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  • mushinsst

I'm just a girl

Gwen Stefani of No Doubt was once quoted as saying, "Wow, maybe people actually look at me different because I am a female."

In the realm of sports, gender disparities remain glaringly apparent, particularly in male-dominated arenas where women often find themselves navigating a complex web of stereotypes and biases. Significant improvements have been made over the years, but the challenges remain. These challenges can be both overt and subtle, impacting every facet of participation. Morosely, the firearm industry is not exempt from this.

One obstacle faced by females in the shooting world is the underestimation of their abilities. Despite possessing the same or similar skill set and dedication as their male counterparts, they are frequently overlooked and undervalued. This bias can manifest in various ways, from being coddled and under-challenged to having their achievements attributed to luck rather than skill. I find myself constantly battling against the pervasive underestimation of my abilities, as well as the fear that said underestimation may occur in a given circumstance. Unfortunately, this fear has, at times, prevented me from pursuing classes and competitions of interest due to the large numbers of males assumed to be present.

Another prevalent issue is how the treatment of females in the shooting world often perpetuates harmful stereotypes and expectations. Ladies may be subjected to objectification, facing scrutiny not only for their skills and determination but also for their appearance and dress. This focus on physical attributes and clothing selection can overshadow their achievements and undermine their credibility as a member who ‘belongs’ in the gun community. I have experienced this multiple times over the last few years but have not shared publicly, in part due to illogical embarrassment.

Most recently, I was in a male-dominated class with only myself and another female. Upon the first break from the range, I walked past and overheard an older male student saying to another male student, “I am so distracted with her tight little pants. This is no place for showing all that off. She should focus on shooting better”. To be clear, both of us ladies were wearing yoga-style pants, so his comment could have been concerning either of us. I took the comment as directed toward me, though, since he was immediately to my right on the line. I want to give further detail on my “tight, little pants”. I have two pair of yoga-style pants that I wear during classes. One is from 511 Tactical and the other is from Beretta. My rationale for selecting these pants is twofold.

First, I believe firearm training for self-defense should be as close to real world situations as possible. I don’t wear ‘tactical’ clothing on a regular basis, but rather yoga pants, sweat pants, and jeans (let’s not journey down the path on why I can’t wear women’s jeans, with their tiny little pockets that leave no room for class-required spare mags or belt loops that only accommodate tiny Walmart belts, in a class or competition). My what-I’ll-call tactical yoga pants have features that allow me to fully participate in class or competition while still dressing as I normally would and while using my every day carry holster (which is the Phlster Enigma! Highly recommend!). These features include deep side pockets for spare mags, loose ammo, and even a water bottle, and real belt loops. I will just completely skim over the brand of the pants having TACTICAL in one of the names and the other being from one of the top firearm manufacturers in the world…

Secondly, I have a cardiac condition that flares up when I am exposed to heat and stress. Most of the classes and competitions in which I participate are outdoors in the warmer months. Therefore, I need clothing that has cooling and wicking features or are at minimum light material. Both of my tactical yoga pants are thin but durable and allow for free movement, while keeping me relatively cool. Unfortunately, I have sustained a few episodes in which my heart acted up during class, and I required fast cooling measures. These episodes ended my day on the range. Therefore, I try to avoid occurrences like this, and thus my choice for clothing is important.

At times, I wish I was bolder and more confrontational, able to respond to such ignorance and sexism with a “yeah, well your fat, white gut hanging out every time you draw your gun is a distraction to me. No one needs to see that” or with a quip that he should focus on his own shooting, as I outshot him that day. Instead, I internalize and evaluate again and again if I even belong in this male-dominated domain. And as I face another upcoming class where I am already contemplating if my shooting skills are sufficient, I am also worrying about whether my appearance will be the aspect for which I am judged and remembered.

Thankfully, I have experienced more kind and inclusive men in the gun community than not, and I will strive to keep them in mind when these fears creep in. I also am inspired by and try to refocus on women like Annette Evans, Melody Lauer, Tiffany Johnson, Julie Golob, and Dianna Muller and their sense of purpose and determination in proving that women absolutely can and do belong in the gun community.

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1 Comment

Jun 03

Thank you for voicing this! It is much needed dialogue, much like not scrolling on by posts on social media, people often feel the need to comment on other people and bring them down. One of my goals this year was to do more competitions and get outside my comfort zone because in the past, I’ve let peoples opinions get the best of me. It's one of the reasons that keeps me from posting/ blogging more, but I know we need more of it! Thanks for these words! Keep

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