Why Was An Anti-Feminist Organization Using Senate Time to Sell Guns

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:05 EDT
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Is most violence in the home the result of scary strangers coming to steal these? No.

Gayle Trotter’s little marketing push trying to get women to buy more guns—remember, the underlying principle of all gun proponent testimony is that gun profits should always be growing—was definitely an amusing one, as noted by Mother Jones. Women buy far fewer guns than men, so while this was supposed to be a Senate hearing, a large portion of it was Trotter using this free advertising opportunity to try to capture a new customer base that the gun industry struggles to reach. I debunked her nonsense at Slate, but it got me to thinking. What does the anti-feminist group Independent Women’s Forum that Trotter was representing get out of giving the gun industry free, if unhinged advertising like this?

Watching this video, where Trotter imagined that young mothers frequently have confrontations with mysterious bad guys who are coming to take their babies* from them—proper young mothers have lots, of course, since birth control is only for unarmed sluts—it occurred to me why IWF agreed to provide this free marketing. This suits their larger mission as an organization. As I briefly outline at Slate, the IWF was started by a group of women supporting Clarence Thomas, primarily by claiming that women invent sexual harassment claims for the lulz. Since then, they’ve dramatically expanded and one of their main objectives is to undermine  efforts to end violence against women.  I know; it’s gross. But it’s the truth—they oppose VAWA, protest V-Day events aimed at fund-raising to end violence, heavily promote the claim that many to most rape victims are lying sluts, and promote the notion that reconciliation is the proper approach to domestic violence. If it walks like a duck, etc.

This testimony supported these larger goals. Trotter basically used her time there to promote the claim that real violence against women—you might even call it legitimate—looks like strangers attacking women, often for movie bad guy reasons of being menancing for its own sake. By painting a picture where violence against women looks like gangs of thugs cornering good Christian women for gang rape or violence in the home as the result of bad guys coming for your babies,** she can distract from the reality, which is that most violence against women is at the hands of men they know.

The IWF will do anything to distract from this reality. They scare-monger about lying bitches who make up rape charges for the lulz, aggressively deny statistics that demonstrate how widespread the problem is, and, of course, write frequently about how the only “real” war on women is occuring in countries that don’t have a white majority. The latter creates some weird juxtapositions, where they’ll complain about how India’s police corruption leaves rape cases uninvestigated, buy angrily protest any attemptto improve the reporting of rape in our country. A charming quote from the latter piece that demonstrates what they think actually happened to women who file rape charges here: “most college men who wake up next to a so-called “butterface” will usually just claim “beer goggles!” and high-five their friends”. Yep, the claim is that men—being so morally superior to women—react to bad sexual choices by being a little dickish, but that women call the cops. Because, in wingnut minds, women are so incredibly stupid that they think the best way to handle sexual shame is to have the police and defense attorneys interrogate you about how much sex you’ve been having for the public record.

Rape and domestic violence apologists and gun nuts have overlapping interests, it turns out. The gun industry needs people to be afraid of random, impersonal crime and rape/domestic violence apologists need to deny that interpersonal crime is really a problem. So, as we see, the gun industry works with anti-feminists to paint a picture of a country where bad guys are breaking in doors on an hourly basis, but inside those doors, there’s nothing but harmony and peace. A gun can plausibly protect you against strangers breaking into your home (though even that’s debateable), but it’s a terrible weapon to protect you from a lover or a friend that wants to hurt you. Despite all the silly wingnuts claiming to me on Twitter that women should simply wear a gun in the shower and in bed and at parties and while cooking dinner or while making out with a new guy they’re dating, most sane people realize that’s not going to be feasible. Most sane people realize that if one person in an an interpersonal situation decides to become violent—whether or not he’s a wife beater or a rapist—he’s probably going to be the one who gets to the gun first. As the evidence bears out.

IWF would like you to believe that rape looks like the picture that Trotter painted, of a roving gang cornering a woman who suddenly pulls an AR-15 out of her ass. That’s because they don’t want you to think about how most rapes are a guy who corners a drunk woman on a date or at a party, knowing that her alcohol use will allow folks like the ones at IWF to claim the victim had consensual sex and regretted it later. They don’t want you to think about the actual stories of gang rape that come out, such as the Steubenville one or the Cleveland, TX one or the Orange County one, which feature assailants the victims know that pretend to be friendly to lure her into a situation where she can be humiliated and abused. They would like you to believe that violence in the home is about intruders coming to steal your babies, so you forget that it’s usually boyfriends or husbands enacting an escalating reign of terror, because they want to control and dominate their partners. The gun industry is happy to back this kind of rape and domestic violence denialism because it helps their profits. All the more reason to oppose them.

*Fact: Bad guys eat babies. It’s their main source of fuel.

**Other reasons bad guys are coming to steal your babies: Babies make good kindling. Babies can also be used to apply wallpaper inside your bad guy den. Also, when bad guys entertain other bad guys, babies are often used as centerpiece for bad guy dinner tables.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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