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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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Alex
10 years ago

From red_locker,

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″

From AntZ,

Sweden is a hot bed of feminist man-hate and misandry.

+10 to red_locker for calling it. AntZ, can’t you be a little less predictable?

Rutee Katreya
10 years ago

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

No, you aren’t. You were rightfully deemed a hate group by the SPLC. That isn’t a government apparatus. You know who’s been oppressed by the government? Feminists, when the CIA placed infiltrators to make sure feminists weren’t planning anything terrorist-like (They weren’t). Black people, when Ronald Reagan (And many others nation wide) started passing gun control laws solely to keep the black panthers disarmed. Hispanic people, when the government passes more and more ridiculous anti-immigration laws (and indirectly, the poor, by the same mechanism). Obviously middle eastern people, who are relentlessly profiled as terrorists, even if they are patriotic as hell. The list goes on. You idiots are unlikely to even be noticed except for the few morons you have who are stupid enough to actually do something violent.

Dvärghundspossen
Dvärghundspossen
10 years ago

I’m from Sweden. Does that make me a feminazi? S:-/

Poetryfrog
Poetryfrog
10 years ago

Thanks for the thought-provoking post, David.

But what do you guys think of the norm “women and children first”? I watched Titanic as a kid and couldn’t help but think that the situation was painfully unfair. This study shows that the norm didn’t usually help the survival odds of these two groups, but it doesn’t change the fact that the norm existed in the first place.

I think that today the situation should be children and their caregivers first (why in the world would you give mothers a privilege over fathers?) and adult people regardless of their gender second. (If you think that women are always the primary caretakers of children, “women and children” would make sense, but that’s hardly the case today.)

cloudiah
10 years ago

Pot dispensaries aren’t the best example of government oppression, although the fact the government is going after them now does make me scratch my head in bewilderment.

Here are some legitimate examples of government oppression of people who nonetheless stuck their necks out to fight back:

Jim Crow laws.

And we can’t forget Bull Connor:

In the Colorado labor wars, the government took the side of mine owners against striking workers.

The CIA cooperated with the South African government to arrest and imprison Nelson Mandela.

The people in these examples faced REAL oppression and showed REAL courage. MRAs troll the internet anonymously.

cloudiah
10 years ago

Ninja’d by Rutee, who said it better.

Dev
Dev
10 years ago

Wow, your great-grandpa was a rich Titanic-riding writer who knew John Jacob Astor! While it’s a terrible shame that he died, it must be said that you have some bitchin’ family history. But already I can hear the voices of obsessive MRAs, saying “ohhhh, that Futrelle, what a mangina, his great-grandpa died because of dirty feminists but he’s still on THEIR SIDE!! He’s probably just in it for the pussy, anyway!!” After all, there is nothing they can’t twist around to make it ugly and misogynistic.

Anyway, that kid with the boats is completely awesome! It’s a shame he never posted the second part.

karalora
10 years ago

Proof of Swedish misandry!

http://satwcomic.com/talk-to-me-1

talacaris
10 years ago

I’m from Sweden. Does that make me a feminazi? S:-/

Utan tvekan 🙂

And still I think men’s rights are better in Sweden than the US, with paid paternal leave, less prison rape..

indifferentsky
10 years ago

First, I can’t get over David’s family history, this is the first I’m hearing of it. And the fact that he exists to burn MRA ass due to one of the historical incidents that burns MRA ass, just smolders it, is something I will be genuflecting on for this entire day, no doubt. There needs to be a movie. If someone makes a Mississippi Burning type movie about his group of whacked paranoids…. It should start on the Titanic. The audience will be like wat? Then the whole concept can be introduced or whatever, and then the smackdown of mrm in later years, and the domino effect of SPLC taking notice, (we’re still in the middle of the story), but the descendant of a women and children first thing on the scene to be a thorn in their sides.
And for the doods in the MRM learning of his shocking relevation today, wow, this news is going to hit them like a ton of bricks on a freight train (hee last mbz entry ref)

Someone posted this link discussed in the OP in the manboobz comments a few threads ago and I checked it out,. As soon as I saw “Sweden” I thought DIS MISSED. out of hand. I’ve seen it too many times. Those terrible Swede man haters. Just a side note. A few years back, Sweden with their feminist government and all had a rape handling problem that was so bad it made the Amnesty International radar. I don’t know if they’ve made improvements since then. But I guess if you got raped in Sweden, fuggedaboutit. Cops would not even log your call in many cases.

So clearly the feminazis have SUCH a hold on every one. Not. And I don’t think that’s any kind of backlash, and even if it was, that’s just proof of some horrible men’s characters. I wouldn’t want to own that behavior for my gender, I’ll tell you that much.

http://www.thelocal.se/19124/20090428/
From the article. “Young (drunk) women, in particular, have problems fulfilling the stereotypical role of the ‘ideal victim’, with the consequence that neither rapes within intimate relationships nor ‘date rapes’ involving teenage girls result in legal action.”

Wow, so feminist.

“In its conclusion, Amnesty blames “deeply rooted patriarchal gender norms” of Swedish family life and sexual relationships as a “major societal flaw” and a reason for the continued prevalence of violence against women in Sweden.”

I can no longer find the original lambasting of Sweden on the AI site by a simple search I have tried 🙁 frustrating.

Ok, sorry for the tangent, but I fail to see how Sweden is entirely feminist, just because they have decent feminist presence and still, obviously a long way to go. Clearly any visible feminism at all is a huge threat to people. We should be writing those cliche metaphor screeds about how everyone is scared of us, lol.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
10 years ago

@karalora:

You mean, of course…

Proof of Pokemon misandry!

blitzgal
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″

LOL. Anthony Zarat proves yet again that he doesn’t bother to read the comments before posting.

Joanna
10 years ago

It was 100 years ago! Get the fuck over it!

indifferentsky
10 years ago

“Returning from Europe aboard the RMS Titanic, Futrelle, a first-cabin passenger, refused to board a lifeboat insisting his wife board instead until the point of forcing her in.”

I’m touched and angry. Leave it to the men’s rights lunatics to SUCK all the humanity out of a situation. There are several people I would rather live other than me. There are people that I would be tortured thinking about as they perished had I lived. Jacques did not do what he did because he was “enormously well bred” (David Niven, Murder By Death), it’s because he loved his family so much that he could not bear him surviving their demise, to live after they had suffered and died that kind of panicked perhaps slow death.

I already have PTSD I could not take a daily flashback of my children or loved ones drowning while I “got away”. That would be hell, I’d rather not be here.

karalora
10 years ago

@kirbywarp

Proof of Swedish Pokemon misandry!

Intersectionality!

Anthony Zarat
10 years ago

@Joanna

Are you talking to yourself? Anyway, how would you react to a man telling you “get the fuck over women’s suffrage, it was 102 years ago!”

Joanna
10 years ago

@Anthony: I am over it O.o That is I don’t blame all men everywhere today for what happened 100 years ago.

Quackers
Quackers
10 years ago

What Joanna says. And realize when you MRAs then turn around and tell us to shut up about the vote you look like massive hypocritical idiots. Not that you don’t already though…

Quackers
Quackers
10 years ago

AntZ you think feminists talk about the vote nonstop like you fuckwits do about the Titanic? you’re dumber than I thought.

indifferentsky
10 years ago

Zarat, why don’t you talk to people that have addressed your concerns here instead of picking some comment that doesn’t even really mean anything (no offense I’m sure that person might admit to that). Was probably even an ironic response to things that poster has read that angered her, maybe in the context of racism.

Joanna
10 years ago

Besides, men either volunteered to stay behind or were asked to stay behind by other men. I doubt women were ok with having their husbands or male relatives sacrificing themselves like that.

darksidecat
10 years ago

I’ll bet more people starved to death that year in the U.S. than died in the titanic, but, wait, forgive me for thinking that people other than rich white dudes dying is tragic.

indifferentsky
10 years ago

Besides the fact that her comment does actually make sense considering gender roles were MUCH different then and to widen the scope of that time period and include all of reality, things were looking much better for men in general. I hate those kinds of discussions though because I do think lower class men are treated, and were treated as disposable.

But yes, one hundred years later, what is the relevance? And to compare that to the vote, what are we complaining about now that we need to “get over”? I’d like to know.

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
10 years ago

in which the word “selected” playes a central role, is not very convincing “evidence” of anything.

Ah, Antsy, so desperate for a point that contextless criticisms of vocabulary are all he can muster. This truly is one of the leading intellectual lights of the MRM.

I searched the paper for “select,” which turns up all varieties of the word. “Selection” occurs four times, “select” occurs once, and “selected” occurs once. That’s right: in Antsy’s world, six times means a word is playing a central role. All references are to the selection of shipwrecks to be used in the study. Here’s how they selected shipwrecks to be used:

Every year, hundreds or even thousands of accidents occur at sea. Fortunately, only a
few cause substantial loss of life. No official list of the most severe maritime disasters exists. To select shipwrecks for the analysis, we therefore started off from the list Some Notable Shipwrecks since 1854 in the 140th Edition of The World Almanac and the Book of Facts (Joyce, 2007). The list contains a total of 152 shipwrecks over the period 1854–2006. Although the list is comprehensive and covers maritime disasters globally, it is likely that disasters of the Western world and disasters that have gained much media attention are overrepresented. It is, however, the most extensive list we are aware of.
We have imposed five criterions that need to be fulfilled for the shipwreck to be included in our data: First, the disaster should have occurred in peacetime. Second, the shipwreck in question should involve a passenger ship. Third, there should be a positive number of survivors. Fourth, data (individual or aggregate) on survival rates of men and women separately should be available. The two first criteria can be seen as limiting the population of interest, while the latter two renders the sample somewhat unrepresentative. It should be mentioned that information about the shipwrecks and passenger lists are very difficult to obtain for disasters involving ships from many developing countries. This is unfortunate, since several of the deadliest disasters have involved such ships. For instance the sinking of Philippine registered MV Doña Paz and the Senegalese registered MV Le Joola are estimated to have resulted in more than 4,000 and 1,800 lives lost. Furthermore, language barriers have made it difficult to find extensive information about some shipwrecks. As a consequence, British and American ships are likely to be overrepresented in our sample.
Applying these sample criteria leaves us with a sample of 14 shipwrecks. We have added one shipwreck occurring before 1854, HMS Birkenhead (1852), since the Birkenhead is often referred to as giving rise to the expression ‘women and children first’. Moreover, we have added two shipwrecks that have taken place after year 2006: MS Princess of the Stars (2008) and MV Bulgaria (2011). We have also added RMS Lusitania, despite occurring in wartimes, since it has been analyzed in previous research. In total, we have a sample consisting of 18 shipwrecks, whereof only RMS Titanic and RMS Lusitania have previously been systematically investigated with respect to individual and social determinants of survival.
Individual level data for each shipwreck have been collected from the ship’s passenger and crew lists. 5 of the lists are obtained from books, 4 from official sources, such as e.g. inquiry commissions or government authorities, 7 from web sites and 2 are collected from newspaper articles. It difficult to say which source is most reliable. Logbooks and ship records have often been lost in the wreck, especially in earlier years. Moreover, it takes time to establish accounts of a maritime disaster. As a consequence, we have used the latest source available. The main sources have been cross-checked with other sources whenever possible.
We only include persons who have been confirmed to have been on board the ship at the time of the accident, or put differently, only those persons appearing in the particular passenger and crew lists. As a consequence, the total number of passengers, as well as the number of survivors and deceased, sometimes differs from the numbers appearing in other references.
We have individual level data for 17 of the shipwrecks. For the Admiral Nakhimov there are aggregate data on the number of male and female passengers and crew. Accordingly, we use the aggregate statistics to construct individual level data.

But hey, Sweden is a hot-bed of feminist man-hate and they’re just academics arglebarglesomethingsomething they’re wrong.

Joanna
10 years ago

How about we just have a bit of respect for the people who died that night (men, women and children), rather than gripe over a 100 year old concept of gender roles, hmm?

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