U.S.-focused Sandy coverage indicative of media ethnocentricity

Homes underwater in Haiti after Hurrican Sandy. AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery via ABC News.

Look, I’m from South Jersey. I understand that the storm has been devastating to a ton of people all along the East Coast. But if I were to take most media coverage at face value, that’s just about the ONLY places I’d know have been hit.

While media coverage has harped on those affected in the U.S. including blackouts in lower Manhattan and blown away boardwalks in Atlantic City (all terrible products of the storm), in fact,  that the storm has killed at least 69 people thus far in Caribbean countries, including Cuba and Haiti. The storm also hit the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. According to the AP, Sandy hit Haiti hard, killing over 50 people and compounding the damage from the 2010 earthquake.

Think the storm isn’t an explicitly feminist issue? Think again. Climate change is finally being linked to Sandy along with a slew of recent storms, and the WHO among others have repeatedly confirmed that many of the health risks that are likely to be affected by ongoing climate change show vast gender differentials. Globally, natural disasters such as droughts, floods and storms kill more women than men, with women and children about 14 times more likely to die than men during natural disasters. These also tend to kill women at a younger age.

And as a post on the Feminist Peace Network points out, in the aftermath of any weather disaster, women often face different needs than men. Women who may have already been living in some kind of an abusive situation become more vulnerable when their homes or livelihoods are at risk.

My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by this brutal storm. While there’s something to be said for embracing community during times of difficulty, let’s also remember that our community should extend wider than our Brooklyn block or east coast bubble.

Here’s a page with more information on how to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, in your local neighborhood and around the world.

Related links:

Hurricane Sandy link roundup and open thread

Finally, SOMEONE has the guts to blame Sandy on the gays

What Romney would do about Hurricane Sandy: not much

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