Camille was no lady but Katrina was a bitch: gender, hurricanes & popular culture
This dissertation, "Camille Was No Lady But Katrina Was A Bitch: Gender, Hurricanes & Popular Culture," uses the history of the hurricane naming process to compare the shifting environmental, scientific, and cultural changes taking place throughout the world during the twentieth century. It argues four major points: first, once gender is assigned to an object and adopted publicly en mass, it cannot be removed. Second, hurricane names have segregated hurricanes from other natural disasters in public consciousness. From "witches" and "bitches" to "monsters" and "menaces," the hurricane in popular memory calls forward explicitly gendered imagery; earthquakes, typhoons, dust bowls, plagues of insects, and other natural disasters do not carry the same sort of gendered associations. Third, by tracing the development and acceptance of the U.S. state-implemented hurricane naming process, it is possible to trace the spread of American gendered terms throughout the world. As illustrated throughout, gendered American meteorological terms are also found in global references to storms proving that hurricane names and descriptions are a form of both ecological and soft-power cultural imperialism. Finally, and most importantly, the socio-political implications tied to name and descriptive choices used with hurricanes have had a profound impact on storm perception globally. Introduced in 1954 by the U.S. Weather Bureau as a female-only hurricane naming system, hurricane names were rapidly adopted by other countries under U.S. meteorological control in the post-World War II era. With fears over Cold War politics both abroad and at home, the feminized hurricane was not just a weapon of mass destruction to be harnessed but also a potential tool of cultural domination through descriptive means. By the 1970s, with a discussion of feminism worldwide, references to the female-named storms helped produce dualistic images of "stormy women" and the "Women's Lib Storm" that were politically useful to men and the state when they felt threatened by feminism. Meanwhile, today's references to Hurricane Katrina, and later Sandy, as a "bitch" on Twitter reappear in blogs around the world. Due to this, the feminization of hurricanes has created and sustained a misogynistic, pervasively American form of vilification of women in media portrayals that continues to this day.