On Guardians of the Galaxy, and the line I will not cross.
I haven’t actually been on Tumblr much these past few weeks, and in particular I haven’t been on it at a computer lately, but having just seen Guardians of the Galaxy again last night, I really feel the need to address something in how the criticism of Drax and That Line that he says about Gamora is being processed by a lot of fans.
For me, that line is out of character and out of continuity. The writers simply got that part of the chronicle of What Really Happened wrong. They went for a cheap joke at the expense of a socially acceptable “easy target” and the story suffered for it. It’s a sour note. It rings wrong.
A lot of people, though, while acknowledging the line as misogynistic, have spun out the theory that Drax was merely repeating an epithet he’d heard hurled at her, and not understanding figures of speech, assumed it was true without judgment.
And the thing is, I understand that when you go to see Hollywood blockbusters as a woman, sometimes you have to hold your nose and figure out a way to explain away what you’re smelling. I understand the principle of what we might call “protective headcanons”.
But the thing is, women in general were not the targets of that line. And when we start explaining away the problematic parts of a narrative that are primarily harmful to others, we’re making excuses.
See, when we sum up the problem with a line like that as being “it’s a misogynistic slur”, we’re ignoring the actual mechanism of violence being employed, which is to demean a woman (who is presumed to be above such degradation) by comparing her to other[ed] women, who are presumed to embody it… a presumption that is reinforced both by the comparison, and by outraged reactions that essentially boil down to “How dare you suggest that [I/her/Gamora/whoever] is a mere ________.”
Nota Bene: If your criticism of/reaction to the line does not go beyond “misogynistic slur”, then your reaction boils down to it.
"Bitch" is a misogynistic slur because it compares women to animals… breeding animals with unclean habits.
"W****" compares women to each other.
To sum it up as misogyny is to suggest that misogyny is what happens when the right women are treated like the wrong women.
I feel like if you’re not a sex worker, that’s not a line you should be excusing. You should not be cheerily amending the film to include a backstory for the line that turns it into a lighthearted, lovable misunderstanding so you can watch the movie comfortably. That scene should always be uncomfortable, it should always ring as a false, harsh, discordant note.
I will be honest: I love this movie, and right now… and probably for the next several years… it is the most important piece of media in my emotional repertoire for deeply personal reasons.
So when I say that I don’t care how much you love the movie, please understand that I’m not saying “don’t love the movie”. I couldn’t stop loving it if I tried.
But loving something thorns and all doesn’t mean pretending the thorns are just a few extra rosebuds, especially when the thorn just caught your sleeve but it gouged someone else’s arm.