So I saw this poster when I was at the gun range the other day and it made me stop and stare. At first, I thought it was uproariously funny. Just look at those underpants she’s wearing! They are somehow huge and revealing at the same time, and sort of look like a doily that my grandma would have on her living room end-table. Plus, what’s with the robe that looks like lacey arm-floaties? I’m sure it’s perfect attire for a dip in the grotto at the Playboy mansion. Or a kiddie pool full of chocolate pudding.
But then I got to thinking about women and the role of sexuality in the gun community. You can’t ignore the fact that there is something very powerful about shooting a gun, and that power and sex are happy bedfellows. Mastery over a weapon breeds confidence and satisfaction. Confidence is sexy. I wear my hair longer these days, in part because I really like the way a long ponytail looks with the protective eye and ear wear I sport at the range. When I painted my nails last week, I was excited about taking pictures of me shooting my new M&P compact with a sharp manicure. I feel suddenly empowered to do more overtly feminine things with my appearance since I began engaging in this hyper-masculine activity. I want to look powerful and in charge, like a woman. I feel comfortable being pretty for the first time in my life, because I don’t feel like I’m “asking for it” by looking nice and walking around the city alone.
Then I see things like this:
And this just disappoints me. This is not my idea of women in the gun community. This is about objectification. Now I’m not going to rant about the female-as-sex-object theme we often see in popular media. I say, if all parties are consenting and you want to show off your (obviously well-honed) body for the whole world to see, and hopefully make some bank on it, godspeed my friend. I just don’t think that this type of advertising accurately characterizes my experience or that of any woman I know, for that matter, in the gun world. The women in these ads look passive. They are posing with guns for the viewer, to please the viewer. They look defenseless. They’re barely dressed. The women and the gun are objects intended for possession by men.
In real life, carrying a gun is about being assertive and competent. It’s about taking care of yourself and those around you. And when you know you can take care of yourself, you no longer feel like an object that someone else could take possession of at any time.