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Duckface Bunny Cheesecake: We Must Demand Better, Guys

True to his job description, my friend Caleb brought the controversy on Facebook by questioning Melissa Gilliand’s photo shoot in Sure Shots Magazine, a digital website publication.

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:

"Better pull a duckface while I check my dope"

“Better pull a duckface while I check my dope!”

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:

THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS

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.

homerchoice

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?

{ 21 } Comments

  1. Tracie | January 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Great points, Peter. That discussion got crazy pretty quick yesterday. The one thought I wanted to add was to be sure in discussing this, we don’t resort to slut-shaming women in the gun industry — those who pose in bikinis or otherwise. The idea that “she’s wearing a bikini, she MUST want all the attention and to be be objectified” is not a good way to address this issue, either. Not saying you were going there, but I’ve heard this before in relation to the Gamer Girl. Oh, she’s hot and posing with a couple of NES controllers over her boobs? She’s not really into retro video games, she’s just wanting attention from gamers. Yeah, no.

  2. Oleg Volk | January 8, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Melissa is perfectly businesslike in my photo shoots: http://olegvolk.net/blog/2013/04/03/very-tacticute It was probably the editor’s choice more than hers.

  3. Tam | January 8, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    This is going to end up with an oiled and nekkid Larry Vickers and it’s all going to be y’all’s fault.

  4. Caleb | January 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    OH GOD MY MIND’S EYE

  5. Paul S. | January 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I’d let him have MY number.

  6. Caleb | January 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    And Paul wins the internet, let’s all go home kids.

  7. Ambulance Driver | January 8, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Sexy, schmexy. Booth babes snd models dolled up in tac gear don’t ignite my primer, nor do they induce me to buy a product.

    But a pretty girl who can outshoot me?

    THAT is sexy.

  8. Paul Kisling | January 8, 2014 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    This might sound really extreme but the blonde looks better than the real shooter.
    Its a tough thing to face for some, but I personally like looking at good looking girls rather than just all right normal ones.
    I have plenty of normal, almost good looking after 6 beers women where I live, thank you very much.

  9. NotClauswitz | January 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Subjectivity and blondness aside, my barometric reaction is that .30 Cal Gal is actually better looking than the blow-up dolly.

  10. Caleb | January 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    No one is saying don’t look at pretty girls. I’d just prefer my porn separate from my shooting sports, thanks.

  11. Paul Kisling | January 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    If PG-13 rated clothing is porn than you must define modest as a burka. See I can do HyperBULL too.

  12. Paul Kisling | January 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    If you want to see Caleb lose his collective mind they should use Alabama Deer in the next photo shoot. He would have a conniption and probably publicly state he would never read the magazine again.

  13. Caleb | January 9, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing to me how many like Paul here completely miss the point of this. No one is saying “don’t use attractive women in marketing.” What is being lamented is that a much more skilled and talented shooter is given second billing to a less talented shooter on the basis of attire.

    Add into that the fact that this magazine is obstensibly for women, and I fail to see how posing in a bikini making a Tactical Duckface is going to bring more women shooters in to the sport.

    Of course, these are difficult topics which require nuance, and we can’t have any of that in the shooting sports now can we.

  14. Xman | January 9, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    “Add into that the fact that this magazine is obstensibly for women, and I fail to see how posing in a bikini making a Tactical Duckface is going to bring more women shooters in to the sport.”

    I can’t refute that logic, but logic apparently has nothing to do with this. Have you ever been in a grocery checkout line and seen the magazine selection? Cosmo and its competitors have roughly the same pr0n quotient as the TacT&A described above and there is absolutely no intention of getting hetero male eyes to buy that stuff. Women have made an industry of doing this to themselves for generations in magazines, fashion, music, etc. because it sells…to women.

    Yeah, I don’t get it. But there it is.

  15. Laughingdog | January 9, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    So she poses for a calendar that gives 10% of its proceeds to Americansniper.org, Sure Shots puts up an article about her and the calendar, and now this is some kind of example of everything that is wrong with marketing to women in shooting? Maybe the editor of Sure Shots, who appears to be a woman named Niki I might add, just thought other women might see that article and think “I’d pose like that to help sell a calendar to raise money to support our troops too”.

    It’s a calendar to raise money. Calendars with attractive women who have skin showing sell well, and they’re obviously not marketing a calendar like that to women, nor is it supposed to draw women into the sport.

  16. Caleb | January 9, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Yeah, but then why are they talking about it in Sure Shots, which is for women?

    Gilliland’s article wouldn’t have been out of place in Recoil or Maxim, which are targeted to manbros of a certain age. Allow me to further elaborate: on Recoil’s terrible website, they have their Tac Girls videos. I think the videos are crass and trashy sure, but I don’t care because they’re on Recoil’s website. Sure Shots Magazine is very obviously trying to represent women in the shooting sports. But the face it’s chosen to put on those women isn’t one of confident competence, but rather Tactical Duckface McBewbs.

    That’s why when I wrote my original FB post, I specifically asked women shooters if this was how they wanted to be represented.

  17. NotClauswitz | January 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    This actually goes beyond, “Ginger or Mary Anne?” since those were both TV characters playing roles, to something more like “pneumatic anime vs. reality” – and I’m not sure who the “winner” is, but it may only be the calendar publisher or the photographer of the event.

  18. Laughingdog | January 9, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    It’s pretty clear from the article that the pictures were directly from the calendar. I don’t see how it’s some crisis that, in an article about her doing a calendar for a nonprofit as a fund raiser that they’d include pictures from said calendar.

    Honestly, pictures like that don’t steer my girlfriend away from shooting near as much as pictures and video of Julie Golob and Jessie Duff do. Seeing those two in action intimidates the hell out of her…kind of like squat racks at Planet Fitness.

  19. NotClauswitz | January 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Whoa! This is hardly the same Melisssa Gilliland who’s with her husband in the Feb. 2014 SWAT issue, soberly attired and shooting an suppressed 338 Lapua magnum “Wicked Stick” at 600-yards..?
    She’s not dressed for a boyz convulsive fantasy – the SWAT photo-shoot had an entirely a different dimension and includes her husband, which surely must be a disappointment for the MAXIM pin-up readers.

  20. Eric | January 10, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    “246,000 “likes” vs 6000″ That should say more about the readers than the publisher or the model. So if we’re marketing, do we go after the small demographic or the large demo? Come on. Although I do wonder why there aren’t more likes for .30 cal gal. Must be some kid clicking “like” over and over because all he sees is cleavage.

  21. dustydog | January 11, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    First – The idea that cheesecake photos will keep women out is as silly as the idea that Firefighter cheesecake photos keep men from volunteering to be firefighters.

    Second – women, by her nature, is competitive. Showing dolled up girls is more likely to attract women to shooting sports, than showing only men. There is no logical reason to think that women as a demographic will be put off by photos of female models.