I have a serious question for my lady shooter friends: Is this really the image you want presented of female shooters?
No offense intended to Ms. Gilliland, whom I’m sure is a nice person. I’d much rather see women in the industry represented by women who don’t feel the need to pose in bikinis to get attention and instead let their skills do the talking.
I thought this was a good question, and enjoyed the discussion that ensued. But I was bothered by something else.
Sure Shots seems to be a very nebulous, web 2.0 thing that you’re not supposed to link to specific articles, so here’s a screenshot of the opening to Gilland’s article:
This picture manages to be more insulting and condescending than the usual “booth bunnies” holding and displaying firearms. It’s arranged to be an “action” picture, yet it’s obviously and ridiculously artificial. The layout of the photo is supposed to make her look like an expert, but the details make her look like she has no idea what she’s doing (although she is a competitive shooter when she’s not posing for pictures). We’ve crossed the line from “sex sells” window dressing into “men will only listen to female industry reps if they’re flawless 10s”.
So turn the “page”, and here’s what we see:
Not only does the 30 Cal Gal, an accomplished, match winning, expert shooter in several disciplines, have to share column space with a woman whose only qualification is her appearance, but she has to take second billing! And compare the content of their pieces: Wachter is introducing people to long range competitive rifle shooting, Gilliland is explaining what it’s like to pose for a calendar shoot. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Wachter is smokin’ hot, but she’s never had to rely on going desperate to succeed. Unfortunately, a quick check of their Facebook fan pages reveals preferences: 246000 “likes” vs 6000.
I don’t mean to blame Gilliand and Sure Shots specifically for this situation. They are merely responding to market pressure, and that market says that we want boobs rather than substance. There is certainly a time and a place for cheesecake, and it can be done better and tastefully while remaining sexy and aspirational.
The continued survival of the shooting sports and gun rights in general is going to increasingly rely on our ability to sell our culture to groups that have not historically shared it before, and women in general are perhaps the most important and relevant. Young girls aren’t going to be inspired by Gilliand to take up shooting any more than the supine and greased models on the cover of Lowrider Magazine will inspire them to become ASE mechanics. So guys, let’s be more selective with our support and dollars. Are we really going to be satisfied with shallow titillation, or should we instead do what we can to get more ladies involved and active in our world?