Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sex, Guns, and Yoga Pants

I am probably making mountains out of mole hills here, but I am going to drag out the soapbox about a pet peeve of mine, because it has reared its head again this week.

The peeve is the sexualization of women with guns. I've written about it before here, 
 and here,

And yes, I freely admit that I am a cranky old broad. But I am going to have my say once again.

I'm not going to provide a link, or even mention their name, because I don't want to give them any more attention, but a Facebook link showed up this week from a particular purveyor of tactical wear (NOT the manufacturer of said pants), touting "11 Reasons Why Your Girlfriend Needs Tactical Yoga Pants". The article proceeded to show mainly buttock photos of women (mainly NOT wearing the actual product mentioned), accompanied by double-entendre type captions.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know that sex sells product. I know that men look at women's buttocks. I get it. But I also think that this particular post/"article" is disrespectful of women shooters, objectifies them, and ignores their actual skills by reducing them to mere jiggle.

I didn't like it, and I made no secret of it. Thus I posted a rant on Facebook, stating that BS like this sets women shooters back.
I was asked whether I meant that it was the article or the pants that would set women back. 

This was my reply, 

"In a way, both. That will not be a popular view, and I acknowledge that. Mainly I am steamed about the article and how it objectifies women shooters and reduces them to nothing but ass-jiggle. 

You are not of my generation, so you cannot appreciate the many years that women my age have struggled to be taken seriously in their careers and in the world at large - nevermind the shooting sports. This is what colors my worldview.

To finally start to be accepted into something as male-dominated as the shooting sports is something that is very special to me, and was something that was not available to me when I was your age.  Anything that threatens that, concerns me immensely. 

Thus we come to the pants themselves. Admittedly they are not for me, and I have said as much. But the beauty of women's progress is that we now have more choices than we used to. So if some women like them, and have the body for them, then fine - isn't having free will a wonderful thing? With that said though -- would you wear a bikini to a job interview and then complain that you were not taken seriously or were stared at? 

For me, and many women like me out in the Podunk trenches of the shooting world, and NOT in professional sponsored shooting circles, just showing up to a match is a bit like a job interview. I still encounter men nearly every weekend who do not know me, and have no idea what my shooting skills are like. I have to prove to them that I know what I'm doing. Wearing those pants would make me a target of unwelcome attention and skepticism, even over and above what I would already encounter simply by my gender. Like it or not, there would be male shooters who would not take me seriously, and there might even be sexual comments - especially if I were a 20-something. 

In the world that I grew up in, you dressed appropriately for the job at hand, and to be functional, and to project an aura that you knew what you were doing. In my opinion, those pants don't project that aura. They project "look at me, and check out my ass". Some women shooters (such as Janna or Lena ) are bad-ass enough to get away with it. Alas, most of us are not. 
My opinion."

SO - Some "old broad" reminders and clarifications for the young gals out there, which might give you some insight into my perspective on this.

- When I was in early grade school, girls were not even ALLOWED to wear pants of any kind to school. Digest that for a minute.

- Title IX - regarding educational and athletic opportunities for girls and women - was passed in 1972. I was in 4th grade. It didn't really get rolling until years afterward.

- Women were not fully integrated into the armed forces and accepted into the U.S. Military Academies until I was almost in high school.

The freedoms and opportunities some of you young gals take for granted now, are fairly recently acquired. I remember when we didn't have them, and this colors my perceptions of what is appropriate dress and behavior in order to earn respect - and what is not.

I'm pretty sure that none of the legends of women's shooting sports who blazed trails for us, did that by showing off their asses.  I'm also pretty sure that Kim Rhode didn't win any of her Olympic medals that way either.

I don't have any sponsors - particularly the manufacturer of said "pants", or the company which posted the offending article -  so I am free to tell you exactly what I think. And it is this...

Do you have the freedom to wear whatever you want to the range? Abso-fricken-lutely. I am in no way advocating wearing a burka to your next match. But choose wisely. The image that you present may reflect not only upon you, but on other women shooters as well. You may be one of the few competent and accomplished female shooters that some men (especially men at local matches) have seen in the first person. You may have to "earn" their respect, as I have had to do. If you WANT your skills to be overshadowed by your "assets" then that is your choice. But just be aware that the type of attention you receive may be adjusted accordingly,  and the article I spoke of reflects that. 
For the record, I will NEVER purchase anything from the company that posted that piece of trash.

Are the authors of the article jackasses? Damn Skippy they are. Perhaps I shouldn't even dignify such crap with this rant, but I'm using it as an opportunity to remind young women on the range that the image you project is important. Don't give them any ammunition.

Men look at women - it's just biology - and in other more appropriate contexts, we women LIKE to be looked at. But especially on the range, men's attention will be drawn to what you CHOOSE to highlight - your marksmanship? Or your body? Choose wisely.

This has been the two cents contribution of your resident Cranky Old Broad. Oh, and "Get off my lawn" :-)

   Gym Wear? Or Range Wear? (Not the pants in question)


  1. Hey Aunt Kathy! It's Rebecca! I think the greater problem here is not just the sexualization of women with guns, but the sexualization of women, period! The dominate viewpoint of a lot of young adults now (coming from a young adult myself) is that women can wear whatever they want without wanting to be looked at in a sexual way. Which is definitely true; HOWEVER, we live in a reality where you will be judged by men for what you choose to wear, not just on the range but in bars, classrooms, etc., like it or not. So until we get to that ideal world, yes, it does matter what you wear in certain situations and how you choose to portray yourself. As an avid yoga pants-wearer myself, I feel like the advertisers would've been way less douchey/sexist and more successful had they approached this article as, "Hey women shooters, we think you're pretty awesome! How about these tactical stretch pants that are comfortable and allow for a full range of movement so you don't have to worry about your pants, you can focus on your shooting instead!" Instead of both directing the article towards men and having it be so overtly sexual. My two cents! :)

  2. I've been following and enjoying your blog since it began, however, I have never commented before. I think that this is an important subject and one that younger women need to read and not only in regards to the shooting world. In the 1980's I was an avid scuba diver, holding certifications for Advanced Diver, Rescue Diver, Master Underwater Photography and more. At 5'6" & 125 lbs., I was very comfortable in a bikini. This was primarily a male demoniated sport back then so when I was diving, I always wore a one piece bathing suit, usually topping it with a tee shirt. That was my choice because I wanted to fit in and be taken seriously, to not just be a piece of eye candy on the dive boat. Common sense dictates that if you show up in a teeny bathing suit, that's what will get the attention...not your skills. Diving magazines back then regularly ran ads showing women using their products while wearing skimpy bikinis and 5" high heels...on the beach. I wrote letters, boycotted their products and did what I could to promote women's skills over their bodies. There is nothing wrong with looking sexy but I think it's sad that many women feel that it's the only or primary way that they can validate themselves and/or get attention. There is a time and place for everything and just as I don't believe that 5" high heels are appropriate for the beach, I don't believe that yoga pants are appropriate attire for the shooting range. While we live in a highly sexualized society, I believe women can be recognized for their talents and not just for their T&A; but only if they make a stand and don't encourage behavior and a mode of dress that reduces them to an object worthy only of ogling. Wake up young have so much more than your bodies to strut about.

    1. Thanks so much for your perspective - and from an entirely different sport! Good to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way, but sad to know how much educating still needs to be done.

    2. You're right, it is sad that in 2016, a lot of women still buy into this mentality. I have nothing against 'strutting your stuff' but as you stated, women should "choose wisely". There is a time and place for everything. I failed to mention that while I related this to another sport, I am also a member of a women's shooting league, which is what originally got me interested in your blog. Thanks for posting your views on this subject; I think it's important.