From the discussion of both my post on manface and girlpower characters it is clear that even in the men’s sphere there is much love for “strong women”. In my most recent post the discussion eventually turned to the question of teaching women to defend themselves (martial arts, weight lifting, concealed carry, etc).
Before I go any further, I’ll state that:
- My own thinking on this topic has changed over time, as I started with something closer to the mainstream conservative view.
- I’m inclined to generally respect other men’s choices regarding their own families.
Temptations of the kickass gal.
With bullet point number two above in mind, I think we need to be aware of the temptations involved. The kickass gal is a well established conservative feminist trope, and we should be aware of this when considering how we direct the training of our wives and daughters. Feminists know why they want our daughters to move out on their own in the big city and experience the carousel. Conservatives on the other hand pride themselves in knowing how to make this feminist goal “safe” for our daughters to achieve.
The kickass conservative gal trope is easiest to spot when it comes to guns. Conservative shooters love the idea of guns as a realization of the feminist dream. If you aren’t familiar with the subculture, go to any online forum on guns and you will find a group of men eager to explain how tough their pistol packing wives/daughters are. One of the local DFW gun ranges understands this culture well, and features pictures of a kickass gal with a pink gun on their website. This is not, I should add, a range dedicated to women shooters. I’ve been to their store, and their target customers are the same group of men every other range/store in the area caters to. The same is true of another gun shop just a few miles away, B&S Guns. They have a billboard* by the freeway with a picture of a woman shooting a rifle that says “We won’t tell your HUSBAND.”
If you decide you want to teach your wife/daughters to shoot, keep in mind that the entire culture you are bringing them into is designed to tempt them into a feminist rebellious frame of mind. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but you shouldn’t kid yourself about the temptations you are throwing their way.
There is also the reality of the difference between men’s and women’s interests when it comes to masculine pursuits. All of the men I know who shoot enjoy going to the range to practice, and even enjoy breaking their guns down to clean and maintain them. I have yet to observe a wife or daughter who takes this level of interest in shooting. They may embrace the “empowerment” of it, or simply enjoy infrequently going to the range for a bit of shooting, but I’ve yet to come across a woman who really “got into it” the way men do. This, plus the realities of men’s and women’s different instinctive response to violence means that training and arming women is going to be much less effective than gun owning feminists desperately want to believe.
Again, I’m not saying you are wrong if you decide to teach your wife or daughters how to shoot. My wife enjoys coming to the range with me from time to time, and I plan on teaching our daughter to shoot. However, we need to be realistic about the risks and benefits involved with this.
We’re so manly, even our women are like men!
There is another temptation involved with this, and this temptation is for the men involved. Part of the appeal of the kickass conservative gal is the idea that the man who masculinizes his women is proving how much more manly he is than other men. This tends to start with selecting a specific masculine pursuit and declaring it to be the very definition of manliness. In a general sense this could include marriage and fatherhood or even the ability to attract women, but for this specific example it is something like shooting, hunting, rebuilding an engine, weight lifting, or martial arts. These are all positive pursuits for a man (in the right context), but none of them are essential for being a “real man”.
The base temptation for men is to declare that one of these manly pursuits is the real test of a man, and any man who doesn’t do them isn’t a real man. The tie in temptation is then to add another layer cementing the man’s status as the only real man in the room, by declaring that any man who doesn’t think highly of masculinizing women in this specific way is merely too much of a girly man to appreciate strong women. This is a standard feminist slogan, but it comes from a conservative I’m more manly than you are position.
*Thanks to Cane for finding an image of the billboard.