Has anyone else noticed that action movie heroines almost always have embarrassingly panicked reactions when presented with a gun?
I immediately imagine Katherine Heigl screaming frantically, “Oh my god, why do you have a gun?!” to her defender in Killers, but there are a hundred other movies with similar scenes. Yet somehow, by the end of the film, these hysterical characters are inevitably shooting like a pro, managing to make the “perfect” shot needed to save the day.
There are other alternatives, of course, to the Hollywood woman-with-a-gun stereotypes: “Small woman bests large man in feats defying the laws of physics,” or the ever-popular “hero holds gun incorrectly and somehow never runs out of ammunition” scenario. And while the same inaccuracies certainly exist in male-dominated movies as well, there’s an added insult to female-centered action movies, because we’re sold the idea that this is the height of empowerment. We’re told there is nothing more “dominant” than an impractical scene of dramatized hand-to-hand combat in which a tiny woman somehow leaves 20 men twice her size on the ground while walking away without a scratch.
And I get it—It’s a work of fiction. Movies have always been impractical, after all. But this is not empowerment. These kinds of stories create a universe where women only win when the odds are impossibly shifted in their favor. If anything, that’s almost a textbook definition of the opposite of empowerment.
An equalizer of force already exists: firearms. However, films like these are one of the largest perpetuators of the notion that an equalizer between the sexes is unnecessary. After all, if guns are only necessary in fantastical situations such as those depicted in wild action movies, then no average citizen needs one.
Clichés like these create a disconnectedness with the real world, and real gun owners. If non-gun owners only have inaccurate movies on which to base their opinions, no wonder they believe the outrageous claims politicians make about firearms. These pigeonholed caricatures also set the hazardous precedent that guns themselves should be feared by default.
This notion instantly transfers all wrongdoing from person to inanimate object. To this day, I remember a classmate quite literally shivering when I mentioned in passing that I was headed to the gun range. She was filled with fear at the mere mention of an inanimate object.
We can hardly expect left-leaning industries like Hollywood to produce a story about an everyday woman who genuinely grew up with a knowledge of firearms and firearm safety. Instead, they’re much more inclined to showcase “empowered” female characters waving a gun around wildly, or holding it away from themselves with two fingers, as if they’re afraid its “violence” will taint them during five seconds of contact.
And as a result, responsible gun owners have seen ourselves painted as pictures of horror and ignorance over and over again. Paranoid, delusional, too traditional, stuck in the past, unable to outgrow the boogeyman … these are just a sample of the labels given to law-abiding gun owners. Simply by choosing to defend our own lives in the most efficient and effective method available, we’ve become maligned as untrustworthy individuals.
While Hollywood might not have gotten the memo, rest assured: We already have the winning hand. As women who carry responsibly, advocate for freedom and empower each other daily, we are our own secret weapon. The secret’s out, and together we are charging forward to dispel the inaccuracies and lies about female firearm enthusiasts. We are proving wrong every accusation leveled against us, one woman at a time. Despite the lies they try to characterize us as, we are the real women of the 2A community, and we are turning the tide.
So, stand strong together, share freedom with each other and continue to teach real empowerment: the kind that saves lives.