I have now embedded images and made the post look prettier in general. Thank you to LordRedStone Nr1 for the info.
I’d like to start by expressing that this is all speculation and **wishful thinking**. I know Nid ain’t ace. No character in League is anything but cishet unless explicitly stated otherwise, over and over, on twitter, in official posts, yelling and screaming in the faces of people who refuse to believe that anything other than cishet exists. This bit of rumination on my part is my own interpretation of a character and a desire to see more representation in a game I love.
For the uninitiated, asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction towards others. It’s a spectrum and can exist in many forms. Aromanticism is separate, but is the same only to romanticism rather than sexuality. For example, my sister is ace/aro and she has no romantic or sexual attraction to anyone and has zero desire to be sexual or romantic in any way. But, again, there’s a spectrum.
For the purposes of my theory, I posit that Nidalee is ace/aro just to be simple. In this argument, I use the term “asexual” a lot while discussing subjects of both asexuality and aromanticism, but remember that these are two different things. In fact, most asexuals are romantic, panromantic, biromantic, etc. I just think that Nidalee is probably both so I’m using asexual as a blanket term for this essay.
Nidalee’s always been a sort of interesting champion in League. One of the oldest champions in the game, everyone knows about her and what she can do. Her spear is infamous, but even people who don’t play League know about her sexualization. More so than, I’d say, any other female champ in the history of League, Nidalee has been a sort of sexual icon for LoL. Her /dance is a stripper dance, her quotes are flirtations, her art has always been sexual, and her body is prominently featured in many promotional media. But, even in the beginning, she’s never been actually _sexual_.
Yes, her voice lines have a certain level of “let’s @$#%” energy, but that’s the case with basically every female champion from beta to s1. It wasn’t a part of any of their stories (with the exception of Ahri) and was just there to make them appealing for a largely male demographic. Well, we’re past that point and many, many champions’ lores no longer pertain to their in-game voice lines. Oddly enough, Nidalee’s lore has _never_ pertained to her in-game voice lines.
Nidalee’s lore has remained largely unchanged since her inception. She’s a human baby left in the Kumungu jungle to be raised by cougars, gains magical shapeshifting powers, and spends most of her time defending the jungle from the terrors of colonialism and hunting. That’s basically it.
Nowhere in her lore has there ever been any mention of sexual desire or action. And for this, and a few other reasons, I thought she’d be a perfect candidate for League’s first asexual champion (if that’s ever a concern for them).
There is one instance where anything remotely close to romantic or sexual connection is discussed and it’s a single paragraph in her new biography that came out when Neeko was released:
“Over time, she learned to better control her powers, eventually shifting between both forms with ease. Perhaps it was a yearning to find others of her kind that led her to the chameleon-like wanderer Neeko, but the two became inseparable for a time. Nidalee delighted in mentoring her inquisitive new companion, and they reveled in exploring the jungle’s numerous wonders together, before Neeko eventually departed to follow her own destiny beyond Shurima’s shores.”
We know Neeko’s definitely allo and has exhibited attraction for several champions. According to Matt Dunn, she was even attracted to Nidalee, perhaps during the period quoted above, but it was unrequited.
>Realmente: Does Neeko like Nami? or Nidalee ? (romantic way)how old is she?
>matt_dunn: Neeko's currently single and looking. She loved nidalee, but it was unrequited.
Why was it unrequited? I’m sure you could come up with any number of reasons. The most popular is probably “she’s straight” but I reject that answer! One of the common thoughts among allosexuals is that it’s difficult (or impossible depending on who you talk to) to not pursue sexual encounters. Like it’s this primal, self-destructive need to have sex regardless of near anything else.
We know Nidalee rejects society, choosing to live with cougars (like literal cougars not middle-aged women looking for a date). Even Vastaya refuse to see her as an equal. She’s between human and Vastaya, defending Kumungu with all her heart because it’s the only existence she’s ever known. She could be having sex with the cougars in her pride (pride? pack? group? idk) but I don’t know if Riot’s willing to promote bestiality. It seriously seems to me that Nidalee just doesn’t want sex and it seems to fit her lifestyle rather well.
Also, just because someone is asexual does not mean they don’t form attachments to people. Asexual people have no problems making friends, loving their family, and having close emotional bonds with other people. You know, like a person. Nidalee could easily be close to Neeko, as close as the biography suggests, and not have any sexual or romantic attraction to Neeko.
I’d like to draw attention to this gem on her forehead. The only places I can find referencing a gem, dot, tattoo, or other such signifier on the forehead is the bindi used in Hinduism and maybe some other similar belief systems. After a brief stint on Wikipedia, I think bindis are religious signifiers, typically worn by women, as a tradition and a symbol in Hinduism. It’s placed on the forehead, very near the eyes, because it is meant to represent a third eye, a spiritual eye.
I came across a forum post from 2012 made by a woman who was Hindu but was also asexual and wanted to know what that meant for her destiny as a Hindu. There’s apparently some line in some text that says it’s a person’s duty to bear children a care for a family, even if just for religious purposes if nothing else. But this woman was like, “not like sex, what do?” Someone replying said something very interesting.
>I think it’s a gift, quite honestly. I think it’s something removed from your essence to allow you to focus on other areas of spiritual growth. Perhaps you fulfilled your sexuality in a previous life, and now it is time to remove that. I know that in this world most of [us] are sexual beings… Embrace your (a)sexuality and channel your other energies to other areas of spiritual growth.
Broken all that down? Cool.
Nidalee has a bindi in each of her updated splash arts that shows her forehead. Her base splash and five of her skin splashes feature a bindi gem with the exception of Headhunter which has a tattoo. The others have that section of her forehead covered or obscured.
League of Legends doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If it did, a forehead gem could just be a forehead gem. But it doesn’t. A game is made by real people in the real world for real people to consume. A bindi holds cultural significance for a not-insignificant portion of the human population. Considering that these are Nidalee’s updated splashes, I like to believe that these were not accidents. Riot intentionally gave Nidalee a bindi, a cultural signifier of Hinduism, which makes Nidalee a fantasy parallel to a Hindu. Nidalee is Hindu.
Nidalee defends her jungle, the animals, nature, with almost spiritual zeal. As far as we’ve seen in her lore, it is her primary objective. There’s a hint in her new lore that she’s curious about her origin, which is a nice internal conflict, but she is generally consumed with her duty as protector of Kumungu jungle.
If her devotion to nature is paralleled with Hinduism, then one could make the argument that Nidalee’s asexuality permits her to perform her duty to the jungle with unmatched fervor. I am. I’m making that argument.
I’m not saying this is fact. It’s not. This is 100% speculation and wishful thinking on my part. I _want_ an asexual champion, and I think Nidalee fits perfectly. When representation doesn’t exist, or when _a thing_ doesn’t exist, people who want it to exist will find a place for it. I _want_ there to be asexual representation in League of Legends. So I picked Nidalee. This is my argument, these are my reasons.
But I want to say why I think Nidalee would be such a good ace champion, too. As I mentioned earlier, she’s a sex icon for League of Legends, despite having never had sex in the lore or anything like that. She’s been drawn with the male gaze in mind and is constantly used in promotions to be titilating and exposed. She is sexualized and objectified in the most literal sense. As a character, she is none of these things.
If she was confirmed asexual, it would be a huge reversal of expectations. People see this buxom forest lady (although her new design is far more conservative) and instantly make assumptions that she’s sexual, alluring, flirtatious, promiscuous, etc. Unfortunately, her voice lines don’t really refute those judgments, but I already said my piece on that. If she was actually asexual, with no desire to seek a sexual relationship of any sort, it would put a rather interesting spin on a character largely used for sex appeal.
It would also force people to observe their own judgments and expectations. If someone makes the flash judgment of Nidalee, “she’s a slut,” and then find out she has no desire to have sex, it would make them think. It would make them reassess how they value and devalue people. Having the lonely hermit in the corner with no friends or associates be ace would be 1) offensive and 2) not push any boundary or expectation. People already assume aces are either introverts or mentally handicapped, neither of which are true.
Ace people are perfectly capable of being sexy, having friends, being dedicated to their jobs, loving their families, and any other number of things humans normally do. Making Nidalee, League of Legends’s (dare I say) oldest sex icon, ace would be quite the statement. Similar to making Soldier 76 gay, who was often attributed as the stereotypical military straight man.
This is just my headcanon, my speculation, my theory, my opinion. I’m saying that there’s any factual evidence for ace/aro Nidalee. There’s just an argument to be made, I have made that argument, and I would like people to consider it. There isn’t a lot of ace/aro representation in media and it seems like Riot’s starting to dip their toes into the qu*er waters (Neeko, Kai/Val, Taliyah) so this is a possible avenue they could go down while continuing to do that.
And, a special note to the League Boards crowd: please read **the entire post** before commenting. **Please**. I know ya'll have short attention spans and shorter tempers, but this is a discussion. I will ignore anyone that just goes "ew ace" and downvotes. I get it, you're cishet and don't need representation and don't want education. I get it. But I want a discussion. If you don't want that, go away. Otherwise, let's talk.