Another take on women in the gun industry

I have to respectfully disagree with some of the points Gabby has made in her recent posts. Sure, there are some awesome women in the gun industry, but I think she’s a little off base on what the culture within the industry is really like. There seems to be a perception on the fringes, one I used to harbor myself, that the gun industry is some boys-only club that is as misogynistic as the gun store clerk at Al’s Gun & Computer Repair in Podunkville.

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The truth is, and this is going to be difficult for some of the ladies out there to accept, the gun industry itself is comparable to every other male-dominated industry out there. Women do just fine as long as they prove themselves respectable, professional, and good at their job. There are plenty of women in top level jobs as Vice Presidents and CEOs and top level managers, and while it will be ill-advised to say that they got there just as easy as any man (I’ve read Good Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, I know the whole feminist side of that argument) I don’t think trying to say the gun industry has made leaps and bounds in the past year is accurate either.

I’ve attended the last three SHOT Shows – a number I consider very low. I can tell you that I have never seen a lot of booth babes, maybe a few, maybe they’ve gone down in number, but it’s never been noticeable. Contrast that with some of the tales that Kathy Jackson has told from her experience throughout the years and you realize that the changes that have been made in the number of booth babes were already made by women smarter and stronger than I am. So what are we facing now in the world of women in the gun industry? It is it still the misogynistic oppression of the “old boys club”? I would argue “No.” Sure, you still get some of the “old boys club” attitude, men meetings at strip clubs to discuss professional what-not, but that’s really not as big of a problem on the professional side of things as people seem to want to think it is. Most of that is front facing, it’s the guys in the gun shops and the idiots on the internet.

In order to continue to move forward I think it’s time to assess our, and by our I mean “women who think they are gun women,” own perceptions. Supporting other women in the industry is extremely important, and when I see women who are truly dedicated to firearms I’m not afraid to step in and support that, but I worry about the level of “head-patting” we see. I think the world of girl gun-bloggers works as a good example of this. I have no problem with women who want to start up their blog and present their experiences as an inspiration to other women. But when you start requesting T&E items from companies you are no longer someone who is talking about an experience, you are considering yourself enough of an authority on a subject to provide an opinion on a product. At that point you have to step back and ask yourself “Why am I an expert? Why do I have the authority to tell people what to buy or not?” And, I’m sorry ladies, but “I’m a girl and I just bought my first gun” makes you an authority on nothing but being a girl who just bought her first gun.

We hold male bloggers up to a level of standards and question their credibility on a regular basis (or have you not seen the discussion going around about TTAG bashing my good friend Tim Lau?) but we don’t seem to ask the same thing of our girl gun bloggers. It’s like if you’re a woman suddenly that’s all the credibility you need. I can’t speak for the rest of the ladies out there, but I know that I hold myself to a higher standard than that, and I admit that it’s taken me a while to realize that I needed to.

If we really want to move forward we need to find a way to provide support without this condescending “You’re a girl with a gun, you’re so special” mentality that is truly detrimental to the progression of gender equality within the world of firearms. Visa isn’t going to sponsor you if you buy a snowboard and start up a blog, women should be welcomed into the industry and then expected to work hard and set a good example of expertise and passion for other firearms-loving women.

Shelley Sargent
Managing Editor
GunUp the Magazine

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