Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Misogynist Weather

The "implicit sexism that permeates American society" has reared its ugly head again--in a most unlikely place: the weather.  A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University puts forth the theory that hurricanes with "female" names kill more people than hurricanes with "male" names because people "don't respect" anything with a female connotation. 

You probably had the same reactions to hearing about that "research" as I did.  One--did we cure cancer and Alzheimer's so we had time to study this crap?  And two--let me guess, federal grants funded the research of this crap.

The researchers based their theory on studying death tolls from hurricanes dating back to the 1950's and seeing if more people were killed by "female storms" than by "male storms".  They then asked people to guess if they would evacuate a city or expect a storm to be stronger based on its name.  They did not talk to people who actually live in hurricane-prone areas why they do or don't evacuate during storms.  I'll admit that I haven't seen every interview with every person who survived being stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina--but I cannot recall anyone saying that they didn't leave town because it was a "girly storm".  As I recall, they (along with Democrats) blamed their failure to evacuate the city on President George W Bush--because he didn't send the buses, the armored personnel carriers, the boats and the helicopters directly to their front doors to pick them up.

Despite the junk science behind the "research" into storm sexism, there will likely still be calls to change the way we name hurricanes in order to "protect people from their own ignorance".  The obvious solution would be to name all storms after men--so everybody "respects their power" (remember, all hurricanes were given female names up until the Womens' Lib folks protested in the late 1970's that it was "sexist").  But women's groups will likely protest that too--claiming "female storms have a right to power and to be feared as well!"  The White House will likely issue an executive order requiring a nationwide "education program" to teach Americans that female hurricanes demand respect just like their male counterparts.  Such education will begin as early as 3-years old in Federal Head Start Programs.  Celebrities can do commercials reminding everyone to treat the female storms "fairly".  President Obama can say that he "sees his own daughters in those hurricanes".  And the First Lady can lead the social media campaign by tweeting #respectforfemalestorms.

My suggestion would be to just name hurricanes after things that are actually scary.  Would you stick around if Hurricane Godzilla was about to make landfall?  Or Tropical Storm Prostate Cancer?  Or Typhoon Zombie Attack?  Of course, the other option would be to follow the lead of the transgender community and just allow the storms to "self-identify".

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