It’s striking to me the degree to which the right has induced a plurality (if not the majority) of Americans to accept the erosion of women’s rights at the same time it has insisted on a radical assertion of men’s rights. I’m speaking here of the incredible discrepancy between access to contraception and abortion on the one hand, and access to military-style assault weapons and deadly ammunition on the other. (I’ve written since the start of this blog about the gendered aspects of gun ownership and gun violence, so I think it’s fair to see the guns primarily, if not exclusively, as a men’s rights issue. Commenter Mary Catherine and I had an exchange about this the other day, too.)
It’s interesting how men’s rights are presumed to be human rights, whereas women’s rights are understood to be only women’s rights, and therefore somehow not protected in the same absolute way by the U.S. Constitution. It’s also interesting to reflect on the way that the tradition of male ownership and control of girls and women as natural and human resources is reflected in our jurisprudence. Spousal consent laws have been ruled unconstitutional in anti-abortion laws, but parental consent laws are still OK. But it’s interesting to think about why the notion of consent is even an issue with someone else’s body. Waiting periods for women seeking abortion services are de rigeur now.
What would the world look like if we presumed the same ownership and control of men by women that women have historically suffered at the hands of men? Just imagine:
Because nearly all perpetrators of mass murders are men, most of them are young men, and most of them are emotionally or personally troubled people, I think it would be a terrific idea to make a law declaring that a young man under the age of 30 or so must get written consent from his mother and/or any woman to whom he is or was married before he can purchase a gun. Men who are not married would have to pay for a private investigator to talk to all of the women he works with and all of his friends and social contacts to get their opinion as to whether or not he should have a gun. If there are any women at all in young men’s lives, these women are probably better judges of the men’s character and fitness for gun ownership than any criminal background check. If there are no women at all in these young men’s lives–well, then, that would seem to weed out most of the accused mass murderers we’ve seen in the past fifteen years or so.
Women–mothers in particular–get blamed for these killings, so it only seems fair to let them decide whether or not their sons should have guns. (Women–or rather, the women who aren’t f^<king them, also get blamed for shooting rampages, often by the killers themselves.)
I also think a waiting period is a perfectly reasonable thing to impose on would-be gun owners. After all, in my alternative fantasy world in which women historically controlled men’s bodies and were entitled to the fruits of their labor as mothers and wives, it would be rational to presume that men probably don’t really know what they want, and that they might live to regret their gun purchase one day. They might be haunted by the animals and people they hurt or killed, so it would just be better for women to make this decision for men–for their own good, of course, but also for public safety reasons too.
40 Responses to “Gender, ownership, and the law”