Written by Mary McDonald.. Guest Contributor
Whatever men can do. . .
This past weekend, my neighbors were having a little family barbeque and invited my son and I over. Kind of a welcome back home for a woman that was working out of town for a couple of months. Also, a welcome to the neighborhood for Ann, who is the new girlfriend of 70 year old Tom, who's lived next door for the past four years. Little four foot nine inch Ann was opening a jar of pickles, finding it a bit difficult until she started banging on the lid to loosen the seal. I told her she should have gotten Tom to open it while he was there. She looked up at me and said, "Whatever a man can do, a woman can do, and usually do it a whole lot better."
Which is true. Personally, with carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis in my hands, I don't mind asking my son (with much larger hands) to open a jar for me. But I also have jar openers and will usually do that myself. I also know there are far too many times when I do what other single moms do -- forget waiting on someone else, I'll just do it myself. But I was raised by a mom who taught four kids, two boys and two girls, how to cook, sew, and do laundry. And my dad insisted we all had to know how to change the oil and the air filter on our vehicles. He taught us enough about engines that we can usually diagnose what's happening, or at least what system is affected, before it goes into the shop. My brothers usually do most of the work themselves. My sister and I usually have guys look at us strange when we explain what's happening, until they realize we actually know what we're talking about.
My dad also taught us how to shoot a single shot .22 rifle, took my brothers hunting, and would have taken my sister or I if we had pushed to go with him. But picking up a big shotgun and bruising my shoulder, like my sister did, wasn't my idea of fun. He taught us all to respect a firearm, something he taught my son as well. Oddly enough, it's my 27 year old son who's taught me more about firearms than my dad. And although my dad's been gone now for six years, I know that I wouldn't have discussed handguns or carrying a concealed weapon with him. It was not something he felt was necessary, but it's something I feel is important in my everyday life.
I equate my knowledge of guns and gun handling to cars. I know how they work, how to fill them with oil, gas, and air. How to change the air filter, change a tire, replace windshield wipers. I like trucks over cars, couldn't really identify different models or some of the extras on cars, could care less about the flash and power. I just want something reliable, comfortable and economical that has the power I need when I'm ready to haul something or pick something up. I could change the oil if absolutely necessary but would prefer to let my son do it -- he's a new mechanic, almost finished with his associates degree in automotive technology. I know how brakes work, he knows the proper terminology, all the parts, and how each works. He doesn't mind getting greasy, I can't wait to wash my hands. I know bookkeeping and taxes, he could figure it out if necessary but would prefer to get someone else to do it for him.
The same principle applies when it comes to handguns -- he taught me how they work, how to take apart and clean my handgun, how to secure it, how to shoot it. I load my magazines, load my handgun, clear any jams, then take it apart and clean it after target practice. I know my gun well, but I don't know the intricacies of revolvers or how to identify half the brands on the market. As a fiction writer, ideas come to me that lead me in directions I never expected. So a new story about concealed carry had me a bit nervous, knowing the story I needed to tell but not having the knowledge to properly explain the situations involving guns. Talking to others on forums or social networking sites, I sometimes feel like I'm totally clueless. And some guys have a habit of making others, especially women, feel inadequate, stupid, or off base. Which is precisely the message I try to offset in my stories.
As women, we shouldn't feel slighted because we either don't understand a subject or don't have as much knowledge on a subject as another person. We all have our talents, and we need to be confident in our strengths while learning to offset our weaknesses. If it means partnering with others, then find a good partner or good group. But when it comes to a handgun, be confident in your own weapon, in how to handle and clean it. Don't allow others to make you feel inadequate because you don't have an extensive knowledge of other firearms. Your handgun is your partner. You choose it based on your experience and comfort level, and not based on the recommendations or insistence of another.
I may not have an extensive knowledge of handguns and gun instruction, but I do know how to weave a good story that involves women. And sometimes about concealed carry. Which means, I need beta readers to read through those sections and explain how to describe something better or correct my verbage, all without getting offended with the correction. Something Carrie has graciously agreed to do for me. I suggest other women do the same -- find others who can help them learn in a constructive, reinforcing environment while sharing their own talents, their own strengths.
And I have to agree with Ann -- anything a man can do, women can usually do better. Something I am finding more and more with sites like The Well Armed Woman.
Mary "Dynk" McDonald