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Wading into the Next Controversy

Papa Delta Bravo wades into the next controversy over gender and guns that’s been making its way around the blogosphere:

This picture manages to be more insulting and condescending than the usual “booth bunnies” holding and displaying firearms. It’s arranged to be an “action” picture, yet it’s obviously and ridiculously artificial. The layout of the photo is supposed to make her look like an expert, but the details make her look like she has no idea what she’s doing (although she is a competitive shooter when she’s not posing for pictures). We’ve crossed the line from “sex sells” window dressing into “men will only listen to female industry reps if they’re flawless 10s”.

I don’t really have a problem with the gun industry using sex to move product, but it has to be done in a way that’s not going to put off other women. In the pharmaceutical industry, which are selling to the predominately male medical profession, sales reps tend to be unusually attractive women. Why? Because men are suckers for pretty ladies trying to sell them shit. But you’d never see a pharma rep dress like Melissa Gilliland in these photos. Why? Because it would violate the professional standards of the community they are selling into, for one, and for two, there are women in the medical profession that drug companies don’t want to alienate.

I agree with PDB that there’s a fine line. This picture here illustrates it for me. Which one do you think you could get away with posting on your office wall? The firearms community cannot afford to be off-putting to women. Other industries have adopted professional standards that still recognize that they are selling into a male dominated community, but avoid over the top nonsense like this. The Firearms business has gotten better in recent years, but there’s still a lot of vendors out there advertising that guns and shooting are a boys club.

15 Responses to “Wading into the Next Controversy”

  1. KevinC says:

    I kinda look at this like the LPGA: There are a lot of very attractive women in the LPGA (or so I’m told, as I’ve never noticed (my wife reads this site…) ), and selling the sport based on their attractiveness has only made the LPGA more popular for women and men.

  2. Ken says:

    I don’t know–this particular photo shoot looks pretty stupid, but overall I think having sexy girls helps destroy the leftists’ claim that all gun owners are ugly prudes (unlike sex symbols like Sarah Brady and Joan Peterson, or handsome studs like Ladd Everitt). Another thing to consider is that female competitive shooters, from what I’ve seen, are not average looking women. It takes an extra effort to find one who DOESN’T look like she’s selling sex, just by looking the way she always does.

    • Chase says:

      I have never seen a photograph of Sarah Brady, Joan Peterson, or Ladd Everitt. I don’t know what they look like, and I can’t imagine that it would ever be relevant unless I wanted to speak to them at a media event and needed to recognize them for that reason.

  3. Zermoid says:

    She’s wearing more than you’d see at any beach or pool across America and you think it borders on pornography?

    Your women got you whipped, don’t they?

  4. Echo says:

    New idea: if you come up with an advertisement for a target demographic, and showing it to them makes them facepalm or cringe?
    It wasn’t a good advertisement.

    Come on, combining awesomeness, competence, and sexiness isn’t that hard. If DHX Media and the dorks who made Battlestar Galactica managed to do it, so can we.

  5. Andy B. says:

    “I don’t really have a problem with the gun industry using sex to move product. . .”

    I kind of do, but I’m not going to say it’s “wrong,” so much as to say it’s my problem, and here’s how I feel:

    It is not just the gun industry. It used to piss me off to get my issue of (e.g.) “Machine Design” and see all the ads with girls in bikinis — or sometimes just the office (apparent) bimbo — holding pipe wrenches or tubing cutters or whatever. Not that I don’t LOVE images of naked ladies, in the appropriate context, but because the ads assumed I’m a moron who is going to buy a ditcher because they attracted my attention with the equivalent of a banana for a monkey. And, ever since I was a little kid, people who assume I’m stupid have offended and insulted me. Lots of people disagree with me, and I guess the sellers know what sells, but that is the way I feel.

    This is somewhat of a tangent to the subject, but a couple years ago I finally broke off from a network of conservative political groups, because their attitude toward fundraising was that gun owners were simpletons, and moron appeal in their communications was what maximized return on an email or snailmail blast. I have suspicions that becomes self-fulfilling, the more it is used, but mainly I just didn’t like it.

    • HSR47 says:

      “It is not just the gun industry. It used to piss me off to get my issue of (e.g.) “Machine Design” and see all the ads with girls in bikinis — or sometimes just the office (apparent) bimbo — holding pipe wrenches or tubing cutters or whatever. Not that I don’t LOVE images of naked ladies, in the appropriate context, but because the ads assumed I’m a moron…”

      This.

      I wouldn’t expect (or want) to find firearms, ammunition, or accessories at a strip club. The opposite of this is true: I don’t appreciate it when vendors try to turn gun shows into strip clubs.

  6. Kirk Parker says:

    in the pharmaceutical industry, which are selling to the predominately male medical profession, sales reps tend to be unusually attractive women

    Sure, on average. But the top-selling rep in our area (for Novartis), one who’s perenially in running for moving up to a sales-training/sales-management position, is a short bald old guy so much like myself, that people who don’t know us well (e.g. at church) are frequently confusing us with each other.

    • HappyWarrior6 says:

      Working in IT, it’s also a very similar scene at trade shows in a pretty heavily make-dominated industry. Lots of sales gals in their early 20s are a guarantee. However, in print or via electronic media, I have only ever seen one IT ad in my entire 10+ year career that seemed to scream “sexy lady advertising.” Eveything else seems “smartly done” if not pretty boring.

      • Andy B. says:

        ‘I have only ever seen one IT ad in my entire 10+ year career that seemed to scream “sexy lady advertising.”’

        Interesting!

        Maybe it’s the nature of the profession. I have only been a “programmer” to the extent of being a scientific programmer/mathematical modeler, but that aspect of my profession, I loved, back in the days when we had to write most of our own code. Among things I liked was, that it removed human factors or foibles like “opinion” from decision making processes. (I recall some years ago, IBM had a sales slogan, “Not just data; reality,” and I thought that was really great.) So maybe “smartly done,” analogous to an efficient algorithm, is what works for IT types; it is what they value in the world.

  7. Patrick says:

    My wife shoots a lot and has more guns than many male gun nuts I know. She is also a looker and far from a prude.

    Her view of this is the same as mine. If you are selling to a bunch of man-boys then who cares. But if you are claiming to be a magazine for women (which this is), then you are doing it wrong. It doesn’t upset her at all (not a prude), but she would immediately ignore the content of any attached article, “Because Bimbo”.

    My wife can play a bimbo, too. But she’d never do it for business and never expect to be taken seriously at the same time. So if the point is to be taken seriously by women, then this one is the wrong way to do it. It looks like a Maxim shoot.

    We agreed that the shooter whose picture is on the right strikes the right balance. Feminine without trying to play the bimbo.

    Again, it’s a matter of audience. Left photo for Maxim Magazine: fine. But a “magazine geared for women shooters” needs a more refined approach for women. Nobody takes Cosmo or Maxim seriously, so why would they take a bad knock-off of the same style with more than a grain of salt?

    If men want to see the lady on the left, that’s fine. But don’t expect your wife to be interested in the content of the article by way of the picture. From that perspective – from a magazine claiming to be about women – it’s a fail. And from a man’s perspective, I would choose to hang with the woman dressed like the on the right before the one on the left. I left my college years behind me a while ago and never looked back. But to each his/her own.

    I have read that both women are fairly accomplished shooters. I feel bad for the lady on the left. If you ask me, she was too trusting of a bad editorial call. She is a serious person according to voices like Oleg Volk. I would never disparage her in any way, but will suggest those who set up that shoot were not doing one of our own sisters any favors. I’d rally around her while calling the people behind the shoot idiots.

    • Patrick says:

      Re-reading what I wrote, I need to extra clear that I do not think the woman is a bimbo. Don’t know her, and she seems a serious person according to background on her. My point is she was presented that way, regardless of who she might really be.

      That’s the annoying thing here. If you don’t know that background, she is portrayed in a less-than-stellar light.

      • Andy B. says:

        I was uncomfortable using the word “bimbo” in my post above, and I’m kind of glad to see someone else needed to qualify its use, too.

        I recall a thread some time ago, about allowing the media to take photos or footage of us (males and females) with our guns. Many of us have learned the hard way that a serious gun rights advocate can and often will be portrayed as a redneck, in a picture that speaks a thousand words. The analogy for women is, a serious and intelligent woman can be posed to look like a bimbo, and shouldn’t be surprised when that is the assessment that people make when they see the picture.

  8. TexTopCat says:

    This discussion brings to mind the press coverage of the event between MDA(Shannon Watts) and the Open Carry Texas in a parking lot in DFW area. There were three pictures widely published, one was posed on the request of MDA showing a group of OCT posed in front of the US flat, and one was taken from a side angle at same time. The first showed a claim group of good people, the second looked like a group of people involved in an assault. So, there is sometimes more to the story that is more important than the picture. The third picture showed a group milling around making jokes and kids playing.

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