Mother Jones has an important and disturbing piece about how gun extremists are harassing women speaking out for gun reforms.
Ever since the Sandy Hook massacre, a small but vocal faction of the gun rights movement has been targeting women who speak up on the issue—whether to propose tighter regulations, educate about the dangers to children, or simply to sell guns with innovative security features. The vicious and often sexually degrading attacks have evolved far beyond online trolling, culminating in severe bullying, harassment, invasion of privacy, and physical aggression. Though vitriol flows from both sides in the gun debate, these menacing tactics have begun to alarm even some entrenched pro-gun conservatives.
The women featured in the piece — who’ve not only been harassed online but had their home addresses publicized; who’ve received rape and death threats followed up by actual physical assaults — all demonstrate unbelievable stoicism, dismissing their harassers as cowards and bullies. As one teacher who was inundated by threatening phone calls said, ”I think they are very weak men. They use their guns because that’s all they have.”
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots group that began after Sandy Hook, explains, “For me, the question is always, ‘Why does this person want to kill or rape or silence me?’ I think the answer is that this issue touches a cultural nerve based on gender, geography, and other politics. There are pundits who make a good deal of money encouraging this type of anger.”
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.