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Pictorials featuring women and guns tend to heavily sexualize both subjects. Just Google “Women with Guns”. You’ll get a mixture of both professionally shot photos and photos from guys on ARFcom who want to show off their rebounds after that messy second divorce. A lot of the pics are, on some level, pornographic. They exist to elicit a response of lustful desire for the acquisition of the female, the weapon, or maybe both. Since we live in a free society, it’s entirely the prerogative of the consenting adults in the photos to exhibit themselves or their gats in whatever fashion they choose. Volumes have been written on the subject as to what constitutes art vs. pornography. We could easily get into the argument of nude vs. naked a la Wendy Beckett or whether “operator” poses are the updated equivalent of Robert Mapplethorpe’s self-portrait below . . .

Self Portrait 1983 by Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

Whatever your opinion on the matter, an upcoming book by photographer Shelley Calton, should spark conversation and might make an excellent edition to your coffee table. Entitled Concealed, She’s Got a Gun, the book explores, in the artist’s own words, “what, in the collective feminine experience, drives women to acquire an instrument that can kill, and how they interact with it in their daily routines.” Here’s a partial review on the New York Times Lens blog.

Refreshingly, the photos take no political stances. There are no anti-gun messages nor are there any molon labe stickers hanging about. The women aren’t intentionally posed in a sexy manner. The artist went so far as to take a CHL class to better understand self-defense from her subjects’ perspective which adds a nice touch. The women were not photographed as some sort of anti-Second Amendment anthropological curiosity but as actual human beings exercising their natural rights.

Like all art, the photos are open to the viewer’s interpretation. You can view the portfolio here on there artist’s website.

51 Responses to High Art Meets Hi Capacity: A Different Look at Women and Guns

    • Ugh, I saw one where she had it pointed directly at her knee. I don’t like imagining the loss of a limb due to negligence.

  1. That was interesting. I found it odd that the mature, impeccably-put-together CEO type had the worst trigger discipline–or at least among the worst. But overall, I saw a whole lot of self-reliant, confident-looking women that the so-called “feminists” should celebrate–but certainly won’t.

    • Agree completely. Weak trigger discipline is evident in at least some of the pictures but there is definitely something very sexy about a strong confident women holding her s/d firearm!

  2. Wow, that opening paragraph is right out of the liberal war on men text book. All that white male guilt has apparently got the best of you.

  3. The women were not photographed as some sort of anti-Second Amendment anthropological curiosity but as actual human beings

    Maybe so but the NYTRB write up was puke worthy.

  4. Well, the lady with the S&W bodyguard is safe since it takes 38 lbs to pull that trigger on those…..
    My better half keeps her gat in a pouch that looks like a daytimer. No one runs for fear of the daytimer.

    • I have a kink in my back from wincing at every example of that.

      OTOH, I got a couple of new ideas for hiding a defense weapon in plain sight.

      BTW, my favorite was the gal with the kid holding onto her — a nice domestic image.

  5. I liked the portfolio but as others have noted, trigger discipline was lacking.

    As for the opening paragraph and the negative posts here about it, it just read like an academic opening to me. All of you who think that was some sort of attack on men should probably stay out of academia. I personally don’t agree with some of the logic involved (I think a lot of scholarly papers are written by people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about or are trying to express things that don’t lend well to words) but I didn’t see any malice in it.

    Women just fundamentally don’t understand that us guys enjoy looking at women like we enjoy looking at beautiful art. We don’t always want to obtain what we see or even touch it. Women are fundamentally different. They touch everything. It’s why working in a shoe store is a pain in the ass with how much clean up needs to be done at the end of the day in the ladies shoes section.

    The recurring themes in papers of sexuality and visuals somehow corresponding with desire are almost always written by women.

    • Maybe you didn’t the memo but we women enjoy looking at a good looking guy, just not as obvious as some men are. For that matter also enjoy seeing an attractive woman, I have no problem with my husband looking at a pretty women As humans we are attracted to beautiful things and appreciate them. I also think my stainless steel Ruger SP101 revolver is a thing of beauty.

      • Apologies that I was not clear.

        I didn’t mean to say that women are not visual at all or always have to touch anything they see.

        I was just illustrating some of the fundamental differences between female and male sensory stimuli from a sexual perspective, and that many, many women just don’t get why/how men look at women.

        It’s why so many women get angry or jealous of a man’s “wandering eye” when in fact a man appreciating a beautiful woman has absolutely nothing to do with his current significant other. From an academic perspective, an awful lot of female scholars who do behavior studies fail to understand this fundamental difference and it taints their findings.

        • It’s not just feminists who think that much of men looking at women is lustful.

          ‘“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.’ Matthew 5:27-30

          ‘For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.’ 1 John 2:16

          I mean, you understand the purpose pornography serves to men who consume it, right?

        • ^ Quoting from a book written thousands of years ago by ignorant, bronze age shepherds doesn’t really do much for me from a logical argument perspective.

          Sorry.

          That said, of course a man can look lustfully at a woman. As humans we can look lustfully at anything since lust is not even necessarily sexual. However, there is an element of choice there, hence why it’s forbidden in the Bible.

          Also – fun fact. The Bible only forbids looking lustfully at another man’s wife. Not single women. The Bible also has lots to say about female virginity but doesn’t mention males a single time – a point I brought up when my parents forced me to do “true love waits” as a kid… and made everyone uncomfortable.

          I know I’m going off on a tangent here, and this is not directed at the reply above, but a lot of people who try to use scripture to prove a point often actually don’t really know what the Bible says in totality.

        • @TheBear: Re your points about married women vs. single women and male virgins vs. female virgins, here’s Jesus:
          ‘“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ Matthew 5:28, emphasis added.

          Unless, of course, by “everyone,” Jesus really means “married men” and not single ones. And by “a woman,” Jesus really means, “a married woman.”

          And many of the Bible’s authors were shepherds at some point in their lives. God has chosen the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. Are there any other professions you maintain a prejudice against that you’d like to make sure God doesn’t use going forward?

          Lots of nonbelievers have no idea what the Bible says in its totality either. What’s your point?

        • Let’s just cut to the chase. The Bible is stupid.

          Matthew 5:29-30 Jesus recommends that to avoid sin we cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes. This advice is given immediately after he says that anyone who looks with lust at any women commits adultery. How does that make any sense?

          Also, Jesus said he didn’t come to change anything in the old testament, but to fulfill. Ok, that that means Jesus is directly contradicting the old testament in the passage you quoted above. This means that the old testament was wrong. However, if the old testament was wrong, how can we be sure of the various prophesies that Jesus fulfilled by existing?

          The Bible is stupid. It has great lessons, but it was written by uneducated morons, has a great deal of inconsistencies, and even has books missing. Who decided to omit books from the Bible? If we accept that all the books of the Bible were divinely inspired, then it sure wasn’t God!

          My original point stands. Bringing up scripture in an intellectual debate is like coming to a gun fight armed with a pool noodle.

    • “Women just fundamentally don’t understand that us guys enjoy looking at women”

      Are you required by law to notify your new neighbors when you move into a new place?

  6. Do. Want.

    No link to actual book for sale, yet, though. Significantly lessens the probability of this happening, haha.

    • ““Concealed, She’s Got a Gun,” will be released by Kehrer Verlag in Europe in March 2015 and in the United States in September 2015.” No book yet, so no link….

      I like the pics but some of these women definitely need better training in weapon handling. I don’t think every single picture should show a rigid index finger inches away from the trigger, but at least the finger shouldn’t be resting on it.

      John Davies
      Spokane WA USA

  7. …“what, in the collective feminine experience, drives women to acquire an instrument that can kill, and how they interact with it in their daily routines.”

    Well, there’s the convenience factor, and if you get one with decent gas mileage and a low monthly payment it’s fairly easy to fit into the budget.

    • I noticed that too. Reminds me of that old verbal merry-go-round I’ve ridden so many times.

      But it’s progress, the photographer seems to think there is something special/weird about guns, but at least I don’t detect any contempt or horror at the concept in her work or the words.

  8. Really guys? It’s art, not a facebook selfie. The photographer probably told them to put their finger on the trigger for the desired effect. In much the same way that no one intendeds to actually shoot anything while filming a movie, yet they still have to put their fingers on the triggers.

    • I have no problem with finger on trigger for photographic effect as long as the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. One model clearly was about to sneeze and blow her own kneecap off.

    • I disagree, the four fundamentals should be adhered to at all times. I understand if there are moments you might violate it (unintentionally or unintentionally) but for most it should be second nature, like going to “parade rest” or “position of attention” in the military.

      • Gunsmithing would be completely impossible without breaking the 4 rules, and in fact you can’t even field strip a Glock. My personal rule is that a gun is unloaded only from the time I confirm that it’s unloaded until it leaves my immediate field of focus. Take a break, check it again. Hand it to someone, check it again (and he better check it too). And the 4 rules can only be broken as necessary during that time that it is known to be unloaded. I’m assuming the photographer is not a firearms expert, in which case I would have hired and brought my own. While I’m sure all those women are perfectly safe with their gun handling, there’s no reason to bet your own skin on it.

  9. “The cold steel object becomes a sort of talisman that affords them the confidence they need to go on with their day-to-day activities.”

    I sincerely hope it goes far beyond being a “talisman” and that they get some real life training, do some serious practice, and never think that the “cold steel” can get the job done alone. That “confidence” has to come from knowing what to do with the gun, and being willing to do it when the time comes.

    This is a good start, and I welcome more realistic journalism about women and guns.

    • Absolutely, the gun is the last link in the chain that starts with self awareness. Implementing it is the logical conclusion of seriously considering the ideas of safety and responsibility. Shortcutting the logic train can have disastrous consequences.

  10. Why so serious? Not a single smile in any of the photographs in that gallery. Most of those women looks like the photographer told them their best friend just died and then snapped the picture.

    I’m sure in this case it’s intentional (the photographer appears to be trying to juxtapose vulnerability and capability in some of those photos, so a tough-girl demeanor was probably what she asked the models to do), but you see it all the time, even in stupid selfies that aren’t trying to score points for “art” (I recall pointing the same thing out when TTAG did a photo contest last year). Everybody posing with their guns is scowling and trying to look tough. Lighten up some, people! Guns are fun!

    • There is atleast one other women with guns portfolio out there from not to long ago. But the models were actual gun owners and the compositions were based on their actual lives. The range of women and emotions was much more compelling.

  11. You do know lots of professional photographers are not committed people of the gun?
    Would I pose with finger on the trigger nope, but it’s so ingrained doubt I would able to do otherwise. Seriously doubt any of the subjects had not cleared their weapon prior to the photo shoot. From a woman’s prospective, I like the pictures, didn’t notice any scowling faces, serous normal looking women, holding regular guns. Here’s the bottom line, women who like guns will raise children who may like guns, 2nd amendment rights could depend on the succeeding generations supporting right to bear arms. A lot of that is learned very early on, first thing I saw killed with a rifle was a rattler out with my grandpa on his ranch, checking on the live stock, didn’t scare me, just learned shooting a gun is serious business. Doesn’t mean can’t be fun but like my Dad told me “if you can’t anything else, at pay attention”

  12. Most images of women with firearms shown in the media are porn-tilted. Here’s on that isn’t:

    http://cdn.frontpagemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/armed-woman.jpg

    BTW, on the “so serious” note, I wish I’d gotten a pic when several of us decided we wanted to be on the other side of a moderate river one day: some buff guys wading across, clothes bundled and held on tops of heads with rifle held on top, and a couple of sidearms slung on necks, laughing the whole way, keeping both powder and clothes dry — that was certainly not “serious”.

  13. More photos like these and the culture war will be won. Once the ladies sign on as POTG, the anti-2A crowd is finished, kaput, done.

    • Which is exactly why the anti-2A crowd is sinking big bucks into trying to retain/re-capture that demographic with carefully (eh hum) worded propaganda about “moms” and “our children,” etc.

  14. A quick note on the pornography part of women and guns, am I the only one who didn’t notice the first woman is in an adult novelty store? I was three photos further into the picture set before I had to back track and see if what I thought was there.

  15. These are posed portraits. The poor “trigger discipline” may be intentional, perhaps to create tension…or whatever. These aren’t gun safety posters. Context is important.

    • Agreed. The Church of Cooper seems to be one of the more aggressively doctrinaire sects on the planet.

      The rules make immense sense, and all gun owners should absorb them until they are second nature (especially and most importantly Number Two, which Lt. Col. Cooper certainly phrased more colorfully than anyone). However, responsible, grown-up people should be able to take pictures for a coffee table book (or a TV show or a movie, etc.) without The Online Firearms Experts on Safety™ inevitably losing their collective $#!+ about poor trigger discipline.

  16. [The following perspective as offered is only one of many readily-available; is solely that of the author; and should not in any way, be construed as any type of advice. Additionally, the author assumes no responsibility for effects caused to, or within, the delicate sensitivities of the otherwise unsuspecting reader.
    “Read at your own risk.”]

    Ahem.
    Among the many Generalized Rules of General Safety is one which suggests that:
    ‘Due to the potential for varying results, including but not necessarily limited to unanticipated and / or highly-consequential outcomes —
    in all circumstances in which the arguably most dangerous weapon ever created is in possession of any tool designed to expel a projectile by force of explosion,
    CAUTION IS ADVISABLE.’

  17. “The cold steel object becomes a sort of talisman that affords them the confidence they need to go on with their day-to-day activities.”

    How sad and slanted is the non-discussion around firearms that this article counts as unbiased coverage. For bog’s sake.

    So, following I will partially fisk that article, mostly for my own amusement. Meanwhile, the entire point is already made.

    /Fisking

    Since when does an article on nerd-girl gamers start with a story of a Dorito-fueled basement meltdown? Or a story about female crosroad truckers start with a story of a jack-knife? Women in medicine succumbing to recreational abuse and addiction? I could go on…

    So, guns dangerous! Let us explore how women grasp this terrible (and probably unnecessary and unsafe) power. Because there is no need for anyone to grasp any terrible power, and all terrible powers are unnecessary and unsafe. Right? Compared to the how many foot-pounds of crushing force casually aimed with the flick of a wrist when driving a Land-Yacht-3000.

    I wonder, paraphrasing para 4, what drives women, in their collective experience, to acquire instruments that can kill, like swimming pools and drain cleaner, and how they interact with them in their daily lives. One hopes with awareness and respect.

    To hold a gun is to knowingly grasp a terrible power, and with it a terrible responsibility, or flee to sociopathic indifference of what one is doing. Would that we of whatever gender were more aware of grasping such power all the times we do so. Despite all imaginings, it is not a world of round, padded edges. Get locked outside, and you can freaking die, as this week’s NorthEast snow reminds anyone who might have forgotten. Suppression and denial a mere demonstration like this won’t erode.

    “Women seldom boast about possessing a sidearm …” as opposed to those bragging, macho manfolk waving their chrome plated dick-extensions about at all times? You know, the minority of swaggering macho-roosters are far more a creation of action movies confused as documentaries than anything else. The silliest I’ve seen in real life, personally, is the occasional giggling awe when letting the gizmo loose for a moment at a range or rock quarry. Just … wow is the reaction, at wielding such power. Then people look, seriously at the device as they pack it up, or put it away. Humans are complex enough to giggle at the awesome power and look with careful understanding at the instrument – both.

    “Talisman” is not a tool. “Afforts them the confidence” says they are somehow defective and limited without the blued-metal security blanket. Well, no. Feeling that with a tool at hand, you have more options is far from finding “confidence” through a “talisman” – a thing that operates on perceptions, not on the world. A gun operates on the world. For realz. Not a talisman. A tool. Wielding a tool changes your relationship with the world. That’s the point.

    Is it “insecurity” to believe that there are bad people out there, who will take advantage if they can? Or maybe just a heightened sense of things? When does a sense of the odds and possibilities become “insecurity?” Hey, people get assaulted. I nearly did just this year. Apparently, there’s an epidemic of sexual assault on US college campuses. (I’ve seen drunken frat boys. I get it. I’ve never seen so powerful a judgment-sink as the vortex around a bunch of babbling broheims. “Hold my beer and watch this!” doesn’t even come close.) “Insecurity” can mean a damaged psyche, which these gun owners don’t seem like at all. But is it “insecurity’ to feel “insecure” in a situation where the stats say you are at some risk? That’s two meanings of the root “insecure”, the baseless fealing, and the statistical fact. That dancing from meaning to meaning is crappy writing, and missing, if understanding were the goal, an opportunity to provide a useful paradox to the readers. Or it’s on purpose, tying the one reality assessment to the other unjustified emotion. I think it’s the latterr, intended by the writer, although probably not completely consciously. Just a programmed word-burst. (Go read Orwell’s “Politics and the English Languge” before you write on anything complex or political. Hack.)

    “This first-hand experience helped her create portraits that translate the ambivalent and varied relationships her subjects had with their lethal companion.” Thank bog the subjects of this article think their companions so lethal that the writer got that. Thank bog that their relationships are varied, just as if these women were real, actual individual peple. Cookie-cutter responses come from people who have beencookie-cuttered. Not good. And thank bog these women are sane enough to be ambilalent about wielding such power. “With great power comes great responsibility.” … to use it appropriately. “Appropriately” means both refraining when you must, and when you must, using it. Use it or don’t. Then you get to live with what you did, and what happened. How could any sane person not be ambivalent about that?

    “The series is unnerving. It reminds the viewer that people can never be taken at face value.” Oh, for bog’s sake. Amazing that these sane-looking women would actually perhaps be carrying. Only the camo-clad drooling rednecks, right? Because at “face value” nobody would recognize a need or benefit to being armed, and nobody would, seeing that need, choose to own the power available to them. This is what grownups do.

    This author is not used to seeing grownups, acting responsively, it seems. And is unnerved by being reminded of a world with sharp edges, and consequences, sometimes, to what we choose to do and not to do. Like kill or die if those are the only options left, which may happen.

  18. I didn’t find anything offensive or overtly political in either direction in this gallery. Just seems like some nice ladies doing their thing for whatever their own reasons may be.

    Really my only objection to the work is that I couldn’t spot the actual gun all of the pictures. I started to think it was some type of a game-book, maybe titled “Where’s Walther?”

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