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“Babe” is a subjective term. Or is it? Find me a Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue model that doesn’t qualify. Victoria’s Secret’s angels? Babes. Ever since Wayne’s World played around with the word—Babesaurus Rex, Baberaham Lincoln, etc.—“babe” has taken on a playful, post-modern context. A woman can be a babe and still be independent and competent. Respected for what they do and what they are, as well as how they look. But they still have to be a babe to be a babe. Which is why the press release on the group Babes with Bullets, “a ladies firearms adventure camp for novices,” has left my puzzler sore. (Watch it you!) There’s an obvious disconnect between “Babes with bullets,” “ladies” and the picture above. Here’s the thing . . .

I’m all for women learning how to own, carry and defend themselves with firearms. Obviously. The right of arms-bearing self-defense applies to all Americans, regardless of their reproductive organs. And it’s no secret that criminals are not the most gender sensitive souls. Well, they are in the sense that the violent members of the breed consider woman to be the weaker sex, and prey upon them accordingly. And then there’s rape.

So, all in all, go for it. Tool-up. I have. My wife has. My daughters will.

But why encourage women to acquire a potentially murderous means of self-defense while highlighting the objectification of women? Don’t get me wrong: I “get it.” Babes with Bullets is a joke. We are women, watch us shoot, in numbers too big to ignore. Babe THIS you bastard.

For me, it’s a question of context and tone. The NRA’s course for women’s self-defense is called “Refuse to Be A Victim” [promo video here]. That title reflects the life or death importance of the mission. “Babes with Bullets” is, as my mother would say, flip. As in flippant. As in lacking appropriate seriousness.

The organization’s name also stands a good chance of alienating women who don’t consider themselves “babes.” Women who might recoil at the term, feeling resentment at society’s preferential treatment of physically attractive women. “Babes with Bullets” asks non-babes to begin the process of ballistic empowerment by seeing themselves as “babes.”

Fair enough? Yes and no. Yes, it’s the ideal. Self-empowerment shouldn’t be ballistically based. At least not entirely. Anyway, why introduce the issue of physical self-image into this pursuit of personal safety, which cuts across the entire spectrum of age, looks, size and able-bodiedness?

Finally, the group’s name encourages media prurience. What’s the bet the camera crews focus on the most sexually appealing class member they can find? Babes with Bullets? Show me the babe.

I know it’s ironic: Mr. Flip flips off Babes with Bullets for having a sense of humor. So be it. Again, I support this group’s goal in full. I just don’t like the meme embedded in their marketing.

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  1. NOTE: Comment reposted after being accidently deleted due to server move. Thank you, Mr. Farago for inviting me to repost.

    You probably should do a little more research before making blanket statements. You are under the misapprehension that Babes with Bullets is an organization dedicated to teaching women self-defense with guns, comparing it to the NRA’s “Refuse to be a Victim” program. BWB’s focus is not on self-defense, although all of the skills I learned, from some of the best women shooters in the country, helped me tremendously in my CCW training, the most important of which are safe gun handling skills. Shooting guns isn’t always the serious business of life and death. Sometimes it’s just for FUN.

    A quick look at the BWB website (which any woman would do if considering attending one of these camps) is enough to assure any woman that she need not be a “Babe” (by your definition, anyway) to attend and feel comfortable at one of these camps. These camps have gone a long way to introduce hundreds of women of all different backgrounds, ages, and physical abilities to the wonderful world of shooting guns. These camps build comradeship, challenge comfort zones, and teach safe gun handling skills.

    The word “Babe” in “Babes With Bullets” IS in fun, and embraces the “Babe” in every woman whether she be 80 or 18, a model for SI, a mother of six, a member of her police SWAT team, or an expert in nuclear fission. Smart women today do not let themselves be defined by terms from strictly male points of view.

  2. I agree with Amanda. It is not right to make a blanket statement about the camp without actually witnessing a camp. Kind of like how a reporter shouldn't write an article without interviewing a resource.
    I attended a BWB class. The focus was not only safe gun handling skills, but also to prepare for competitive shooting. Like Amanda said, shooting is FUN, it isn't always life or death. I learned how to score a match, as well as the commands and terms I may hear while at a match. After taking this class, I know what to expect when I attend my first match.

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