We Will Make Meaning Out of This: Women's Cultural Responses to the Red River Valley Flood.

Author:

Enarson, E.

Editor:

First

Date:

2000

Region:

North America

Theme:

Gender and Floods

Language:

English

Publisher:

International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters

Full Harvard Reference:

Enarson, E. (2000). We Will Make Meaning Out of This: Women's Cultural Responses to the Red River Valley Flood. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters Vol 18, No. 1 pp 39-62

Drawing on gender theory and cultural studies theory, this paper focuses on the integration of gender and cultural responses in the 1997 Red River Valley flood, USA. To do this, qualitative data was collected and analysed during several field visits after the flooding. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with women regarding their work before and after the flood, as well as interviews and focus groups with women in flood response positions. From this, Enarson noted that the culturally engendered and often stereotypic ways in which disaster responses are often portrayed through images and discourse was re-emphasized after the Red River flood. Images in books, newspapers and magazines perpetuated gendered stereotypes and portrayed men as ‘heroes’ and ‘rescuers’ whereas women were portrayed as needy, emotional and in need of saving. Analysis also suggested that the floods were more stressful for women due to their increased domestic workload and caregiving responsibilities; this was expressed through mental illnesses and depression, particularly by married women.