A Silent Minority: Pro-Gun-Rights Feminists

So, eight months ago, I posted this blog. In it, I make my case as to why gun rights are a feminist issue. Monday, in a post on Shakesville, I lost my temper, got more than a little snarky, and got into an argument there. If you’re not interested in following the link, or reading all the comments, here’s the deal: Tennessee is expanding to bars and restaurants the right for CCW holders to carry. Most there begin stereotyping gun owners as the irresponsible, blood-thirsty, getting-a-hard-on-to-shoot someone, tea party, “second amendment solutions to political disagreement” caricature.

I’d heard all of this before. Nothing new. It happens every time gun rights come up in a feminist sphere. What set me off was one poster painting college students as infantile, unable to comprehend that shooting into a crowd of innocent people is a bad idea.

Insult me, sure. I get annoyed. Allies insulting me? That hurts me. Falling into the trap of painting all college students as just like those frat-boy movies? No. That’s ridiculous. I do apologize for losing my temper. It would have been more prudent to take a smoke break before replying. But. I’m only sorry for how I phrased the things I said. I’m not sorry for what I said. I’m not sorry for feeling the way I felt: angry.

What is it that makes mainstream feminists completely unable to contemplate and discuss gun rights?

Feminist can talk about trafficking, rape, child molestation—the darkest aspects of humanity and our culture—even those of us with personal experiences—we can talk about those things. Though we’ll put trigger warnings on graphic descriptions, we’ll watch our language, out of respect for those who have experienced those traumas. We do not allow stereotyping, victim-blaming, strawmen…but somehow the feminist community-at-large cannot discuss gun rights.

Guns are not humans with agency. Guns cannot do anything to anyone without a human being behind them. Guns are very dangerous tools. In self-defense, what is being discussed here, should only be used as a last and most desperate resort.  More often, in self-defense, they are a deterrent. You never pull out a gun unless you’re willing to use it. Never.

Violence against women, against gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals are endemic. The world gives us platitudes. The world tells us it’s our fault—for being sexy, for being different, for being in certain places—for being who we are. The police make light of our attacks. They blame us. They refuse to get us justice. Sometimes, they attack us as well. But in light of all of this—we’re still expected to trust them. By the world, and by the feminist community.

Why? Victim advocacy groups, they say, will help us. Despite their overwhelming workloads, their little funding, despite these groups not being available in every community (red state, anyone? poverty-stricken areas anyone?). These groups are the feminist solution to dealing with a misogynist, homophobic, transphobic institution that is the only means to get justice for the wrongs done to us. And nothing, nothing, to prevent any of those wrongs, right here, right now. Sure, we can work to change our culture. It’s something I work for every day, but the kind of change we need to make the world safe for everyone, is going to take years, and it does nothing for people that live in this world, right here, right now.

I, along with a silent minority in the feminist and/or liberal movement, have no interest in making our way through a hostile world with nothing but the “don’t walk alone” and “carry mace or hairspray” solutions that the world, and the feminist community gives to us. We’re sick of “prevention tips” that call for us to change our living situations, behavior, movements, and appearance. I’m angry, very angry, that I, along with all of my brothers and sisters are forced to take extreme measures just to stay alive, to stay safe, and to stay sane. We’re liberals and feminists that are pro-gun rights. We believe in self-defense. We believe that it is our right as human beings to live, freely and safely, as we choose. We believe that we have the right to defend ourselves from people who would harm us.

We’re a silent minority. But let’s stop the “silent” part.

Oh yeah: and one more thing: laws only affect those who would follow them in the first place. If you’re afraid of ye olde stereotypical gun owner described above, he’s not going to give much of a shit about where he’s legally allowed to carry. The law only affects those who obey it, respect it, as well as all human life. If you ask me, those are the ones you want carrying in the first place.

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