How do you defend your fragile masculinity? With a gun! Prepare to throw up in your mouth.
The primary weapon used in the Newtown massacre was a .223 rifle manufactured by Bushmaster, and that is the last time I will mention the massacre for the next five paragraphs. Because if that had never happened, if NO mass shooting had ever happened, Bushmaster’s “Man Card” [site down at present, see screencaps and related images throughout this post] advertising and promotion series would still be indefensibly awful, grossly irresponsible, and plainly harmful.
I do not like asinine gender enforcement in advertising. I do not like it in my beer, I do not like it far or near. I do not like it on my soap: do I like it? Fucking nope. There is no time when any talk of a “man card”, or any implication that one’s entire gender hangs on a purchase, does NOT piss me off. But nowhere, EVER, have I seen it done so nasty, so viciously, dangerously stupid, as it is here.
Let me be clear: I’m a gun owner. I pack heat, I’ve got a roscoe, however you want to put it. And one of the criticisms gun owners face is that guns are just macho assholes buying lethal penis metaphors to cover up for their desperate insecurity. Responsible gun owners raise the counterargument that that’s not so, we are aware that these things are not toys or fashion accessories, they are deadly weapons and should be treated as such.
Well, except the indefensible assholes at Bushmaster, clearly. They’re explicitly selling rifles as toys, as fashion accessories, as a way to reassert your threatened masculinity. You think I’m kidding? The site they have up provides a list of ways to threaten your friends’ masculinity, and lets you inform them that they can have their masculinity back if they’ll consider purchasing some of Bushmaster’s line of firearms. If I were making up a parody commercial to INSULT American gun culture, I would consider that model way too on-the-nose to actually use, but Bushmaster just rolled with it.
This is not remotely okay. You sell weapons as weapons, because that’s what they damned well are. You do not sell them as some sort of cutesy little social one-upmanship dick-measuring thing, because that is not a good reason to buy a gun. Not saying there aren’t guys who buy guns for exactly that reason, just that they shouldn’t, nor should they be encouraged to.
Note, by the way, how fragile they’re assuming their customers’ masculinity is. When revoking your friends’ cards, you can’t make up your own reasons, no, you must choose from their preselected list, including such heinously genderbending offenses as doing pilates, being on a “short leash”, and feeling threatened by… fifth graders.
Your five paragraphs are up. A few days ago, kids that age got murdered for real, by yet another spree killer, another guy in the “danger age” between 15-35, another alienated, unhappy, fucked-up guy whose interior life was so far out of whack that the idea of shooting a bunch of children to death started to make sense to him.
We have enough of these cases now that we’re starting to see some patterns. Most of these guys felt alienated, felt humiliated, felt stripped of their power and their agency, and were also so damaged that the only way out they could imagine was cathartic, even redemptive violence, murder on an appalling scale. It’s still a bit early to say if Adam Lanza followed that pattern exactly, but it looks pretty likely that he did.
Imagine it. He felt powerless, impotent, unmanly, so what did he do? Why, he picked up a Bushmaster rifle to fix that feeling.
Just like the ad said he should.