A few days after the election, Noel decided that she wanted to learn to shoot a gun—a thought that would have repulsed her before. “Guns are part of a violent culture that I wanted nothing to do with and had no reason to worry about. I have friends who offered to teach me to shoot guns over the years. And I scoffed. Why would I need to shoot a gun?”
Now, however, the Wisconsin native is determined to take shooting classes. “I worry that strong women, like many others, will be walking around with an increasingly large target on their back. A target for hateful words or violence. But I will speak out. Again and again. I will stand my ground. And I will defend myself if necessary. And I pray that it is never necessary.”
Noel is far from alone. In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, many women have been experiencing fear and anxiety. As a result, even for many who had previously taken stances against gun ownership, the fear of what a Trump Presidency might bring has motivated them to consider buying weapons for the first time.
Many of these women are afraid for their own safety. They feel Trump's sexist language throughout his campaign has emboldened people to think misogynistic behavior is acceptable. “Trump's election implies consent to rape culture by Americans. I was already sexually assaulted at fifteen. I would rather kill someone than be raped again,” said Maryann from California.
Amanda* from New Jersey agrees. “Despite his blatant admissions of sexual assault, he is the president-elect. Half of the country views his actions as acceptable, so what is stopping them from following his lead?”
The day after the election, Amanda decided she wanted a gun to defend herself, as she suddenly felt more vulnerable. “Jogging on trails without many other people, staying late on the downtown campus in college, and living on my own made me feel anxious and frightened. I kept thinking, 'if I'm attacked, how can I defend myself?'"
Others fear a return to “the good old days,” as Trump put it. Regarding a protestor at of one his rallies, he bellowed, “You see, in the good old days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. They’d rip him out of that seat so fast.”
Juanita was previously vocal against guns, but is now thinking of buying one out of fear of these “good old days.” As the California resident explains, “I'm old enough to remember times when immigrants, Mexicans, and queer people were physically under attack. I remember being a kid in those days when teachers, cops, and grown-ups in positions of authority got away with saying things right to our faces. I remember being afraid. But now it seems a big enough segment of the population feels like Trump has come to save them, and allow them to be openly terrible.”
"It's entirely possible that we may have to defend ourselves against aggressive and antisocial people emboldened by hateful propaganda."
Lilly* woke up after the election and felt a similar dread after she saw that her friend's property had been defaced with Trump's name. Her friend is a Democrat and was sickened that “intentional intimidation” reached her liberal state of Vermont. As one of the few Jewish people in her small town, she is terrified of Trump supporters near her, who she thinks are inspired to go after the “other”. And as she explains, “being a Jew is about as close to 'other' as you get around here.”
These days, Lilly is considering a gun because “It's entirely possible that we may have to defend ourselves against aggressive and antisocial people emboldened by hateful propaganda. I believe they're truly capable of atrocities, or at the least—justifying the 'need' for them, or turning a blind eye to them. I think it may get ugly. And, as my lefty friend with the gun cabinet said, 'If the shit hits the fan, all the wrong people have most of the guns'”.
Lori is also fearful this normalization of hatred will lead to more violence against people who are considered “other”. She is contemplating a gun because “This election season has really brought out the crazies and I don't trust very many people anymore. As a gay female, I feel I am very at risk now especially since this election.”
But it's not just self-protection that these women are concerned about. Gun ownership is also appealing as a way to defend others from racists and/or sexist attacks. “I do not like guns. I abhor violence. But I have pledged to love those who need love, support those who need support and protect those who need protection,” Noel explains.
Similarly Wes, a Kansas transplant, is especially terrified of “the hiring of anti-Semitics, and those spewing racial epitaphs into Washington, hate crimes are going to rise and keep rising. Those that do not have a full grasp of their rights for whatever reason may be/are at risk. I feel as if my having protection in the form of a gun could possibly help.”
“I'm afraid that my gay and friends of color will be murdered, or at the very least, lose their basic civil rights,” Judy from Queens offers as her reason for considering a weapon.
This sentiment raises another concern.: that of the new government’s potential for institutional violence. One woman said, “This might sound absolutely crazy, but honestly, my first thought in wanting a gun was 'I need to know they can't take me alive.' As in, if this government starts coming for minorities like the Nazis did, I will blow my own brains out before I let them capture me. I mean, if it comes down to it. How macabre that such a thought would give me a sense of comfort and control. But I have no doubts of the totalitarian ambitions of the new regime surrounding Trump. I see the whole pattern thus far as being parallel to the cycle of interpersonal abuse. All the psychological manipulation tactics are the same, and the abuse is only going to get worse.”
But when I asked another woman who is considering gun ownership, what she is more afraid of— the government or personal attacks—she scoffed, “Personal attacks from Trump supporters who are emboldened by his victory. We wouldn’t have a chance against the government.”
*Names have been changed
Top photo from Vintage Everyday
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Patricia is a writer, activist, and aspiring journalist. She likes writing about politics, sexuality, and feminism. She is a bit of a wanderer and has lived in Morocco, Australia, and India. Recently moved to Brooklyn, she is currently learning to navigate NYC subways.