December
5th 2009
Guns and gender: “many say” that “some” don’t know what the hell they’re talking about

Posted under: American history, Gender, jobs, local news, students, women's history

woman-gunHere’s an update on the status of guns at Baa Ram U. from the Denver Post:  The “Board of Governors on Friday voted 9-0 to implement a policy that will likely lead to a ban on concealed weapons on the university’s campuses.”  (Good news, I suppose, but this sounds like just another example of university policies being written by the university counsel!)  Hillariously the story reports that “[s]tudent leaders say allowing students with permits to carry weapons means everyone is safer — especially women — despite what other schools have done or what an international study by law enforcement contends.” 

Well–what do actual women students, faculty and staff at Baa Ram U. think?  Does the reporter bother to talk to any actual XX chromosome people?  Not according to the version of the story published in the Post.  No, all of the “student leaders” quoted in the story are men, as are all of the faculty members in the story and the one member of the Board quoted here.  But, we’re supposed to trust the “student leader” who said, “I’ve had many say how it makes women feel safer on campus, knowing they can conceal and carry.”  (“Many say?”  Did this guy even talk to a single woman?  Or is he quoting just more men who claim that more guns make women feel so much safer?)

How may we be of service to your political agenda?

How may we be of service to your political agenda?

So, not only are we the inheritors of a legacy of gun ownership that is deeply gendered (see my book if you want the details.  It’s true!  Girls write about the historical patterns and meaning of gun ownership, too!); in this news story, even talking about guns is something only D00dz can do.  No women are permitted to speak for themselves–although apparently we’re highly useful to male students who want to make arguments about our feelings of safety that support their point of view.

Awesome!

21 Comments »

21 Responses to “Guns and gender: “many say” that “some” don’t know what the hell they’re talking about”

  1. Comrade PhysioProf on 05 Dec 2009 at 11:28 am #

    I am sure that the reason they didn’t talk to any women is because it would clearly establish that this whole idea of more guns promoting more safety is pure male adolescent fantasy: weak-egoed loser d00ds imagining themselves as heroes saving damsels in distress with their huge massive throbbing GUNS!

  2. Historiann on 05 Dec 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Of course, you’re right! Letting girls talk would just spoil the fun, as usual!

    The interesting thing is that I have a female student who is currently pursuing a concealed-carry permit in Colorado, and I know both male and female faculty who like to go shoot up canyons with their guns (and who even take their kids!) So, I’m quite convinced that the diversity of opinion among women students will track pretty closely with the diversity of opinion among male students.

  3. Knitting Clio on 05 Dec 2009 at 11:50 am #

    I also have had a few women tell me they wish they could carry concealed weapons on campus. These usually are ones who already carry pepper spray.

  4. Feminist Avatar on 05 Dec 2009 at 11:59 am #

    But, perhaps, there might be a gender difference here in that women on campus might think, hmm concealed weapon, that could lead to me being raped, even by a guy who seemed otherwise quite kind and normal- until he walks me home to the dorm and pulls his gun. And, unless I am willing to get really well trained, carrying my own isn’t a good idea.

    Whereas, I think the doodz are thinking when crazy homicidal maniac appears on campus shooting everywhere, I can save the day- or perhaps more mundanely, when some woman is being attacked on campus, I can save the day. Where’s the down side?

    As a woman, I think I’d see campus as a safer space with no guns, even if I otherwise think playing with guns is a fun recreational activity.

    [This of course all operates on the theory people believe that a no guns rule would actually impact on the levels of gun carrying.]

  5. Historiann on 05 Dec 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    I think you’re right, FA, that more women would probably be likelier to imagine themselves also as the possible victims of gun violence, and not just the avenging heroes of their male classmates’ imaginations. I don’t think as many men want to think of themselves as victims of gun violence, although they are in fact victims of gun violence all of the time.

  6. The Rebel Lettriste on 05 Dec 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    I know that my students (my neighbors, my brother, my partner, and just about everyone I know, now) own guns. We live in a city where it’s totally OK to conceal your weapons, and there are big signs posted on churches, hospitals, and schools declaring that you CANNOT bring in your gun.

    Last year the state legislature tried to pass a bill allowing for concealed weapons on college campuses, and it was thankfully dismissed.

    When I thought about my students packing in my classes, I never thought, “gee, if I myself had a pretty little gun [you can buy pink ones, here, appallingly], I’d feel safer.” Instead, what possessed me was the thought that somebody’d enter the classroom and start shooting AT ME and then that all hell would break loose and there’d be bullets everywhere which would injure MY STUDENTS. None of which made me feel “safe” in any way.

  7. Feminist Avatar on 05 Dec 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    I don’t think many men like to think of themselves as victims full stop. I don’t think women would either, but we have the RAPE narrative drummed into us so we can’t help but always have the lurking stranger at the back of our minds.

    I think that you can see evidence of this in the fact that so many men come on to websites where women are discussing rape and rape prevention strategy and say ‘I’ve never raped anyone, so therefore you are all over-reacting/ discriminating against men.’ If they lived with a sense of vulnerability to violence (which I think men in certain contexts do- like in gang cultures) they would be less insulted by these discussions. I guess being vulnerable doesn’t work in a world where masculinity is about being invulnerable/ strong/ able to defend yourself.

  8. Indyanna on 05 Dec 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    “Had many say…” That’s both ambiguous rhetoric and pretty permissive journalism. It could mean the dood in question (student leader) was sitting around the Beta House the night before with the boyz, and he sent ‘em all out to salt the mine with that particular talking point before the satellite trucks showed up the next day. This could indicate the need for more English classes for J-majors, along with the other good points made above.

  9. Indyanna on 05 Dec 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    p.s. Interesting story today from Virginia Tech about the investigation of the 2007 shootings there. It seems that the “lockdown” began at the main administration building long before any word was sent out to the rest of the campus. I guess the theory was that administrators would need to remain unshot long enough to deal with the emerging problems stemming from the ongoing shootings elsewhere. Does “lockdown” mean anything more than just lock all the doors, or is it merely some Barney Fife-sounding piece of admin-speak?

  10. life_of_a_fool on 05 Dec 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    I wonder if women really would look at legal concealed weapons as possibly being used against them in a rape. I agree with Feminist Avatar that the rape narrative is soooo drummed into women, but partly because of that (and because it still seems way more drummed into us that we’ll be raped by a boogey-man stranger, NOT the nice guy who just walked us home/we went on a date with) if guns would be seen as an added layer in that rape victimization narrative or as a way for women to protect themselves against the boogey-man rapist. Women are already portrayed as helpless and weak, so guns are hardly necessary to victimize us. Also, the narrative of the concealed weapons issue is so Avenger! and Protector! against evil, that I wonder if it is often flipped in that way.

    This morning’s paper here included a story of a woman who was apparently shot with her own gun, which she had, and tried to use, for protection. (which is one of the reasons I would never own a gun — if I did, and tried to use it, I’m quite sure I’d end up being the one getting shot).

  11. Oroboros on 05 Dec 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    The Post tends to be conservative on gun issues I think. Did you see this mini-editorial on the CU NERF gun rules?

    My father treated me and my sisters pretty equally with regard to firearms. We all knew the basics by age 10 which including not only use, safety and cleaning, but also reloading the spent shells.

    Still, we never did anything as crazy as this little girl at the Oklahoma full auto shoot.

  12. Comrade PhysioProf on 05 Dec 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    Did you see this mini-editorial on the CU NERF gun rules?

    That was the most bizarre gibberish I have ever read in a major newspaper. It read like the ravings of some blind-drunk d00d staggering around in a bar at 2AM, careening from Nerf gun-fighting to cursing football coaches to good samaritans with defibrillators. Do they provide unlimited bong hits for everyone in the Denver Post editorial offices?

  13. Indyanna on 05 Dec 2009 at 4:16 pm #

    Hard to get unlimited bong hits ANYwhere anymore, on this side of the Mississippi River, in any case. That went the way of the rest of corporate paternalism, I’m afraid :)

  14. Oroboros on 05 Dec 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    There was this editorial supporting medical marijuana dispensaries that does make you wonder.

    Denver completely decriminalized possession of small amounts for even non-medicinal use a few years ago. The dispensary business is really exploding here, with investment coming from out-of-state (that I know of personally) and possibly out-of-country (rumored in the news). It is going to be interesting to see how Mexico’s decriminalization experiment affects their current problems.

    I can believe that some Libertarians have the helm at the Denver Post… pro-gun, pro-pot, anti-government. Yep. That fits like 75% of the ones I’ve met.

  15. Ann Bartow on 05 Dec 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Thanks for this.

  16. Clio Bluestocking on 06 Dec 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    It seems as if the d00ds here are either imagining that they will leap to the rescue, gunning down bad guys, or that everyone with the concealed weapons will be fully trained and prepared to use them. You know, just like on t.v.!

    I wonder if they considered the scenario in which someone — male or female — gets nervous and fires off a round at an innocent bystander. I imagine someone, even two people, walking back to the dorm or the parking lot from class or the library after dark, seeing someone whom they deem suspicious, and, emboldened by the idea of waving a gun around to ward off this “suspicious” stranger, end up killing another student also walking home from class or the library. Heck, even they could be the “suspicious” stranger.

    Or, to build on that rape narrative, a girl sick of a guy not taking “no” for an answer could pull her gun out of her backpack. These d00ds never imagine that they could be perceived as the bad guys. They just assume that “good” and “bad” are clear cut.

    I also wonder if any of them have actually seen someone shot by a gun, or been shot themselves, or had any experience at all with guns other than in theory or on the firing range. Seriously, when someone elects to carry a gun, they have entered a whole arena of life and death that they may not fully comprehend.

  17. Oroboros on 06 Dec 2009 at 12:50 pm #

    There have been at least two times in my life where I might have wrongly used a gun had I been armed.

    The first time was in college. I was walking through a dark parking lot when out of the shadows a man rushed a woman. I don’t think that either of them knew I was there. She screamed, and suddenly recognized him and laughed. I had about 10 seconds of doubt thinking I was witnessing an attempted rape. That said, I might have pulled it but not actually fired. Sometimes all you need is the threat of violence for deterrence.

    The other time I thought I was being shot at. For all practical purposes that is how I experienced it. I was working late at night at a small bed and breakfast as resident innkeeper when I heard the sound of breaking glass. Then a second and third explosion of glass and as I started to investigate, I found myself looking at a man pointing something at me through the front door window.

    I had just enough time to throw myself on the ground and heard/felt the glass of the window blow out over me. I crawled through the glass and into a basement stairwell to call 911. The police were frustrated I couldn’t describe the attacker who fled. In the end we found out he was shooting out windows with a wrist rocket and not a gun, but it took finding the stones to believe it. Since this B&B had a cowboy theme, I asked the boss for permission to pack some heat, but he refused. I probably would have fired in that instance if I’d been armed.

    So I got some mace, and not a month later needed it to deter someone who was drunk and determined to cause me harm. In that case, it served as deterrent and I didn’t have to use it. The group of people who assaulted me that night threatened to come back, and that threat meant I could not sleep peacefully for years.

    A few years later I witnessed a fatal gang shooting in downtown Denver. It had taken quite a few years to get over the trauma of the previous assaults on the job. I ultimately ended up getting EMDR treatment.

    The PTSD from the first incident of being shot at manifested as extreme fear of the dark, particularly any time I was inside a lit building near a window at night. I would visualize myself looking back through that broken plate glass window and seeing the hole in it in the reflecting of my face, being unable to see anything beyond.

    So I’ve got some ambivalence toward gun ownership.

    P.S. Sorry for the length of this comment. I had more but stopped myself.

  18. hysperia on 06 Dec 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    I can’t believe how many people there are in the US who have knowledge of guns, never mind carry them. It’s illegal in my country to have a gun for personal protection. I imagine many Americans would think that is a terrible violation of a basic human right. Funny but I think it’s the other way around. Having never been a rural person, I’ve never even laid eyes on any kind of gun, never mind learning to use one or even contemplating carrying one. I find the discussion itself a little heart breaking.

  19. Oroboros on 07 Dec 2009 at 12:58 am #

    Hysperia, I think I can give you a tiny perspective and do so only because I understand how hard such a foreign idea like this might be.

    The “right” itself goes to our history of revolution against a tyrant who denied it. There is a perception that our 2nd Amendment now guarantees protection against tyranny forever. I believe that while originally well-intended, it is dead in spirit (let’s call it a zombie?)

    I purchased my first and only gun in 2005. I remember distinctly the reasons why. Hurricane Katrina was ongoing, and there was evidence of a mass of humanity left to rot there by a government that was more concerned with shooting looters than rescuing survivors. There were pictures of bodies floating, and rumors of Blackwater Guards in control. This was how I imagined that Bush was going to overcome the prohibitions of the Posse Comitatus Act and bring about a theocracy with the help of his pal Pat non-specific drip Robertson.

    I had a feeling that the world as I knew it would end soon regardless of anything I did. I expected a ride on a cattle car after the Blackwater guards busted down my door (because I’m a known dissenter with files somewhere, and either pagan or atheist but definitely not Christian enough to make the cut).

    So I figured that gun was either the last hope of protection for me and my closest friends, or my final escape. I guess if they are going to round me up and put for burning as a witch, I’d go out fighting in the end. If overwhelmed, at least a single bullet to my own head would have been preferable to burning alive.

    We are one Carrington Event away from widespread chaos, which is as bad or worse than any tyrant. I guess I don’t have as many fears now, but it is still comforting to have a way out should I be faced with a mob intent on causing me painful death.

    Incidentally, the fatal gang shooting I witnessed in Denver occurred just a few hours after I assured a visiting European friend that not all U.S. citizens are packing heat, and that shootings were just not as commonplace as he’d been led to believe… He was there with us when it happened, and I can only imagine what kind of stories he took home with him after two of us assured him it wasn’t commonplace.

  20. hysperia on 07 Dec 2009 at 5:28 pm #

    Orboros, thanks for the history lesson but American history is ubiquitous so I didn’t really need it. On the other hand, your story is touching. I can’t imagine …

  21. Delalyra on 13 Dec 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Just wanted to point out the cisgendered privilege inherent in statements like “Does the reporter bother to talk to any actual XX chromosome people?”. Not all women have two X chromosomes, and not everyone with two X chromosomes is a woman.

    That said, of course people should actually ask women about gun policies. I know I wouldn’t want concealed weapons allowed on my campus.

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