Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora, and the “W” Word

Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora, and the “W” Word

Note: adult language ahead, including a discussion about sex and gendered insults. Just a heads-up.

Last night, my husband and I watched a showing of “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the latest movie to cash in on expand the Marvel universe. It was good, dumb fun – lots of explosions, pretty colours, bog-standard intergalactic villains, crazy hairdos, and great music. The script, while generally lumpy and clunky, had surprising moments of warmth and levity.

Except for one scene. Except for one word.

And if you’ve already seen the movie, you probably know which one I’m talking about, especially if you pay attention to the same spec-fic and pop feminism sites like I do.

Let’s do some scene-setting.

Setting the scene

It’s late in the movie, right as the intrepid quintet of the title are about to infiltrate the lair of Ronan, the movie’s generic baddie. There’s Peter Quill, the smart-ass, Han-Solo-like main character. There’s Gamora, the master assassin who’s gone rogue against both her adopted father and Ronan, with whom he had made an alliance. There’s Rocket, a walking, talking, genetically-enhanced raccoon. There’s Groot, a walking, talking tree with a limited vocabulary. And finally, there’s Drax, a warrior looking for vengeance after Ronan slaughtered his family.

When the five characters first meet, there’s mutual antagonism, especially on the part of Drax, who believes that Gamora should pay for being Ronan’s (unwilling) accomplice, thus being implicit in the death of his wife and child. Considering that Gamora is the adopted daughter of Thanos, who literally wants to kill every living thing in the universe to gain the love of Death herself, the idea that Gamora’s killed lots of people is probably true. Drax has a literal mindset, and is not a character who sees nuance in things. When he first sees Gamora, he pretty much slots her into the “enemy” column.

As the movie progresses and they save each other from various tight scrapes, the five forge a bond and team up to save the galaxy from the Glowy Purple McGuffin of Doom. They hatch a daring plan set to the strains of “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways. And then they enter Ronan’s lair.

OK, so we’re all caught up, yes? Gamora’s a murderer, Drax wants revenge, he’s a literal-thinking guy, and they used to be enemies but now they’re friends.

Now we get to the moment in question

The five of them walk in line through a darkened corridor. Drax starts waxing rhapsodic about how good it is to have friends, and how good it will be to avenge his family. He refers to each person around him in turn, talking about how the human, the tree, and the raccoon are his friends. Then, when he gets to Gamora…

He calls her a green whore.

Literally.

He calls her a whore.

Right after he utters the word, Gamora turns around and manages to get a few sounds of protest in edgewise, but then they’re suddenly attacked. Their attacker specifically singles out Gamora for being a murderer, calling her such, lambasting her for the blood on her hands.

Drax then attacks the new attacker, kills him, and then says something to the effect of “Nobody talks that way about my friends.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

Throughout the movie, we see everyone, not just Gamora, shooting, punching, kicking, and stabbing people right and left. Know what we don’t see? We don’t see anyone having sex – much less the movie’s most important female character exchanging sex for money.

So let me get this straight. It’s totally okay to call a woman a whore, even though she isn’t, but not okay to call her a murderer, even though she is – and then get offended when someone else cuts in on your opportunity to cut your supposed “friend” down to size?

Not only is this incredibly offensive – especially in the wake of all of the eyebrows that were raised over the phrase “mewling quim” in “The Avengers” – but it’s also completely out of character.

Remember that I said Drax was literal-minded. We’re talking literal to the extent that he doesn’t understand that running your finger against your throat is a symbolic gesture that represents killing someone. Calling her a “whore” is a leap of semantics that he technically shouldn’t be able to do, since he has no evidence for this assumption, and neither do viewers.

So either we have an instance of a script not staying true to a character’s nature – which is bad – or we have the deliberate use of a gendered insult just for kicks, and see the woman who is the target of that insult exercising only the barest form of agency before a man intervenes and saves her from a threat  – which is worse.

You know what’s even worse than that, though?

The fact that when I talked about “Guardians of the Galaxy” to others, I didn’t call this bullshit out. When someone asked on Twitter whether the movie was okay for a 6-year-old to see, I mentioned the violence and swearing, but I didn’t mention the use of this incredibly hurtful word.

(Ladies and gentlemen, this is rape culture at work.)

But what about context?

When I brought this issue up with my husband, he had a few questions that made me upset. So I’m going to answer them here because I’m pretty sure others will ask the same things. Credit to him in that he stressed he wasn’t trying to condone the word usage, but anyways:

Would it have been better if he called her a whore when they first met in prison instead, when he still distrusted her? No. Know why? Because, as I mentioned above, she’s not a whore. There’s literally no evidence for him to assume that, and remember, this guy takes words literally. Also, Gamora’s presence in the prison is already highly charged as she appears to be one of the only women in there and she’s threatened by several men at night with knives. Gamora should technically be able to wipe the floor with these guys, but I guess fictional prisons aren’t really fictional prisons unless a frisson of rape threats is sprinkled on top, so of course the soon-to-be love interest has to step in and save her.

But what about Rocket? So what about the instances in the movie when Rocket is treated to speciesist insults like “rodent” and “vermin”? Yeah, that’s pretty unpleasant, but I still don’t think it’s equivalent. For one thing, unlike Gamora, Rocket actually gets a chance to rebut those insults and talk about how hurtful they are. Gamora is almost immediately interrupted. For another, get back to me when men call other men “vermin” with the same frequency and bile with which they call women “whores” – then there might be something to discuss.

Edit: I originally said that Gamora was the only woman in the movie’s prison, but there is at least one other moment shown momentarily sitting at a table. The relevant sentence has been updated to reflect this.

27 thoughts on “Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora, and the “W” Word

  1. Megan

    Not a fan of the use of the word in general, but I think Drax called her that because another inmate called her that and, being Drax, he took it literally. He doesn’t seem to be bothered the least bit by the fact that (he believes) she has exchanged sex for money; he’s just calling a spade a spade, same as he called Groot a “dumb tree”.

    Now, whether it’s okay that they wrote in the other inmate calling her a whore is another matter for debate. I was willing to let it go b/c sometimes objectionable things can be said to establish a character as, well, objectionable.

    1. Christina Post author

      Hi Megan,

      I honestly don’t remember the other inmate calling her a whore, so thanks for bringing that up. However, I still find the whole thing troubling.

      I mean, this movie finds so many other ways to defy convention in its script (for example, the main character’s enthusiastic use of grade-level swears like “turd-blossom”) that sticking with the whole idea of “lets just call her a whore because sexism in prison is natural and adds verisimilitude” feels even more gratuitous.

      1. John

        A few quick points. Yes, Megan is indeed correct that at least one inmate refrered to Gamorra in that context. I’ve read a few other blogs where people said that several inmates said that. I am unsure of that. Either way, that would be Drax’s point of reference.

        Secondly and respectfully, your point about men calling other men “vermin” really does not work. He is not calling a man vermin. He is referring to a raccoon. That would probably be the apex of insult to an actual raccoon.

        Next you compare, again, Gamora to Rocket. True, Rocket has a chance to rebut hurtful insults. Then you say Gamora is almost immediately interrupted during her rebut.

        BUT… Not immediately. She says “You must stop!” Gamora is person who has been tortured, brain-washed and trained by the mad Titan, Thanos, and she has only recently stepped from his shadow and accepted independence, but I believe the “You must stop” is less of a protest and more of a threat, making her character even stronger. She might be hurt by the remark, but she does not respond with feelings but rather a command, showing her presence of character. That term wasn’t up to discussion. Had the battle not continued, she would have fought a (probably very confused) Drax.

        Also, turd-blossome and the other “grade-level” swears were reflective of Peter Quill’s personality rather than the sensibilities of the script as a whole. To have everyone speak as such (although, I will grant you the other such insult being Nova Corps “A-holes”) takes away from Quill’s unique personality.

        I believe that it was the intent of the film to make Drax unknowingly insensitive. He manages to insult everyone without trying. I ask, then, how would you have had him insult Gamora (and he does manage to insult nearly everyone)?

        As a last note, I have no evidence of this, but Joss Wheedon’s fingerprints are all over the Marvel Universe, and the term “whore” and its inappropriateness are all over his masterpiece “Firefly”. Part of me wonders if that doesn’t have some impact on this film.

        1. Shaun

          With regards to your comment about Firefly and the frequent use of the word “whore” with respect to Inara, she was a Companion. She literally had sex for money. When the others, especially Mal, called her a whore, it was used in an attempt to shame Inara, but only served to show how shameful the characters using it were. When Mal called Inara a whore, he always came off looking like the jerk. Inara, however, was empowered by what she did. So I don’t think the comparison works here.

          As for it’s use in GotG, I feel like it was just mean-spirited and didn’t fit with the rest of the film.

  2. Karen Kebarle

    I agree completely with your objection to the use of the word “whore.” I am allergic to that word, and it makes no sense in the context you describe except to denigrate Gamora, and by extension, women in general.

  3. Jeremy

    Ya know, the way comicbookmovie.com describes this scene a month ago, after Drax’s “no one talks about my friends” “But whore is perfectly fine?” Gamora quips back. I’m not sure why that got cut out.

  4. Merrill

    As to where he got the idea of calling her a whore, I don’t know the story behind that. I didn’t notice if one of the other prisoners called her that or what. I don’t know that Drax was so literal that he would never say anything without first having proof of it. I think he was just so literal that he didn’t understand metaphors and odd turns of phrase.

    I think the point of the use of the word was *because* it was incredibly offensive. It was them basically making a joke about how dumb and clueless this character of Drax was. He rhapsodizes about how great it is to have friends in an offensive way, steadily building until he uses that word, the most offensive of all, to describe Gamora. She starts to complain, cutting him off, and they are attacked.

    But through his actions, he shows that he indeed is her friend, because he is there for her when she needs his help. And the joke is that he doesn’t even see that he had just called her something so much worse and uncalled for. He’s dumb enough that he doesn’t see that at all, but he is a true friend all the same, because he is there for her when she needs him.

    That’s how I saw it anyway. I don’t think anyone was trying to say it’s okay to call a woman a whore or that it was rape culture in effect, just a joke about a dumb guy getting it wrong. But I’m a man, so I’m sure I’m wrong.

  5. Jenn

    Thank you for writing this! I have to agree on all accounts. Despite the violence and action, it seemed that the film makers picked their battles when it came to using “bad language,” keeping things deliberately clean. A scene where Quill uses a drawn out “what the fuuuuhhhh” comes to mind. However, one of the ‘good guys’ calling the main female character a whore when it’s completely out of character for him is somehow okay. I’m not sure what the message was that the filmmakers were trying to send with that exchange, but it tainted the whole movie for me.

  6. FinnGoDo

    Not that I’m a fan of the word by any means, but out of the many funny moments in the film it was the one where the audience I saw it with laughed the loudest. So I’d say that the consensus is that it went over pretty well with mainstream audiences. That doesn’t make it right and I did question that type of language in a Marvel (Disney) film. But it is rated PG13, and anyone having issue with it because of kids that are under 13 really have no argument. The stigma of that word is hurtful, but when used in the context of humor sensitivity often goes out the window and become acceptable to the mainstream.

    My biggest complaint with using the word is that so many people compared GotG to Star Wars. Using that word alone tainted it from ever becoming a classic in my eyes.

    1. Christina Post author

      But don’t you find that troubling – that one of the most loaded, gender-identified insults there is was used as a joke? There are way better ways to make someone laugh.

  7. notme

    Didn’t bother me. He was a prisoner. She was called that word by other prisoners. He is a moron. Referred to groot as a “dumb tree”.

    It is perfectly in character.

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  9. paul haine

    “Except for one scene. Except for one word.”

    I’d say there’s two; I’d include Quill’s line at the end – “You said it yourself: we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, BITCH!” to Ronan. Just not necessary.

    “we have an instance of a script not staying true to a character’s nature”

    It’s also true of Quill – he’s supposed to have grown up surrounded by aliens with his last point of contact with human culture when he was aged, what, 8? 10? Yet he somehow manages to get in a sleazy gag about a blacklight and Jackson Pollack. A bit too frat-boy for my liking.

    1. Christina Post author

      Hm, that’s an interesting point. I didn’t notice the “bitch” line as much because I believe that sort of usage has been absorbed into pop culture as a way to intensify/emphasize statements.

      But yes, I agree that Quill’s knowledge of pop culture exceeds those he would have been exposed to at that age. Though considering the way they sort of handwaved in the whole idea of him being only half human, I bet they’ll handwave away the rest with some sort of excuse like “ooh, latent long-range psychic powers” or some such.

  10. Jenjie

    I’m so glad you brought this up, as it bothered the hell out of me too. If anyone else had said it–Peter or Rocket–I would have just laughed. But they spend all this time establishing that Drax is a literalist and only speaks truth/what he’s seen to be true. So the fact that he could dismiss her as that seemed off. I don’t care if he overheard another prisoner saying it (I went back to see it a second time and didn’t hear that) it made not sense and wasn’t true to either character–Drax or Gamora.

  11. Lighten up, It's a movie

    Maybe Drax was making a biblical reference to the city Gomorrah.

    It wasn’t meant to be taken literal. He obviously acted it was like a normal reference and she quickly shut him down. It was humor not some slap of sexism. Perhaps this just is not your type of movie since you are having a problem with understanding the humor in it.

    1. paul haine

      “It wasn’t meant to be taken literal.”

      Drax is a character who takes and means everything literally. Perhaps this just is not your type of movie since you are having a problem with understanding the character traits in it.

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  13. Ian Guard

    Since I’m a man, I always feel like I need to preface what I’m about to say with this disclaimer: rape is bad, I’m not about to defend rape.
    Moving on, I don’t usually engage in comment debates, but I’m really tired of everything becoming a target for certain groups and thus being labeled as “rape culture.” Enough already.
    The following is from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:

    Whore, noun:

    Definition of WHORE

    1 : A woman who engages in sexual acts for money : prostitute ; also : a promiscuous or immoral woman
    2 : A male who engages in sexual acts for money
    3 : A venal or unscrupulous person

    Look at number 3. There’s your LITERAL explanation for Drax using that word. Just in case we weren’t satisfied with him hearing it in the prison and assuming it was accurate because, again, he takes everything literally. Can we please just go back to enjoying this fantastic movie now?
    P.S. – the immediate interruption you refer to is not a man, but a woman character, not that it matters, but since this became a feminist issue I figured I’d point it out

    1. Christina Post author

      Several people have submitted comments stating this same point, but in the interest of reducing repetition, this is the one I’ve approved.

      If this is such a commonly accepted use of the term, can you provide examples of other films where men call women whores, completely without sexual context, to indicate that they’re unscrupulous or venal? I’ll sit here and wait.

      In the meantime, let’s think about this for a minute. Quill is a thief. Groot and Rocket are professional bounty hunters. Drax himself is in prison. All five of them are, at some point in the story, trying to offload the Orb (which, let’s not forget, Quill stole, and for all we know could be an important religious artifact to the culture of the world it was housed on and stolen from) to the Collector, who is willing to pay them obscene gobs of money for it.

      Thieves, bounty hunters, fighters, and people trying to fence stolen goods. At various points in the story, that’s what all the members of the ragtag GotG team are. In other words, all of the five protagonists have done unscrupulous things.

      So, if Drax is using the word “whore” in the context of the third definition you’ve now described of someone being unscrupulous, how come Gamora’s the only one he’s using it on? Why doesn’t Drax call himself or any of the other GotGs a whore? Isn’t it awfully convenient that the only one he’s calling unscrupulous described that way using a very loaded term with other, far more common, insinuations?

      Let’s put this another way: are you seriously saying that the best defense you have for the use of this word is that Drax is a hypocrite? If so, that’s just sad. Either that, or you’re the kind of guy who goes “not all men” when women get all uppity — the nerve of us ladies, standing up for ourselves! — and fail to really examine the attitudes at the root of the problem.

      1. Ian Guard

        I’ll respond, however, I’m curious if you’ll allow it to appear on your blog since you have already admitted to being selective in what information you’ll allow your readers to see. (“this is the one I approved.”) Please don’t take that as a personal comment, because I fully understand that this is your blog, your world, and you have every right to dictate what you publish, although I at least hope you’ll try to maintain some journalistic integrity seeing as how your site was actually pretty high on the list of Google search results for this movie. (Kudos on that, by the way.)

        As far as your request that I “provide examples of other films where men call women whores, completely without sexual context, to indicate that they’re unscrupulous or venal?” while you, and I quote, “sit here and wait,” I will respectfully decline for a few reasons: one, I don’t feel the need to debate the validity of a prominent dictionary and its definitions. If I had cited Urban Dictionary, I could understand, but I used Merriam-Webster. Plus, by your own admission at the beginning of your reply, “several people have submitted comments stating the same point.” Two, every movie is its own world, especially when we’re looking at a sci-fi world where a talking tree and raccoon are accepted as possibilities, so me drudging up other films and how they used words would not better prove or disprove my point. The third reason that I feel the need to pass on this request is because I don’t have a memory full of scarred moments when I heard the word “whore” uttered in films. It doesn’t bother me that much, because it’s a film. If it was a snuff film, or a hidden camera showing a rape, then I would see it as a social issue, but not here. (Just for the record, I’m not cold and unfeeling, in fact, having seen movies that DO depict rape and/or abuse of people, animals, or anything, I can tell you that I do have guttural, emotional reactions to them, which is what the filmmakers are trying to evoke from the audience.)

        Moving on, you list all the characters and their flaws, including the fact that ”Drax himself is in prison” and you say that “All five of them are trying to offload the Orb,” which you then try to claim it might be an important artifact to the culture of the world it was housed on.” A few rebuttals to your setup, before we look at the real reason you bring it up: the reason for Drax’s incarceration isn’t directly mentioned, but it can be assumed it’s due to all his killing. Unfortunately, the point you’re working towards isn’t helped by this because it IS stated that the creatures that Drax has killed are Ronan’s people and his motivation was the brutal murder of his wife and daughter. MANY films have been built on this sort of vengeance, and it has long been accepted as justified, including Gladiator and Braveheart just to name a couple. Next, is your assumption that the Orb was important to the people on that planet is flawed because it tells us on-screen that the world Quill takes the Orb from is ABANDONED.

        Anyway, you bring all that up to ask “how come Gamora’s the only one he’s using it on? Why doesn’t Drax call himself or any of the other GotGs a whore?” I’ve established why he wouldn’t find HIMSELF unscrupulous, but as for the other TWO people in the scene with him, (Rocket is not with the group at this point) are you honestly saying you would rather those lines be changed to “You, Quill, are a whore and my friend. This dumb tree whore is my friend. And this green whore is now my…”?!?! Not only does it not make sense, it is just plain horrible writing!!

        You finish up with this: “Let’s put this another way: are you seriously saying that the best defense you have for the use of this word is that Drax is a hypocrite? If so, that’s just sad. Either that, or you’re the kind of guy who goes “not all men” when women get all uppity” To repeat, Drax would not be a hypocrite in this instance for reasons I’ve already mentioned. The rest of what you had to say broke down to more of an assumptive personal attack on myself, which we can add to the condescending “I’ll sit here and wait” you employed earlier. THAT’S actually my biggest issue with this whole conversation. It’s taking things further than they need to go for the sake of “feminism.” Guess what, I’m a straight male who happens to be a VERY vocal supporter of gay rights and gender equality, so the one thing that gets me going worse than anything is when I see someone speaking out on behalf of those things, but doing so in an uneducated and abusive manner. You are giving these movements, concepts, whatever you want to call them, a bad name because things like this whole debate over 2 seconds of a movie that was intended to bring laughter and entertainment, as well as lashing out at someone like me just because they tried to put the issue to bed.

        Again, it’s your blog, and you get to control the viewpoints expressed, but I would recommend taking a step back and asking yourself, “Am I pushing too far in the wrong areas just to serve my own ego?” I will give you respect points if you actually allow this to appear on your blog though.

        1. Christina Post author

          Hi Ian,

          Thanks for the response. I’m going to genuinely try to engage with your comment here, and dial down the snark.

          First things first, I think that the definition of “whore” you’re using to describe a venal or unscrupulous person is not universal. For example, the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, second edition, defines “whore” as follows:

          noun:
          1. a prostitute
          2. (derogatory) a promiscuous woman

          intransitive verb:
          1. (of a man) seek or chase after whores
          2. act as a whore

          Second, what we really need to examine is what the movie is trying to accomplish here, and whether it’s doing so consistently. In keeping with the goofy, space opera, gee-whiz tone throughout the movie, viewers are treated to more juvenile levels of profanity/swearing. I don’t mind swearing. I laughed throughout the movie, no matter the impression some readers may be getting that I’m some sort of prig. (By the way, the other posts pointing out the definition of “whore” in the dictionary aren’t showing up here because pointing out the definition in a dictionary is one thing, but doing so while at the same time implying I’m too dumb to understand humour in general, like another commenter did, is another thing entirely).

          Throughout the movie, we’re treated to more juvenile turns of phrase like “turd-blossom” and “a-hole” instead of the full-out word. At one point, Quill even starts to say “What the F-” without finishing the F-word. So to have “whore” be one of the words the script doesn’t pull back on sounds pretty confrontational.

          Let’s use a really extreme example to get at what I mean. What do you think the public reaction would have been if, for example, “Frozen” used the F-word? People would be all up in arms because it’s completely wrong for the target audience, and also completely wrong for the world/setting in question.

          Let’s look at a counterexample. Last week, I saw “Snowpiercer” in the theatre. That was a great movie. And (spoilers ahead here), when the leader of the tail-end revolution, Curtis, finally makes it to the front of the train and confronts the conductor, Wilford, and his female assistant, Claude, Curtis calls Claude a whore. (Here’s an example of a man calling a woman a whore in the third sense of the word you mentioned, so I’m admitting that’s a point in favour of your argument in the first post.)

          However, this usage didn’t rankle me as much because Snowpiercer is a much darker movie than GotG, and Claude actually is upholding a horrible social structure through her actions, compromising what we might consider her morality to maintain her position on the train – when Claude is introduced in the movie, she’s measuring the kids in the poor end of the train to see which ones are small enough to be used as slaves to repair Wilford’s engine. Among other things, the movie deals with systems of privilege and how they become entrenched, climate change, the use of propaganda, and even cannibalism.

          In contrast, GotG, despite its mention of things like genocide, doesn’t really bring that issue home the way that Snowpiercer does with its chosen topics.

          Can you see what I’m getting at here? I’m not going to be too put out when a lot of swearing happens in a Quentin Tarantino movie. But in a movie like GotG, where pains have been made to minimize other more confrontational forms of language, and to deal with the surface of weighty topics like genocide, a word like “whore” stands out like a sore thumb.

          Finally, I’d like to quote one section of your comment in particular:

          “I’ve established why he wouldn’t find HIMSELF unscrupulous, but as for the other TWO people in the scene with him, (Rocket is not with the group at this point) are you honestly saying you would rather those lines be changed to “You, Quill, are a whore and my friend. This dumb tree whore is my friend. And this green whore is now my…”?!?! Not only does it not make sense, it is just plain horrible writing!!”

          I agree that the example above you quote is bad writing. What I’m arguing is that the use of “whore” shouldn’t have been there at all, and that it’s also bad writing. What about “You, Quill, are my friend. This dumb tree is my friend. And this green woman is now my friend.” Considering that the exchange in question happens almost immediately after Groot does his thing with the little tree lights, I think that one revision would have mantained the beauty and wonder of that scene, showing the growth and development of Drax’s character.

          1. Ian Guard

            You make some really good points, and I honestly feel as though this is just one of those situations of “different strokes for different folks.” I say that because at its root, the issue is about a single word and how it’s affecting (or not affecting) certain members of the audience.
            As far as using the Canadian dictionary, I would suggest that, while this is obviously an international release, they’re going to be gearing it towards American audiences more than anything else. Furthermore, might I also be so bold as to assume that perhaps the third definition is missing because NOBODY in Canada would ever be scrupulous!!! (I kid, I kid. Just wanted to include some levity, especially after a day like today – with the passing of Robin Williams)
            As for your point about consistency, the more goofy words are used by Quill. Drax speaks in an almost biblical vocabulary; I’ll use his one-word exclamation of “Behold!” as the example that comes to mind right away, so “whore” really does fit into his way of talking, just from a word-choice perspective.
            As for the example with Frozen, which you admit is extreme, yes, an F-bomb in an animated Disney flick would be shocking, but so would most of the action and violence shown in Guardians of the Galaxy, if it happened in Frozen, so the scenario doesn’t quite play. I do see what you’re getting at, and I think the best way to “reason” it out from the other point-of-view is what I said earlier about “different strokes.” The word truly has lost some of its venom in modern society. Maybe that’s a bad thing, maybe it’s a good thing. It all depends on how you look at it. I think of a time a number of years ago when (and I don’t mean anything racist by this example, but it’s race-based) African American, or black people (I’m not trying to offend, just genuinely don’t know which phrase is less offensive today) decided they were going to “take back the N word” so it would lose its power. As a people, they decided to make a concerted effort not to let a single word control their feelings any longer. Maybe the fact that “whore” seemed passable as a slightly derogatory comment (which is what they were going for, following “dumb tree” – Drax was supposed to be unaware that he was insulting them, much like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory) is because it doesn’t have the same sting to most people as it used to. I honestly think that since they needed SOME kind of derogatory comment for that joke to work, just using “this green woman” would have led them to this same debate, only it could have been “was he being racist by using her coloring as an insult?” or “was he being sexist by using her gender as an insult?” I think they chose “whore” because it’s a watered-down insult nowadays. Trust me, if they had decided to go with the C-word, or “slut,” or even “bitch” I would fully expect an outrage and a backlash, but I just genuinely feel that this was the safest word choice given what they were trying to do in that one joking moment, without being SO safe that they sacrifice the joke.
            I would like to say, however, that the fact that it offended you, or anyone, does NOT make you stupid, or a “prig” or any other hateful thing that some of those other commenters might have called you, as you mentioned. If I could address those trolls, I would say that they are doing the same damage to the convention of intelligent debate as I accused you of doing by lashing out at me last time. On behalf of the more free-thinking, and open-minded debaters in the world, I apologize for those idiots.
            I also just want to thank you for this response, and really this whole conversation, because while we may not come to rest on the same conclusion or feeling about the use of the word in this instance, I believe we’ve had a respectful conversation about something that does have a lot of emotion on both sides of it.

  14. Leigh Walsh

    While I didn’t catch it myself the first time – the other prisoners called her a Green Whore when she first enterred prison. It’s actually because of Drax’s literal minded-ness that he would have assumed she was an actual whore. In a weird way – it was a very sex positive moment because Drax didn’t see the act of calling her a whore as a negative thing, as an insult. He heard it used to describe her, and assumed it was simply a factual description. While he had not seen her exchange money for sex – if you went on a crazy adventure with someone described as a rockstar, you wouldn’t protest that label because they didn’t stop for a gig in the middle of it.

    Just because someone is a sex worker does not mean they are going to accept just anyone’s advanced, or take kindly to the suggestion of others to use their skills when they possess ones more appropriate to the situation at hand. So while there was nothing to *prove* Gamora was a whore to Drax, there was nothing to disprove the assertion of the prisoners.

    Keep in mind that in the comics, there is a *literal Green Whore* on the roster. I’m wondering if it was some sort of weird nod to set up a joke regarding Mantis’s preence in the sequel.

    Unfortunately, the set up for the joke failed somewhat since the original “Green whore” remarks were not foreground enough. They probably should have left it out as I’m not sure a way they could pull it off – again, it would have been kind of dumb to even address the issue of using whore in a derogatory fashion when the member of the team that has a history of sex work is not present.

    1. Christina Post author

      I really think that trying to interpret the use of that word as an instance of being sex-positive is stretching it, as any other instances of sexual tension or activity in the story are played off as goofy jokes, rather than being sex-positive. For example, that random girl in Quill’s ship at the beginning of movie is pretty much an afterthought to Quill, kind of a callback to Kirk in Star Trek TOS.

  15. Altow

    Hiya,

    I came across this topic in a review where there was alot of heated debate. I’ve just seen this film for the second time and noticed a few things which might help make some sense but I’ll let you be the judge.
    Drax is first introduced in the kyln prison where he attempts to threaten and kill Gamora before Quill intervenes. When they make their escape, Gamora leads them to Knowhere to meet a contact she know’s who will purchase the orb so she can be free. Now this place she takes them to…it’s a place that is not well established as Drax describes it. It’s a place where all the women are either waiting outside dressed in heels or are slaves/servants to the collector, where gambling takes place using the lives of what are considered lesser life forms (that roulette scene), and where heavy drinking takes place in a male dominated environment.
    This is the first place Drax is taken to since breaking out, so maybe it left a strong impression/assumption on him that Gamora came from this place.

    Until the scene in question, there is little to no interaction between Drax and Gamora, Peter seems to work as a mediator between the two. By this time Groot saves Drax after the first encounter with Ronan and Drax confesses to Rocket Raccoon of his ill judgement following the lost battle where they make some connection. It could be the reason he went soft on groot when referring to him as a dumb tree and likewise with Quill for similar reasons. I think Gamora is the main crew member he knows the least about, other than her reputation as a merciless assassin forced to do the dirty work for Thanos/Ronan and the possible assumption that at some point she spent some time in knowhere.