The male benders in ATLA:
Really good. They worked hard to get where they are skill wise and while it hasn't always been easy, they are capable and can hold their own in a fight. One of them was even the Avatar, which is pretty impressive since he mastered the elements at age twelve, rather than start learning at 16 like most Avatars.
The female benders in ATLA:
Inarguably the most powerful and unmatched humans in the entire world. Prodigies, masters, and creators of subbending styles. One was compared in skill to the Fire Lord at age EIGHT and able to perform one of the rarest and most difficult forms by 14. She couldn't be defeated by another's (even the Avatar's) bending alone. Only faced defeat when fighting two other master benders while on the verge of a complete mental breakdown (officially being defeated by different female bender). Another held an entire city up by a single turret while standing on unstable ground, and then went on to invent her own bending style at the age of twelve. One mastered her element in mere WEEKS, mastered bloodbending and defeated the woman who INVENTED IT the FIRST TIME SHE EVER ATTEMPTED IT, held her own against a master waterbender without ANY TRAINING, and fully healed someone from a fatal wound, making her a master at two vastly different forms of waterbending at the age of 14. A female Avatar quite literally reshaped the planet and created her own ISLAND. AND MOVED IT ACROSS THE SEA. These women shown in the show are not only the most powerful and talented females in their universe, but also in almost any known piece of television or fiction, all while being completely fleshed out and complex characters, not being defined as nothing but 'strong'. Each has their own personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
What people think I mean:
I get off on violence. I think hate sex is the best, don't think healthy and stable relationships are 'interesting' enough, and I purposefully sabotage all my relationships. I frequently ship characters with their abusers and consider dragging someone along and domestic violence 'grey areas' because if you look at context it really just means they love each other.
What I actually mean:
I love it when two people who hate each other, whether it be seemingly clashing personalities, or actual literal enemies (always enemies who balance each other out. Not 'anti-hero/villain guy constantly harasses heroine girl', but two people who are evenly matched and can hold their own against each other and even in hatred have somewhat respect for the other) who are fighting on opposite sides of a struggle, come together on equal ground and realize that they have more in common than they previously thought. When the two finally join the same side, whether it's due to the redemption of one character or what have you, they may not get along at first, but with time and effort the two eventually find themselves friends with the other. Only *after* they have an established trust and friendship do they then start to have romantic feelings for the other. The 'enemies to lovers' trope does not work if you cannot put 'friend' between the two.
I know you made him
with gunmetal bones
and wolf’s teeth.
I know you made him to be
But even gunmetal can warp
and even wolf’s teeth can dull
and I do not want to see him break
the way old and worn and overused things do.
I do not want to see him go up in flames
the way all heroes end up martyrs.
I know that you will tell me
that the world needs him.
The world needs his heart
and his faith
and his courage
and his strength
and his bones and his teeth and his blood and his voice and his–
The world needs anything he will give them.
Damn the world,
and damn you too.
Damn anyone that ever asked anything of him,
damn anyone that ever took anything from him,
damn anyone that ever prayed to his name.
You know that he will give them everything
until there is nothing left of him
but the imprint of dust
where his feet once trod.
You know that he will bear the world like Atlas
until his shoulders collapse
and his knees buckle
and he is crushed by all he used to carry.
you have already made an Atlas.
You have already made an Achilles and an Icarus and a Hercules.
You have already made a sacrificial lamb of your Son.
You have already made so many heroes,
and you can make another again.
You can have your pick of heroes.
So please, I beg you–
he is all that I have,
and you have so many heroes
and the world has so many more.
Let him be soft,
and let him be mine.