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Sexist Backlash Against Gender-Responsive Aid in Haiti Shows Some Men Really Don't Get It

News flash: In addition to food, water, shelter, and medical care, there are needs that are specific to women, particularly pregnant women and new mothers.

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It is not enough to ensure that women receive aid. Women in communities must also be integral to designing and carrying out relief efforts. When relief is distributed by women, it has the best chance of reaching those most in need. That’s not because women are morally superior. It is because their roles as caretakers in the community means they know where every family lives, which households have new babies or disabled elders, and how to reach remote communities even in disaster conditions.

Moreover, women in the community have expertise about the specific problems women and their families face during disasters.

Unfortunately, in big relief operations, already-marginalized people are usually the ones who “fall through the cracks.

None of this sits too well with the men’s rights movement.  Robert Franklin, Esq. has this to say at Men's News Daily:

(A)ccording to Clark-Flory, "women in general will be in need of ‘hygiene supplies…"  Men and boys apparently will not need those things.  And “women often require special care and resources post disaster.”  Men and boys don’t need those things either.  Is that because men and boys are supermen who don’t need help?  Or is it because they’re less deserving of it than are women and girls?

First of all, the piece did not say that men and boys don't deserve aid, it said that women have some needs that men don’t have that  also need to be addressed. Secondly (having hopefully given female readers time to pick themselves up off the floor from laughing) -- apparently Mr. Franklin, Esq. does not go to the grocery or drug store very often or he would know that hygiene is our oh so clean euphemism for sanitary products -- oh wait, that is a euphemism too -- okay, excuse my indelicacy -- it means tampons and pads that women use when they MENSTRUATE (there, I said the word). As a general rule, most of the people who use those products are FEMALE.  But if Mr. Franklin, Esq. really feels that he needs them, I’m sure we can send him a box with explicit instructions on where to shove them.

As for special care, unless men get pregnant and have babies, they probably do not require that assistance either.

Lucinda Marshall is the Founder and Director of the Feminist Peace Network . She is the author of the FPN blog as well as Reclaiming Medusa .

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