Before I’m labeled a raging feminist for mentioning that gunmen have been men, I’m telling you I love men but hate machismo. This is a call to purge the world of macho “gunitis” (to coin a new word) like it was hepatitis.
The Gun mystique is glaringly present world over: in every park or city square, there’s a monument mounted on high of some big general flashing his sword or some GI Joe clutching his bayonet. I used to wheel my baby grandson Mendy in Central Park and I made sure to point out (even though he was only two years old) that there was no glory in carrying a rifle, no pride in wearing a uniform. My indoctrination began when I saw his delicate baby face looking up at the fierce military statue on 71st Street and fifth Avenue. A group of bronzed soldiers appear to be falling onto the ground. “Oh,” I whined, “my goodness, look, Sweetie, the soldiers are going to get all dirty; what do you think the soldiers should do?”
Baby Mendy blurted out loud and clear, “they should go home to their Mommies.”
It’s confounding, isn’t it, how some baby boys when they become toddlers, play “bang, bang, you’re dead.” Where did these darlings learn this?
Please don’t laugh and think it’s cute. Even toy water guns should be banned. A young woman I know argued there’s no use — that her kid would substitute a spoon or a stick or something else if he did not have his toy gun. I told her, “that’s fine. Let him shoot with a spoon or a stick — at least he won’t aim with what looks like a gun.”
At the birthday party of my grandson Adam when he was three — as he unwrapped the present from his baby sitter who brought this flashy toy gun all the way from China — I announced aloud, “Nana hates that toy gun.” I did not care whether my testy remark was heard in the noisy celebration; I even held my nose for emphasis as though the gun smelled bad as everyone stared at me.
Next time I visited, little Adam said, “Nana, I hid my gun in the drawer because I knew you were coming!”
“Goody,” I applauded. “Now I don’t have to see that terrible ugh, ugly, pukey gun.” And this time I wrinkled my nose and opened my mouth pretending I was about to throw up.” It’s a start. Better to indoctrinate a sense of loathing instead of raising shaking my head and shrugging off the boys-will-be-boys syndrome.
Notice how “gunitis” creeps into our nice well wishing:Congratulations, make a killing!
It’s terrific, dynamite!
Don’t give up - stick by your guns!
It’s certain, surefire!
I’m not kidding — I’m dead serious!
You’ll be one of the top guns!
You’ll be one of the big shots!
Compliments are spiced with “Gunitis” too like when a guy raves about a gorgeous woman to his bar pals or locker room buddies:
Man, she’s a pistol,
She’s a knockout,
She’s a bombshell,
She slays me!
The NY Times reported that Batman sales were high despite the shootings. “Studio officials in private spent the weekend marveling at the ability of The Dark Knight to maintain much of its momentum in the wake of the killings. The total cost of this PG movie was over 400 million dollars; they took in 162 million. This summer, Warner will release Man of Steel featuring an updated version of Superman.”
What’s creepier is the immediate reaction to the Colorado shooting reported in The NY Times as ”a scramble to buy guns.”
It’s The Great Disconnect.
The cry for gun control, a global keening, could not be heard through the wall of silence that has been built in tandem with the National Rifle Association. There are efforts to prohibit sugary drinks, but there had been no such effort for a prohibition on guns.
Only now, with the massacre of children in their school, has the wall of silence been pierced.
There is an urgency for a quick temporary solution until the crucial day when the sale of all guns becomes illegal except for use in the police and military:
1. Here is my own temporary solution:
OK, guns can be legally sold (go sell, go to hell); however, guns can only be legally sold to women!
(Watch ninety percent of gun sales go up in smoke!)
The regulations would include these rulings:
Armaments cannot be mailed: Metal detectors would be used in the post office as in the airport; women over the age of 21 may buy guns but only in person; the buyers and the sellers will be photographed; the buyer’s personal history will be recorded by police officers standing guard at gun stores – current and past addresses, name of spouse or partner, place of employment.
See, this temporary law makes perfect sense; males are not in need of protection from gunwomen, because for the most part there have been no gunwomen to fear.
2. Bullets should cost a million dollars, says Chris Rock. No one would be able to afford them.
3. My 13-year-old granddaughter, Melea, suggested that psychological workshops be mandatory in high school just as phys.ed is mandatory. Expert psychologists and drama therapists would discern problem tendencies and alert parents so that mental health workers can treat these symptoms before they become the poisonous insanity we have been witnessing.
4. Now, after the most tragic killing of children in the supposed safety of their school, the President had better ban the assault weapons that can kill one hundred at once. The President had better make sure there are required intensive background checks which does not take away (oh, g‑d forbid!) owning guns.
Helène Aylon is an Activist Artist whose work has been shown in MoMA, the Whitney and the Warhol museums. Her memoir, published by the Feminist Press, is called Whatever is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist.
Helène Aylon was a visual, conceptual, installation performance artist and eco-feminist whose art has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum and the Jewish Museum both in New York among many others. She knew and worked with many major artists and writers, including Ana Mendieta, Grace Paley, Ad Reinhard, and Mark Rothko. She continued to create new art and exhibit throughout the United States and elsewhere until her death in 2020.