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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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Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
10 years ago

MRAs aren’t the only weird reactionaries to be inordinately fascinated with gender roles and the Titanic:

http://www.visionforumministries.org/
http://www.titanicsociety.com/home.asp

hellkell
hellkell
10 years ago

The only people who seem to be talking about women’s right to vote (and how it should be taken away) and the Titanic ad nauseam are MRAs. Guys, step in to the now.

Maya Lovelace
Maya Lovelace
10 years ago

Funny how people are celebrating a disaster that killed thousands of people.

MollyRen (@MollyRen)
10 years ago

Funny how people are celebrating a disaster that killed thousands of people.

I blame James Cameron. They decided to bring the movie back in 3D and now everyone and their mom is hoping they can make monies off a second Titanic-movie fueled frenzy.

katz
10 years ago

Tulgey, what weird-ass organizations. The Christian Men and Boys one is particularly strange; are boys no longer children?

Steph
10 years ago

I think the most sensible thing to do, if you were purely in a situation where you had a group of X people and had to choose X-(number<X) of them to survive, would be to go in order of age — children first and then adults in age order. The older you are, the less life you'd be giving up.

Of course in an emergency situation there might not be time to work everything out like this, so a better rule is probably "have enough freaking lifeboats".

mbaxter666
mbaxter666
10 years ago

The evacuation plan at the hospital where I work is to get those who can walk by themselves out first, followed by those who can walk/wheel with assistance, and lastly the ones who have to be carried. It’s a horrible thought, to leave a helpless person til last – it’s a matter of numbers. Many walkers can evacuate in the time it takes to carry one person.

Our new hospital has so many fire safety features designed into the building that we should never have to leave anyone. (We have never had a fire in the patient areas, yet, not even in the old hospital building.)

Magpie
10 years ago

aaaaand lost my name AGAIN!

ozymandias42
10 years ago

Antz: I recognized the sex-positive feminists because they were saying sex-pozzie things, not because they identified themselves as sex-positives. I am fairly confident I could identify an MRA if I talked to him.

I am reasonably sure that a friend of a friend is a PUA, actually. (Low opinion of feminism + idea that girls like assholes + likes clubs + clear cocky-and-funny behavior.)

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
10 years ago

The Christian Men and Boys one is particularly strange; are boys no longer children?

Good spot. We see that repeated again here:

as men and boys on board the ship gave their lives so women and children might live.

http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/news_and_reports/press_release_camerons_titanic.aspx

Note that these are closely related organizations. If you look at visionforum.com you can see how it plays out with regards to the rest of their worldview.

pangea
10 years ago

Everything Anthony writes is so absurd that sometimes I think he is a feminist troll who is trying to make MRAs look as ridiculous as possible.

pecunium
10 years ago

Poetryfrog: The evidence is “The Norm” didn’t exist. After the times of lifeboats for everyone, the idea that the norm had existed became the received wisdom, which it, turns out, is contrary to fact.

Diane
Diane
10 years ago

Hi…I just looked at Anthony’s Facebook. That’s a very disturbing profile picture. I don’t understand: is that his real Facebook – because it lists a high school. Does he have a blog?

Ruby Hypatia
Ruby Hypatia
10 years ago

Shortly after the Titanic sank, some misogynist journalist wrote an article, “Votes or Boats.” in which he suggested that women should choose between the two. Either give up the idea of voting or give up the, “women before men in lifeboats” rule. I take it the guy was against women getting the vote.

Diane
Diane
10 years ago

Thanks David. Enjoyed your links on the Titanic. Will most definitely read some of your great grandfathers stories online. Goodnight. MadMen on DVR.

jumbofish
10 years ago

Diane, Anthony Zarat isn’t his real name; it’s his “war name,” the war being the war against evil feminists. Not sure why he listed a high school on the facebook page he set up for his fake name, but then again I don’t really understand a lot of things he does.

Really? His war name? So many questions!

What war?
Against who?
Why does he need to change his name if a war starts?

I get the feeling that article won’t explain any of those questions.

cloudiah
10 years ago

I have a nom de guerre too. It’s Buttercup.

jumbofish
10 years ago

Also

Why AntZ?
Is that suppose to incite fear in the enemy? XDXDXD

Dracula
Dracula
10 years ago

I have a nom de guerre too. It’s Buttercup.

Well, she is the toughest fighter.

Shadow
Shadow
10 years ago

@Diane

That’s a very disturbing profile picture

While AntZ has yet to enlighten us, I maintain that it represents the two genders divided by the Mississipi, and the border being guarded by the MS State Bulldogs

Tulgey Logger
Tulgey Logger
10 years ago

I’m partial to Blossom, myself.

kirbywarp
kirbywarp
10 years ago

Naw, Bubbles is cool. She speaks squirrel!

I mean… erm… Look, a squirrel!

*vanishes in a puff of smoke*

vancera
vancera
10 years ago

Found AntZ post about using a psuedonym. It’s about 3 quarters of the way down.

This line from the same post is pretty interesting.

“My brothers were all raised as manginas in a hellish house where sex, guns, and neglect
were used by my feminist mother to break our spirits and our bodies.”

No wonder he doesn’t like feminists. Not sure how feminist child rearing requires neglect and guns. May be he can clear that up for us.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D
10 years ago

This is totally off topic, but some young women in a feminist class started some project at Duke University having students take pictures of themselves with a sign abot why they need feminism- a totally innocent project. Anyway, some people at the reddit MRM and some body building forum (?) got wind of it and the poor women (probably super young for the most part, university aged) have a bunch of trolls constantly at them. It’s bad. So since you guys kind of make a hobby of beating the verbal shit out of trolls I thought you all might be interested in giving these students a hand? here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/WhoNeedsFeminism and here is the link to those asshole body builders : http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=144005391&page=11 and reddit is not hard to find. K, cheers to anyone who cares to help these dudes out!

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