Former NFL kicker Jay Feely took a photo with his daughter and her date Saturday night before the two yoots headed off for the prom. Like so many dads before him, he thought it would be funny to pose pose with a firearm, an implied warning to his daughter’s beau that he’d better treat her well. Thinking nothing of the just-for-fun photo, he put it up on Twitter.
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) April 22, 2018
And surprise! He became the latest innocent poster to find himself on the receiving end of social media condemnation and opprobrium. Not that that’s unusual. Some people seem to have nothing better to do than troll their Twitter feed looking for posts that anger them. It doesn’t take much to stir up the hornet’s nest of outrage.
But Feely’s prom pic appears to have brought even more concern trolls out from under their electronic bridges than usual, no doubt because of the presence of a firearm in this time of post-Parkland hysteria and anti-gun virtue signaling. Even mainstream media outlets took notice.
Trying to use reason and facts to tamp down the controversy, Feely tweeted this:
The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke. My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I was joking.
I take gun safety seriously (the gun was not loaded and had no clip in) and I did not intend to be insensitive to that important issue
— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) April 22, 2018
He apparently hasn’t been paying attention. You can’t argue with or appease the online pitchfork mafia once you become the target of their aggression.
Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date *a violent reminder that I consider her my property pic.twitter.com/RDM7SpXBAE
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) April 22, 2018
Let’s see…Daddy poses for a photo by standing between daughter and her date, while holding a hand gun!? The clear message is what? That you own a gun? You make a strong case that MANY GUN OWNERS SHOULD NOT OWN A GUN!! Totally irresponsible.
— Wayenin (@WeCU12) April 22, 2018
Cool to know if your daughter has any self agency you’ll shoot her boyfriend.
— Ally Maynard (@missmayn) April 22, 2018
Teen Vogue got in on the virtual dog pile, opining that the time has come for dads to stop treating their daughters like chattel.
Sure, maybe some people think it is cute that a father wants to protect his daughter, but looking at the root of these “jokes” reveals far more nefarious themes. The outdated idea that a father must protect his daughter’s chastity perpetuates the belief that a woman’s sexuality is something to be owned — or that it needs to be protected by violence.
Using guns makes it worse; such stereotypes diminish the threat of gun violence by turning it into a punchline. The terrifying reality is that gun violence is the third leading cause of death for American children, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. It’s no laughing matter. In an era where teens are fighting for gun control and school shootings regularly happen, there’s no room for comments that threaten a teenager, or anyone else, with a gun. It’s also worth remembering that gun violence affects women in specific ways; according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation — which disproportionately affects women — increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
There is a long history of viewing women — and especially young women — as property, and these types of viral comments reflect that misogynistic way of thinking. While some people might believe these fathers are just demonstrating love for their daughters by being “protective,” this behavior takes away the agency of the young women involved. Furthermore, this stereotype plays into the idea that women are fragile creatures in need of saving — a theme that has been drilled into our brains since childhood days of fairy tales and Disney princesses.
Many fathers, gun owners in particular, will surely learn an important lesson from Feely’s experience, though maybe not the one Teen Vogue intends: social media a churning septic tank of outrage, hot takes, snarky comebacks and pics of cats playing the piano. Post at your own risk.