For six days, Hurricane Harvey has battered Houston, Texas, and surrounding areas. At least 30 have been confirmed dead so far, and still the floodwaters rise. This week, a conservative blogger tried to use a photograph of the destruction for sexist propaganda — which then morphed into a Hurricane Harvey meme as soon as the rest of Twitter caught on. Something tells me the original tweet backfired.
On Monday, blogger Matt Walsh tweeted a photo of a rescue in progress: A man carrying a woman and baby out of floodwaters. In the caption, Walsh added his own interpretation of events. "Woman cradles and protects child. Man carries and protects both," he tweeted. "This is how it ought to be, despite what your gender studies professor says." (Barf.)
Obviously, a rescue is a rescue, no matter the participants' genders. Would anyone in need of help actually turn it down because their rescuer is a woman? For that matter, what about the hundreds of men who were also rescued from the floods?
When Twitter users outside Walsh's target audience caught wind of the tweet, they were understandably frustrated that he would use Harvey's devastation — Gov. Greg Abbott called it "one of the largest disasters America has ever faced" — to promote misogyny and backwards gender roles.
One user pointed out that for plenty of women, rescue is literally part of the job description.
This being the internet, things spiraled from there. People began ridiculing the tweet by pairing Walsh's caption with various photos, and lo, a meme was born. It began with other photos from Hurricane Harvey.
Soon, there were raccoons. Spacedomes. Kittens.
Then came the media references.
Who knows? In the fuure, men might be replaced by robo-bears in the grand scheme of things.
Meanwhile, an actual gender professor, Christina Wolbrecht, created a thread explaining the complicated relationship between care work and gender. It's lengthy, but you can read it over on Twitter.
The victims of Hurricane Harvey deserve all the aid others can offer, regardless of their gender. It may take years to recover from the disaster, but there are plenty of ways to help or donate from wherever you are.