I was at a gun store recently. The clerk behind the counter showed me a gun I wanted to see. He said, “she’s a beauty, isn’t she?” Got me to thinking . . . Why do we assign gender to inanimate objects? I’ve done a lot of thinking and research into this. Well “a lot,” as in “I did a Google search.” And I think I’m on to something. (That’s on TO something RF. Not ON something.) I think it started with, as Glenn Beck would say, the Frenchy French.
Language is a serious business to all cheese-loving surrender monkeys. Name another country that has a cabinet position whose task it is to keep la langue maternelle (that’s “the mother-tongue” to us Amerikanskis) pure as the driven neige, so to speak. This dork is charged with creating Frenchy-French words and phrases so terms like “iPod” and “personal computer” don’t sneak into to daily usage in the land of the baguette, the 4-day work-week, and the August holiday.
What drove me nuts about studying the French language (which is a state requirement, if you live in La Louisianne): all friggin’ nouns have gender. Yup. Or Oui, as the case may be. You might be talking about a male dog and a female cat, but it’s le chien mâle et le chat femelle. Drove me nuts. Admittedly a short trip, but still . . .
So I suppose it’s a natural segue from our bonhomme freres-in-arms that we genderize inanimate objects. But why do we invariably make them female?
This is a more difficult call. You’d think that it’s a male thing. Ooh, baby…come to papa. Lemme squeeze you, please you, and make you spit lead for daddy…
But as it turns out, women do it too. The first girl I dated seriously called her first car Betsy. Why not Barney? or Bruno? I dunno. I can think of a thousand good reasons to refer to a car as female. (Especially when it becomes temperamental or costs me large sums of money.) I can’t think of one reason to emasculate a gun.
But everybody does it. Hell, Daniel Boone, early American hero (and distant relation of just about everybody in the USA who’s had their genealogy chart done) gave his gun a girly name. Ticklicker. Ma Duce. You get the picture.
For men, I think it might be that they’d simply rather think about fondling something female, even it’s made of cold, hard steel. For women, I think it’s more of a sistas-in-the-hood thang. Either that, or Russ Meyer was a genius before his time.
Does it matter? Probably not. But the next time you start to anthropomorphize your firearm, ask yourself, does it really help to think of it as a female? For me, I think I’d rather envision my gun as . . . a gun. An inanimate object might not always shoot straight or work every time, but I don’t have to listen to it get hurt feelings if I don’t shoot it often enough, or get upset that I was spending time with that cute little .380 semi-auto down at the range.