If you visit me in Arizona, I’ll collect you at the airport and tell you: Remember, you’re never more than a few dozen feet from a gun. People here keep guns in their homes, their cars, strapped to the insides of their boots. If we stop at the grocery store for popcorn, strawberries and beer (that’s what we’d have for dinner at my house) at least one man will be casually wearing a handgun on his belt. Twenty others will be carrying concealed weapons. You do not want to get into it with a stranger in this part of the country. He wants to cut in the checkout line? Let him.
Yesterday at work, a couple of ladies were happily discussing their personal arsenals.
“I have four guns right now,” one said. “The biggest one is Czechoslovakian, and I keep it right on my nightstand.”
I allowed as to how sleeping with a gun that close might creep me out a little.
“Well, it’s not gonna get up and shoot someone all its own SELF,” she told me. “I’d be scareder of sleeping with a clown doll on the nightstand.”
Can’t argue with that! It’s not gonna get up and shoot someone all its own self! But what if:
(a) I accidentally exercise my Second Amendment rights and blow my own foot off? (I’m a woman whose pens inksplode all over her fingers at the slightest provocation; who’s afraid to own a gas mower because of what happened that time with the rocks and the anthill). What if one of the cats knocks it off the nightstand? I don’t even have any decent drinking glasses left; that’s how much those goddamned cats knock shit off my nightstand) OR
(b) I, sleepy and afraid, uphold the Founding Fathers’ inimitable American vision by shooting one of my idiot friends who decides to make me a surprise visit (when I brought this up, the the work ladies said, in unison, “They should call first!”) OR
© Some unarmed nutjob breaks into the house, sees the gun, and is inspired to take his ordinary burglary up a level?
Talking to the work ladies about their guns, I picked up on a lot of fear – specifically, fear of rape.
I’m not afraid of rape. I’ve cut down on my risk by not dating men – it’s usually a guy you know – and I’m over 40 and I stay alert and sober in bad neighborhoods and I walk like a woman who benches her own bodyweight (because I can) and all of this stacks the deck in my favor. Not, of course, that hundred-year-old ladies haven’t been raped in their own beds, but I choose to look at the larger statistical picture. And I decline to live in fear.
The only rapist I’m afraid of is one with a gun. If he’s got a gun, it would behoove me to have one as well. I could decide to become one of millions of Arizonans who feel the need to have the means of lethal force on their person at all times, even at goddamn Panera Bread or Lucky Strike Lanes. But there’s an emotional and mental cost related to owning a gun, and to being surrounded by firearms in casual, everyday contexts. This is a dangerous world, you’re saying with your very own personal gun. I need this weapon to protect myself and my family so we will be safe.
It’s a simple individualistic response to a complex, growing, shared social problem. You hear the same argument for breast implants: I’m doing it for me! It’s empowering!
This is when you know people have given up on looking for root causes. This is when you can be sure no analyses are forthcoming re: the whys and wherefores.
If you look at NRA and other gun-marketing materials directed at women, you’ll see a lot of pink; a lot of fashion-oriented concealed-carry items; a lot of fear-based Mama-bear stuff. What you won’t see is anything remotely honest about who women are protecting themselves from (again, your rapist and/or murderer is usually a man with whom you share a home) or about the ingrained sex-class system that allows and encourages men to make women afraid because men stand to gain a lot from women’s fear. They stand to gain lots of money (guns are spendy!) and power (the NRA is, well…the NRA).
Men who do not cherish women’s interests stand to gain when women think the solution to male violence is to be found within the violent male power structure.
You can’t paint that shit pink and expect me to buy it.