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Women and children, depending on credit rating
August 25, 2008 9:29 AM   Subscribe

"Women and children, first," is a familiar cultural refrain, with its popular roots in the gallant sacrifice made by the male contingent aboard the doomed Titanic. Their sacrifice has inspired poetry, sculpture, male social clubs, and, of course, cinema. Yet, this sacrifice of near-mythic scale was in some respects a myth, with survival statistics skewing well in favor of men of higher social and economic class than children (and, to a lesser extent, women) of lower status.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (70 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
And now we watch as EstablishmentFilter contorts and rationalizes to justify and/or explain this away...
posted by DU at 9:37 AM on August 25, 2008


I'm as rugged at they come
And consider myself a true man
But when the boat starts sinking
Well, ain't I a woman?

It was 20 years ago
When my draft notice was filed
But when the water starts to rise
Well, ain't I also a child?

If the ship starts to go down
And water threatens to fill my lungs
Well, I'm rich and high class enough
To be both female and young.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:40 AM on August 25, 2008


I was at the Maritime Museum in Halifax. Nova Scotia a couple of weeks ago. They have a really great Titanic section and it made clear the statistics you're reporting here.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:41 AM on August 25, 2008


I'm not sure what you mean by the "was in some respects a myth" link. The data from that link shows that the percentage of women and children saved was much larger than the percentage of men saved.
posted by demiurge at 9:44 AM on August 25, 2008


This reminds me of...
Who's in a bunker?
Who's in a bunker?
I have seen too much
I haven't seen enough
You haven't seen it
I'll laugh until my head comes off
Women and children first
And children first
And children

posted by Muffpub at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2008


Melissa Morrison lives in Phoenix, Ariz., and has written for the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post. She has never been on a sinking ship, although she did once write for Sassy.

That's so great.
posted by norm at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure what you mean by the "was in some respects a myth" link. The data from that link shows that the percentage of women and children saved was much larger than the percentage of men saved.

The percentage of men in first class who were saved is higher than the percentage of women and children in third class who were saved. So the "women and children first!" thing didn't seem to bridge class lines very much.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those are just percentages.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:49 AM on August 25, 2008


actually, the birkenhead drill was well-established many years prior to the titanic sinking, but, ya know, the titanic had a couple of movies made about it and all...
posted by quonsar at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the best thing to be on the Titanic was a child. According to the chart, they had 100% survival .
posted by Megafly at 9:53 AM on August 25, 2008


er, birkenhead drill...
posted by quonsar at 9:53 AM on August 25, 2008


It seems to me that the best thing to be on the Titanic was a child. According to the chart, they had 100% survival .

That can't be right, I know there's a baby boy from the ship buried in Canada.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:56 AM on August 25, 2008


It seems to me that the best thing to be on the Titanic was a child. According to the chart, they had 100% survival .

First and second class children (all 30) had 100% survival. Third class children (79) had 34% survival.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:58 AM on August 25, 2008


The percentage of men in first class who were saved is higher than the percentage of women and children in third class who were saved. So the "women and children first!" thing didn't seem to bridge class lines very much.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:48 PM on August 25 [+] [!]


I'm still confused - the percentage of first class men saved in the linked graph is lower than the percentage of either women or children from steerage* saved. Certainly, lower class women and children had a much lower suvival rate than upper class women and children, but men in steerage had a better survival rate than men in second class.

There is actually a very good book on the cultural history of the Titanic, called Down with the Old Canoe; today we generally talk about the Titanic and class, but (as the graph shows) gender and age were more significant.

that's what it was called, says my Titanic nerd husband.
posted by jb at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2008


I had an ancestor who was a railroad baron. He died in those icy waters. His wife and child survived. Matches the stats. Love Bitch magazine, BTW.
posted by kozad at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2008


And now we watch as EstablishmentFilter contorts and rationalizes to justify and/or explain this away...

Well, clearly the stats are arranged such ... wait, wait. No, no ... EstablishmentFilter can't rationalize this one, sorry ... I'm off to look for another thread... ;-)

Funny semi-related anecdote that comes to mind: Just got through reading Generation Kill. Near the end, there's a section where the Marines observe that while they've been fighting men throughout the campaign, when it comes to day-to-day household work in Iraq, virtually all of it is done by women. During the fighting, the Marines had several instances where male fighters used women and children as human shields. Now that the fighting is over, they watch a town's men and boys playing soccer and generally fucking around, while the town's women and girls are scavenging for food, lugging water and cleaning up trash and rubble. The Marines remark that had they been fighting the women instead of the men, the Marines probably would have gotten their asses kicked.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:03 AM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


The percentage of men in first class who were saved is higher than the percentage of women and children in third class who were saved. So the "women and children first!" thing didn't seem to bridge class lines very much.

That link says First Class men had a 32% survival rate while Third Class women had a 46% survival rate. From that page, it seems like gender had much more of an effect on survival than class did.

In fact, the whole point of that page seems to be to stress that the "Women and Children first" effect was very strong on the Titanic, rather than a myth, as this post seems to say.
posted by demiurge at 10:05 AM on August 25, 2008


The percentage of men in first class who were saved is higher than the percentage of women and children in third class who were saved. So the "women and children first!" thing didn't seem to bridge class lines very much.

That's assuming that all of the people on the entire ship made it up to the deck by the time they started splitting everyone up and filling the lifeboats. If some physical problem with the boat made the third class areas more difficult to escape from, it could also explain the difference.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:06 AM on August 25, 2008


When I was in middle school, I went to the Titanic exhibition that was (is?) touring around the country. They showed artifacts by recreating the rooms and passages of the ship - you were also given a small card when entering, which assigned you a person who had actually been on the ship. At the end you find out if "you" lived.

It was awfully depressing how easy it was, even for a young kid, to predict if you lived or not. I was a wealthy white businessman who was traveling with his mistress. Duh - lived. Some of my friends were poor servants, etc, and knew they were doomed from the start.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:10 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Come on, the third class wouldn't even have made it to the lifeboats if an artistic young stowaway and his high class shipboard romance didn't smash the gate that was keeping them in their quarters!

At least, I remember reading that somewhere. A history book, probably.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


If some physical problem with the boat made the third class areas more difficult to escape from, it could also explain the difference.

According to wikipedia, "The investigators also learned that the Titanic had sufficient lifeboat space for all first-class passengers, but not for the lower classes. In fact, most third-class, or steerage, passengers had no idea where the lifeboats were, much less any way of getting up to the higher decks where the lifeboats were stowed." *
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2008


When I was in eighth grade I had to do an oral report in front of grades 5-8, and I did mine on the Titanic. It was a very nice school, and we were very poor. And I remember identifying so much with the people in steerage who were locked in for the "safety" of everyone else until it was too late for them to get to the boats, and thinking about how I was going to talk about this in my speech. "Hi. Blah blah magnificent sailing vessel blah iceberg blah orchestra kept playing blah blah oh yeah -- Here's the way people in the upperclass treated people who were in steerage. Most of them died. The end. Signed, your friendly steerage person." It was the strangest speech I've ever given.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Somewhere in the shadow of the Titanic disaster —still living by the inexplicable grace of God— slinks a cur in human shape, to-day the most despicable human being in all the world. In that grim midnight hour, already great in history, he found himself hemmed in by the band of heroes whose watchword and countersign rang out across the deep—"Women and children first!"
What did he do?
He scuttled to the stateroom deck, put on a woman's skirt, a woman's hat and a woman's veil, and picking his crafty way back among the brave and chivalric men who guarded the rail of the doomed ship, he filched a seat in one of the lifeboats and saved his skin. His identity is not yet known, though it will be in good time. So foul an act as that will out like murder. This man still lives. Surely he was born and saved to set for men a new standard by which to measure infamy and shame. "

A New Standard by Which to Measure Infamy, William S. Burroughs
posted by nfg at 10:16 AM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I’d give Charlton Heston the edge in a celebrity deathmatch with Saddam Hussein

I'd like to go back in time and take that bet.
posted by Lame_username at 10:22 AM on August 25, 2008


Dr. Benway, carrying his satchel pushed through the passengers crowded around Lifeboat No. 1. "Are you all right?" he shouted, seating himself among the women, "I'm the doctor."
posted by Grangousier at 10:23 AM on August 25, 2008


More notes from the Titantic nerd:

My husband notes that, while first class men still had lower survival rates (though not by much) than any women or children of any class, one reason that they are a fair bit higher than second class men or crew is that there
a) weren't that men in first class
b) there were a group of men from first class who purposely went into some of the half-empty lifeboats to reassure other passengers.

He also says that it fits with Edwardian class stereotypes that men in the second class would be more likely to die, because the middle classes were thought to be "self-sacraficing". They died at higher rates than steerage men, while second class women survived at much higher rates than steerage women - which strongly suggests that while many steerage passengers (incl. women and children) could not get to the boats (the ship was a maze, there were locked gates, no one had done any drills), second class men chose not to get on boats, while putting second class women and children on.

But there is also something else to remember - the Titanic didn't have enough lifeboats and did no safety drills, because at the time that was thought to be about as useful as issuing all airplane passengers today with parachutes. Radio was a very new thing; prior to radio, if the ship went down far from land, you had basically two choices

a) go down with the ship
b) die of thirst/hunger/cold in a lifeboat.

Lifeboats were not for saving people at sea, they were for ferrying passengers from the ship to land or another ship if there just happened to be one right there while the ship was sinking. They didn't even really think that they could get help at sea; in fact, some ships didn't have their radios on because they didn't think of a radio as that kind of safety technology. But the Titanic disaster caused a real change in the awareness of just what having radio meant - for the first time ever in human history, a sinking ship could signal for help outside of visual range, and that means, for the first time in human history, it made sense to have enough lifeboats for all passengers, and to run safety drills.

Not that all cruise ships do either; that's the problem with flags of convenience. Naval nerd husband notes that if you are ever taking a cruise, you should check the country of registration; many are registered in countries with lax safety standards and sometimes almost non-functional governments, such as Liberia until recently (I hope the change in government there will mean an end to the abuses of their ship registries).
posted by jb at 10:24 AM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Titanic sank? Wow, way to ruin the end of the movie.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:30 AM on August 25, 2008


Maybe I'm misreading this, but it seems like those statistics verify that women and children did get preferential treatment -- when third-class kids have a higher percentage of survival than first-class men, it's pretty impressive, especially considering that poor people were basically seen as a natural resource akin to coal during the time period.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:33 AM on August 25, 2008


The Walter Lord book, "A Night to Remember," which was researched through interviews with the surviving passengers, did make clear that the folks who were in steerage were in many cases "locked in" and just never had access to the upper decks until it was too late. And no one was really worrying about going down and letting them out. They were no one's priority.

I have a little bit of a problem with the idea that folks who were getting on the lifeboats were basically resigning themselves to death, so whether the seats went to first class men or second class women was not much of a big deal. If that were the case I really don't think the first class women and children would have been put on the lifeboats to begin with. I think it was understood that the lifeboats were something that were very scarce in quantity, and given the desperation on the upper decks that was shown for getting into them, particularly for the last ones to be launched, I think it was clear that the lifeboats were recognized as possibly the only way out of a dire situation.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2008


My favorite spin on this was the slogan of a leather bar in Boystown, Chicago called Manhole:
Woman and children last.
Now the club is Hydrate.
posted by ao4047 at 10:42 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope the change in government there will mean an end to the abuses of their ship registries

The Liberian ship registry, an entity created by the US government to generate some cash for the country, is located in Reston, VA.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2008


I was a wealthy white businessman who was traveling with his mistress. Duh - lived. Some of my friends were poor servants, etc, and knew they were doomed from the start.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:10 PM on August 25 [+] [!]


Except that statistically, your friends who were female servants (travelling on their own in steerage) had a (slightly) better chance of survival than you did. If they were female crew, they had a much better chance of survival.

According to wikipedia, "The investigators also learned that the Titanic had sufficient lifeboat space for all first-class passengers, but not for the lower classes. In fact, most third-class, or steerage, passengers had no idea where the lifeboats were, much less any way of getting up to the higher decks where the lifeboats were stowed." *

That is definitely true, but as I pointed out, people did not really believe that lifeboats could save lives in a disaster at sea (as opposed to near the shore).

And as the statistics show, while there were terrible delays in getting steerage passengers to the lifeboats, steerage women and children really did survive at slightly better rates than all men, and steerage men were more likely to survive than second class men. However, it's also true that for most of the 2 hours of sinking, many people on board didn't believe the ship would sink (thus boats going out half-empty - not because they refused to save people, but because people didn't want to get on).

Accusations of classism just really fall down in this case. Yes, the Titanic was classist, just like every other aspect of the world at the time. But in terms of survival, age and especially gender were far more significant factors and, certainly in the case of the second class versus steerage men, it seems that class was by no means always positively correlated with survival.

My husband would also like to point out that while the film of Titanic is excellent maritime history, it's terrible social history. There is only one example of second-class passengers of the ship - the Irish family. Everything is polarised in a way that society just wasn't - it was very classist, but not so black and white. And, as the link shows, gender did matter more than class, but the movie (fitting with our current colouring of the Titanic) was about class.

I think we should understand the Titanic for what it really symbolised: the sudden realisation of what radio meant to the world, and how a new technology might not be recognised for all its potential until there is a terrible disaster. And yet this one disaster and its aftermath may have saved other lives as new safety standards were adopted.

The Liberian ship registry, an entity created by the US government to generate some cash for the country, is located in Reston, VA.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:43 PM on August 25


No country can "create" a ship registry for another country - that would be like issuing another country's stamps. The Americans may have had the idea and helped them to set it up and the offices are located in the US, but the money goes to the Liberian government (the operation of the actual registry is contracted out to a private company).

But what really matters is that a ship registered in Liberia is subject to Liberian law as per saftey, even if the company which owns the ship is American (or German, or Australian...), and for a long time that meant that there was no legal oversight, considering Liberia didn't have a functioning government or court system. I'm hopeful that this will change with the new president, but there are many other countries which are flags of convenience, and it is a pernicious and dangerous practice.
posted by jb at 10:53 AM on August 25, 2008


The Walter Lord book, "A Night to Remember," which was researched through interviews with the surviving passengers, did make clear that the folks who were in steerage were in many cases "locked in" and just never had access to the upper decks until it was too late. And no one was really worrying about going down and letting them out. They were no one's priority.

That's true, and yet women and children from steerage were still preffered over men from first and second class when it came to getting in the boats. Had they been evacuated more quickly, it's likely that more women and children from steerage would have survived, and even fewer men overall. This was a case when gender (largely though not entirely) trumped class.

My husband says it's a bit of a misnomer that they were "locked in" - they were just gates, like you get between expensive and cheap seats at a concert, keeping people out of the salons, etc, which they hadn't paid for. They weren't planned to hurt anyone. The problem is that it was no one's job to unlock these gates in the case of a disaster (which was bad planning, but not concious -- disasters are crazy, which is why people drill and drill and drill, because not many people can think and plan during the disaster). Also, in some cases, there were actually different routes which were open, but people didn't know about them.

Truth is that the class politics of the Edwardian period were much more complex than many of us wish to believe. They were totally classist and very racist -- but their invisible backpacks could also sometimes be a burden. Real men died in the name of male supremacy, by conciously chosing to let "weaker" women live. In World War I, a substantially higher proportion of upper class men died than lower class men, because a higher percentage volunteered right away, and officers had a higher death rate than enlisted men because they felt they had a duty to fufill and that they should lead their men from the front.

I do wish I knew what happened such that the second class men had the lowest survival rate, or that steerage children were less likely to survive than steerage women - all of the other demographic groups appear to have been sorted by age, then gender, then class.

But we also have to look at this disaster within its cultural context, and to recognise that in a time when lower class people and women really were considered to be inferior, upper class men did stand aside for lower class women in the name of chilvalry. We might not agree with them, but it was real to them.

To be honest, we're not so very different. We have classed sections on trains and planes; in many places all bus passengers are simply steerage, and treated accordingly (at the US-Canada border, for example, all bus passengers have their luggage searched, while few drivers in private cars do). We treat people differently all the time by how much money they have paid for something, or argue that they are "better" or "more important" to our society if they are paid more money for what they do. We're just less honest about our own classism.

whether the seats went to first class men or second class women was not much of a big deal.

Clearly it did matter to them -- they discriminated against men in terms of loading the boats.

What I was talking about was about ideas and standards -- the Titanic actually had more lifeboats than were required by law. It simply wasn't thought necessary to have enough lifeboats for all, because in the past they couldn't have saved lives.

But when in the middle of the disaster, of course they realised that the lifeboats could save lives, because they were in radio contact with ships which were on their way but would arrive after the ship sank. But that was a new thing - and the disaster itself caused a paradigm shift in the way that lawmakers and ship designers thought about maritime safety.
posted by jb at 11:18 AM on August 25, 2008 [10 favorites]


I was a wealthy white businessman who was traveling with his mistress. Duh - lived. Some of my friends were poor servants, etc, and knew they were doomed from the start.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:10 PM on August 25 [+] [!]

Except that statistically, your friends who were female servants (travelling on their own in steerage) had a (slightly) better chance of survival than you did. If they were female crew, they had a much better chance of survival.


Yes, you're right. I should have clarified that I was thinking of male servants. Not many people that I can remember were assigned women - not sure why that was. Though according to the statistics their chances of survival would almost equal first class males in being generally low, the way it worked out with the cards must have lent itself to confirmation bias.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:21 AM on August 25, 2008


I sit corrected, I guess. Thanks!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:22 AM on August 25, 2008


I'm hopeful that this will change with the new president, but there are many other countries which are flags of convenience, and it is a pernicious and dangerous practice.

And yet you claim that it's your husband who's the nerd in the family.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:40 AM on August 25, 2008



To be honest, we're not so very different. We have classed sections on trains and planes; in many places all bus passengers are simply steerage, and treated accordingly .... We treat people differently all the time by how much money they have paid for something, or argue that they are "better" or "more important" to our society if they are paid more money for what they do. We're just less honest about our own classism.


Amen to that, and the more I see so-called Market-Economics having its sway, the more evident this gets.
posted by philip-random at 11:42 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


There was one child in First Class who died, Miss Helen Loraine Allison. She and her parents were separated from her younger brother and they refused to leave the ship until he was accounted for.
posted by Alison at 11:49 AM on August 25, 2008


Well, yes. Men gave their lives. They didn't deliberately keep women and children out of the boat. They didn't think the boats were going to do any good anyway.

But the fact remains that despite their much articulated demand that the "weakest" members of society should be saved first, there were first class men who took seats in life boats and there were third-class women and children who drowned.

That's how class works. It's not deliberately pernicious, in many cases. It's just a series of mazes that exist for the poor that don't exist for the rich. It's being forgotten in an emergency, or accidentally locked behind the exact hate that usually is just meant to separate the classes, not drown one of them.

The statistics show that man men did give up their seats to women and children. It also shows that, if you're a woman or a child, as you move down the class ranking, your odds of getting that seat plummet, despite the fact that you're supposed to go first. It also shows that if you're a rich man, the lower the class of a woman or child who might take your seat, the more likely you are to actually get that seat, and leave them to drown.

Whether you meant it or not is not pertinent. Whether you even knew they were dying while you lived is not pertinent. Again, this is the function of class: To quietly and consistently privilege the rich over the poor, and, if its done so in such a way that is invisible to both, so much the better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


exact hate should read exact gate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:04 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


women and children first is now first come, first saved. But the wealthy women on the Titanic remembered their men who offered up their lives. From my site:
Women's Titanic Memorial - [...]I came upon a reference to this while reading a book the other day. I wondered about it and decided to do a bit of research. The point of the reference in my book was that men, back then, were old-school gentlemen, believed that in a boat wreck, Women and Children got first shot at lifeboats, and the records show that most of the men who had upper class berths on the Titanilc did in fact die so that their women and children might be saved. Incidentally, the film version of the Titanic sinking shows crewmen using pistols to hold back the men so women and kids could get spots on lifeboats. This bending of fact in the film was because the the film makers thought contemporary audiences would not believe that the men were so gallant. Records indicate that many men (upper class) died while many women (their spouses) got boats and survived. This, then, is the tribute set up by women to those gallant men.
Women's Titanic Memorial -

Titanic Memorial : more photos here[...] Sunday night the Men's Titanic Society, its numbers now swollen to 15, gathered once again on the anniversary of the ship's sinking to once again honor "those brave men."

Dressed in black tie (Titanic passenger Benjamin Guggenheim, realizing death was inevitable, had donned evening dress in order "to die like a gentleman"), they ate a ceremonial dinner mimicking the last consumed in the Titanic's first-class dining room. Then, in the early morning hours when the great ship foundered, they adjourned to the Washington waterfront with champagne to wistfully toast the sort of manhood Alan Alda wouldn't recognize....MORE HERE
posted by Postroad at 12:04 PM on August 25, 2008


I live right around the corner from the DC Titanic Memorial...I usually go for a jog right by it in the afternoons, unfortunately right after the local schools let out. It's a big hangout for the neighborhood kids. I'm a faster jogger for them liking that statue.

(Also, thanks for the discussion on the class stuff up above- interesting stuff, for sure)
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2008


But the fact remains that despite their much articulated demand that the "weakest" members of society should be saved first, there were first class men who took seats in life boats and there were third-class women and children who drowned.

I agree with this. jb, I just don't really agree with your husband that "Accusations of classism just really fall down in this case." The directive was women and children first, and yet many first class men got seats where women and children from steerage did not. Given that directive, and looking at the numbers, non-crewmember males were saved and steerage women and children died -- in defiance of the directive. In fact more women and children from steerage died (141 souls) than first class men (118 souls), and men from steerage fared the worst of anyone in sheer numbers (not percentages) besides the male crewmembers, at 387 men lost. I don't understand how one can look at these numbers and say classism didn't play a part in who died and who lived. First class men were 62% more likely to live than other men. Women and children from steerage were 34-38% less likely to live than other women and children. I think that's classism.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:10 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had an ancestor who was a railroad baron. He died in those icy waters.

Maybe he should've stopped laying the tracks when he reached the coast.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:30 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


From Postroad's link

One only has to look at the selfless way that men sacrificed their lives on the Titanic, where 'women and children first' was the order for escape and safety, to appreciate just how valuable the female gender was regarded by men in the recent past. This was the reality then, no matter what feminists will tell you about the 'oppression' and the 'low status' of women in those days.

Indeed, if women had been truly oppressed and seen to be of low status, then they would have been oppressed right back into their cabins while the men escaped into the lifeboats.

It is absolutely inconceivable that women would have been given priority for the lifeboats if their welfare was considered to be less important than the welfare of men.

The feminist-inspired myth that women were treated as second-class citizens in recent history is a downright lie - like so many other myths that feminists promulgate.

And these myths - and there are hundreds of them - are designed with one aim in mind - to stir up hatred towards men.

This is what you will discover, if you look closely at what feminists say and do.



What a load of tripe. Women were first because they have wombs and the long term demographic history of any species is more sensitive to the number of wombs than the number of testes (beyond non-zero limits, of course). The Titanic preference for women (and as shown in this thread, it was a mixed preference obscured by classism) is an epiphenomenon of obsessive male control of female reproduction.
posted by Rumple at 1:30 PM on August 25, 2008


I just took a closer look at Postroad's More Here link.

Angry Harry. It's a series of lunatic antifeminist screeds. It has sections with titled like "Rape Balony," which argues that most reported rapes are fraudulent, and "The Trojan Horses of Feminism," which, in its first paragraph, implicitly links feminism to Naziism.

Did you really think this was the best site you could go to for evidence, postroad?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on August 25, 2008


Oh, my goodness Rumple. If a person is obsessive about something, that means they're conscious of it. Are you suggesting that men sit at home tapping their fingers together whilst they plot to control my ovaries? I seriously doubt that's true in more than, say, a few thousand cases. (Come on, guys. Anyone willing to fess up to doing this? I KNOW you're out there.)
posted by nosila at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2008


Which is not to say the link you disputed wasn't a load of tripe, by the way.
posted by nosila at 1:57 PM on August 25, 2008


Are you suggesting that men sit at home tapping their fingers together whilst they plot to control my ovaries?

No, of course not; that's ridiculous.

They meet at conventions to make their plans.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:01 PM on August 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't forget these guys.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:04 PM on August 25, 2008


Double oh my goodness. I'm going to stay at home and protect my womb. No courts, conventions, or boats for this lady!

Did you like how I totally brought that back to the post? Huh? Boats?!
posted by nosila at 2:08 PM on August 25, 2008


STEER CLEAR OF BOATS, WOMB WOMAN!
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


ooops, I meant to insert "metanarrative" in there.

i said insert
posted by Rumple at 2:15 PM on August 25, 2008


huh, huh.
posted by nosila at 2:22 PM on August 25, 2008


I don't understand how one can look at these numbers and say classism didn't play a part in who died and who lived.

At the planning stage? Sure. After all, where were the lifeboats? But you're portraying this like we have first class men standing there at the lifeboat pushing women and children aside. It's pretty easy to see how some men would have had seats while some steerage class women and children were stuck in the "maze", and the two groups never come face to face.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:36 PM on August 25, 2008


It may have been a case of the crew protecting the first class members from being overrun by the lower classes, just as the lifeboats tried to protect themselves from being overrun by the hundreds of survivors in the water after the ship first sank. Still smells like classism to me. Here are two accounts of the experiences of women in steerage:

Anna Turja, as told by her grandson:
She was 18 years old when she boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England, as a steerage (third class) passenger on her way to America. To her the ship was a floating city. The main deck, with all its shops and attractions, was indeed bigger than the main street in her home town. The atmosphere in third class was quite lively: a lot of talking, singing, and fellowship. She had two roommates on board who were also young Finnish women. One was married, traveling with two small children; the other traveling with her brother. But in steerage, the men were kept in the front part of the ship, the women in the rear. Late that Sunday night, she felt a shudder and a shake. Shortly thereafter, her roommate’s brother knocked on the door and told them that “something was wrong,” that they should wear warm clothing and put on their life jackets. Their little group started heading for the upper decks. A crew member tried to keep them down – ordered them back – but they refused to obey, and he didn’t argue with them. She clearly remembers, however, that the doors were closed and chained shut behind them to prevent others from coming up. The others of the group continued up to a higher deck, “where it will be safer,” they said, but out of pure curiosity and chance she remained on what turned out to be the boat deck. She thought it was too cold to go up further, and she was intrigued by the activity and by the music being played by the band, though she didn’t know the names of the tunes. She remembers the band coming out of a room they had been playing in and the doors being locked after everyone had gotten out. She also remembers seeing the lights of another ship from the deck. It was on the deck that she met the Panula family, also from Finland. Mrs. Panula was traveling with her five children to meet Mr. Panula who was waiting for them in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Panula posed the question, “Must we all die by water?” She had already lost a teen-aged son by drowning back in Finland. Grandma believed the hype of the ship being unsinkable, and she didn’t fully understand what was going on because she did not know the language. Eventually a sailor physically threw her into a lifeboat.

Katherine and Margaret Murphy as written by their great-granddaughter:
Once on the ship, the girls, who were then only sixteen and twenty, were amazed by how beautiful it was. Later they would talk about how being on the Titanic was one of the greatest things that they had ever been able to do. In the evening after dinner there was always parties in the Third Class Dining Room with singing and dancing. People who had their instruments with them on the ship would break them out and play along with the rhythm of the dancing feet around them. Third Class may not have been the most elegant, but it was definitely the most fun.

On the night of the sinking, Kate and Margaret were just going to bed when their neighbors came to their room to tell them what had happened. Neither of them had had any idea prior to that that anything had happened, and still didn’t realize that the ship was sinking.

Soon their room began to fill with sea water and the girls tried to get up to the upper decks, but were held back by a sea barrier. Kate and Margaret, as well as Kathy Gilnagh and Kate Mullins were very happy when James Farrell, who was also an Irish Third Class passenger ran up to the seaman standing there and yelled, ”Great God, man! Open the gate and let the girls through!” Surprisingly enough, the seaman did as Farrell had told him to do, and opened the gate to let them pass through to the upper decks.

Kate and Margaret eventually got up to the main deck and were lucky enough to make it into a lifeboat, lifeboat number sixteen.

From here.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2008


from onlyconnect's link:

Masabumi Hosono
The Titanic was sinking fast. Horrified passengers rushed onto lifeboats being lowered into the dark, icy sea. Desperate men were stopped at gunpoint so women and children could escape first.
Masabumi Hosono stood on the deck, torn between the fear of shame and the instinct for survival. Then the 42-year-old Japanese bureaucrat found himself in the right place at the right moment. There were two spots open in a lifeboat. Hosono hesitated, but when he saw a man next to him jump in, he swallowed his fear and followed.
Hosono's decision saved his life -- yet it brought him decades of shame in Japan. He was branded a coward, fired from his job and spent the rest of his days embittered.

posted by Rumple at 4:44 PM on August 25, 2008


Encyclopedia Titanica is quite cool (magnificent obsession alert), and there is some discussion there of similar topics, e.g.,

The loading of the rear boats
Men offering their places
Proportion of crew (and men) saved

posted by Rumple at 5:05 PM on August 25, 2008


The fatal journey of third-class men on the Titanic
posted by Rumple at 5:08 PM on August 25, 2008


I can't remember where I read this, but James Cameron was once asked, "OK, say you go back in time to the Titanic's voyage, knowing everything you know right now. The boat hits the iceberg. How do you save yourself without taking someone else's spot on a lifeboat?"

The answer was apparently, wait for Boat 4 to be lowered into the water, jump from Deck B and swim for it. Boat 4 apparently goes out with half as many people as it can safely carry, and when it's lowered into the water, it isn't immediately apparent to most passengers that the ship will indeed sink, so there aren't many others in the water at this time.

So I got this going for me in case I ever get caught in a time machine accident. This, and, "invest in Microsoft."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:13 PM on August 25, 2008


One of the upper-class men who *did* go down with the ship was Harry Elkins Widener, a 1907 Harvard graduate. Harry's mother and her maid were saved, but he and his father both died. His mother had a library built at Harvard as a memorial to her son. Not bad, as memorials go.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:05 PM on August 25, 2008


men from steerage fared the worst of anyone in sheer numbers (not percentages)

There were many more men from steerage than any other class. But second class men (there were a few less second class than even first class) were more likely to die than any other group of men. With this sort of thing, the raw numbers are less meaningful than the percentages.

Actually, my husband (who really is the boat nerd, actually a naval historian, and who is the one who rants about flags of convenience) says that if you want to survive the Titanic (or any similar accident) without a life boat -- you should do the following (any ommisions are due to my bad memory)

a) put on lots of warm wool clothing, and get oil skins - they were all over the ship - and use them to make a kind of wet suit by tying them at the wrists, ankles, and waist. find a wool hat.

b) get a sea chest, fill it with life jackets (there were lots). grab a life jacket to wear, maybe more than one (wet wool is heavy). GET A WHISTLE.

c) go down to the end of the ship that was in the water, and wade in with your sea chest, then swim away - as far away as you possibly can, so you don't get sucked down when it goes down.

d) when you are really far away, try to get out of the water by getting on the sea chest. Then start whistling (you did bring a whistle, didn't you?*) for help.

*NB: the whistle obsession isn't just because of the movie. It's actually standard boat safety. We don't go boating without one, just in case.
posted by jb at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2008


I don't understand how one can look at these numbers and say classism didn't play a part in who died and who lived.

I didn't say it didn't play a part. Clearly first and second class women had a much better survival rate than steerage women and children. But it didn't play as important a part as gender, which was clearly the most significant factor in chances of survival. Age did have significance between the first and second classes - second class children were more likely to survive than first class women - but interestingly steerage women were more likely to survive than steerage children, and so many steerage children died that children as a whole have a much lower survival rate than women as a whole. Why? Because steerage women hated children and took seats on the lifeboats before all the children were saved? Or because in the chaos and confusion, adult women were just more likely to get to the boats without being trampled?

----------

NB: actually, my husband corrects me. He says you should get on the sea chest before pushing it off the ship -- staying dry will help with your chances of survival. But then you will likely need some kind of paddle to help you get away. But you do have a fair bit of time to get away, even paddling slowly, to get away from where the suction will be. One person did survive after being sucked down (ala Jack and Rose), but they were insanely lucky (they were pushed back up by an air bubble from a decompressing compartment).

But there were several men who survived by swimming off the end of the boat or jumping*- they were young men, strong swimmers and (like Rose in the film) got out of the water so they didn't freeze to death, by finding some overturned collapsable lifeboats which hadn't been deployed (they had been flooded too soon). Getting out of the water is just about the most essential part to survive, because the water will just suck all the heat from you.

* Jumping off a tall boat can be very dangerous - you need to do a compact jump to protect yourself from the impact. It's much better to ease into the water.

After telling me this, my husband said, "Oh my god, I can't believe I remember all this from when I was 12. I was such a rivet counter." He still is (a rivet counter); he's working on an article about rivets.

But if I'm ever in a maritime disaster, I'll be really really happy he's a rivet counter (and has sea survival training).
posted by jb at 8:58 PM on August 25, 2008


When I was a kid, my plan for surviving maritime disasters was to always carry my goggles & snorkel on me, if I should ever travel by ocean liner.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:45 PM on August 25, 2008


I didn't say it didn't play a part. Clearly first and second class women had a much better survival rate than steerage women and children. But it didn't play as important a part as gender, which was clearly the most significant factor in chances of survival. Age did have significance between the first and second classes . . .

But you did say that "accusations of classism just really fall down in this case." My point is that of course whether or not you were a woman or a child played a part in whether you survived -- those were the instructions that were given to the crew who were loading the boats! If those instructions had been followed throughout the boat loading process, the boats would have been loaded with all women and children and some crew members. But that's not what happened, and what happened instead was a bunch of first class men got lucky and over 300 men from steerage died. I am starting with the proposition that, because of the directive, it's mostly women and children who should have gotten places on the boats, and when you start from that assumption, it's strange to see first class men with a 66% greater chance of survival than other men. It is classist. You seem to be starting from somewhere besides this assumption, so that the fact that so many more women and children survived seems to be a big deal. I don't think that is a big deal, because that was the directive.

The problem is that it was no one's job to unlock these gates in the case of a disaster (which was bad planning, but not concious -- disasters are crazy, which is why people drill and drill and drill, because not many people can think and plan during the disaster).

This may have been true in some cases, but from the survivor accounts I posted it seems clear that in others the gates were being purposefully blocked, with crew members preventing people from leaving for reasons that don't seem clear. The "gates" that were blocked were not stopping water from moving, they were only stopping people. It seems to me that the crew may have been trying to prevent a horde of steerage folks coming up and fighting for spots on the boats.

To be honest, we're not so very different. We have classed sections on trains and planes; in many places all bus passengers are simply steerage, and treated accordingly

As far as I know, we don't have evacuation plans that preference first class and say screw third class. And if we did, there would be one hell of a lawsuit.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:47 AM on August 26, 2008


But that's not what happened, and what happened instead was a bunch of first class men got lucky and over 300 men from steerage died.

And some of those first class men who got into the boats did so to demonstrate to others (women and children) that it was safe. And then many were vilified for surviving when women and children died.

As far as I know, we don't have evacuation plans that preference first class and say screw third class. And if we did, there would be one hell of a lawsuit.

They didn't have any evacuation plans, for first class or steerage. They messed up, but only by modern standards which were created as a reaction to this exact disaster. At at that time most people didn't believe that any evacuation from a sinking ship far out at sea would be worth it. The Titanic exceeded safety requirements. How many of us seriously pay attention to the flight attendants when they are explaining airplane safety? If there were a fire that began in the back of the plane, and then more people from first class (at the front) survived, would we be talking about how classist the evacuation method was?

Actually, we do have classist evacuation procedures -- New Orleans' evacuation proceedures for hurricanes, as seen during Hurricane Katrina, made no provision for anyone who did not own private transportation to get them out of the city. There were also reports that those within the city received differential treatment based on race/perceived class (tourists, for example, reported having food brought to them in the Dome, rather than having to line up for it with the city residents). Evacuation plans for tsunamis on the west coast also rely on private transportation.

I'm not saying the Edwardian world was not a classist society. The original post was framed in such a way as to suggest that class trumped gender ("with survival statistics skewing well in favor of men of higher social and economic class than children (and, to a lesser extent, women) of lower status"), which was clearly not the case, as shown by the links in the post. Women and children of lower status both had greater survival rates than men of any status (and steerage women more than steerage children). Add to that the fact that second class men (whom I notice that you are ignoring) died at a higher rate than steerage men, and I really don't see a strong argument that survival on the Titanic was primarily or even mostly a function of class. More men from steerage died (because there were many more steerage passengers altogether), but men from the second class were more likely to die.

First class men were closer to the boats and some got on quite early to try to get others on; after that, I'm sure they did get some preference over other men, because it was a deeply classist society. But despite the fact that steerage had many, many more men than second class, a higher percentage of them survived than second class. If they had been loading the boats in a specifically classist way, they could have saved a much higher percentage of second class men (since they would have been fewer people), but instead steerage men were on those boats.

Class did mean something (in that it had some effect, though less so for men than for women and children), and I apologise for not carefully qualifying my off-hand weblog comment -- but we're talking about an incrediably classist society in normal cases, so this does stand out as a remarkably unclassist disaster in its historical context, and I was finding the discussion (which seemed to be falling into a "rich white men always win"* mode) confusing, considering the realities of the disaster. And I also found it offensive, considering that more of those rich white men (and the crew**) could have gotten onto the lifeboats, but didn't because they followed their strong (if sexist**) ideals. The majority of the men in first class died, unlike women of any class - while some others survived while trying to get people to get on the boats only to vilified later.

If we want to talk about classism in Edwardian society, we can do that till the cows come home. It was a very classist and racist society. But the Titanic is not a good example of this, though it is an excellent example of how sexism and male superiority could (very rarely) become as much a burden as it was a benefit (most of the time). Which is one of the things that makes gender relations actually quite different from race or class relations - there are more restrictions on the higher status gender.


*it's interesting that race came up, as there were no black crew or passengers on board the Titantic, though there was a folk story cycle later about a fictional black crewman. There were possibly other non-white passengers or crew, but I don't remember.

**(Much more recently, there was a sinking ship which was abandoned by the crew, leaving the passengers to be organised by the entertainers.)

*** the main link, the article about "women and children first", was actually an argument about how this attitude is very Edwardian (kind of like the people on the Titanic) and sexist, and no longer relevant in our world.
posted by jb at 9:06 AM on August 26, 2008


The fact that they locked the doors against steerage passengers is not proof that the policy was to kill steerage passengers to save first class (or second class) passengers. We don't know what happened - we don't know who locked that door or why. Maybe it was a steward who didn't understand how quickly the boat was sinking. Maybe it was someone who panicked at a crowd of people pushing through to an already crowded deck. Things happen in disasters when people aren't thinking straight, which is why we now drill and drill.

What we do know is this:

a) many exits out of steerage were open (so no specific policy about locking up steerage).
a) women and children of every class survived at a higher rate
a) men of steerage class survived at a higher rate than men of second class, and some of the men from first class who survived did so because they went in the early, half-empty boats as an example

Like the hurricane evacuation policy, certain thoughtlessness did lead to class based differentials on survival -- first class passengers were more well-informed because there were more staff in first class, they were closer to the boats (which were not put there to be near first class, but because first class happens on the deck level - you can't put the boats in the hold with second class and steerage passengers), no one planned for the evacuation of the many people below decks.

But what about those second class men? Why were they more likely to die? Well, partly because their own sexist and classist attitudes meant that they were expected to step aside for others; lower class men were less likely to share this belief, and many of them got onto boats before all of the women and children had been saved. 75 steerage class men survived, while 57 first class men survived, and only 14 second class men survived.*

*raw numbers are, of course, mostly meaningless, but the 387 steerage men who died were brought up earlier, as compared to 693 crew, of course, including officers.
posted by jb at 9:28 AM on August 26, 2008


This question is now calling for chi-square.

There was at least one non-white passenger, Masabumi Hosono, referred to above, who survived, against his instinct (so to speak) because a crew member urged him to get into a non-full boat.

Great discussion you knowlegable people!!
posted by Rumple at 9:58 AM on August 26, 2008


Okay, jb. I don't think our positions are necessarily that far away from each other. We both acknowledge that being a woman or a child were the most significant factors in getting off the ship alive, and that class also played a major role. I think I was pressing this issue before because I thought you were saying that class didn't matter, when it had seemed to me that it mattered a great deal. I think I'm still suggesting that it played a more major role than you acknowledge, since there are several firsthand accounts from steerage passengers suggesting that crew members blocked gates out of steerage or preferred upper class passengers to them, and you do not seem to be crediting these accounts. (For the record I will note that I have not found any accounts that allege the opposite -- crew impeding first class people over steerage people of the same sex, etc.). I went looking for a few of these stories because I recalled quite a lot of these sorts of accounts being included the Night to Remember book that was written through interviews with many of the survivors. For what it's worth, here are a few more:

From an account of the Finnish survivors from steerage on board:

Escaping Steerage: On the Titanic that evening steerage passengers were denied access to the lifeboats. They were told to wait and the passages to the upper decks were gated and guarded against them.

Helga Hirvonen remembered, "Some time later -- I don't know how long -- it seemed that the big steamer was tilting. Then there was another rush from the promenade deck. The officers couldn't drive us back then. After some time there came a shouted order for the women to come up on another deck. Some of us understood and started."

Account of Ellie Mockler from the book “The History of Ahascragh-Caltra”
It was Ellie’s first trip across the Atlantic, also the first ship she had ever seen. Born and brought up in the village of Currafarry in the parish of Caltra, Ellie took passage on the steerage of the Titanic. She was accompanied by her neighbour Margaret Mannion and both were acquainted with Martin Gallagher who sailed from the port. For days, the voyage across the water was one of pleasure and gaiety.

When the ship struck the iceberg, Ellie and about eight or nine other young women were pushed through the hatchway by Martin Gallagher, the brave young man who lost his life. He fastened life belts on them and took them to the rail that divided the steerage section from the cabin passengers and lifted them over it onto one of the life boats that was being loaded, where they were all seated. Martin then stepped back and made no attempt to escape himself. He not only assisted a number of women to one of the lifeboats, which the officers and crew made no attempt to do as far as the steerage passengers were concerned, but calmly remained on deck and took his chances in face of almost certain death.

Account of Margaret Mannion to her grandson:
Down below Margaret recalled, the third class passengers began to get very panicky, especially as water started to rise about their feet. At last, one brave Irishman jumped up and said, “Tis do or die” and the rest of the men agreed. They stormed down the corridors followed by the ladies in their light clothes.

They were stopped by a large barrier at the foot of a stairway, put there to stop steerage passengers mingling on upper decks, but a few strong fellows managed to smash it down. They moved on. At one stage a sailor tried to stop them, but they took care of him and soon reached the top where there were two more sailors standing with guns. They tried to threaten the passengers by firing shots in the air but this did not frighten the men, Margaret recalled. They just threw the sailors out of their way and rushed to the lifeboats followed by the women and children. The second class passengers were just about to board the boats. The sailors had no other choice but to let the third class women and children into the boats. One by one the lifeboats were lowered down slowly and steadily.

And an account from a first class male passenger, who was offered a seat a steward right next to the spot where men from steerage were being shot for trying to get seats:

“As the excitement began I saw an officer of the Titanic shoot down two steerage passengers who were endeavoring to rush the lifeboats. I have learned since that twelve of the steerage passengers were shot altogether, one officer shooting down six. The first-cabin men and women behaved with great heroism.”

OWES LIFE TO STEWARD.
One of the stewards of the Titanic, with whom Mrs. and Mrs. Dodge had crossed the Atlantic before on the Olympic, knew them well. He recognized Dodge as the thirteenth boat was being filled. The steerage passengers were being shot down and some of the steerage passengers were stabbing right and left in an endeavor to reach the boat.

The thirteenth boat was filled on one side with children, fully 20 or 30 of them, and a few women. All in the boat were panic-stricken and screaming. The steward had been ordered to take charge of the thirteenth, and, seizing Dodge, pushed him into the boat, exclaiming that he needed his help in caring for his helpless charges. . . .

Dodge said that when the boats were drawing away from the ship they could hear the orchestra playing “Lead, Kindly Light,” and rockets were going up from the Titanic in the wonderfully clear night. “We could see from the distance that two boats were being made ready to be lowered. The panic was in the steerage, and it was that portion of the ship that the shooting was made necessary.

* * *

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like I can physically hear the tone of condescention and privilege coming out of Dodge with regard to the struggling passengers in steerage who never got the same chance at the lifeboats as the first class did. And I do think it's classist that this steward and other crewmen were shooting men from steerage with one hand and offering a man from first class a seat with the other. Geez.

To me it seems that these stories and others suggest that the crew was often generally impeding the efforts of any steerage passenger, be it man woman or child, to make it from the steerage sections of the ship where they could be "contained" to the sections of the ship where the boats were, where they might be evacuated. Of course it wasn't all the crew and some did actively try to help the people from steerage, but it seems to me that a large number tried to impede them.

It also seems to me that a larger number of men from steerage as opposed to second class made it off because they forced their way onto the boats, either by storming the ranks of the officers -- at least oftentimes in part is seems to make a path for their women and children -- or simply to get a place for themselves. The second class men may have had access to the boat decks longer than the folks from steerage and may not have felt the same sense of panic in getting their women a spot, or as you say may have felt it was not their place whereas the men from steerage had no such polite reservations. I note that the steerage men getting such seats would have been accomplished largely by force (12 or more men from steerage were shot for this) and against the policies of the ship and the crew. (Whereas in other cases men from first class were simply offered seats, even while steerage men were getting shot right next to them.)

It also seems possible to me that some of the men from steerage may have been heartier and more physical and better able to swim than the others, and may have been amongst those who were rescued from the sea after the ship sank. One or two of these accounts talk about steerage men being pulled into the boats after the ship sank. Seems possible.

(BTW, the account of Margaret Mannion above suggests that one boatload of second class men lost their seats to women and children (and possibly some men) from steerage, after they took matters into their own hands and rushed the boats.)

Finally, you make a good point about New Orleans, although I think it's intrinsically different from the point I was trying to make. You are talking about the evacuation of cities, whereas I was referring to your earlier statement about the evacuation of individual vehicles. As far as I know, we do not have policies that privilege first class above other classes in such evacuation circumstances. On planes, it is often the front of the plane where first class is that is the most likely to be decimated by a crash or other incident, so there does not seem to be much of a clear advantage besides a higher steward-to-passenger ratio. But when we send firemen or emergency personnel to a train crash, we don't tell them to worry about the upper class first. Not only is there no such written policy, there is no "unwritten" policy either. Because there would be a giant lawsuit. You are right that the Titanic was a giant disaster that really got people thinking, for the first time or near to it, about emergency survival drills and the like. But in this instance -- before those drills were in place, etc. -- survival was not achieved in a non-classist way. And in my opinion it wasn't simply because the upper classes had easier access to the boats at an earlier time. The firsthand accounts show that crew members tried to keep folks from steerage from getting out -- either from steerage or from non-boat-access decks. If that sort of thing happened on a train or a plane today, and anybody from steerage lived to tell about it, he and the survivors of the other folks in steerage would have one terrific lawsuit on their hands.

In any case, I think we mostly agree, but I tend to see more classism and prejudice at work here, though I admit my tendency to see this may be tied into that long-ago 8th grade report and my feelings of empathy for the people in steerage. It's one thing to choose not to get on the boat, out of nobility, and quite another to have the decision taken out of your hands because you're not sufficiently privileged to merit a chance at life. I admire the nobility of whatever percentage of the 118 first class and 154 second class men who refused seats, but I pity the 387 men from steerage who never got that opportunity.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2008


(Here is another very interesting source of statistical information, breaking down survivors by class and nationality and giving details about the class and man/woman/child composition of the lifeboats.)
posted by onlyconnect at 5:52 PM on August 26, 2008


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