Among the subtle but very misleading claims made by Evan Osnos in his previously mentioned New Yorker essay on the gun industry is his statement, “The centerpiece of the N.R.A. annual convention this year was the endorsement of Donald Trump for President.”
Actually, the centerpiece of the NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits is always THE EXHIBITS: the 10 acres of booths purchased by businesses representing every imaginable aspect of the gun industry (which is more than just gun manufacturers). The one day I attended the NRAAM this year I walked over 12 miles taking it all in.
Walking the exhibition hall can be not only physically but also visually overwhelming. So I enjoyed looking through the 100s of photos taken by Gun Culture 2.0’s official photographer, Sandy Yamane, to see what I missed when I experienced the event live.
This image of Crimson Trace’s banner caught my eye.
Crimson Trace has been heavily marketing to women, so it is not surprising that three of the five images are of women. The pictures of the five models’ faces show the same determined expression. And yet . . .
And yet look at the different body postures in the silhouettes. Three are standing, but only the male silhouette is leaning in and pointing determinedly. The two female silhouettes are leaning back defensively.
Two models are on one knee, one man and one woman. And yet, again, the male is leaning in aggressively and the female is leaning back defensively.
Like me looking at the 100s of photos my wife took at the NRA meeting, I am sure the ad executives who work these up for Crimson Trace look at 100s of possible photos before choosing these. Are they consciously choosing different postures when they are featuring men vs. women, or is it working more subconsciously so that the aggressive male and defensive female just seem “natural” to the eye?
When examining the portrayal of gender in advertising, I tell my students to begin with a simple question: Would it look normal if you substituted a female model for a male model, and vice-versa? Often times the answer is “no,” but I have seen on at least one occasion a pair of ads that were very similar, one of which featured a male model and one a female model.
This photo shows the N82 Tactical booth at the USCCA’s 2nd annual Concealed Carry Expo. I was actually just taking a picture of the booth, but looking over the photos I took that weekend I was struck by the similarity between the posture of the male and female models in these two ads. You could easily have the two models trade places in the two ads and they would not look any different.