Women and Children First? Down with the Ship?

There’s been a lot of debate going on this week about the behavior of the men–both the crew and the passengers–of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship.

Part of the controversy concerns the behavior of the ship’s captain, one Francesco Schettino. Schettino not only wrecked the ship by going too close to the island of Giglio in order to salute an old colleague on shore and show off his boat, he also abandoned his ship instead of being the last one off, as has traditionally been considered the duty of a captain. Amazingly, Schettino has excused his behavior by saying that he didn’t mean to abandon the ship, but that he tripped and fell into a lifeboat and couldn’t get out! Reportedly, when the Italian Coast Guard ordered him back to the ship, he refused to go.

Rich Lowry of The National Review contrasts Schettino’s behavior with that of the captain of the Titanic:

A century ago this spring, as the Titanic entered its death throes and all its lifeboats had been launched, Capt. Edward Smith told his crew: “Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Now it’s every man for himself.” One witness recalled seeing him, probably washed overboard, clutching a child in the water as the Titanic disappeared. A member of the crew always believed it was Captain Smith’s voice he heard from the water after the Titanic was gone, urging him and others on: “Good boys! Good lads!”

But the main point of Lowry’s column is to criticize not just the captain, but all of the male passengers, who trampled over the practice of allowing women and children to get to safety first:

An Australian mother and her young daughter have described being pushed aside by hysterical men as they tried to board lifeboats. If the men of the Titanic had lived to read such a thing, they would have recoiled in shame. The Titanic’s crew surely would have thought the hysterics deserved to be shot on sight — and would have volunteered to perform the service.

Women and children were given priority in theory, but not necessarily in practice. The Australian mother said of the scene, “We just couldn’t believe it — especially the men, they were worse than the women.” Another woman passenger agreed, “There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats.” Yet another, a grandmother, complained, “I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls.”

Guys aboard the Costa Concordia apparently made sure the age of chivalry was good and dead by pushing it over and trampling on it in their heedless rush for the exits. The grounded cruise ship has its heroes, of course, just as the Titanic had its cowards. But the discipline of the Titanic’s crew and the self-enforced chivalric ethic that prevailed among its men largely trumped the natural urge toward panicked self-preservation.

Because of this chivalrous ethic, more men from first class died on the Titanic than women from third class.

Lowry argues that the abandonment of this tradition signifies a degradation of manliness:

The Titanic went down, they say, to the strains of the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as the band courageously played on. It lent a final grace note to the tragedy. Today, we don’t do grace notes. We’ve gone from “Women and children, first,” to “Dude, where’s my lifeboat?” As the women of the Costa Concordia can testify, that’s a long way down.

Meanwhile, over at Slate.com, Brian Palmer has given us a bit of history about the tradition of saving women and children first (a fuller history of this practice would make a good Man Knowledge article on AoM, methinks):

In her book Women and Children First: 19th-Century Sea Narratives and American Identity, English professor Robin Miskolcze chronicled the origins of our maritime evacuation priorities. Until the second half of the 18th century, it was widely believed in England and America that God decided who would survive a shipwreck, so no one criticized men for climbing over whoever stood between them and safety. However, as Enlightenment thinkers began to emphasize human agency, and women came to be viewed as the holy protectors of the family, news reports grew critical of men who survived shipwrecks that killed female passengers.

Three disasters solidified the principle of women and children first in Britain and America. When the HMS Birkenhead went down in 1852, the soldiers reportedly stood at attention while the women and children were loaded into life boats. The overwhelming majority of the men died in an act that contemporary writers called “a piece of pure and exalted manhood.” Two years later, there was a mad scramble on the decks of the American ship SS Arctic as it foundered near Newfoundland. The press branded the male survivors cowards for failing to save even a single woman or child. American morality was redeemed in 1857, when the crew and male passengers of the SS Central America loaded women and children onto lifeboats at the expense of their own lives. Media reports glorified the gold-rush men who sacrificed their new wealth and their lives in a final act of chivalry. The image of captain William Lewis Herndon calmly smoking a cigar as he went down with his ship became a symbol of American seagoing bravery.

In both articles there is a lot of debate going on in the comments between those who think the lack of duty and chivalry shown by the captain and the passengers evidence our societal decline and the unfortunate results of the blurring of gender roles, and those who argue that if women wish to be treated equally in all other areas of life, then these shows of special treatment should be abandoned as well. One commenter on The National Review article posted this poem which was written by Clark McAdams after the Titanic sunk, showing that this debate is nothing new:

“Votes for women!”
Was the cry,
Reaching upward to the Sky.
Crashing glass
And flashing eye-
“Votes for Women!”
Was the cry.
“Boats for women!”
Was the Cry.
When the brave
Were come to die.
When the end
Was drawing nigh-
“Boats for women!”
Was the cry.

So what say you?

Read more:

Dude, Where’s My Lifeboat?” (@National Review)

Abandoning Ship: An Etiquette Guide” (@Slate)

Hat tip to Daniel K. and Mary R. for these links.

{ 124 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam January 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Really? If you are going to risk your life for a stranger, fine, it is very admirable. But to do it for a reason such as, they are female, is incomprehensible. Females back in the day were considered weak, and not as competent as men at handling situations such as these. That obviously is not the case nowadays with women not only having the vote, but being in the armed forces, etc. Who deserves their life more? A frail man or a healthy female?

I am all for children first, they are weaker than adults and the future generation, so yeah, by all means, children first, but why females? It isn’t even as thought the child will need its mother to look after the home instead of the dad as females go out to work.

Btw, whilst reading this you may have noticed I wrote females instead of women, but refered to men as men, because of phrases like this:

“…male passengers, who trampled over the practice of allowing women and children to get to safety first:”

Male passengers, so, men and boys, and if the boys are too young, they come under children. Boys as young as 14 died on the Titanic where women 20+ years their senior were allowed on to life boats.

Love for your fellow man (in the original sense of the term, meaning both men and women) is not dead. However, chivalry is, and feminism killed it.

k January 18, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Respect through actions “Feher helped put lifejackets on crying children as the ship was sinking”

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-57361340-503543/costa-concordia-violinist-sandor-feher-had-passion-for-teaching-kids/

Karissa January 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I think this article (and the source article) conflates two separate issues. 1) Men pushing past the women and 2) Men pushing past the CHILDREN. Quite aside from your position on gender equality at sea, leaving children behind to die is just an f-ed up thing for woman, man, mermaid, or spotted tree frog to do.

On a side note, lumping together women and children like that contributes to the infantilization of women. Which is also not cool, if on a slightly less serious scale.

Heather McCollom January 18, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Equal is only equal if if there are about the same number of each gender in the lifeboats, not if men shove women and children aside to drown! The Art of manliness needs more devil may care scoundrels that have at least some largess and a heartbeat in their readership rather than embittered mysogynists. No fun!!

Reader January 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I wonder what people would say if the captain of the Costa Concordia was a woman. Would she still get on the life boat first since she’s a woman? Or would she be last because she is in charge of the boat?

And what if the cruise ship had all female officers and all the lower positions were men. Should the women still get to go first even though they have more responsibility and rank than the men?

I don’t have an answer, but it’s interesting to think about.

Srinivas Kari January 18, 2012 at 11:37 pm

You are asking people to be altruistic. Altruism is evil. It is not cowardice to save one’s life when one is sinking in a ship. It is natural. You are asking people to go down with the ship BECAUSE IT IS MORALLY AND ETHICALLY VIRTUOUS TO DO SO. You can want to help other people in distress but it is not your moral duty to do so and you are not being virtuous by doing so.You say that you should save the life of others at the expense of your own life.

George January 19, 2012 at 12:46 am

I don’t think it is at all ridiculous to allow women and children first, it is actually very admirable. The practice of saving women first has roots in the fact that women are much more valuable than men in the reproductive process. What I mean is that sperm is cheap, and one man can get multiple women pregnant. It may seem stupid in today’s society, but that’s the truth. As for the captain, he is a coward.

Kirsten January 19, 2012 at 2:57 am

I think that bottom line it is all about giving everybody a fair change during a disaster. When hysteria breaks out men have more chance of surviving because of their physical strength. They are over all physically more capable to push others aside to get into the lifeboats first. This has nothing to do with feminism. You can give a woman equal rights but she will never be physically as strong as a men, that’s a simple biological fact. Along the same line there are other groups that share the same biological treats: children and the elderly. I think a man is a man (and in general a good person is a good person , male or female alike) if in a crisis situation there is more place in his heart than the love for himself, if he can manage to keep calm and save not only himself but some other people in the process as well. So I guess it all comes down to not being egotistic.

James January 19, 2012 at 7:02 am

My head says ‘equal opportunity for all’. My heart says ‘women and children first’. I cannot say which impulse would win out.

Shame on you January 19, 2012 at 7:08 am

For all the men on here who say they would get on a life boat first before women and children no matter what there position in life is, shame on you!!! Good day to you cowards.

Chris L January 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

It’s easy for everyone to be a monday morning quater back..! @ the end of a crisis your actions will “define” who you really are as a human being….!!

Bob G January 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

“Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over.” – Hues Corporation
The captain and crew here failed their passengers miserably and should be held accountable for their actions and inactions both. Being an able bodied male, I would make my decision on who goes first by a physical ability determination, not gender alone. Whoever needs help would be given priority. i would like to think I would help as many people as I could while protecting the welfare of my family first. As for waiting for others to exit the ship I believe that responsibility lies with the captain and crew. Maybe Mark Wahlberg could have done better.

Dano January 19, 2012 at 8:22 am

I will fight through any crowd to stay with my wife and children and protect them well to any end. also the ship didnt sink, just did half a barrel roll….

Marnie January 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

Discussions like this matter because they have a larger scope. If you live you life with the idea of, “every man for himself” which can easily translate to, “why not put another man at a disadvantage if it means a better life for my (glorious) self” you are creating a society that will hardly be capable of functioning. This reminds me of a documentary on an Americans in a Muslim society trying to re-build houses that were destroyed in war. Everyone lied to them. They were overcharged, couldn’t get materials, shorted on delivery, nothing came on time etc. etc. etc. People like Srinivas Kari might think that they live in a microcosm, but

Marnie January 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

accidentally hit enter—but they don’t. Without some value beyond, “ME FIRST AT ALL COSTS!” society ceases to function. As it stands Srinivas Kari is just a parasite, living off the benefits of the moral code of others.

Re: votes. Women are affected by elections. Acknowledging that is not in the same league as acknowledging that women are physically weaker than men and that society is pleasant and functioning when people with power use it for good. I remind my sons that they hold a door, “not because she is a lady, but because you are a gentleman.”

Paul January 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

I’ve only been on one cruise but the thing that struck me is that a lot of the lower tier jobs are filled by Asian men, and when we talked to our waiter he was from Malaysia. He was able to save and send money to his wife and children and could get home once a year to see them. All the references used in the article are US and British standards. In the case of our waiter, would he push thru to make sure he could survive to see his wife and children, to ensure that they could still receive his financial support, or would he slip into the icy water and they might not ever recover? There were people from many countries on the cruise, with different cultures, different standards, different values of ethics. I had told my wife it had been us I’d have grabbed life jackets, jumped off and swam to shore as close as they were simply to avoid the rush and fight to lifeboats. The ship didn’t heave so there was no suction of a sinking ship pulling down nearby swimmers, but it’s likely that passengers didn’t know how close they were to shore. It’s also just as likely that engineering crews saw the water coming in and panicked to get out, if you’re on the wrong side of a watertight door there’s no escape.

Jack January 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

Birkennhead drill is where the practice of women and children first. Detatchment of british soldiers stood on deck of the Birkenhead troopship allowing women and children to board boats and flee to safety. This happened in 1852.

Jack January 19, 2012 at 9:08 am

As a Sailor, Boat owner, and Capt. of a Sail boat/Yacht. Woman and Children, First and Always. Everyone will ware a Life Jacket when aboard and if, I said If, something should happen, the Woman and Children would be the First to get off. I would as the Code of Sailor’s for ever has been to go down with the Ship! But then again, I know how to swim. and I also will be wearing My own life jacket! This co called “capt” should do the Manly thing and KILL himself! Do not make your Family live with the Shame of your SELF!
Upsidedownjack!

Dave M January 19, 2012 at 9:13 am

“not because she is a lady, but because you are a gentleman.” — Well said. My grandfather was a true Gentleman of the finest sort. Chivalry was an ingrained part of my upbringing. I’m ashamed that cowardice has become so well accepted among contemporary society. i pray that my sons take the higher road.

Samuel January 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

I think the crew is responsible for the safety of the passengers, so I agree they should have made sure they got away safely, there’s probably procedures in place for such situations.

On the other hand if I was on a sinking boat, I’d make sure myself, my family and friends were safe, I wouldn’t even stop to think in terms of men/women/children etc. So I can’t blame anyone for trying to save themselves, if the choice was to survive and face repercussions or die, I’d go with the first for sure.

Stan Sweet January 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

I am a man and could care less about women with “penis envy” issues. I have always and will continue assisting the women and children first for that is what “real” men do. I will address feminist’s issues after the rescue/assist.

Michael January 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

My god, what has happened? Not only the actions of the crew and passengers of this ship, but the responses to the article. I’m ashamed, no mortified! Putting others before self is the only thing a man should do. A warrior, a hero dies only once, a coward dies a little bit each day! You cowardly men who would save themselves, are the same ones who will not give up their seat on a bus, or help a child lost in the crowd, the ones who degrade our very essence. Flee this site! Find your place amongst those low lives that lurk on the web. Art of Manliness indeed…

Derek January 19, 2012 at 11:08 am

A few points here…

-Is finding ourselves in the midst of a tragedy the best time to discuss or argue feminism, and otherwise tell women “I’ll show you!” and then push your way to the front? That is rude and crude in a line at the store, let alone when in danger. A real man acts as such regardless of what he thinks of others or what they think of him.

-When you live in a society that wants to emasculate men, don’t be surprised when they lose all sense of what being a man means.

-Of course, this is all aside from the fact that a ship’s crew and captain first duty is look out for the passengers’ safety. You want to be the leader? Fine. You lead by example.

Tom January 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

I think the media’s focus is pulling away from the main issue. Most people got off safely. Most men probably did adhere to a women and children ideal, not all but most, just as I’m sure there were cowards on the titanic that pushed in front of women and children. The difference is then we focused on the bravery then, and now the cowardice. Misfortune sells papers. But def think the Captain should be fitted with cement shoes

Garnie January 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I am, perhaps, anacronism in this day and age, but I hate feminism. It has ruined the natural balance of things for us, and created the mess discussed in this article. Feminism says that I am equal to any man, and should be able to do anything he does. Practicality tells me that I do not have the strength of even my 12 year old son, why should I be considered physically equal to a man? I believe men and women were designed to be partners, each having strengths and weaknesses that are balanced by the other. This constant desire for women to be considered “equal” in everything, has emasculated our society to the point that the founding fathers and mothers wouldn’t recognize it. Would I step aside for an elderly man so that he could board a lifeboat? Absolutely. Do I expect a twenty-something, strapping young man who has a much better chance of survival in the water than I do to let me go first? I do. I have raised my sons to open the door for me, I consider my husband the head of my household. Does this mean I sit on my butt and cross-stitch while I wait for my big caveman to bring home the mammoth, no. It does mean I believe he was created to lead. That is what the men who sacrificed their lives in past wrecks did, they led. We discuss every major decision made, but ultimately, I trust him to decide, with or without my input.

Rachel January 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm

The strong should help the weak, regardless of gender. That means every able-bodied adult should have been helping children and disabled people with their lifejackets and helping them into the lifeboats. A strong-minded person should have *ordered* every able-bodied adult to assist with the evacuation. Inevitably, this means that parents of children would have been rescued first. You can’t push small children into lifeboats without their parents; that would have resulted in screaming, terrified children and screaming, terrified parents. Since everyone was already terrified of drowing, the parents would have to be allowed to evacuate with small children, likewise for caretakers of disabled people. So, I guess with my proposed system, the able-bodied child-free people (of which I am one) would have been evacuated last. Maybe that’s discrimination, but the alternative is drowned children and no one wants that. Chivalry applies to both genders; the physically strong/psychological stoic are morally obligated to help the physically weak/psychological unstable during life-threatening emergencies. That is my opinion, of course. One could make the argument that looking out for your own friends and family should take precedence over helping other people’s children, elderly, or disabled people. As far as feminism, I consider myself an equalist, not a feminist. I’m a martial artist and I know perfectly well that men and women are not physically equal. Men are generally bigger and stronger; women are generally more flexible and agile. Strength and size don’t trump everything, otherwise, weight-lifting would be marketed as self-defense training. But a down side to feminism is that misbegotten idea that women ought to be treated like “one of the guys.” I hate listening to rauncy anecdotes or excessive profanity because so many men think that all women want to be treated like “one of the guys.” I have my own girlfriends and we talk about stuff that we wouldn’t discuss in mixed company. I wish more guys would restrict certain kinds of conversation to when they’re hanging out with their own buddies. I know they do it because feminism has schooled them not to treat women differently, but I do want to be treated differently. I don’t care about holding doors but it’d be nice if men of my generation would think twice before using profanity in front of women. Granted it’s not the most urgent issue, but not all women – even female martial artists – want to be treated like “one of the guys.”

Joseph Sanchez January 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm

As a professional, it is your duty to do your job to the best of your ability. The captain of the cruise ship failed as a captain, and some would say he failed as a “MAN.” In situations like this, when there is such an epic failure in leadership, it is easy to opine on the loss of “chivalry” and how that it is so much more difficult to be a “MAN.” However instead we should not only express the sadness that comes from the captain’s failure of leadership, but we should also rejoice that some men did the right thing and maintained a level of “chivalry” in the face of these times where it seems that it is sometimes impossible to do so. 50 years ago you could be the “MAN” and do the brave thing because “SHE” was the damsel that “NEEDED” rescuing. Now, in today’s society, “SHE” does not “NEED” your rescuing, but you offer it not because she “NEEDS” it, but because it is the right thing to do. To me, that is more “MANLY” than anything else.

Andrew S January 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Round my way, the worst you can do is to call a man a coward. Why, well, we may all have lofty ideals of how we may act in this or similar circumstances, but unless and until we’re actually on that boat we don’t know how we would have acted. We may all have high thoughts, but can we really say with absolute certainty how we would react in such circumstances? The most unlikely men can become heroes, given the circumstances, and the seemingly strong can wither. I think to condemn a man for cowardice before all the facts are known, and most of us not having been in that situation ourselves, is most unwise.

Stewart January 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Not really any mention of the Christian worldview that would propel a concept of “Women and children first.” The axioms of Western civilization are formed by a Christian worldview and so have shaped the thinking of how men are to treat women and children. You are just grasping at moralism or pragmatism or even sentimentalism to a bygone era without looking at the big picture of why we think the way we do. There is a biblical precedent for the idea of men sacrificing their lives for women. Now, again thanks to feminism (which has done some good), we send women to die on the battlefield while men stay home and become increasingly more effeminate.

Daniel Kim January 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Whether feminists are on board or not, one’s behavior is dictated by one’s own conscience and ideals. The time to choose the course of action is not in the thick of the crisis, but in times of quiet and self-assessment. Those who dismiss these discussions as ‘armchair quarterbacking’ forget that what you determine in your heart in the armchair helps decide your actions when confronted with the nasty reality.

Before entering the Promised Land, Joshua challenged his people to choose whom they would serve. In the same way, before I proposed marriage, I considered a number of worst-case-scenarios to help define the limits of sickness and health, wealth and poverty, better and worse. My wife’s extended illness since then did not present a serious challenge to my vows, since I had made a specific decision long ago to honor them.

In the same way, those who wish to be ‘manly’ should carefully and realistically look at what such a path demands, and then choose whether to follow it. It is not my place to demand of anyone else that they make the same choices that I do, but for myself, I would rather improvise my own floatation gear from furniture than take another’s place on a lifeboat. I believe that women are beautiful creatures who are worthy of deference, and children are precious and must be protected. Any man who molests one of these in my presence on the way to a lifeboat will be thrown overboard.

I may not be able to live up to my resolution, when the reality is real and frightening. I hope that my peacetime decision will help me be faithful in crisis.

D January 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Women cry for equality, to be treated exactly as a man, yet when there is a way for a woman to use her femeninity to gain advantage very few refrain. This double standard is irritating, to say the least; however, allowing the aggressive femenists to remove our masculine dignity is the real tragedy evidenced by the wreck of the Costa Concordia. Its true that many women (not most and certainly not all) want to have things both ways, “Treat me as an equal until it no longer benefits me, then treat me like a lady” (as if a Lady has ever been less than equal to a gentleman). The thing about virtue, and honor and dignity, is that these qualities are not dependent upon external circumstance. There is never a justifiable reason for not acting with virtue, honor, or dignity. No matter how someone else chooses to act, it does not justify letting our own honor, dignity, and virtue fall by the wayside.

Alec Moore January 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm

regardless of his actions as a captain, as a man one should always take responsibility for his actions. he should not make excuse after excuse for his poor decisions.

Phil January 20, 2012 at 12:33 am

I have no need for such anachronistic ideals such as chivalry or honor. I believe that my life is as valuable as any other man or woman’s life. I am no Mark Wahlberg, to claim that I would have done the heroic thing when a crisis falls upon me. But I should hope that I have the strength of mind do right by my fellow man if should the need ever arise.

Tom G. January 20, 2012 at 8:50 am

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” – John 15:12-13

All the rationalizations and excuses that I have read, for a man getting into the boat before women and children, are just that. Excuses and rationalizations. Look into your heart and you will find the right answer.

E ray January 20, 2012 at 10:03 am

I would agree it would be best to get the weaker people to the lifeboats first (including elderly) and let the ones who can better fend for themselves go last. But I wonder if it would also be a good idea to have at least a couple of able-bodies strong people on each boat who know their way around boats and the water instead of a boat full of weaker people who don’t know what they’re doing in possibly rough seas (may not apply to the Concordia as the water was calm and they were very close to shore).

Roy January 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

Cruise ships like the Costa Concordia are required to conduct abandon ship drills either while still in port or shortly after setting sail. Apparently this did not happen on the Costa Concordia; at least according to one news report I heard.

The ships crew has the duty to conduct the abandon ship procedures and direct passengers to the life boats and assist children, their parents, elderly and disabled passengers into the boats. The abandon ship protocols will also determine which crew members will enter the lifeboats with the passengers as the lifeboats will also have to be crewed. Further the protocols will determine when the crew abondons ship. It is the duty of the captain and officers to coordinate the rescue effort either from the vessal itself or from their assigned position in a life boat. Modern lifeboats have communication equipment to be used in the coordination of the effort.

It is the duty of all passengers to participate in the abandon ship drills and to follow the instructions of the crew in the event of an emergency. This means getting into your lifeboat when directed to do so regardless of gender or age.

There is certainly room for bravery and sacrifice on the part of all involved. These qualities come from their individual values and are not delegated or legislated virtues.

The crew of the Costa Concordia appears to have been lacking in training and leadership which contributed to the tragedy.

charlie n January 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

You should be ashamed of yourself Adam. I can see you now screaming “DUDE! WHERE’S MY LIFEBOAT!” Yes women have made dramatic gains in the last 100+ years but they’re still angels that walk among us they should be treated with respect, especially in times of life threatening danger.

Rev. Brian Pryor January 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

Women as a whole shouldn’t put before anyone else, but MOTHERS should. A woman who has children who need her is going to get priority from me. The able bodied twenty something whos been texting the whole trip needs to (pardon the expression) grow a pair and help out. The rule should be women with children first. I hope that I would have the conviction in my beliefs to stand by that and give my life if needed to help others.

Rev. Brian Pryor January 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

Women as a whole shouldn’t put before anyone else, but MOTHERS should. A woman who has children who need her is going to get priority from me. The able bodied twenty something whos been texting the whole trip needs to (pardon the expression) grow a pair and help out. I hope that I would have the conviction in my beliefs to stand by that and give my life if needed to help others.

Rev. Brian Pryor January 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

Women as a whole shouldn’t put before anyone else, but MOTHERS should. A woman who has children who need her is going to get priority from me. The able bodied twenty something whos been texting the whole trip needs to (pardon the expression) grow a pair and help out.

Bellaisa January 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I was on the Costa Fortuna not long ago and during the drill they lined us up in order of kids, women, and then the men. (I was at the very beginning of the line and my husband at the very end) – I often wondered during that cruise if that drill would be followed out to the exact way we practiced it or if I would be lying on the ground being trampled…I guess it’s a matter of who is on the ship and how they view the situation.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and while I do personally believe that children and their mothers should get put into safety boats first – I’m not sure that I believe that all men should be sacrificed for the women. I wouldn’t put myself on a boat before my husband. I love him and want him to be safe just as much as I want it for myself.

I don’t think there is an order about who is more important in life. Everyone deserves to survive – and there should be practices in place to make sure that happens.

That said, my mouth was hanging open while I read this article. I can’t even imagine the fear that was felt on on that ship.

Math You January 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

The problem with equality is the way that many people define it.

Many people think that equality means being granted the ability to do something as well as the next person, whether male or female. This is a myth. Anyone who has played any kind of sport will tell you that no one has an equal level of raw talent. There is always someone better than you, and always someone worse, at what you are doing. Sometimes this is talent, but many times this is because somebody worked to develop their talent harder than you did.

For example, some of my friends who are girls are much better at cooking than I am. Because they know that they are best at contributing in this way, they are happy to do it. Likewise, I am stronger than almost all of my girl friends, so when I am with them I am happy to do what I can to make them feel safe in my company. They’ve worked harder to develop themselves in the role of ‘cook’, and I’ve worked harder to develop myself in the role of ‘protector’.

In contrast, I’m not inept at cooking so I’m also happy to make a meal for my girl and guy friends from time to time. And if I’m with a girl who can defend herself as well as I can defend her, I respect that. I will still do my part as a protector because that is still my role, but I will respect the fact that she has worked hard in this area as well.

Equality really means having the same chance to do something as the next person. If you suck at something, you don’t have the right to do it until you push yourself to be competent in that area. It seems that certain women have wanted to prove that they have as much ability as men so badly, that they have hobbled men in their attempts.

And by the way, having the same chance to do something doesn’t mean having the same chance to storm the lifeboats. It means having the same chance to contribute in a certain area. The first definition is selfish and gets us nowhere, the second is selfless and is what we should be heading towards as individuals and as a society.

Junco Partner January 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

The idea that not only male passengers but crew members forced their way into lifeboats ahead of female and children passengers is despicable. Tradition dictates that physically capable males and all crew members (male and female) remain on the ship to assist and administer aid during evacuation. That said, the evacuation procedure should be conducted in the most efficient manner determined by the captain. Which may mean, not waiting for every woman and child to fill each lifeboat. Expediency would be the priority. The Italian captain is rightfully being scorned, hopefully will be jailed with the key to his cell throw away forever…

Jacob January 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Though I think men and women should be equal, there is something noble about men letting women and children go first. There is no reason that that children should not be first, and I fell that women should also be given priority(maybe I am just old school). Ignoring your views on women and children first, it was just despicable that the men could not even move in an orderly fashion. And the captain should be shot of desertion of duty.

D. M. Husk January 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I think the arguments about chivalry and equal opportunity are irrelevant here. A gentleman is a man who holds himself to a higher standard than mere personal interest. The statement ‘women and children first’ belies an ideal about as lofty as they come – it is the statement of a man with the best interests of the future of the human race in mind. There is no idea more gentlemanly.

Rachel January 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I may be a woman, but I’m a sturdy gal who swims fairly well and can stand the cold water much better than most of my friends (as I know from swimming in the Atlantic every early summer – I’m always the last one out while my friends are shivering on the shore). I’m reasonably strong and I don’t panic easily. While I won’t Monday-morning quarterback this tragedy, I doubt very much I’d have been the first one off unless ordered by the crew. In the regrettable absence of any directives from the crew, I probably would have banded together with other capable people and assisted in whatever way I could with the evacuation, deferring to anyone with sailing or boating experience, of course. The important thing in quelling panic is to give people direction. In my various forms of training, I have learned that the best way to snap someone out of a catatonic panic – such as someone freezing and refusing to leave a burning building – is to give them a task. “Carry this water jug out the door. Take this kitty cat down the stairs.” Anything to snap them out of their frozen panic. Since the crew wasn’t doing that, I am sure that some other helpful people stepped in to fill that role. And I would have been assisting them, at least until the danger was too much for my courage, which is hardly infinite.

Ashely Anderson January 21, 2012 at 8:33 am

That was and excellent article. I passed it around to all my friends. I don’t agree with the idea that feminism killed chivalry. A real man takes a stand despite what is going on around him, or maybe because of what is going on around him. I see dikes and lesbian that want to be treated like a man and guess what. They get treated like a woman because that is what they are. I’ll admit that life has made the lines blurry like the couple in England that raise a gender neutral child; “stupid, ignorant couple”.

We have to continue to be men and that is why I love this blog because it is taking a stand despite what the culture is doing. We are still expected to be men like in this situation with the boat going down. So in my opinion step out and shine and be the men that God created us to be. Women can be strong, but they can’t be Men.

Stephen January 21, 2012 at 9:56 am

I think a point that hasn’t been brough up yet (or maybe it had; I haven’t read every comment) is that it is very difficult to bash these guys for pushing past women and children when we ourselves were not in that situation (read: life-threatening). If you believe that you’re in real danger of death, suddenly all of this talk about manliness and chivalry is put to the test; and I feel that a lot of the guys arguing for chivalry would be found as cowards.

Also, as a previous commenter said, with the current emasculation of modern men of which we are all victims, part of me doesn’t blame the men on that cruise ship for acting the way they did; they were set up to fail. Do you blame a child that’s spoiled horribly from the day of his birth for being a pompous prick? No. Now, I’m not saying that it’s okay for such a person to act that way, but that such things are very hard to break because it’s a vicious cycle that the victim is blind to.

Jake January 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I’m having trouble believing some of these comments. Whether or not women, shortsightedly traded their superiority for equality should not matter to a gentleman. Of course the men should assist the women and children into the lifeboats first. You guys who think otherwise should be slapped. Maybe this will inspire some testosterone production: a quote from William Shakespeare: “Cowards die many times before their deaths
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
What that means to you bitches is that, for all intents and purposes, you’re already dead.

James January 22, 2012 at 3:41 am

Absolutely right, Stephen. Which is why I was reticent about my answer. It is very easy for anyone sitting in the comfort of their own homes to pound the keyboard and lambast others. It isn’t so easy to look into yourself and recognise weakness.

Masculine values have undeniably taken a beating over the last century, and rediscovering the virtues that make males into men is a difficult process, with so many examples of failure around us every day. Overcoming these deficiencies to improve ourselves, that is what this website is about, but don’t judge too harshly the people who are simply cleaving to what their upbringing has ingrained into them.

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