Abortion and Gun Rights

As I’ve said before, I’m an advocate for self-defense and gun ownership rights, as well as the right to carry, especially for women. But, I must ask, what use is the right to protect ourselves if we’re losing the right to control our own bodies?

You may not think it, but gun rights intersect with abortion rights. Both are about protecting and having control over what happens to your person. Both are about preventing violation and violence to your body. Both are about taking control of your life, your safety, and not looking to another to do it for you. Losing the right to both would have a profound impact on our individual freedoms.

As many have said before, the personhood of a first-trimester fetus is irrelevant. No one questions the personhood of an attacker, but the right to self-defense is sacrosanct. That is because NO ONE can use our bodies without our explicit consent, much less harm us to the point of needing surgery and facing the possibility of death.

When it comes to it, do we consider the forces behind the robber breaking into our home? That he may be poor, that stealing is his natural inclination? Nope. All that matters in that moment is that someone is breaking into your home, without your consent, that you don’t want them there, and you’re going to do what you have to do to get them gone, to protect yourself, your family, and your home.

Gun rights exist to protect what is ours. Abortion does the same.

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.

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.