Marshmallow Man is a woman. Granted, “Marshmallow Woman” doesn’t roll off the tongue with the same alliterative satisfaction as “Marshmallow Man.” It’s tough to pronounce two W’s in a row like that, not to mention adding an entire extra syllable. But, it’s the more accurate of the two. Accuracy versus a lulling literary device is a tough call! But considering her true name is Gozer the Gozerian, let’s consider the alliteration checkbox cleared. We can call her by her real name.
When Gozer first appears in Ghostbusters, it is emphasized that Gozer is able to take any form it chooses. The modus operandi of Gozer is to gain entry to a world (via sex between Zuul and Vinz Clortho), which she will then destroy, followed by creating said world anew. She brings about the death and rebirth of civilizations. Once encountering its inhabitants, she allows them to choose a form for her to take throughout the act of destruction. This option to choose the form of their own annihilation is a moment that reflects the threatened culture in its purest form. The form that Gozer takes is extremely significant, whether it is selected spontaneously or with great forethought, as either encapsulates the subconscious drives of the culture.
“Choose the form of The Destructor”
Does a person choose a creature they believe they expect to defeat easily (because they hope to save their world), or do they choose something formidable (welcoming their own end)? Given time to prepare, a person or group’s selection can encapsulate either of these wishes. On the other hand, if you are asked for the first image that pops into your head and that figure is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, this says a lot about your life experiences and subconscious head space. It is a cartoonish, jolly, strolling piece of candy; it is consumerism made manifest. He is sugary, smiling, and looks huggable from head to toe—a mobile advertisement. There could be many symbols for the United States of the 1980s, and a Marshmallow Man in a sailor’s outfit does one hell of a job of summing it up. He’s even red, white, and blue.
The form that is unwittingly selected for Earth’s destruction has significance, and this same significance extends to the form that Gozer chooses to take. When she first appears, she is a slight, lithe woman in a glamorous bodysuit with a foxy haircut. Gozer decides to take this form and with that the identity that it presents. Gozer wills itself into the physical appearance of a female human being, and therefore, shifts from the pronoun “it” to “she.” The Ghostbusters themselves identify Gozer as female, as Ray calls her a “Nimble, little minx,” minx being a word that applies to women by definition. Further, she is played by the female actress/model Slavitza Jovan.
Minx: noun\ ˈmiŋ(k)s\
: a sexually attractive and playful woman who often causes trouble
- a pert girl
- a wanton woman
“Minx.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.
Very little background is given of Gozer outside of facts that are only true within the context of the movie. In a discussion between Winston and Egon, it is explained that she was first worshiped in Mesopotamia, then the cult expanded to include the Hittites, then Sumerians, and then her worship continued to the present day, although in smaller, quieter circles. There is no mention of a gender identity in previous appearances, though the Ghostbusters video game does make note that prior to exterminating two other worlds, The Destructor took the form of a torb and a sloar, whatever those are. Gozer was not worshiped in actual recorded history and only exists in the canon of Ghostbusters. There is no historic data indicating an accepted gender for the character. Even within the franchise’s criteria, Gozer is never given a name that suggests a male or female identity (outside of Marshmallow Man), instead opting for androgynous titles such as The Destructor and The Traveler.
But even without being documented as an entity in any religion, the Goddess as a destructive force reoccurs across many cultures: Kali and Prakriti in Hinduism, Sekhmet and Bellona in Ancient Egyptian mythology, Lovatar in Finnish mythology, the Hawaiian goddess Pele, and Enyo from Greek mythology to name a few. Likewise, a goddess commonly works as the creator: Izanami in Japanese mythology, Nu-Gua in Chinese mythology, Thesis in Greek mythology, Atai in African mythology, Prakriti and Kali in Hinduism, Nit in Ancient Egyptian mythology, as well as many more. There is also considerable overlap between the two roles, with many goddesses controlling a combination of the two. Existing records provide a consistent pattern of a destructor/creator depicted in the female form.
The only information we have to work with within the parameters set by the Ghostbuster’s franchise is the identity that Gozer chooses to project, and that is as a woman. Therefore, any form that is selected by her victims is the equivalent of putting on a costume for their benefit (with the added bonus of shits and giggles). It is Gozer the woman pretending to be a Marshmallow Man, and therefore, Marshmallow Man is a woman. She is Marshmallow Woman.