Matt Walsh is a conservative Christian blogger who describes himself as an extremist, “if truth is extreme.” On Tuesday, he sent a tweet that co-opted an image of the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in order to push some startlingly old-fashioned views about gender roles.
And Twitter is not letting him get away with it.
Walsh’s tweet — “Woman cradles and protects child. Man carries and protects both. This is how it ought to be, despite what your gender studies professor says” — instantly struck a chord, inspiring the internet to iterate on Walsh’s tweet in increasingly absurd ways.
The original image, taken by Associated Press photographer David J. Phillip on Sunday, depicts SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carrying Catherine Pham — who, in turn, is cradling her 13-month-old son, Aiden — through knee-deep waters on a submerged road in Houston.
It’s a striking, heart-wrenching image — but for Walsh, it seemed to stand for something more: the true, proper, God-given roles for men and women.
In less than a day, as people found Walsh’s tweet, Twitter users parodied it with their own jokes about the true nature of gender in 2017. They involve dogs and cats, mutant sharks, Furbys, the video game character Sonic and a pregnant SpongeBob SquarePants.
The meme is Twitter at its best: irreverent, artistic and scathing, underlining the flaws in a conservative argument by refusing to engage with it. Instead, the jokes push Walsh’s idea to absurd extremes (just like last week’s equally funny “Fellas, Is It Gay” meme, or the earlier “This Is the Future That Liberals Want”).
Rather than debate the merits of Walsh’s allusion to decades-old, June Cleaver-esque gender roles and his anti-social-justice “gender studies” dog-whistle, the meme lets people throw their hands in the air and convert their frustration into something decidedly more entertaining, galvanizing and cathartic.
And that’s exactly why it’s so funny.
We reached out to Walsh and will update with any response.