This is a very particular interpretation, of course, of the “war on women.” But Loesch’s own interpretation is similarly particular. Loesch, wearing an Al Bundy–esque “NO MA’AM” t-shirt, once appeared on Fox Business to ask, “What rights do women not have that men have? None of them have been able to answer that question. What rights do these feminists not have that men do?” In one of her online bios, she describes herself as conversant in “anti-feminism”; she participated in the current iteration of #MeToo via a tweetstorm that declared, in part, “If ‘inequality’ was truly a concern for modern feminists, they’d defend, not shame, women for making choices antithetical 2 progressivism.”
At the same time, Loesch has used the semantics of progressive feminism to make her arguments for guns. She talks, often, about empowerment. She talks about “women’s rights.” At the CNN town hall where she sparred with Emma González, Loesch also suggested that guns, were they more commonly carried by women, could help would-be victims of sexual assault to fend off their attackers. (The implication is false.) She declared, during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, “We will not be gaslighted”—gaslighted, that shibboleth of the left—“into thinking that we are responsible for a tragedy that we had nothing to do with.” During the same appearance, Loesch reported that audience members at the CNN town hall the night before had rushed the stage screaming, “Burn her!”—a complaint that framed Loesch not just as a victim of progressive politics, but also as an embodiment of that classically tragic figure of feminism: the outspoken woman, punished by the angry mob for her refusal to stop speaking her mind.
This week, as well, Loesch attempted to co-opt feminist theories of intersectionality to advance her particular interpretation of “women’s rights.” During her CPAC appearance on Thursday, while mocking the American press—a now-classic NRA move, the First Amendment pitted provocatively against the Second—Loesch accused the media of exploiting mass shootings. “You guys love it,” she said, glaring at the conference ballroom’s press gallery. “Now, I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back.”
She added: “And notice I said ‘crying white mothers’—because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend, and you don’t see town halls for them, do you? Where’s the CNN town hall for Chicago? Where’s the CNN town hall for sanctuary cities?”
“Thousands” is false. And MSNBC, last year, produced a Chicago-focused town hall. But the facts here are, evidently, not the point. The rhetoric is. The emotion is. The maternal identity is. The key word, in Loesch’s CPACian call to arms—as it has been in so many of her other public appearances—is “mothers.” Crying mothers. Grieving mothers. Helpless mothers. Mothers who live, as we all do, in a dark world of constant threat and lurking danger—a world of us and them, of battles that will either be bravely fought or ceded to the enemy. Mothers whose interests, in that omni-raging war, will be faithfully defended, Loesch insisted, by the National Rifle Association.