Rescue Remedy

Written by:
9 April 2022
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Originally Appeared In

The idiocy of gender justice in disasters

In the last couple of months, multiple fingers have been pointed in a great many directions in an effort to blame somebody or something for the flood response in New South Wales and Queensland. In an online poll conducted by the Daily Telegraph which asked, ‘Who do you think is responsible for the Lismore flooding disaster?’, the majority of respondents thought that the most culpable was ‘Mother Nature’, while the rest of the blame was distributed evenly across politicians, the State Emergency Services and the Bureau of Meteorology.

According to IPA Senior Research Fellow Jennifer Marohasy however, most of the blame should fall fairly and squarely on the Bureau of Meteorology. As Marohasy has pointed out in this very magazine, the BOM has long been failing Australians on account of its mendacious and deliberate erasure of temperature and rainfall records.

As Marohasy says, the experts have been ‘stripping away evidence of past cycles of warming and cooling that correspond with periods of drought and floods’, which ultimately ends in tragedy. Indeed, the BOM said that it got the Lismore forecast wrong because ‘extreme weather events are becoming more difficult to predict’. The problem is that the BOM can no longer predict the weather because it has lost all sense of history.

Perhaps some of the blame should also go to the Australia Institute of Disaster Resilience (AIDR), because it seems to have lost all sense of objective reality. According to its latest disaster advise, the next time that the residents of Lismore find themselves on the roof waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters, they should think of gender. There are many things that the residents of Lismore would be thinking about in this situation, and I can guarantee that gender is not one of them.

In the January edition of the Institute’s Journal of Emergency Management, the editorial team has devoted the entire issue to matters and policy relating to ‘gender justice’, which it believes is one of the most pressing issues being faced by disaster management in this country. It is so urgent in fact, that last year they held a conference entitled ‘Gender Justice in Disaster: Inspiring Action’ which brought a ‘gender lens to critical issues of contemporary emergency’. The organisers promised that it would ‘inspire action at the intersection of gender and sustainable Aboriginal land management, climate change activism, discrimination against LGBTIQA+ people, the representation of women in leadership, violence against women, and more’.

What, you may ask, is gender justice in disaster? Gender justice is based on the fiction that gender is a social construct, and that there is no biological difference between men and women. Certainly, in the corridors of university gender studies departments, anyone who dares to refer to ‘men’ and ‘women’ is considered both mad and incoherent.

Gender justice posits that women are overwhelmingly represented as victims of natural disasters. It also looks at the composition of largely male-dominated rescue services and concludes with horror that minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community are massively underrepresented. And because gender justice is yet another variation on the postmodernist theme that power and privilege is the way in which society organises itself, the AIDR believes that the overabundance of men is a profound societal problem which is in desperate need of a solution.

The clue as to how radical gender theory has ended up in the field of Australian Disaster Management lies in the edition’s foreword which has been penned by ex-University of Sydney academic, Professor Raewyn Connell, previously known as ‘Robert’ or ‘Bob’. Connell is a disciple of the Simone de Beauvoir ‘one is not born a woman’ school of thought, writing that ‘Biology and identity are certainly aspects of gender, but not the whole story. They are bound up with divisions and relationships in society. Gender is, above all, relational. It is a social structure and a major pattern in human social life.’

Furthermore, Professor Connell is internationally renowned for having developed the theory of ‘hegemonic masculinity’, which is almost impossible to explain if you are layman, but it is closely aligned to the toxic notion of ‘toxic masculinity’. The upshot is that not only are too many men doing the rescuing, but also too many muscly, manly men are doing the rescuing. This kind of thinking is all very well in the alternate universe inhabited by university academics who make a living out of repudiating reality, but it’s a different story altogether when this lunacy escapes the confines of academic journals and lecture theatres and is pressed into service as part of the recovery from a natural disaster.

Those in charge of disaster management in this country should think very carefully before pursuing a policy of ‘diversity’ in disaster management because ideology has real world consequences. If policy makers insist on going down the diversity road when it comes to the emergency services, they should prepare for the worst.

It is important to note that the AIDR provides advice and direction to the federal government’s National Recovery and Resilience Agency. It recently came to light that in the last two years the agency has made $700 million in interest alone on its $4.7 billion Emergency Response Fund.  Yet to date, not one single dollar of this fund has been spent on one single emergency.  As Labor senator Murray Watts recently rightly pointed out to the agency’s bureaucrats at Senate estimates, this money ‘could have been used to build cyclone shelters, evacuation centres, fire break and flood levees right across Australia’. Senator Watts is spot on. It could have been used for these things, however it’s being used to poison our emergency services.

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