It’s going to be a long time before any part of the country recovers from Hurricane Harvey. Oil refineries were hit, businesses were leveled, and homes were flooded beyond any sort of living condition. When one area becomes affected, a ripple effect begins – eventually this disaster will spread beyond where the hurricane originally landed.
Despite the towering levels of terror and uncertainty about what’s coming next, the citizens of Texas hit by the hurricane are still proving to emerge as heroes, providing help where needed. For example, four bakers trapped in their bakery during the hurricane produced over 2,000 loaves of bread. In addition, a number of boaters stayed behind, proclaiming that they were going to “go try and save some lives.”
There are, of course, other acts of heroism that don’t receive the same attention. Most of them are captured in photographs. Many photographs of heroism within this disaster show simple acts that don’t warrant an entire news article, but still deserve to be documented nonetheless. There’s one where a man evacuates a four-year-old child on nothing but a standing paddle board. There’s another in which a deputy evacuates two children – both carried in one arm – from a house, wading through waters that are almost up to his waist.
An especially touching one depicts Houston SWAT Officer Daryl Hudeck carrying resident Catherine Pham in his arms, and you can see the floodwaters rising in the background. Pham herself is cradling a newborn baby, who at the time seemed to be asleep.
The photo has gone viral after Twitter user Matt Walsh posted the photo with the following caption: “Woman cradles and protects child. Man carries and protects both. This is how it ought to be, despite what your gender studies professor says.”
Social media backlash was swift and immediate, with internet users making satirical posts left and right. Most of them mocked what Walsh’s “this is how it ought to be” phrase with odd pictures, such as a cat resting on top of a dog, or a dog sandwiched between a hot dog bun.
The best retribution came from an actual gender studies professor herself. Christina Wolbrecht, a professor at University of Notre Dame, weighed in on the situation with her own series of tweets. “Care work (for children, infirm, elderly) is necessary for human flourishing & has been traditionally performed by women for free, which contributes to women’s lesser financial & politics power,” she says. “We love to laud a woman ‘cradling her child’ but don’t provide paid maternity leave or support quality child care & good pay/benefits for childcare workers (women, immigrants).”
She successfully manages to deconstruct Walsh’s argument before finishing with, “IN SUM, your rigid and illogical sexual division of labor, & related hierarchy of value, hurts both women & men, the US economy, & the flourishing of society as a whole… [I] realize the poster (who I won’t tag) is a provocateur. I don’t intend to engage or convince him. This is for everyone else.”
Regardless of what any gender studies professor says, discussion of the photo should boil down to this: human life is fragile. During natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey, humans helping each other out, even in simple ways, should be applauded. There are no gender roles about it, only helping hands.
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