Fighting Handguns With Dildos

an interview with the campus (dildo) carry founder

When we found out that the University of Texas at Austin approved a "campus carry" law—which allows licensed holders to carry concealed handguns throughout the university's campuses starting on August 1, 2016—we were about as shocked as you were. In response, one brave woman decided to retaliate against it by creating an event on Facebook called Campus (Dildo) Carry.

Her name is Jessica Jin and she graduated from UT-Austin in 2014 with a B.M. in Violin Performance and a Business Certificate from the McCombs School of Business. Jin currently does freelance marketing and business development work for start-ups in San Francisco, Salt Lake, Dallas, and Berlin, but she's originally from San Antonio, Texas. As revealed in a Q&A session with The Chron, Jin has been threatened online for the event ("People want me dead for a dildo"). She claims that the university has stricter rules regarding free sexual expression and that students would be more likely to receive a citation for having a dildo in their possession rather than a weapon like a handgun.

The 24-year-old has undergone a pretty stressful few weeks since news of the event broke out on the Internet, but that hasn't stopped her or the 9.9k attendees from talking about it. We spoke to Jin over email while she was in the midst of a mini road trip to find out more about how she came up with this bold act of solidarity.  

How did you come up with the concept for Campus (Dildo) Carry? What motivated you to start this event?
Honestly, this all began as a knee-jerk reaction to the school shootings over the last two weeks. It was a simple joke that didn't require much thought to develop. It just happened to hit the nail right on the head, and I'm not going to pretend to take credit for any sort of calculated brilliance. I've now had a lot more time to think about it the meaning of this movement and why it caught on so quickly.

Why do you think that the new campus gun law is a problem? What have you heard students saying about it?
People on both sides of this debate are extremely passionate about it, because they all feel that their safety is at risk. Some feel that without a gun, they'll be exposed and vulnerable to attack. There isn't enough faith in existing systems to keep them safe from would-be attackers. Others feel that classrooms full of concealed murder weapons will quash the free speech that is paramount to the learning and discussion that takes place in university classrooms. They also believe that the potential for accidents, the escalation of stakes in otherwise normal confrontations, and the risk of creating more harm and chaos in emergency situations, completely outweigh the minuscule risk of being unarmed in a mass-shooter situation.
 
I think they're all right. Their feelings are valid because they feel them. But I think the frustration and fear are being misdirected. We are on a speeding train towards a reality in which true equality—where we all feel the same amount of safety and empowerment—means the arming of every single man, woman, and child in America. The possession of a gun gives you power over every person around who doesn't also have one. Their fates can be in your hands, should you so choose. That is not equality. People shouldn't be angry at the universal innate need for safety that has naturally manifested itself in the poles of the debate. We should all respect the desire to feel safe. What people should be angry about, however, is that we're still squabbling about this while bullets keep winding up in the bodies of young people every single day, no matter whether they are in a classroom or in the streets. It just needs to stop. 
 
Thousands of dildos have arrived to fight absurdity with absurdity. This protest has been a lively thought-experiment for America. It's offered us an opportunity to reassess our values and to think twice about what we choose to feel offended by. Of course, it's easy to glean why some Americans would think that a horde of dildos is obscene. However, we currently live in a world where lawmakers and students believe that in order to survive something as simple as going to school, it's up to the students themselves to pack a loaded murder weapon between their PB&Js and economics textbooks. How is that not even more obscene? 
 
We've been told by lawmakers that we simply have to accept and resign to the fear that we all live in. We have to account for our own survival by arming ourselves, because it's become clear that nobody is going to devote the energy to the long-term battle of dealing with the real sources of our collective insecurities. This is so self-defeating, because we're doing exactly what our parents have teased us about all this time: If your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too? If your neighbors have armed themselves because they're scared, shouldn't you arm yourself, too? So now, we're all shoving guns into our backpacks on our way to school and bickering amongst ourselves, and we look like a bunch of dildos. We need to make the decision to reject this reality, and commit as a society to the undeniably painstaking work required to begin the reversal of the fear-based proliferation of gun ownership in this country. We're so much better than this. 

What are you hoping to accomplish with Campus (Dildo) Carry? Do you think it will change anything?
All I did was make a lighthearted joke, but now it has become a serious movement. There is a lot of flash and bang to a Dildo Carry, but the eyes of the world are on UT now, and the responsibility for making this count is very real. I'll be working closely with Gun Free UT to ensure that we can milk it for all it's worth in the coming year. 

Has the UT-Austin administration given you any backlash for the event?
UT has said that they're going to be treating this as an act of free speech, and they won't be doing anything about it as long as it remains peaceful.  

Have you found a dildo supplier yet?! 
I've had so many dildo suppliers reach out to offer support! Some are offering to ship entire pallets of dildos over to Austin. I'm going to have to pick a local sex shop that can store and distribute them, or my apartment is going to start looking very festive. After I survive this media hailstorm, I'll get to work straight away on figuring out how to get a dildo to every student who wants one. It'll be a little challenging, however, to balance making sure that sponsors are properly credited while keeping the Gun Free UT message at the forefront of the movement.