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The Semiotics of the Pink Shotgun - Huck Finn on Estradiol

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Октябрь 7, 2009

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07:14 am - The Semiotics of the Pink Shotgun
Everybody know you can, if you like, buy a pink shotgun?

There are, apparently, several on the market, something I didn't know before I google-image-searched for this entry. This is, however, the one they advertise in the local papers. Its a Remington 870, and that looks like a 20ga barrel on it. Does everybody understand how gauging works?

A digression on the history of lead shot

So originally lead shot was made by pouring molten lead through a screen and down the open center of a several-hundred-foot tower into a pool of water. The screen would break apart the flow of lead (which had a low surface tension due to being hot liquid) and the long fall would both shape the individual droplets into rudimentary spheres, and allow them to cool partially. The water cooled the lead completely, and then the shotmakers would pull it out and grade it according to size. Everything that wasn't a useful size got hauled up and melted again. You see the stone ruins of these these shot towers along cliffs in the eastern part of the US all the time.

Anyway, gauging was a later thing, I think, from the days of cast musket balls. The gauge is "how many spherical shot balls sized for my gun can I get from this here pound of lead?" So the way you can easily find the size of a shotgun is:

1lb (454g) / 20gauge = 22.7g per ball
22.7g / 11.34g/cm3 (density of lead) = 2cm3/ball
2cm3 = 4/3 * pi * r3 so the radius is 0.75*2cm/pi third-rooted, or roughly 1.28cm, so the diameter is 2.56cm or very very close to one inch.

digression over

The alleged appeal of the pink shotgun is that you can use a pink shotgun to take your daughter hunting (or, more realistically, shooting) with you. This makes very little sense to me- taking girls hunting is not new, nor is it radical. Where I live, I would say most adult women know how to load and shoot a shotgun, regardless of whether they've ever owned one, and don't consider it marked as masculine. Most probably grew up learning on their father's shotgun, which was probably the only shotgun in the house. Almost certainly it was not pink.

So really what the pink shotgun marks is: 1) people are more comfortable giving individual ownership of guns to their kids, which really means the idea of the household shotgun is giving way to the personal shotgun (sort of like televisions) and 2) people, meaning men, are becoming uncomfortable with going hunting with their daughters and using the same weapons. It probably matters that hunting with a rifle is not legal in Ohio (shotgun slugs that miss their targets don't keep killing and destroying for another mile and a half the way 30-ought bullets do) and that shotguns come in a much more limited range of sizes and styles. Perhaps insecure men in rifle-hunting states give their daughters .22s or other "light" guns.

Still, I think this is a good indicator of how a certain sort of American man who feels their masculinity threatened take to guns in a big way, and find it unnerving that guns are tools that can be readily handled by girls. So instead of opening up gun ownership and use to women, pink shotguns are actually a way in which nervous adult men are ghettoizing women who hunt, to protect the machismo of the black-and-walnut guns as a masculine privilege. This is sort of like Dmitri Orlov's article about how men who argue for gun rights are talking about gun rights for people who are already trusted with political power (white guys) and not, say, the homeless, or central American immigrants sin papel.

Anyway, short thought, short post. And no, I don't own a gun, pink or otherwise.

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