I see this headline all the time, “Women Fastest Growing Demographic of Gun Owners,” or something very similar. In the last few years, it has been a big deal that more women than ever are choosing firearm ownership. And now, women make up nearly half of all gun owners—making the playing field just about equal. So isn’t it about time to put away the pink and make firearm and shooting-related gear for every shooter?
To be fair, in the past, the shooting sports and protection of the family was almost exclusively a men’s only club. Women who shoot and shoot well were an anomaly, hence women such as Annie Oakley and Plinky Toepperwein were famous. It was a spectacle to see a woman shooting better and faster than most men.
That all started to change in the 1980s when firearm sales stagnated and manufacturers started to reach out to an untapped market—women. Smith & Wesson released its Lady Smith revolver and advertising campaigns focused on a Mother’s protection of her child.
As society has changed, so have the expectations of women. Young women are now delaying marriage more than ever. The average age of marrying is 28, while millennials are waiting even longer and marrying in their 30s. The 30 to 40% divorce rate with increasing single motherhood means that women are spending longer periods being self-reliant. Unlike our grandmothers and great grandmothers, these un-partnered women no longer depend on a father or spouse to protect them.
Silly Boys, Guns Are For Girls
Internet popularity and positive role models help, too. Women such as Natalie from Girl’s Guide to Guns and Olympian Kim Rhode, and Top Shot’s openly gay competitor Chris Cheng help women see themselves in this younger generation of shooting enthusiasts and realize that guns aren’t just for white, older Southern conservative men. You can shoot your AR-15 and then go for a mani/pedi. Or that you don’t have to wear baggy cargo pants and a tac vest to “fit in.”
More women-owned companies that cater to a women’s needs help shooters feel more comfortable and welcome as well. For example, Lisa Looper of Looper Law Enforcement and designer of the Flashbang bra holster has a program that allows her female dealers to host holster parties where experienced pistol instructors demonstrate the use of the women’s holsters in the comfort of someone’s home. These types of parties resonate with many women. We are so used to attending wine and cheese parties where our hostess displays and sells scented wax, romance products, skin care or jewelry.
Therefore, since we have established that we are here in significant numbers, isn’t it time we level the playing field? Let’s stop marketing and making “women’s only” products. Let’s stop labeling the smaller pocket guns or pink guns as “ladies models.” I know short male shooters who appreciate a shorter than standard length of pull on a long gun, but wouldn’t be caught dead killing a deer with a rifle or shotgun decked out in Muddy Girl camo. In addition, I know a lot of women who don’t just dislike, but loathe, the color pink. In fact, Barbara Baird recently penned an opinion piece on the Women’s Outdoor News aimed at Under Armour asking them to stop putting pink accents on its women’s hunting camo. She writes, “It’s because by adding pink accents to your otherwise all camo apparel, you cut out the ability for me to wear your camo while turkey hunting. This effectively removes a season of wear and I have to buy other camo, or alter yours. And, by the way, I don’t see any light blue on your men’s hunting camo.” She makes an excellent point.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking the firearms industry to become gender-neutral. Believe me, I love my pink range gear and smaller-sized earmuffs, but I also love black, red and blue, too. If you are going to make a small .380 ACP pistol in pink, couldn’t you just as easily make your full-sized .45 in pink, too? How tough would the Beretta 92 look with pink or Tiffany blue accents, amiright? Sig Sauer has the right idea. The company’s P238 .380 and P938 9mm semiautomatic handguns come in a variety of custom-like finishes that appeal to both men and women.
But don’t stop there! Give us the black, FDE, dark blue, zombie green, stainless, orange, violet, rainbow or whatever options, too. Because now, it’s not about drawing us ladies in, but about keeping us here.
Men, do you feel pigeonholed by the firearms industry when you are sold on FDE, OD Green or gray finishes on firearms and accessories? What do you guys and gals think about marketing pink products to women? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.
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