“Women want guns”: In the wake of Sandy Hook, conservatives once again co-opting women’s voices to further agenda

Image for a gun ad targeted at women. Via.

The horrific Sandy Hook shooting has prompted many moments of national and personal reflection. Since the tragedy, the debate over gun control has felt a bit more tangible and urgent, with many leaders and politicians, most notably President Obama, calling for change and enacting stricter laws and policies.

The tragedy has also reignited a conversation here on Feministing about gun violence and masculinity.

But apparently for media outlets like Fox News and the National Review, not much has changed- they are still just as eager to further their conservative pro-gun policies using empty, faux-feminist pro-woman rhetoric, despite the fact that studies overwhelmingly show that women are more supportive of stronger gun laws, consistently and across party lines.

In fact, women more supportive of stronger gun laws in general, and of a number of specific gun laws up for debate right now. Women are more likely to be worried about school shootings, and the danger of guns, and are not favorable as a group to the NRA—although men as a demographic group are. And this isn’t a trend or a fluke. This gender gap existed pre-Newtown.

Which is why this National Review and Fox News piece entitled “Why Young Women Want AR-15’s” smacks of a particularly deceitful faux-feminist tokenism (all emphasis mine):

“Sorry, President Obama. As young women, we prefer an AR-15 “assault” rifle with a 30-round magazine for self-defense.”

It’s certainly… interesting that two people could speak for an entire generation of young women, especially when polls show that as a group they tend to feel the exact opposite way, but do go on!

“In the wake of mass murders like Sandy Hook and the horrific rapes and murders of thousands of women each year, pepper spray, mace, or five-round handheld pistols aren’t going to cut it.”

Using our nation’s shameful epidemic of violence against women as nothing more than a talking point to further an agenda that women have consistently said they don’t agree with? Keep it classy, conservatives.

“So what’s a girl to do?”

Ugh, maybe stop using this phrase.

“When choosing our tool for home defense, we want the best — in accuracy, handling, and aesthetics. The best choice by all three criteria is — hands down — the AR-15.”

We’ve encountered empty pro-woman rhetoric and faux-feminism before but there will always be a special place in my heart for the ballsiness of this line of reasoning. The publications themselves are not new to twisting the facts and using cultural appropriation to further an argument on behalf of a group without their consent or approval. After all, with the National Review we are talking about a media outlet that has published a list of the “best conservative movies,” for example, and included such yuppie liberal feminist mainstays as Groundhog Day, Forrest Gump, and Ghostbusters. And with Fox News we are talking about, well, Fox News.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I hope they’re not surprised that we’re calling bullshit.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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