I hate pink guns. I hate what they represent because to me using pink as the go-to marketing tactic to make a product “for women” assumes we’re simple-minded (we think it won’t work for us/is scary unless it’s super-girly-blinged-out and pink) and are obsessed with accessorizing “our look” because appearance is everything! To me, when pink is used in this context it infantilizes women and keeps them as weak girls who are less threatening and befuddling. Or maybe it’s because women are so threatening and befuddling that you can almost see the bespectacled men sitting around a table, smoke pouring out of their ears as they ponder how to get women to buy guns, so discombobulated with the terror of it … that the eureka moment is “make it in pink”?
But why oh why can’t they just market good guns to us? Why do they have to be pink? I do recognize that it’s great how manufacturers have recognized that because enough women have become interested in firearms, it’s a market segment worth paying attention to. And I get that pink is a thing because the intent is to be unintimidating and inclusive, not sexist or dismissive. But when chatty industry marketing folk tell me that having pink guns in your store makes it more “female-friendly,” all I can think is “really?” Because while our store does have a few pink guns in stock, I had thought our store was customer-friendly because it’s well-lit, with a lot of cool, unique stuff in stock, the staff knows it’s products, and our prices are good.
One thing I know for sure, however, is if manufacturers are making pink guns, it’s because they sell and make money. So crud. Pink guns are a thing. But why? I’ve heard women buy pink guns to keep their husbands and boyfriends from appropriating them for themselves. I’ve seen men buy pink guns for their wives, girlfriends and daughters in an attempt to interest them in shooting. There are likely women who buy pink guns because they really do like pink and they find no shame in seeing a gun both as a weapon and an accessory. And then there are women like me, who only buy things like pink guns and blinged-out Hello Kitty iPhone cases to be ironic and unexpected. I plead guilty to the iPhone case, but I can’t grasp the irony of pink guns since at it’s heart it’s such an overt, lazy marketing ploy that my sensibilities are offended.
It’s also quite neat that manufacturers want to attract more women to shooting, even if cynically so in search of profit. And women are a robust, profitable market segment. In 2014, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a marketing survey “Women Gun Owners: Purchasing, Perceptions and Participation.” Among the data two things stood out to me: contrary to expectations, pistols and shotguns are purchased by women more often than revolvers; and, women say their firearm purchase decisions are mainly influenced by fit (hand and body), value for money, and intended use.
Fit, quality and practicality? Evidentially, less than 10% of the women surveyed chose a gun due to its feminine color; while in contrast, 25% specifically were attracted to a firearm’s “military tactical look and feel.” Well, well, well. Just where is pink in that equation? One place pink is, is in the info-graphic NSSF designed to highlight survey results. Entitled “Girl Power” it uses a pink and gray color scheme. Sigh (complete with an obligatory eye-roll for using “girl” and “woman” interchangeably). Did NSSF staffers not read their results??????
The thing is, no matter who you are, when shopping for a gun, you have to think about why you need it. Protection, conceal carry, target shooting, or hunting? That will determine what models/calibers are best to consider. And then there’s this very subjective thing of shoot-ability/ease-of-use, i.e. how comfortable is it for you to hold, carry and shoot? I’ll concede that women who are smaller in stature might prefer smaller grips or smaller pistols overall (witness the success of RYOBI Tools in the DIY-market where they are popular among women because they are lightweight for a power tool), but it doesn’t follow that making it pink will make the sale. Or interest her in firearms in the first place.
I think it comes down to this: if you need a gun for protection and select a pistol appropriate for that usage, that fits your hand, that’s comfortable to actually shoot then … fine, I guess if you want the pink version, then buy pink. But since it seems that women buy firearms for mostly the same reasons as men do, and select based upon the same criteria as men, then I wish manufacturers would get it. Guns aren’t deodorant where you can put less of the same formula in girly packaging and charge us more (hey ladies, if you’re still buying “women’s” deodorant, you’re paying too much!). Pink guns don’t need to be the marketing thing manufacturers (or retailers) hang their hat on to get women to buy or be interested in shooting. Because for every woman you lure in with pink, the rest are standing on the sidelines rolling their eyes at you and selecting a firearm from another manufacturer on principle.