To keep and bear arms: a feminist issue

Since the campus lockdown a year and a half ago, popular topics of conversation have been violence, self-defense, and weapon-carrying.

It is interesting to note how people’s ideas on self defense rights change depending on who you’re talking to.

In our society, we have this stereotypical notion that men are aggressors (or aggressive) and women are not. When talking about self defense, it is generally assumed that men will take an active role in their own self defense (of course!) and women will take a more passive role. What I mean by this is, men are taught and expected to know how to fight. Women are offered self defense classes. Men are taught how to use guns and knives. Women are told that pepper spray and tasers are available. Somewhere. Maybe.

In a lot of ways, and for a variety of reasons, women are more vulnerable to violence, and ergo, in most need of reliable self defense. And yet, society, and even feminism works to keep the safest and most reliable form of self defense from women: guns.

Yes, I said it. Guns.

I’ve been in more than one thread discussing violence against women, or a particular violent act against a woman, and if someone suggests women start carrying, someone will inevitably cry foul.

People hear “own or carry a gun,” and it’s interpreted as “shoot people willy-nilly.”

This is a problem. The world is hostile to women, where we’re expected to be all things, and be nothing. In this particular topic of discussion, we’re expected to alter our schedules, our modes of transportation, our dress, our footwear, our behavior, and our social life to avoid those who mean to do us harm. If a woman is attacked, we don’t wonder why the attacker chose to attack, or start a campaign to against violent behavior: we ask what that woman could have done to avoid being attacked, and posit if she deserved it.

What is wrong with this picture?

A lot of things.

Second Amendment rights are not usually seen as a feminist issue, but I would say that they are.

As I said on this post on Feministing, guns are a very good deterrent. Very few would attack a person carrying a gun, or in the case of acquaintances, a person they knew that both owned and knew how to use a gun. If carrying became so widespread for women, attackers would think twice. Just the knowledge that a woman carrying would deter most attacks. No shooting willy-nilly required (or desired).

For those that still choose to try, brandishing the weapon would scare them off, or buy you time to get away or call the authorities. If a woman is in a desperate situation, her life need not be forfeit.

Anyone who chooses to own a gun needs to be educated and trained. You won’t buy a car without knowing how to drive and maintain it, naturally you wouldn’t buy a gun without knowing how to shoot, disassemble, and clean it. Regular trips to the shooting range are absolutely necessary. No one likes to drive a car they’re unfamiliar with, likewise, no one likes to shoot a gun they’re unfamiliar with.

I also want to make another thing clear: guns do not a violent society make. Violent people a violent society makes. Police cannot be everywhere, and free societies cannot sacrifice freedom for safety (or the hope or feeling of safety).

Until society is changed, making the world a safer and more welcoming place for women, we must take the initiative for our own safety. We have the right to self-defense. We have the right to keep and bear arms. Let’s take advantage of these rights. Relying on others hasn’t done a whole lot for us.

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About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

12 Responses to To keep and bear arms: a feminist issue

  1. I totally agree with you – in a country and a world where attacks on women (both by friends and strangers) are commonplace, women need to engage in active self defense.

    And no weapon is better suited for active self defense of women than the handgun.

    The 9mm automatic in particular is a fine handgun, simple to operate, easy to maintain and the average user can operate it after only a few minutes of instruction (and become an excellent markswoman with just a few weeks of practice).

    The 9mm is also small and lightweight and easily carried in a purse or a holster (if you are lucky enough to live in a “concealed carry” state – New York, Massachusetts and Washington DC residents are out of luck here unless you want to carry illegally).

    I’m surprised that more feminists don’t advocate armed self defense by women – because, quite frankly, if it became commonplace for women to defend themselves with handguns, a lot of men would think twice before trying to hurt a woman.

    – Gregory A. Butler

  2. Brittany-Ann says:

    I definitely agree, a 9mm is a good round to carry. It’s common, has good power and will do damage, but not so much as to be overboard. It also won’t have a lot of kickback that may make hitting your target in a stressful situation difficult.

    I would not recommend carrying in a purse though. A purse can easily be dropped or knocked away, and you wouldn’t be able to dig anything out quick enough to be useful in the event of an attack (items that don’t get used often will wind up at the bottom of a purse, even bulky items like a handgun). A holster is much better–it will always be in the same place, easily accessible. And visible, if you choose to open carry, a very good deterrent.

    That the feminism movement at-large does not take this position is baffling to me. Gun control laws only affect law-abiding citizens, for the most part. It leaves us that much more vulnerable.

    Kentucky has very liberal (heh) gun control laws, which has spoiled me, to a degree. I can’t afford a handgun right now, but I am sure to have a knife on me. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than mace or (my not-so) brute strength.

  3. Aydan says:

    I don’t have anything to add, but I agree, and I have also noticed a reluctance about guns in feminist circles. I guess it’s not surprising; feminists *tend* to be politically liberal, many people who are politically liberal are wary of guns. When a topic inspires so many strong feelings, as this one does, it’s hard to change your inculcated attitudes.

    Anyway, thanks for this post!

    • Brittany-Ann says:

      Thanks for commenting!

      This is true, liberal are wary of guns. I would say that many people have no first-hand experience with guns, and the only media attention this sort of topic really gets is when gun crime comes up. Negative association, I suppose.

      I myself was not comfortable with guns, and being that my only experience was with a young man who was not very responsible with his, I don’t blame myself. It wasn’t until several of my friends began buying their own handguns, and getting their concealed carry licenses that I changed my mind.

      It’s an interesting topic to explore.

  4. Hi! I was just wondering is the blog post appearing for anyone else? Half of it is missing from my screen, it’s etting me kinf of nervous. Help?

  5. i was starting to believe that i could end up being the only lady who cared about this, at the very least at present i acknowledge i’m not loony 🙂 i’ll be sure to pay a visit to a number various blogposts after i get a little caffeine in me, it is really not easy to read without my coffee, take care 🙂

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