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A Titanic mistake? New research sinks the “women and children first” myth.

Another manifestation of Sink Misandry

The Titanic sank 100 years ago today, and Men’s Rights Activists are still pissed off about it.

They’re not really pissed off that it sank. They’re pissed off that the men on board were more likely to go down with the ship than the women. You know, that whole “women and children first” thing.

Some MRAs were so pissed off about this that they were planning to march on Washington on this very day in an attempt, as they put it, to “Sink Misandry.”

You don’t know how much I would have loved to see this, a dozen angry dudes marching in circles on the National Mall carrying signs protesting the sinking of the Titanic and demanding that in all future sinkings of the Titanic that women and men be equally likely to drown in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. For that would be justice at last!

But, alas, due to unspecified logistical problems this march was cancelled some months back, and so misandry remains unsunk.

Or does it?

For you see, it turns out that the whole “women and children first” thing was not really a thing. Oh, on The Titanic it was. But women unfortunate enough to be passengers on sinking ships that weren’t the Titanic (or the HMS Birkenhead, which sunk off the coast of South Africa in 1852) weren’t able to push ahead to the front of the line. That, at least, is the conclusion of a new Swedish study (link is to a pdf of it).

As Discovery News explains:

The chivalrous code “women and children first” appears to have sunk with the Titanic 100 years ago.

Long believed to be the golden standard of conduct in a shipwreck, the noble edict is in fact “a myth that has been nourished by the Titanic disaster,” economist Mikael Elinder of Uppsala University, Sweden, told Discovery News.

Elinder and colleague Oscar Erixson analyzed a database of 18 peace-time shipwrecks over the period 1852–2011 in a new study into survival advantages at sea disasters.

Looking at the fate of over 15,000 people of more than 30 nationalities, the researchers found that more women and children die than men in maritime disasters, while captains and crew have a greater chance of survival than any passengers.

Being a woman was an advantage on only two ships: on the Birkenhead in 1852 and on the Titanic in 1912.

The notion of “women and children first” may have captured the popular imagination, but it’s never been an official policy for ship evacuations. It wouldn’t be fair, nor would it be an efficient way to get as many people as possible to safety.

Nor was “women and children” strictly enforced even on the Titanic. True, my great-grandfather, the mystery writer Jacques Futrelle, was one of those who went down with the ship, while his wife and my great-grandmother, writer Lily May Futrelle made it off safely (in the last lifeboat). But there were many men who survived, and many women who died.

If you want to get mad about the sinking of the Titanic all those years ago, get mad at the White Star Line for not bothering to equip the ship with lifeboats enough for everyone on it. Blame the captain, for ordering the ship to continue plowing ahead on a dark, foggy night into an area of the Atlantic where numerous icebergs had just been sighted by a number of other ships. Blame the crew for botching the evacuation – for the strange lack of urgency after the ship hit the iceberg, for the lifeboats leaving the sinking ship with half as many passengers as they could fit.

Much like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, Elinder and Erixson’s research has poked a giant hole in the “women and children first” myth. Of course, MRAs aren’t interested in historical accuracy. They’re looking for excuses to demonize women and feminists. So I imagine we’ll be hearing about the Titanic from them for years to come.

Here’s another tragic sinking, of yet another ship without a sufficient number of lifeboats:

EDIT: I added a couple of relevant links and fixed a somewhat egregious typo.

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Shadow
Shadow
10 years ago

I eagerly await the MRM’s response. Maybe their next failed rally will be Sink the Titanic’s Misandry (pay no attention to all the dead women please)

Kendra, the bionic mommy
Kendra, the bionic mommy
10 years ago

Sometimes the MRA’s will say that women got the right to vote in the US in 1920, and that is so long ago, it doesn’t matter. However, the Titatanic disaster occured in 1912, and they consider it very relevant today. The MRA’s are not consistent.

I also think the rule should be children first. They are too small to fight for spots on lifeboats, and it’s not fair to expect them to get to safety on their own. They also have a long life ahead of them. Of course, some adults will also need to be evacuated with the children to operate the lifeboats and care for the children.

abeegoesbuzz
abeegoesbuzz
10 years ago

So, um, what happened with the Sink Misandry march?

MollyRen (@MollyRen)
10 years ago

I said this last time you mentioned Jaques Futrelle, David, but your ancestors were awesome.

red_locker
10 years ago

“So, um, what happened with the Sink Misandry march?”

They couldn’t be arsed to organize something that numerous people, for less “important” matters, manage to do with just MeetUp.com and a local bar.

Alex
10 years ago

Wow, that’s quite a bit of history you’ve got going there!

red_locker
10 years ago

Everyone knows the MRM response will be, “Yeah, well, that study is from SWEDEN, and Sweden is AN EVIL FEMINAZI STATE! You’re just promoting state/woman-made propaganda!!1”

I feel sorry for anyone who hates Sweden THAT much. I mean, come on, Minecraft, Let The Right One In, ABBA (maybe?)…

abeegoesbuzz
abeegoesbuzz
10 years ago

They couldn’t be arsed to organize something that numerous people, for less “important” matters, manage to do with just MeetUp.com and a local bar.

Too much work? Well, with MRAs like the slaveman, who work 28 hours a day at Important Manly Jobs, who can blame ’em! Oh, they’re prolly wanting the feminists to put something together for them — what kind of equality is this if feminists aren’t willing to march on MRAs’ behalf just as we’d march for women’s rights issues, amirite?

I feel sorry for anyone who hates Sweden THAT much. I mean, come on, Minecraft, Let The Right One In, ABBA (maybe?)…

Oooh oooh, and swedish fish and pepparkakor and Ikea (which is horrible in some ways, but also sells hot dogs for a dollar and amusingly named furniture) and um um those clever little brightly colored horsey things? #IgrewupinaSwedish-themedhelltownsoIknowallaboutit

scarlettpipistrelle
10 years ago

How wonderful to know your family’s history – so many people don’t. I even knew a gal who didn’t know her ethnic ancestry. http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-first-class-passengers/

karalora
10 years ago

those clever little brightly colored horsey things?

Dala horses.

Hippodameia
Hippodameia
10 years ago

I think you mean “for not bothering to equip the ship?”

Research has also shown that the cabin boy was always eaten first when shipwreck survivors had to resort to cannibalism, despite the fact that everyone always drew lots to choose the sacrifice and everyone stood an equal chance of being picked.

But I’m sure MRAs will come up with some way to make that the fault of evil women, too.

gelar
gelar
10 years ago

And roundabout dogs!

karalora
10 years ago

^^ Well, of course. No cabin girls were ever eaten first, were they? Misandry!

katz
10 years ago

That is a kid after my own heart. I love his dramatic narration.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
10 years ago

@Shadow:

I’ve got the title of their next rally. “Men Still Persecuted Throughout History (the fact that they weren’t proves nothing!)”

Either that, or “The Titanic was Still Misandry! (other shipwrecks were perfectly acceptable)”

Xanthë
10 years ago

David: If you want to get mad about the sinking of the Titanic all those years ago, get mad at the White Star Line for not bothering to equip the ship with lifeboats enough for everyone on it.

Or for WSL compromising the design of the ship in several ways — the rivetting of the steel plates of the ship is now known not to have been up to scratch, from metallurgical analysis of samples recovered from the wreck in 1998; lowering the height of the internal bulkheads speeded the time it took the ship to flounder; the Morse wireless operators earnt their wages transmitting passengers’ messages, so warnings went unheeded; the binoculars for the watch were locked away in a cupboard, since the key had been unintentionally taken away by an officer who was shuffled off the roster for the maiden voyage… or any other additional misfortunes that contributed to the ship not being able to evacuate all its passengers.

But no, easier to blame feminists a hundred years on. Pathetic, MRAs.

Anthony Zarat
10 years ago

Sweden is a hot bed of feminist man-hate and misandry. A Swedish non peer-reviewed working paper written by an untenured junior faculty and his PhD candidate, in which the word “selected” playes a central role, is not very convincing “evidence” of anything.

Having said that, I don’t doubt that the conclusions are correct. It stands to reason. Also, this has nothing to do with MRAs or the MRM.

Sharon
Sharon
10 years ago

MRAs will probably still find some excuse to blame women for something. We all know how much those buffoons love to rewrite history (I’ve even heard some of them argue that women were never oppressed and that they’ve always controlled society).

cloudiah
10 years ago

Shorter Antz: Any paper written by Swedes is misandry. The conclusions of this Swedish paper are correct.

Huh? And if it has nothing to do with MRAs, why do MRAs keep writing about it?

ozymandias42
10 years ago

Here’s the puzzling thing. I’ve met people who are into sex-positive feminism (I’ve met several fans of Holly’s blog and at least one NSWATM lurker). I’ve met people who are into online skepticism (I actually had a great conversation about Freethoughtblogs and Penn Jillette last night). But I’ve never met an MRA.

It’s almost as if MRAism is rather small…

Anthony Zarat
10 years ago

“But I’ve never met an MRA.”

How would you know? MRAs are routinely victimized by government oppression. Consequently, we keep our identities private.

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
10 years ago

Here’s the working paper:

http://www.nek.uu.se/Pdf/wp20128.pdf

What government oppression, Antsy?

cloudiah
10 years ago

People who run legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries in CA are routinely victimized by government repression, for real, but they are courageous enough to organize publicly. MRAs are not. All they do is troll anonymously on the Internet.

abeegoesbuzz
abeegoesbuzz
10 years ago

How would you know? MRAs are routinely victimized by government oppression.

You guys, didn’t you hear about that bill some state was trying to pass where doctors would be forced to withold medical treatment on MRAs, putting the MRAs’ lives in danger in cases where the MRA’s body contained toxic, dead tissue that could be easily removed with a medical procedure? I think the MRAs were even compared to barnyard animals! Oh, the humanity!!!!!

Psssssssst, AntZ: People thinking you’re an asshole because you say and believe assholish things =/ “government oppresssion.”

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