escape. If Azula were not in a state of psychological crisis, her behavior here would be extremely difficult to explain. Zuko's behavior on the Day of Black Sun means that he has no chance at becoming their father's heir, or in any way challenging Azula's power within the Fire Nation. The only way Zuko can interfere with Azula being the chosen heir and future Firelord is through the Avatar's victory, which would be just as damaging for Azula, whether or not her brother is part of it. She is best able to prevent that by attacking and killing Aang, as she was able to do once before. So why does she go after Zuko? To explain this, I would like to go back a little bit.

When Azula brings her brother home after the fall of Ba Sing Se, she lies to their father and tells him that Zuko brought down the Avatar. This does a couple of things for her, like get her brother into the Fire Nation as a potential fall guy, and gives her some insurance that if he rises to high in their father's eyes, she can knock him back down. I imagine that after Zuko's exile, Azula had all of Ozai's attention to herself, and that on one level, this felt wonderful and thrilling, but that on another level, it was very difficult for her, because without Zuko around to soak up all of Ozai's dissatisfaction, she had to be extra extraordinary in order to not have some of it directed at her. Having Zuko around takes that pressure off, and the lie she told gives her something to hold over his head. It is an adroit move on her part, but it is blackmail, and like all blackmail, it has a fatal flaw. If the blackmailee reveals the information first, it is useless. Worse, Azula has a lot to lose if Ozai learns of her deception. Azula didn't figure on Zuko telling Ozai the truth and then splitting to go teach the Avatar firebending, and who could blame her? The answer of course is Azula herself, and also Ozai. Not only did Azula miscalculate, ooh, there's that word again, with regards to what her brother would do, and on some level, she may even see this as him outsmarting her, but Ozai now knows she lied to him. Since Zuko left, things have probably been very uncomfortable for Azula. To put this in the terms I have been using so far, two of her pillars, her idea of herself as perfect, and her father's esteem, are both shaky when she goes to the Boiling Rock. If not for those already shaky pillars, she would have been able to cope much better with the psychological stress of Mai and Ty Lee breaking free of her. Instead, she is left with only one shaky pillar, Ozai's favor, on which to base her self-image.

This is the state Azula is in when she fights her brother at the Western Air Temple. She is fighting to reestablish equilibrium and buttress her dangerously unsteady self-image. She seeks a confrontation with Zuko who she sees as having "beaten" her twice, once by doing the unexpected and telling Ozai the truth on the Day of Black Sun, and once by being higher in Mai's estimation than Azula. She does this so that she can defeat him in an arena she has always beaten him in before, combat, and reestablish her superiority. However, because Azula is not able to be her usual calculating self, the attack on the Western Air Temple becomes a fiasco. She and her brother fight each other to a tie, the Avatar and his companions, including her brother, escape, and she survives by the skin of her teeth.

When her father snubs her, when he "treat[s her] like Zuko" he knocks away her last pillar of support, and sends her spiraling down, down, down into that pit of anxiety and fear he built within her as a child.

None of these emotionally charged interactions do I see any trace of love on Azula's part, not even the selfish, corrosive love of most abusers. In this fandom, I often run across the argument that Azula's breakdown was proof of her love for Mai and Ty Lee, even if she was really bad at showing it. You in fact argued that the way she reacted to their defiance is evidence that she cares. As I described above, this is not true. People don't fall apart the way Azula did because somebody they love leaves them, they fall apart because someone or something that they relied on to fulfill a deep psychological need for them is now unavailable to do so. Love, and this kind of psychological dependence often go hand in hand, but they also each frequently occur separately, which is what I see In Azula's interactions with Mai, Ty Lee, Zuko and Ozai. I mentioned above that people without affective empathy who grow up with love understand love and how to manipulate it even if they don't feel it themselves. The flip side of this is that people who are born with the innate capacity for affective empathy, who grow up without love, feel love but they don't understand it. This love often expresses itself in destructive and damaging ways, but it is there. Azula shows no signs of this. She is both unloved and unloving.

I believe that after her father triggers her final breakdown, Azula has an extended period of brief reactive psychosis, a form of stress induced psychosis caused by her inability to otherwise cope with the repeated assaults to her psyche, as opposed to the development of a neurological or biochemically derived problem such as schizophrenia. This would account for the timing. It also fits in well with the overall picture Of Azula canon has presented us with. That picture in my view is of a girl born with certain tendencies, whose father nurtured and directed those tendencies while giving her a profound fear of failure. It is of a character, who like real people is the product not of nurture or nature separately, but of nurture and nature, of her environment, how she was born to react to that environment, and in turn how that environment reacted to her.

Given this detailed picture I have painted for you of my theory of Azula, it should be pretty obvious that I have given Azula as a character a lot of thought and I do not view her as a fictional twin to my abuser and stalker. I do see profound similarities, and see in her victims some of the characters I have been most able to identify with as abuse victims. However, my experiences have not distorted my view of Azula the fictional character as you have implied, and I am aware of her many differences from my abuser. I am able to see them as two separate entities, with my experiences with my stalker and abuser informing but not forming the whole of my analysis of Azula. Your implication that I can't see past my experiences to the Azula of canon is condescending and extremely insulting.

Oh, before I go:

IT IS NEVER BETRAYAL TO DEFY OR LEAVE AN ABUSER!

That is victim-blaming abuser logic and it is an insult to every real life survivor of abuse who found a way to get away. It feeds into every toxic narrative my own abuser filled my head with as she stalked me, and the logic that almost every abuser the world over uses along with fear to guilt their victim into staying put. Stop calling it betrayal.

Date: 2015-04-11 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
Urgh, is everything interesting happening on Tumblr now? But I don't wanna! Also, git off my lawn! *grumblegrumble* Thanks for transporting this to LJ, it's much more readable. Not that LJ is the pinnacle of usability either--I considered jumping ship when they put up their latest proud update announcement that... they are now accepting payment in Bitcoins.

Okay, on to actual content! Whoo, I haven't seen an Azula apologist in a while PROBABLY CAUSE DURNED WHIPPERSNAPPERS ALL MOVED TO TUMBLR and their arguments are as ridiculous as ever!

My views on Azula are very similar to yours, but I never thought of the early-life angle and how it must have affected Azula to see Zuko fall from grace. Good catch there.

Also, the part about Ursa's parental discipline of Azula and Ursa's love of Zuko both coming across as gross injustice to Azula is very insightful--and also scary in that Azula apologists actually think this way, at least about the discipline part. As you rightfully pointed out on Tumblr (gah my eyes--reblog-as-thread needs to die, not users' fault but augh), Ursa should totally have been concerned about Azula's behavior. If anything the scary part is that there are people who see this as some sort of evidence of abuse.

As for Iroh, whom you mentioned on Tumblr but not here, I do play with the idea of him being benevolently sexist in fanfic but I know it's a reading that has only the barest support in canon. And there's certainly no support for the idea that he's an abusive chauvinist who turned Azula evil WHUT.

If [an abuser's] victim tries to leave, [the abuser reacts] with hurt and anger, a "How could you do this to me?" response. This is not how Azula responds, however, and in this she is very different indeed from most abusers. It is this difference that I think points to inborn lack of empathy.

This goes to a point we discussed earlier about whether Azula is narcissistic or psychopathic. You puzzled over Azula having a meltdown at the end more characteristic of a narcissist than psychopath, and I was wondering about that, too. It looks like she got a double whammy of inborn psychopathic tendencies and a core of narcissistic self-loathing due to her upbringing--as you put it so well, "that pit of anxiety and fear [Ozai] built within her as a child."

I now think Azula was narcissistic in motivation and psychopathic in method: Her narcissism created the need to abuse and control people, and in controlling them she showed a distinct lack of empathy and absolute objectification of her victims. Non-psychopathic narcissists do this, too, but they tend to explode rather than stay cool and detached as Azula did, because they do have empathy and need to suppress it by providing themselves with an emotional smokescreen.

In other words: A narcissist who has the capacity for empathy has to turn her victims into bad people in her own mind. A narcissist who doesn't have the capacity to empathize doesn't see her victims as people, period. The latter doesn't need to get upset, because she doesn't need that justification to treat people as means to an end.

I agree with you that Azula's unraveling came from a very different place from being simply "hurt." It wasn't that she felt wounded that they left her control by asserting themselves, it was that she felt the entire basis of her existence was undermined by the fact that she had misread them so badly.

Date: 2015-04-11 03:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
I like Livejournal as a platform much better than tumblr too, but all the cool kids moved there! The really obnoxious thing about tumblr when it comes to things like Azula apologists is that people who otherwise have never given any indication that they are Azula apologists reblog their posts, so all of a sudden, they are all over your dash. Ew. And tumblr kids are just strange too. I'm taking to one person right now who says that because her friend who identifies with Ty Lee hates Mai, Ty Lee must actually hate Mai too. What? No really what?

Dreamwidth is where it's at for me. For the foreseeable future, that's still going to be my base.

I also see some signs of Iroh being benevolently sexist in canon, certainly the way he flirts shows this. There's also a fair amount of indication that in this he is behind the times within the Fire Nation. But I still stand by the fact that an uncle giving his young niece who he hasn't seen since she was six a toy that is unsuited to her interests is evidence of very little. That he managed to hit on something Zuko liked is just good luck.

I also saw the argument that giving Azula the doll itself was abuse, because it was an Earth Kingdom doll, and by giving Azula a doll dressed like one of a people he is trying to conquer, he was showing her that he thought of her the same way, and that really is a WTF argument. Lots of conquering peoples in modern times, many colonial empires, for example, have given their children toys from and dolls of conquered people. It's a way of commodifying conquered colonized people. It's a way to give children their own model of a colonized person to playact ownership of, and to put words into their mouths. It's not him telling Azula he values her as little as an Earth Kingdom citizen, it's him enculturating her into being royalty in a colonialist empire.

For the most part, I very carefully avoided using actual diagnostic terms in the above essay response thing, but I think you are right. Azula is both a born psychopath, and a raised narcissist, and I think this is possible because of Zuko, and having him there as an example of a child who has fallen from Ozai's favor. So much of her fear is because she is terrified that someday Ozai might treat her that way, and in that, I can feel very sorry indeed for her, though not as bad as I feel for Zuko, and not bad enough to think she deserves the chance to use and abuse people into making her feel less afraid, like her apologists do.

It also means that she is so dangerous because she's both. She has all that fear as you said as her motivation, as her driving force, and no stops at all. And she's smart. And she has an imperial army behind her. Actually, Azula is straight up one of the most terrifying villains ever written.

It wasn't that she felt wounded that they left her control by asserting themselves, it was that she felt the entire basis of her existence was undermined by the fact that she had misread them so badly.

This is the fundamental truth I wish everyone understood about Azula's breakdown. That, right there.

Date: 2015-04-12 09:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
And tumblr kids are just strange too. I'm taking to one person right now who says that because her friend who identifies with Ty Lee hates Mai, Ty Lee must actually hate Mai too. What? No really what?

I'd... I'd really like to rant about kids these days, but I don't even know where to start with that. You win, Tumblr. You have weirded me into submission. *whimpers*

Dreamwidth is where it's at for me. For the foreseeable future, that's still going to be my base.

Ooh, me too! Somehow I hadn't been following you there. *follows you*

I also saw the argument that giving Azula the doll itself was abuse

Whaaat. I agree with you it's all sorts of problematic, but it's not abuse directed at Azula, Christ, these people really hate Iroh don't they?

I can feel very sorry indeed for her, though not as bad as I feel for Zuko, and not bad enough to think she deserves the chance to use and abuse people into making her feel less afraid, like her apologists do.

Yeahhh, because obviously other people are just tools to make woobie widdle Zula feel safe and happy, no matter that the feeling of safety is a temporary illusion, no matter how this treatment fucks with her victims' boundaries and sense of self.

I don't even know why I'm surprised at the level of Azula apologists' toxicity. I mean of course there's no way to validate an abuser's point of view without making arguments that justify abuse, yet these people give me new heebie-jeebies every time with the lengths they're willing to go.

Actually, Azula is straight up one of the most terrifying villains ever written.

Nodnodnod. Ozai is one of the most boring villains of all time. Azula, on the other hand, is straight-up scary.

This is the fundamental truth I wish everyone understood about Azula's breakdown. That, right there.

And even if Azula weren't a psychopath and felt truly hurt by Ty Lee and Mai defying her, I don't think it should matter. Even if she felt betrayed, that doesn't mean she was. Psychopath or not, her sense of betrayal is not an experience anyone can validate, at least not without justifying her abuse.

I do feel sorry for her that she was so twisted up by genetics and upbringing that she experienced other people's personhood as a wrong against herself, but I certainly don't feel sorry for her that Mai and Ty Lee stood up to her abuse. Any betrayal she might have felt is only indicative of her outsized entitlement, not of any wrong done to her.

I'm also a little ticked that fireroyals equated psychopathy with pure evil. Maybe that's why she resisted the diagnosis for Azula despite the clear indications from the show, because to her psychopaths are monsters and not people. I disagree: Psychopathy is an inborn condition tending to low empathy, not a one-way ticket to a lifetime of depravity. It's a risk factor, not a sentence.

Psychopaths raised in very positive environments can and do (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/01/life-as-a-nonviolent-psychopath/282271/) grow up to be productive and even brilliant, and I'm convinced this would have been true of Azula if not for Ozai's emotional abuse and if Ursa's firm and loving boundaries had been allowed to persist. Azula would never have been "nice," per se, she would always have been a little too good at manipulating people and probably would never have experienced true emotional intimacy. However, she would have been one of those people who are wildly fun to be around, a risk-taker, a brilliant thinker. She might have had too much fun playing people when she got the chance, but wouldn't have had this insatiable need to bend people to her will.

Things could have been so much better for Azula and those around her, and I see her story as a series of missed opportunities and not a monstrous destiny fulfilled.

Date: 2015-04-12 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
My response to this is probably going to be shorter and significantly less coherent than normal. I have bronchitis and a fever, and my brain isn't really on board. Sorry about that.

I'm sure there have been people like these tumblr denizens since time immemorial. I have a few in my own family over 70. But tumblr culture and the reblogging system makes it easier for them to blend in. It was still one of the oddest conversations I ever had.

Somehow I wasn't following you there either. Fixed.

Yeah, the doll argument is when I really know there is no convincing some people.

Yeahhh, because obviously other people are just tools to make woobie widdle Zula feel safe and happy, no matter that the feeling of safety is a temporary illusion, no matter how this treatment fucks with her victims' boundaries and sense of self.

This is what abuse apologia really boils down to. You exist for your abuser. You don't matter. Your abuser matters. Your pain, your being violated, and used, and forced to salve someone else's wounds doesn't matter. Their wounds do, and you are horrible for not giving every ounce of yourself, and allowing them to inflict all kinds of wounds on you to fix them, even though it never works, and never fixes them, and just leaves you in pieces. Their pain is real and important, and yours isn't. Their way of seeing the world is understandable, an yours is just an excuse. You exist for your abuser.

There's a part of me that is really grateful that Ozai is a boring villain, because the way to make him more interesting would have been to explore his psychological state, and sine I'm pretty sure he's a narcissist with a miserable childhood who uses his children and empire to cope with his subconsciously low self-image, and since he is good looking, I have a feeling if those issues had been explored, I have a feeling we would have a lot more Ozai apologists running around and annoying me too.

And even if Azula weren't a psychopath and felt truly hurt by Ty Lee and Mai defying her, I don't think it should matter. Even if she felt betrayed, that doesn't mean she was

Oh yes. What I mean by the fundamental truth I want them to understand is that Azula didn't have a breakdown because she loved them oh so much. She had a breakdown because she no longer could use (her control over) them psychologically. Even if she had loved them or felt betrayed by them leaving, she didn't break down because of that love.

I do feel sorry for her that she was so twisted up by genetics and upbringing that she experienced other people's personhood as a wrong against herself, but I certainly don't feel sorry for her that Mai and Ty Lee stood up to her abuse. Any betrayal she might have felt is only indicative of her outsized entitlement, not of any wrong done to her.

QFT


I'm also a little ticked that fireroyals equated psychopathy with pure evil


Me too, and I think you're right about why they were so against calling Azula one. Most psychopaths figure out how to live in society relatively well, and the scariest people, the people closest to being evil that I can think of, genocidal dictators, at least to me exhibit far more narcissistic behaviors than psychopathic ones. It's not "This mental disorder makes you evil" it's "this mental trait makes you not feel affective empathy and not respond to danger, or other people and their emotions the same way." Now I have had enough of being around psychopaths for a lffetime, thanks, because I had to deal with two particularly nasty ones, but not all of them are corrosive to all joy and happiness like my two stalkers, because most psychopaths aren't, you know, sadists.

With Azula, I think it's less about missed opportunities than it is about opportunities taken... by Ozai. But it certainly wasn't monstrous destiny, or the inevitable result of being a born psychopath that made Azula who she is.

Date: 2015-04-13 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
Get well soon! I wouldn't have noticed, you sound coherent as ever to me.

I have a feeling if those issues had been explored . . . we would have a lot more Ozai apologists running around and annoying me

Haha, very true. I'm pretty sure they'd be much like Zuko apologists who insist everything Zuko did in the show was justified.

Even as things stand Ozai is not lacking in apologists. Loopy described a run-in with one here (http://ljlee.livejournal.com/40346.html?thread=354458#t354458), for instance. In a development that should surprise no one, the Ozai apologist Spirit of Flame was since banned from the forum for rape apologism or something.

What I mean by the fundamental truth I want them to understand is that Azula didn't have a breakdown because she loved them oh so much.

Only for extremely disturbing definitions of "love." My dad had an emotional breakdown over my marrying my boyfriend (now husband), which got so bad at one point that I fled the house. He insisted it was because he loved me so much that he could not bear the thought of my marrying an unworthy man. Except this "unworthy" man is a perfectly nice and normal middle-class, college-educated man with no abusive tendencies, addictions, criminal history, or even disabilities, who loves me very much and whom I am very much in love with. He just happened not to meet my dad's arbitrary and sexist standards for what my husband should be like. Dad's tantrums over our marriage were a tool for emotional control, not the result of anything anyone should recognize as love. There's no way a narcissistic meltdown over another person's valid life choices can be called any kind of love, unless we say entitlement and abuse equal love. *shudder*

With Azula, I think it's less about missed opportunities than it is about opportunities taken... by Ozai.

Very true. I don't understand how anyone can think "Azula was born with psychopath tendencies" is mutually exclusive with "Azula was abused my Ozai." If anything, Azula's inborn tendencies made her even more vulnerable to irreversible harm than Zuko.

Date: 2015-04-13 06:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Ozai is unfortunately very pretty, and there are a lot of people who think an abuser really really deserves a victim.

And Zuko apologists. Ew. I mean, I love Zuko, seriously, but one of the reasons his redemption arc was so satisfying was that he really needed one. He is also very pretty by the way, and admittedly extremely sympathetic, and also ends up as a genuinely good and wonderful person. That doesn't mean that the way he acted while in understandable pain was justifiable.

Wow, I'm sorry about your father. You might as well say that my friend, whose parents put his cat to sleep when he came out to them, just had parents who loved him so much.

There's no way a narcissistic meltdown over another person's valid life choices can be called any kind of love, unless we say entitlement and abuse equal love.

I think that's exactly what abuse apologists are saying.

Date: 2015-04-14 06:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
Wow, I'm sorry about your father. You might as well say that my friend, whose parents put his cat to sleep when he came out to them, just had parents who loved him so much.

Thanks! I got my revenge in the best way I know how--IRL by not giving in and having a blissfully happy marriage, and in fandom by putting it in fic. Ironically I got compliments for portraying the abusive father character in a relatable and sympathetic light, while making it clear the guy was an abusive asshole.

And wow, that is all kinds of fucked up, almost makes my dad seem reasonable and humane in comparison. Killing pets is of course a favored tactic of punishment and retaliation for refusing to stay under the abuser's thumb. Love indeed. *shakes head*

I think that's exactly what abuse apologists are saying.

I can't help but wonder if they apply these ideas to real life. The last Azula apologist I got close to turned out to be emotionally abusive himself. While this result obviously can't be generalized, I reserve the right to side-eye the hell out of people who have these extremely warped ideas about people and relationships.

Date: 2015-04-14 12:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
The cat thing at least backfired spectacularly, since it was what made him realize h didn't have conflict with his parents, he had abusive parents and he needed to get out. So, while I'm sad for his cat, it got him away from some very twisted people.

I'm trying for the happy life thing, and I get my revenge by becoming a teacher, and being a good teacher ho isn't anything like my horrible teachers (but trying to be like my good ones) and just generally having a life that isn't about and would horrify my abusers. And also, combating abuse IRL when I see it and supporting victims. In fandom, like you, I write about abusers, and like you I get complements for portraying them as real people with understandable needs, wants, and fears, while also showing how really awful what they're doing is.

I would actually guess you have three kinds of abuse apologists: abusers, of which there are plenty, victims, who have internalized abusive rhetoric to survive, of which I have known a few, and who I feel for, since these ideas will make getting out much harder, and lastly just people who have internalized a shit-ton of crap from the abuse-supporting culture present in most of the world, who might not be abusers themselves, but probably in real life don't listen and support abuse victims, question their stories, and engage in silencing tactics, etc. to maintain the "peace".

Date: 2015-04-14 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
It's been said about characters that they don't change until it hurts too much not to, and I think the same is true for real people, too. It's just too bad that an innocent life was sacrificed, a cat-alyst for change if you will. (Yes, I am awful. If it makes things any better, in my head the kitty was totally like "So my life was sacrificed in a petty human turf war? How perfectly pointless. Next life I shall be Astro-Kitty, hunting space monsters and catnip across space!" And so it was.)

I'm trying for the happy life thing, and I get my revenge by becoming a teacher, and being a good teacher

Having an awesome life full of passion and integrity = best way to overcome and combat abuse, ever.

Weird story: Part of the reason my dad was so controlling was because he'd heard from a fortuneteller when I was little that I'd have a lot of difficulties early in life but would be just fine once I turned 33. He interpreted this to mean that he had to keep me "safe" until that age and not let me make any choices he thought were bad. Ironically, at 33 I finally said no to his abusive control and married the love of my life. And in fact my life has been great ever since--not always easy or good, but full of wonder and joy. So in a way my fortune did come true, but in a weird self-fulfilling way. I'm pretty sure my dad would have been that way fortunetelling or no fortunetelling, but he told me it contributed to his anxieties about me and I believe him. So yeah, strange kind of modern fairytale I guess.

I write about abusers, and like you I get complements for portraying them as real people with understandable needs, wants, and fears, while also showing how really awful what they're doing is.

It's ironic, because understanding the abuser as a human being seems to be strongly correlated to surmounting and speaking against abuse. I have not met a single abuse survivor who is full of rancor and hatred against their abuser. Disgust at the abuser's actions, of course, and very understandable dislike, yes, but every single survivor was aware of what made their abuser tick and often expressed compassion or sorrow for the abuser while condemning the abuse.

This is not to confuse cause and correlation, as in "forgive your abuser and everything is going to be okay!" because ewww no, and in fact fully feeling the rage is a vital component of the process. But somewhere in that process understanding of the abuser seems to happen, as part of understanding the survivor's own story as a whole.

In fact, seeing abusers as mindless beasts is often a part of abuse apologia, as in "So-and-so is a human being, not a monster, therefore so-and-so can't be an abuser." The idea that only soulless beasts (with apologies to actual animals) commit abuse is a central misconception that has to be uprooted in order to bring light to abuse. The abuser as the alien Other is used far too often to erase abusers in the midst of communities, and their abuse and their victims as well.

And don't even get me started on the distorted images of victims that make it so hard for abuse victims to self-identify as such. For thirty years of my life I resisted that label so hard, with unhappy results for my well-being and happiness.

I would actually guess you have three kinds of abuse apologists

That makes sense! Abusers can only fall on one side of the issue, otherwise they wouldn't be abusers, while victims and onlookers can go either way. There's also some overlap in that abuse victims may be abusers themselves. There was a shameful period in my life when I was physically and emotionally abusive to my boyfriend (now husband), and looking back I had a lot of unprocessed rage from the abuse I had suffered. That doesn't justify anything, of course--what I did was my responsibility alone. Berating myself and resolving to do better next time never helped, though. Facing my own history of abuse and healing from it did. Not hitting and yelling at your SO is hardly a merit-badge achievement (as Chris Rock put it, "You're supposed to do that!"), but I am so glad that I was able to become a better person and grateful to my husband for giving me a chance--while by no means advocating it for all victims, obviously.

Date: 2015-04-14 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Yeah, that is still one of the shit ties things abusers pull, and that says a lot.

I think for most abuse victims, a high degree of understanding the what and how of our abusers and what made them tick kept us a little safer. It let us predict abuse, and sometimes lessen it. The why comes after with a little distended after tearing through all of the lies and self serving half truths. But the bedrock knowledge used to figure out why an abuser does what they do is there already, taught to us by our abusers themselves.

You spend so much time as an abuse victim wrapped up in your abuser and seeing through their eyes that once you don't have to anymore, I think it's pretty natural to shoot off in the other direction and tell yourself for a while that your abuser was not really human and what they wanted you to see wasn't really how they saw. Then, later when the anger burns out, you start oving to the middle and realizing that you can recognize the truth about how your abuser felt and was lying to themselves without justifying the abuse.

My abuser used me to abuse her sister and brother, and vice versa. For many abusers, turning their victim into an accomplice is a favorite tactic. The fact that after I broke away from her and she started stalking me, I was able to make peace with her brother and sister, and even ser up an escape route for her sister is one of the things that really helped me recover. Realizing that while you might not have done anything wrong to be abused, you still have to look close at what you have done to others in your pain is difficult.

I really hate the vision society has of victims, and the new rhetoric of "I am a survivor, not a victim" well I'm both, and my suffering wouldn't be any less important if I stopped surviving, thanks. Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, and victim hood and survivorship is understood in terms of the Holocaust and there's no sense that having died a victim is more shameful or more a sign of weakness than surviving. The word victim has a much less negative connotation in that community.

And I think the anti-victim rhetoric is abuser logic. Victims deserve it, and this is why victim is an insult, and victims are all a certain way. A lot of victims deal with this by saying you're wrong, but a lot of them deal with it unfortunately by saying I'm not a victim, not like those victims. This is where a lot of the "I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor," rhetoric comes from.

Yeah, the idea of abuser as monster with no rhyme or reason absolutely does shield real abusers.

Date: 2015-04-15 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
For many abusers, turning their victim into an accomplice is a favorite tactic.

Yup, not only does it help validate the abuser's alternate reality (see, she thinks I'm right, too!), it's also an excellent way to isolate victims from each other and keep them from uniting against the abuser. Breaking the isolation and the silence to come together in solidarity is how we overcome not only individual abusers, but abuse itself.

Realizing that while you might not have done anything wrong to be abused, you still have to look close at what you have done to others in your pain is difficult.

That self-awareness is the difference between an abuser and someone with deep-seated problems, between Azula and Books 1-2 Zuko if you will. The abuser finds ways to justify what they do and won't admit they're the problem, while the troubled person admits they have a problem and vows to do better, successfully or not.

If I'd started constructing elaborate reasons why my explosions of temper were my boyfriend's fault, and how terrible a boyfriend he was for making me act this way, I would have assuaged the immediate hardship of examining myself and my actions. I would also have crossed into full abuser territory, and whether he had stayed or left our relationship would have been lost, either ended (the better outcome) or twisted into something terrible. I wasn't as sorry as I should have been, but I still held on to the minimal awareness that I was wrong. I'd hate to think what I would have become without feeling that legitimate pain.

Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, and victim hood and survivorship is understood in terms of the Holocaust and there's no sense that having died a victim is more shameful or more a sign of weakness than surviving. The word victim has a much less negative connotation in that community.

That is fascinating, and is very reasonable. I'm part of dominant cultures (Korean, mainstream American) that are used to pushing minorities around, which may contribute to their distorted views of victimhood. Would you say the Jewish community is also better at supporting victims of abuse?

And I think the anti-victim rhetoric is abuser logic.

It absolutely is. And much like abuser-as-monster, it's used to deny abuse and erase victims. I watched in disbelief while people derided Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn as "professional victims" and talked about how incredibly calm they were in talking about the barrage of vile threats they received, which in their minds proved these women weren't real victims. Except if Sarkeesian and Quinn were crying and distraught in public (entirely valid responses), these trolls would be deriding them for how weak they are. Abuse apologists, ugh.

Date: 2015-04-15 02:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
Breaking the isolation and the silence to come together in solidarity is how we overcome not only individual abusers, but abuse itself.

Exactly. I mentioned that making my peace with my abuser ' other victims really helped me come to terms with what we did to each other under her auspices. Another thing it did was it meant I learned from her brother that she was telling bald faced lies about my health and actions to her family about me, and her brother learned that she had done the same to me about him. It made us both realize that she was not telling us the truth as she saw it, something she had convinced us of for years. Comparing stories and trusting each other allowed us to see through her and better protect ourselves from her. Keeping us fighting each other kept us under her control for much longer than possible otherwise. More than that of course is the social effect of the speech of many victims.

I like your distiction between a troubled non-abusive person who hurts others and learns better, and an abuser. The abuser though is very good at looking like the troubled person though, because look at how many vow to change during the honeymoon phase. This is of course why Zuko needed his redemption arc.

The Jewish community is not really any more supportive of abuse victims than American mainstream culture, no. For example, lots of Jewish boys and men are involved in Gamergate. There is a lot in geek culture misogyny that is extremely like the Jewish flavor of misogyny, including the vision of the ideal male, (quiet, scholarly, clever, a little frail) and the sense of competition with a gentile or mainstream image of masculinity (the jock). However, within the Jewish community itself, the rhetoric used to support abusers and silence victims us different. A lot of victims get silenced in the name of "not spreading malicious slander" (a major no-no in Judaism) or in the name of not airing dirty laundry in front of Goyim, and many abusers are welcomed in the name of Jewish solidarity in the face of Gentile oppression. There are pockets there are very supportive indeed, but there are pockets that are hotbed of abuse and abuse denialism.

In spite of the number of needy Jewish men who engaged in Gamergate on the side of the trolls or were trolls themselves, the rhetoric of the professional victim just isn't common in Jewish circles. Jewish gamergaters are more likely to talk about how these women are really outsiders who want to make geeks look bad in front of non-geeks. Different tactics, same shit.

Date: 2015-04-17 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
One of the most pernicious aspects of abuse is that the abuser makes enforcers of her victims, making them police themselves and others. Often the way to combat that is for victims to reach out and trust each other, which is a big leap when trust in their abuser already hurt them so badly. I see this with Mai and Zuko and with Mai and Ty Lee, too, building each other up and affirming each others' value where they had been torn down.

The abuser though is very good at looking like the troubled person

Very true. Leslie Steiner Morgan said in her TED talk on why domestic abuse victims stay (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1yW5IsnSjo) (about 10:40 in) that despite beatings and isolation by her husband, she never thought of herself as a battered wife: Rather she saw herself as a very strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man, and thought that she was the only person on Earth who could help him. "I am a tortured soul and I need you" is an incredibly insidious hook for abuse, one that turns the victim's own love, intelligence and compassion against herself.

I did not know that about young Jewish men and Gamergate! That's interesting that the language of appropriation is used (one that's familiar to gamers as a whole) instead of deriding victim hood, and sad that it doesn't make a difference. I always thought of the Jewish community as progressive overall, but then again political liberalism is no defense against misogyny.

Date: 2015-04-17 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
I see it a lot with Mai, Ty Lee and Zuko, actually, which is part of why anyone insinuating that the three don't like each other really annoys me. It takes one hell of a strong bond to survive what Azula did as far as sowing discord, and yet Mai is willing to do anything to protect Zuko, and Ty Lee is willing to die to save Mai. I really want to see post-canon Mai/Ty Lee/Zuko bonding, because they could have destroyed each other for Azula, and instead they saved each other.

My stalker never did try to convince me she was troubled or hurting. After her abuse become more blatant, the fact that she enjoyed controlling me was pretty much out in the open. However, in high school, I became the wrangler for an admittedly very mentally ill "friend" who got this dynamic going with me. She had been gaslighting different friends of hers for years to make it look like they were the ones who were crazy, and she was the sane person trying to manage them. After I realized there was no helping her by giving into her, and after she spread the rumor that I defiled her church by sleeping with a boy in the sanctuary, I just stopped helping her hide her erratic behavior and let her flounder. I felt really bad for her. Her father treated her the same way she treated me, and everyone in her family acted like it was somebody else's job to manage their emotions. But my covering for her wasn't doing anybody any good. On the other hand, since it was my "job" to manage her, no one was happy with me when I stopped. Strangely, I don't have anything to do with that social group anymore.

Jewish men are not even near the majority of gamergaters, since after all less than 2% of the American population is Jewish. However, Jewish people of all genders are disproportionately geeky. It's a subculture where the kind of masculinity idealized by Jewish culture is dominant, and fuck if some of them don't use that for everything it's worth. It's their chance to have societal power for once, which too many of them see as their turn to be the bully. I think I talked with you before about the idea of feminists/anti-racists/queer activists/etc. tearing down the system that encourages power differential and treating people with less power as disposable, verses feminists/anti-racists/queer activists/etc. who just want to change their group's place in the hierarchy. This is that on the part of some young Jewish men. They have more than enough privilege to be dangerous, and just enough disadvantage to give them a great big chip on their shoulder.

The Jewish community is very liberal overall, with some exceptions like the Haredi, and in many ways extremely progressive. We have lots of women rabbis, lots of queer rabbis, a strong doctrinal commitment to justice, and an ideal of community that says it is always our job to side with the disenfranchized, an ideal that many Jewish people live up to. However, anywhere there is a power differential, there are going to be abusers who exploit it, and exploit whatever community norms accompany it.

Date: 2015-05-28 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lone-wolf-lupa.livejournal.com
...since he is good looking...

*shudders* This ties into a personal fandom rant of mine, where female characters get raked over the coals for the slightest little imperfection, while their male counterparts are literally allowed to get away with murder, all because they're hot.

Date: 2015-04-11 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
IT IS NEVER BETRAYAL TO DEFY OR LEAVE AN ABUSER!

Why is this even a thing? I mean, in what universe can the word "betrayal" apply to a) leaving a toxic relationship, and b) more specifically in this case, defending the lives of your family and friends from an aggressor? The worst part is, and I think the part that put you in all-caps mode, is that fireroyals kept calling Mai and Ty Lee's actions "betrayal" after you specifically pointed out that leaving an abuser (not to mention defending others from her) is not betrayal.

I'm sure fireroyals would say they were speaking from Azula's perspective, but if so they should have clarified that this is Azula's very warped viewpoint instead of endorsing it by generalizing, i.e. "When you are emotionally attached to someone and that someone betrays you, you feel hurt–to say the least." No. You do not cast an abuser's self-serving distortion of reality as an emotional experience that anyone can sympathize with. This is straight-up abuse apologia.

Also, gotta love the subtle gaslighting in implying that you can't accurately see and assess an abusive character because you were abused by someone very much like her. I mean, what would you know about abusers and abuse dynamics, you're only an abuse survivor! Isn't it hilarious how toxic Azula apologists' arguments are, even when they use all the right social-justice language? No, they'd never devalue an abuse survivor--except by telling her she has no idea what she's talking about, so sit down and shut up already! HAHAHAHA fuck that noise.

Date: 2015-04-11 01:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
You do not cast an abuser's self-serving distortion of reality as an emotional experience that anyone can sympathize with

Exactly! There are times when I empathize with the sheer depth of Azula's anxiety and insecurity, but that doesn't mean I am ever ever willing to use Azula's framing of an incident as the truth. Azula frames every incident in a horrible self serving way. This doesn't make her a tragic monster, it makes her a pretty typical abuser.

And this is aside from the fact that as you said, "It wasn't that she felt wounded that they left her control by asserting themselves, it was that she felt the entire basis of her existence was undermined by the fact that she had misread them so badly." I'm not sure Azula in her own warped framing even views it as betrayal as we understand it.

EDIT: Yeah, the condescending, pitying, "Oh you don't know anything because you were abused" crap she spewed, all dressed up in supportive language really pissed me off. I had my brother read that bit, just to make sure I wasn't totally paranoid, and he's like "yeah, you wouldn't devalue an abuser's experience, except how you just did." It's pretty classic "As the person affected by this issue, you are too close to it. I as a [insert privileged identity here] should be the one to make those decisions, since I have perspective" bullcrap.
Edited Date: 2015-04-11 02:36 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-04-12 08:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
It's pretty classic "As the person affected by this issue, you are too close to it. I as a [insert privileged identity here] should be the one to make those decisions, since I have perspective" bullcrap.

Yup. I too have watched in disbelief as people argued that black people were too affected by racism to have an objective view of the issue, that women weren't trustworthy voices on sexism etc., so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I'm just pissed that people bring this crap into fandom, where the point is to have fun. What's fun about silencing and putting down other people? Or do I even want an answer to that?

Date: 2015-04-12 03:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] attackfish.livejournal.com
I think it's because reconsidering your views on something and concluding you might have been wrong isn't fun, but winning is. Being an abuse apologist is just a side effect.
Edited Date: 2015-04-12 04:12 pm (UTC)

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