I'm enjoying this show, but love to hate some aspects of it, too. This post addresses a comment made by HitFix's Alan Sepinwall, in his recap of the show's mid-season finale: THE WALKING DEAD, Season 3, Ep. 8 "Made to Suffer". Subtitle to my response: "Short Hair Does Not (always) Equal Lesbian".
@alan sepinwall: A review of "The Walking Dead"mid-season finale coming up just as soon as I make assumptions about yoursexual orientation based on your haircut...
Given the confluence of Axel's context, Carol's distinctive butch cut, and her past history, I don't think Axel's statement was farfetched, at all. In fact, I thought that bit was the writers' clever nod to - and attempt to intertwine - the following relevant threads. Walk with me on this:
THREAD ONE – Carol's haircut may be an artifact of the abuse she suffered from her late husband, Ed. I've thought her keeping her hair short reflects the fact that she's still in recovery. (See http://www.hairfinder.com/tips/women-cut-hair.htm). Thus, Axel may have correctly interpreted her vulnerability, but given his context, misattributed its cause.
THREAD TWO - Axel’s context is prison culture. Prison’s a place where, it’s commonly understood, most sex is not conjugal; rather, it’s same-sex and oftentimes not consensual. And for the better part of a year, Axel’s been cooped up in close confines within a prison-society-within-a prison-society run by two sociopathic predators (“Alpha” Tomas and his “Beta” Andrew), subject to no external authority, and buffered only by Big Tiny and Oscar - two Betas who seemed saner and more “civilized” (i.e., more imbued with traditional values and decency) than Tomas and Andrew. Remember, Big Tiny and Oscar’s first impulse, when Rick advised them of the apocalypse, was to phone their loved ones, and Oscar retained such domestic leanings as liking to wear house slippers of an evening.
THREAD THREE – Axel may know Rick’s group hails from Atlanta. Moreover, Atlanta may not be overly far from the prison. It’s well-known that Atlanta’s LGBT population ranks amongst the largest amongst American cities (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_village#List_of_gay_villages).
THREAD FOUR - LGBT people in prison are oftentimes targeted for abuse (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_people_in_prison). Therefore, a “veteran” prisoner (such as Axel) is likely able to recognize vulnerable individuals just as easily as he can recognize those with “Alpha” and “Beta” status (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_wolf and Side Notes 1 and 2, below). I think he correctly perceived Carol’s lingering vulnerability (she’s a recovering - but judging by her hair, not fully recovered - survivor of years of spousal abuse), but Axel misattributed the source of her vulnerability.
SIDE NOTE-1: I get the impression that Axel held “Omega” (low man on the totem pole) status in prison, as evidenced by his small physical stature, minority status as a white man among men of color, chattiness around those in charge, and quick efforts to make himself useful (by offering to tune up Daryl’s motorcycle). Oscar, on the other hand, was a “Beta”: he was physically imposing, adopted a “you’ll do whatever you’re going to do, but I’m not going to try to convince you” demeanor, and let his actions rather than words show he was useful. Andrew – although less physically imposing - was a Beta, too, under “Alpha” Tomas – who was a stone-cold predator. Oscar chose Rick over Andrew, because he recognized Rick as an Alpha as well as identified with his decency, while Andrew was only a wannabe Alpha and his sociopathology (and poor judgment) was a known quantity.
SIDE NOTE-2: Axel no longer feels like an “Omega” at the prison, where he’s surrounded by a one-legged old man, a 17-year-old girl, a baby, someone he perceives as a boy, and a slightly-built abuse [recovery] victim he’d dismissed as a lesbian. But now that Carol’s revealed she’s not gay (and thus is a suitable potential sexual partner), I’m curious about how Axel will reassess his and Carol’s rankings on the Alpha-Beta-Omega scale, and his view of Daryl – whom Axel might now begin to view as a rival when (not if) Daryl returns.