Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chivalry at sea

It's been a busy week.  At 9:30, I finally got home and sat down with the paper to relax, knowing that I wanted to post on this blog, but feeling too tired to write!

But lo and behold!  Right there in the Science Times (my favorite NYT feature section) was an interesting article about the unwritten law of the sea, "women and children first."  Apparently, except for the Titanic, on sinking ships it's "every man for himself."

In fact, on most of the shipwrecks studied, the highest survival rate was among the crew!

One section was particularly damning for British ships:

Some have suggested that chivalry at sea is a defining characteristic of the British, and that behavior on British ships is guided by this tradition. But even counting the Titanic and the Lusitania, the survival rate for women on the eight British ships in the study was significantly lower than on ships flying other flags, and women died more often than men whether or not the “women and children first” order was given.
“The study suggests there isn’t a particular British tradition of women and children first,” said Lucy Delap, a lecturer in British history at Cambridge, who was not involved in the study. “No, actually women are less likely to survive on British ships, apart from the Titanic.”
(emphasis added)

Yikes. So the Brits are, generally, less likely to look after the weaker and smaller in case of danger . . .

You may know these statistics, but I'll share them anyway:  on the Titanic, 70% of women and 20% of men survived.

And that ship above?  It's the Lusitania (also a British ship) that was torpedoed and sank in 1915, and where the survival rate for women and men was approximately equal.

I wonder if there will be a big centenary for the Lusitania . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment