Monday, February 18, 2013

Sexism in the NRA

In 1972, the federal law Title IX was passed with the intention of achieving gender equity in high school and collegiate sports. I find it disturbing that 40 years later, some still see this as a bad thing. For example, witness US Womens Soccer champion Brandi Chastain's experience at a Sacramento at an event honoring the 40th anniversary of Title IX.  (article)  Even today, media coverage of women in sports lags significantly behind the coverage of male sports.

If that grudging acceptance of women in sports is the status quo in other sports, you're probably thinking to yourself "I bet that barbaric NRA is even worse"! Let's take a look and see...

Here are a couple examples. On the left, is an article about Elizabeth Topperwein competing in the NRA's national matches in 1906. Wait, could that be right? Yes, it was in fact 1906 and this writeup notes that women had competed in other shooting matches for some time. In the picture on the right, Gertrude Beckstrom proudly celebrates WINNING the overall national pistol matches in 1957..

Yes but what about management roles? Surely the backward, benighted NRA wouldn't support women taking a leadership role in their organization. Well, except they did in 1949 when the Seattle area's late Alice Bull was elected to the NRA Board of Directors. 

The pictures above are from the book "NRA: An American Legend" (my review) and highlight the pride the organization has taken in supporting all those interested in shooting over the years, whether for sport or self defense. This has included a North Carolina NAACP chapter threatened by the KKK in the 1950s (link) and a Pink Pistols affiliate in Seattle in 2000 (link). In fact, I was a safety instructor for CeaseFear and a variety of gun rights organizations lent substantial support: the Second Amendment Foundation, Citizen's Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Washington state's Gun Owners Action League, various shooting ranges.

Clearly, there's a lot more to the NRA's narrative and history that the simplistic media offer up to casual readers. I've included some further illustrations from the NRA's magazine American Rifleman below, in the hope that it will provide valuable information to some.Note that these photos were selected by opening a handful of issues over about a half hour...they are undoubtedly the tip of the iceberg.

This screen shot is from a December 1939 article by Dr. A. F. Bokman, describing the benefits his sons and daughter experienced as a a result of a rifle marksmanship program.

These photos are from the December 1951 editions Annual Meeting coverage

This photo from the November 1951 coverage of the national matches at Camp Perry illustrates that women competed very seriously decades ago.

As does this cover from September 1967.

So before you allow the news media to shape your opinion about an organization, please take the time to think about whether their agenda might shape what they tell you about it.

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