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. Ear­li­er this week, Helene wrote about the macho male and wildlife. She has been blog­ging here this week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

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.