I love guys. They’re so adorable. Having grown up with two brothers, I did learn to speak some testosteronian, although I’m not quite fluent as of yet. That skill came in handy once I became one of the few female instructors in the raging dude-fest that is firearms training. Now, there are often times when the guys get to yapping about extractor depressor plunger assemblies (my favorite phrase from Glock Armorer school). And I’ll admit that as a relative newbie, those conversations I often perceive thusly:
However, when guys talk about issues like concealment, I suddenly feel useful again. The guys do make me proud, with their genuine(ly precious) attempts to convince incredulous female newbies that concealing a full-sized handgun is a piece of cake. I applaud their efforts as the women’s eyes glaze over. But then, once the dudes leave, I emit the universal “step into my office” signal, which of course consists of sound frequencies only perceptible to those with lady parts. Once they gather, I can translate the all-important concealment chat from testosteronian to estrogenian:
- Dude Logic: I put my gun on once a day and leave it there. No need to bother it again until I get home that night.
- Chick Retort: That’s because you get to pee through an organic tube and a zipper.
Women are more likely to have to actually handle their gear throughout the day than men are. Obviously guys do sit down to potty now and then, but not nearly as often as women do. And if you’re a woman like me, whose profession lands her in and out of courthouses and school buildings all day, then things can get really tricky. My suggestion to instructors: Have alternate plans available to discuss with your students, whose lifestyles might not mirror your own. Talk about car safes and vehicle gunhandling and all the awkward situations your students will realistically have to navigate as responsible permit holders. Of course there is always the ideal way to do things, but real life circumstances are rarely ideal.
- Dude Logic: Skirts are no problem. Just get a paddle holster.
- Chick Retort: Um, no. Paddle holsters are so melodramatically offset that the gun looks like it’s trying to escape.
I really wish I had a photo of my first attempt to wear a paddle holster. I felt like I had a conjoined twin dangling from my waistline, and that’s probably what I looked like too. Option B: purse carry. Eh, maybe under dire circumstances, like if I were wearing a very formal dress. Otherwise, no. Even assuming I had a proper gun purse (rather than a purse with a gun in it), I’d still give it the side eye for lots of reasons (very slow, less controllable, easily separated, etc.). I’ve experimented a lot over the years, but my solution du jour is Option C: a modified belly band. Bought a plain-jane elastic belly band for 30 bucks or thereabouts, took it to a seamstress for some reinforcements, added a second holster for my double-carry preference, and now I’m good to go, even sans belt loops. The movable elastic hugs the gear nice and close to me, whereas leather and kydex tend to want to bungee jump clean off of my hips.
- Dude Logic: All you have to do is throw on a light vest or an overshirt and boom, you’re concealed.
- Chick Retort: Darn it. I just donated all my fishing vests to the junior debutantes.
Okay, fine, I’ll admit there are some feminine-looking vests out there, so this one isn’t completely testosteronian. Personally, I’d much rather traipse around in a big t-shirt and sweats whenever I can. So usually that’s all the concealment I need. But if I have to teach or give a presentation or go to a meeting, I’d rather not look like a safari tour guide. Here again, the belly band often saves the day for me. Works wonderfully with suit pants. Can be worn either over the pants or under the pants for an IWB-type effect, allowing ladies to wear shorter suit jackets. And the band keeps everything so low-profile that I can even wear it under a fitted shirt. Not that I’d ever wear a fitted shirt. But I am told that women do have occasion to don such garments.
Moral of the Story: Fellas, to those of you who (correctly) believe that we need more female permit holders, more women who actually carry, and more female instructors, keep on keepin’ on. Encourage women genuinely, without patronizing or condescending. When they come into your shop, speak directly to them, not to their husbands about them while they’re standing right there. And if your carry methods work perfectly for you, by all means share them. They might work great for many females too. But they also might not. When women seek out your advice on how they can carry concealed, offer them viable, safe options that accommodate their lifestyles with minimal disruption. That tends to sit better than saying (in effect), “Well you’ll just have to revamp who you are so you can carry.” If I had to become a completely different person that I didn’t even recognize, it would defeat the purpose of carrying, since I’d be much less inclined to defend that stranger’s life anyway.