by Laura Browder
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- The gun-toting woman holds enormous symbolic significance in American culture.
For over two centuries, women who pick up guns have disrupted the popular association of guns and masculinity, spurring debates about women’s capabilities for violence as well as their capacity for full citizenship.
“In Her Best Shot“, Laura Browder examines the relationship between women and guns and the ways in which the figure of the armed woman has served as a lightning rod for cultural issues.
Utilizing autobiographies, advertising, journalism, novels, and political tracts, among other sources, Browder traces appearances of the armed woman across a chronological spectrum from the American Revolution to the present and an ideological spectrum ranging from the Black Panthers to right-wing militias.
Among the colorful characters presented here are Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the American Revolution; Pauline Cushman, who posed as a Confederate to spy for Union forces during the Civil War; Wild West sure-shot Annie Oakley; African explorer Osa Johnson; 1930s gangsters Ma Barker and Bonnie Parker; and Patty Hearst, the hostage-turned-revolutionary-turned-victim.
With her entertaining and provocative analysis, Browder demonstrates that armed women both challenge and reinforce the easy equation that links guns, manhood, and American identity.
“[Her Best Shot] explores the social meanings of armed womanhood in a culture where violence is associated with masculinity. Browder traces the phenomenon from Civil War cross-dressing spies to the present-day National Rifle Association’s female-oriented marketing strategies, demonstrating how public discussions of gun-toting women find each successive era revealing its particular anxieties about women’s sexuality and role as citizens.–Publishers Weekly
There is a lot of fascinating historical information in Her Best Shot, but its most attractive feature is the well-written narrative. . . . It deserves to . . . make the best seller list and would add to both the understanding of, and the continuing debate about, women gunowners.–Women & Guns
Browder’s study makes clear that the portrayal of a woman with a gun has many shades of meaning bound up with race and class as well as gender.–Roanoke Times
Provides fascinating insights into a feminized gun culture perhaps little known to academic readers. . . . An impressive account of women and guns in America.–Journal of American History
Deftly explores one facet of the relationship between women and guns in American history: that most manifest in literary expression and advertising.–Pacific Northwest Quarter”