Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hot Tamales vs Fried Green Tomatoes

I've  seen some discussion lately over the "image" of women in shooting, and I thought I'd throw in my two cents.  Since I don't have any advertisers or sponsors to tick off, and I already have a well-paying day job, I'm going to tell you exactly what I think. I'm still new to this game, but it seems like the shooting world is at times one of the last bastions of the pin-up girl.

Now, I'm no prude, and I know that sex sells. But I'm going to tell you unabashedly that sex doesn't sell to ME.

In fact, last year when I ordered a new set of sights for my new pistol, the company (who shall not be named) sent along a company sticker logo that included the cartoon image of a woman in a very short dress, bending over at the waist so that her head was at the level of her ankles, with her garterbelt showing. Oh yeah, and she was holding a pistol. Ummmm, guys? Hello? It's the 21st century, and I'm a middle aged female physician. Did you HONESTLY think a sticker like that was going to encourage me to order your products again? Talk about not knowing your customers. If that sight was not already in my hand and hadn't come well recommended, it would have gotten packed back up and sent right back to them with that sticker on the outside of the package. I did email customer service about it, and I doubt I will order from them again.

Then there are the "calendar girls". Now, I understand that a certain percentage of the male customer base is going to drool over calendar girls. And honestly, as long as the models are women who actually KNOW firearms, I have less of a problem with it. If you are fit, and comfortable with men staring at your boobage, and can keep your durn finger off the trigger, and that is what you want to do, then that is your choice. Ain't America Grand. But don't pretend that you are selling firearms - you're selling your "assets". I don't look at a "Firemen of New York" calendar and think "Damn, I want a turnout coat like that."

I have nothing against these "hot tamales" of any gender raising money for a good cause. Fantasy is fine -- but don't fool yourself into thinking that they represent "me" as a woman in the shooting world. Nor, I dare to venture, do they represent the majority of women already in, and now entering the shooting sports.

Am I jealous? Umm, I don't think so. I'm a successful physician, budding shooter, and wannabe writer. I'm much more concerned with what I've accomplished in my life than what someone else thinks of my mammary tissue. Would I love to look like them? Sure, maybe in another life. But beauty fades, and boobs fall. Actual skill however, can last forever.

I'm reminded of the scene from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, where the Kathy Bates character retorts to the obnoxious young things who just dissed her, "Face it girls, I'm older and I have more insurance." In this case, I'd like to remind the firearms industry , "Face it fellas, I'm older and I have more disposable income."  Firearms and recreational shooting aren't exactly cheap. It is women in my age bracket who have the money to spend on 1000's of rounds of ammo at a time, and a new shotgun - not the 22 year-old bikini babes. This year, just for giggles, I tried to figure out roughly how much money I've spent on firearms, ammo and accessories since entering the sport less than 5 years ago. And you know what I came up with? I'm in the 5-figure range now. Of my own money. And I'm just one woman.

It isn't the "assets" of the calendar girls that induce other women to take up shooting - it's women like me who come back with our friends and daughters and co-workers because we had such a good time, and felt so welcome on your range and in your shooting classes. I think that the industry ignores that at their peril.