Breakdown: Why hurricane names used to only be named after women

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 12:45 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Today the list of hurricane names consist of both men and women names but this wasn’t always the case. From approximately 1953 to 1979, U.S. tropical systems were only named after women.

The U.S. decided in the early 1950s, that only used female names would be used for tropical systems. It’s not exactly certain why this was the case but some believe that because maritime tradition referred to the ocean as a woman, this may have influenced the decision.

When the storms took on female names many weathermen began talking about them as if they were actual women. Some used sexist clichés to describe the behavior of a storm. Many female meteorologists and feminists activists took offense.

One Florida feminist, Roxcy Bolton, who was credited with founding the nation’s first rape treatment center and who helped persuade national weather forecasters not to name tropical storms after only women,” this is according to the New York Times obituary in May 2017. She didn’t like the that women were being associated with disaster.

Eventually the US was persuaded to make a change because of campaigns by Bolton and other women. In 1979 the US went back to including male names but it didn’t happen without a fight. Many argued that tropical systems named after males wouldn’t be as feared as ones with female names. After the US decided to include male names again an arcticle posted by the Washingtion post in 1986 said that male names don’t convey urgency. Despite the arcticle, male and female names continue to make up the list today.

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