Lots of interesting gender identity construction ahoy.
Witness Damon trying to ~enforce the male predatory gaze on Elena. She doesn't like it. She tries to go through with it, but it's wrong for her. Instead, she chooses a frat boy as her target who's preying on a girl by dropping a ruffie in her drink. Elena, vampire avenger. Contrast this with Stefan continuing to define what Elena should want, how Elena must be feeling ("your emotions are heightened" plays off as what she's feeling isn't real, that Elena's not herself). Damon starts off trying to teach Elena his way of hunting and feeding, but he still allows enough leeway for Elena to discover her own way. And when she drinks, afterwards, he asks, "How do you feel?" No attempt to prejudge or delegitimize her feelings -- rather, Damon gives Elena enough room to discover what she wants and who she is now, rather than who she ~should be. Whenever Elena talks about Stefan, she keeps saying "should". With Damon, she says "want".
Also, on the subject of women's desire and society's expectations.
What do you want, Elena?
To not be like Katherine, to not be like Damon, to not revel in self-gratification. That's not who Elena should be.
Of course, there are no good options for Elena. She becomes human again, she's Klaus' victim again. She stays a vampire and feeds from others, she's caught walking the tight rope between enjoying what animates her but not enjoying it too much or she's Le Monster.
I'm so sick of the shaming. I just wanna wrap Elena up in blankets and give her tea and bloodsoaked cookies.