June 14, 2022
We are also the tornado
8 x 8 inches
“The mistake we keep making – the mistake we all keep making – is thinking that our work is done.” – Jennifer Eberhardt, Biased
A surprising observation I made this year during tornado season, otherwise known as “May,” is the use of the color pink to represent a physical tornado on weather radar. The irony needs little explanation. Tornados are brooding, famously greenish columns that drop from the sky, often causing mass destruction onto manmade infrastructure. Pink is assigned to little girls at birth and from that moment on is used as a visual tool to condition them to understand which actions and spaces of society are destined to be their feminine domain.
This visual contradiction illustrates how gendered expectations of women (for instance: that they are more empathetic and nurturing than men, that they prefer jobs that are more related to care, that they are better suited to staying at home and raising children) are intended to facilitate systematic misogyny. Women are not innately more gifted at any of these actions than men. We have been socialized, from birth, to be so.
What women are experiencing today, with the impending fall of Roe, is a backlash against all of the progress towards gender equality that has been made over the past fifty years. The timing of this backlash is compounded by the massive losses towards equality that women have also recently suffered over the past two years. According to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Index, the time predicted to close the gender gap has increased by an additional generation, or thirty-six years, as a result of the pandemic.
Until women occupy equal space in the rooms where decisions are made, the United States will continue to be a society in which women do not have control over their own bodies and Americans are held hostage by inaction on crucial gun legislation.
Women, as the color pink in weather radar shows us, we are not limited to the expectations that those currently in power enforce upon our gender. We also have the capacity to drop from the sky and destroy the culture of misogyny that is quickly being reinforced around us. We are also the tornado.