Okay. This weekend, plans were set in motion to help me achieve one of my bucket list items. I was going to go to a shooting range with my boyfriend, his mother, his step-father, and his uncle and shoot a handgun. Woohoo, I could cross a second item off my bucket list!
Cut to Sunday morning, when my alarm goes off at 8:30 and I realize that I am immensely anxious, nervous, and near a panic at the though of holding a loaded weapon in my shaking hands. Fail. However, it was suggested that I accompany the group and watch the boys shoot their guns, take it all in, etc. I jumped at this suggestion. While a great deal of my anxiety had to do with the fact that guns kind of scare me, some of it had to do with the fact that I could not really visualize a shooting range and prepare myself for the experience. I needed to see what happens there, how it was set up, and just observe the culture of this particular culture. It was an excellent immersion opportunity and I was looking forward to that aspect.
Now, while I didn't actually fire a weapon and complete something on my bucket list, I still found something to blog about on my visit to the indoor shooting range.
After the hour in the range was complete, our group wandered around the second floor of the establishment, where an individual could purchase hunting accoutrement, magazines, DVDs...and, ya know, GUNS. Lots of them. Endless glass cases of guns pointing at me. It was a little weird, mostly because I'm a nice girl from the suburbs who is not used to seeing A gun, let alone MANY guns that would necessitate an entire rack. (What am I gonna do...with a gun rack?) But I expect to see guns and gun brochures. I'm not stupid, I'm in a SHOOTING RANGE. However, what I did not expect to see was this:
This is a brochure for a weapons manufacturer that is promoting their line of sleek, slim, and small handguns. The brochure immediately caught my attention and prompted me to do a double-take and have a "What the WHAT?" moment in my head. What was it, exactly, about this photo that skeeved me out? It wasn't the sexuality of the ad. Sex sells, so why not use sex to sell anything and everything? I don't particularly find guns particularly scary, but some people do and that's fine. No, the thing that had me a little riled up was the text: "Thin is sexy." Really? REALLY?
When I got home, my natural instinct was to google this. I discovered that "Thin Is Sexy" is the company's entire campaign. In the context of the ad, the text tells us that the thin design of the handgun is sleek and can be concealed easily (especially if you're a hot chick in a little black dress). Basically, this gun is so sexy that you can conceal is just about anywhere (wink wink, nudge nudge).
|I can only assume that the girl on the right keeps her gun in her vag.|
But what happens when we take the text out of the context of the ad? We find yet another source telling us that thinness is sexually appealing. This is what pisses me off. Women already have a hard enough time dealing with the pressure from the media, pop culture, and the fashion indsutry. Now a woman can't even shop for a handgun without being bombarded with the message that she's not thin enough?
Hell, in the above photo, I don't even SEE the gun. I am actually more interested in her hair, her makeup, and the purse that her gun happens to be pointing towards. If I mentally remove the gun from the ad, all I see a fashion ad that assumes I can't read subtext and LITERALLY TELLS ME that "thin is sexy." Maybe I'm being overly sensitive to this because someone very close to me is currently suffering from an eating disorder, but I think we can all agree that this is an unnecessary sales tactic, right?
Look, I have no problem with advertisements that sexualize their product, even when it is something as simple as having a sexy model holding said product. The ads in question, however, are just a mess. I still can't even figure out who the target demographic is here. You would assume it's men, because men will notice and respond to the attractive woman holding the gun. But then why tell a man that thin is sexy? Furthermore, the discussion I've had with men who like guns leads me to believe that men want their guns to be like their ideal penis: bigger and better than everyone else's. The same testosterone-fueled man that is checking out that model's tits is not going to be interesting in the vagina of the handgun world.
Which means that this ad has to be made for women. The gun is small and won't bulge in awkward places, so a woman can carry a concealed weapon while still wearing a chic ensemble. This handgun will totally make you look like a Bond girl! Unfortunately, it took me an hour of looking at the ads to understand the intended message of the ad (BUY OUR GUNS). These advertisements do not effectively sell a handgun. Rather, they effectively sell a high expectation of beauty and desirability. I personally want that model's body more than I want her handgun.
So that's my beef for the day. I will have a full report on what it's like to go to a shooting range (plus my musings on this phallo-centric "sport") when I actually have the balls to fire the damn thing.