There’s been a lot of discussion lately of women in the firearms industry. And, more specifically, the industry’s treatment of women. The entire social dynamic intrigues me, and as a woman in the industry I have the habit of questioning myself every step of the way.
In this industry the rise of women has created an intriguing phenomenon, I call it “dog and pony syndrome.” In essence the females of the gun world; the capable, intelligent, professional women who are truly good at what they do; have become a spectacle. While the industry itself, and many of the women, interpret this as “success” and “support” I can’t help but sit back and wonder if this is really, really what we’re aiming for.
The struggle that women have had from the get-go (at least the get-go of my career) is that while the guys are happy to have us around plinking with .22s or carrying little .357 magnum revolvers very few of them expect to take us seriously, and that’s a problem. There are women in the firearms world who truly deserve to be taken seriously, but often they are lost either in the shadow of their husband or to the trap of being a spectacle.
The problem with “dog and pony syndrome” is not that any particular woman is getting attention, but rather it is in more the type of attention that is being given. There are some serious game players that are left out of the spotlight because they are hardworking professionals rather than vigorous self-promoters. As such they have successful careers and are true industry experts, but the industry media isn’t all that interested.
I am not one to judge self-promoters, as it is a sin that I am most certainly guilty of. However, I think that there is a type of self-promotion that is truly harmful to the professional women in the industry. If we are willing to make ourselves subjects of interest simply because we are women rather than because we provide value to the industry as a whole we debase the standing of women industry-wide.
I expect the industry to hold women to a standard similar to that which they hold men. I expect people to question why they should be listening to me and would like to think people expect more from me than to giggle, have a colorful gun and be an expert on women’s concealed carry (it seems like every girl with a gun is an expert on women’s concealed carry).
It’s a difficult line to draw, though. As a woman in the industry, as an industry professional and as a magazine editor gauging the expertise and value of women who may be submitting content for my publication I struggle to define what my expectations are both of industry and of the women inside it. I want to support the women who are in the industry or who may be new to the gun world, but I also want to see women in the industry grow and develop as a demographic.
Being taken seriously is extremely important to me, and while I won’t give up the fun I have with my cerakoted guns and silly stiletto photos I want to continue to provide the industry and my readers with valuable information and to continue to learn and grow myself. And while there will always be skeptics, people who don’t like my work or my opinions or who refuse to take me seriously because of my age or because I’m a girl I won’t let that stop me.
This is our time to shine and it is on us to set our own expectations, to demand that we be taken seriously and to act in a way that supports how we wish to be treated.