Friday, January 16, 2009

639th Post - Help Me Understand Something

I have been hearing all about the miracle on the Hudson River yesterday. I am very happy that nobody died as a result of what happened. Really, I am.

But I still have a question.

I hesitate to ask this question because it may get me in dutch. But I am still going to ask this question because I truly do not understand something. I am not trying to stir up kaka, I promise.

There have been many reports that on that plane yesterday, when the rescue boats came, it was women and children first. Afterward, men were allowed off the plane.


Why is it that women and children should be the first ones escorted off a sinking ship, or a troubled plane in this question? People just accept that this is the way it should always be, without asking any questions. It is just done that way.

Once again, why?

Do women and children have more of a right to live than mere men? What about a case where there are injured men? Do those poor bastards have to remain on the sinking whatever until all the women and children are safely disembarked?

What about husbands to these women, and fathers to these children? Do they still have to stay back, potentially disrupting the family forever if the husband dies when the whatever sinks?

What about single fathers? Do they have to let their children leave ahead of them, while the fathers cool their heels back on the sinking whatever, worried sick that their children are with strangers?

We supposedly live in an enlightened age, when women and men are on an equal footing with one another. Women have worked hard to earn the same rights and privileges that men have enjoyed over the centuries. I am delighted that this is the case, and enjoy working with women. Work would be very dull indeed in an office that didn't have any women in it. I don't know what people did in my grandparents' time. We as a society are all much better off for having women in the work place!

But getting back to my original question: If it is true that women and children have more of a right to live than men do, as the "women and children first" doctrine would seem to indicate, can someone show me some case law proving this? Was there a court case of "Smith v. Jones" or "Whoever v. Whomever" which established that women and children have a higher precedence than men do? If so, I must have missed this court case. Please fill me in.

Logical responses only, please.



theajthomas said...

My guess would be that on average men are physically stronger then women (it you don't agree take it up with the Olympics) and so the logic would be that they can sustain the adverse conditions of a sinking whatever longer.

What will be interesting is to see if any feminists attempt a law suit over the "degrading" nature of that policy.

Bevboy said...

Yes, it is true that, on average, men are stronger than women and may be able to sustain such trauma a bit longer. But is that even relevant, AJ?

My problem is that women and children are seen to be more important than men, at least vis a vis some impending disaster. Otherwise, women insist on equal rights. It is a double standard.

Like I wrote: women have fought long and hard, and put up with a lot of crap, to earn the right to finally be on an equal footing with men. I think they are pretty much there, at least where I work. I applaud that this is the case.

But if something really bad happened, how many of these women would then insist on being the first ones to be rescued, under the "women and children first" doctrine/tradition?

I agree that this policy/tradition/doctrine is degrading and insulting to the very women it is designed to protect. A law suit launched by a woman who was forced to be rescued under these circumstances would be very interesting indeed.

Thanks, A.J. Have a great weekend. And I want to check out your church sometime.


Reg Schofield said...

Call me old fashion but I still believe that men need to show chivalry and I still hold ,as a Christian, we bear the brunt to be both protector and providers to our women and children. Plus it also goes back to the fact women can give birth , men cannot . Say for example if a great disaster happened of epic proportions and say only 1 women lived but a 1000 men , the species is doomed . But reverse those numbers and we survive. Plus as a parent I would hope if my child was in a perilous spot a man would be willing to give them a safe spot first , I would . A baby or even a young child in my eyes is more valuable then my life at 45 years of age. Granted I would want to live many more years but if came down to a choose between me and a mother and her children , in my eyes its a no brainer.

Bevboy said...

So, Reg, it's the greater good argument? What about the rule of law? Is there an actual law that states, "women and children first"?

I could get more behind a "families first" policy, one that included the fathers and did not result in the potential disruption of the family unit by virtue of the father's death.

But treating men like they're expendable doesn't strike me as a healthy attitude toward that sex.

I wonder if any man has ever sued on the basis of his having been excluded from being rescued in a timely fashion, just because the women and children were allowed off first?

And if it ever did happen, what would be the result? It would be a fascinating court decision.

Thanks for writing, Reg!


Unknown said...

Since you solicited more comments for this post, and since I was not reading your blog last year, I'll offer my thoughts.

Though you were specific in asking for a legal case or reason for the "women and children first" response to emergencies, I don't expect one is to be found. I think, rather, it is based upon a failing tradition of chivalry, which was based on the notion that men are pretty much expendable.

I have a family. I am married and have 4 daughters. My 21 year old is on her own. My 18 year old is attending Berkeley. My youngest two, 10 and 12, are at home. So let's say that me, the wife, and the youngest two are on the Titanic and it's going down.

Biologically, my obligation is to preserve my genes. The best way to do this is to see that my children survive.

Emotionally, I love my wife and children and am only too glad to go down with the ship if it furthers their chances. So why not just stick with them in the lifeboat? The same reason I don't want every other man on the ship to do that very thing before I even get my wife and kids to the deck.

Do I want to watch my wife and children die because all the rest of the men swamped the boats and left them to die? No. This is an unspoken contract between gentlemen that we honor each other's need to preserve their family. I do not take a spot on the lifeboat until all the women and children are safe. Then men can make their cases for any remaining seats or draw lots.

Now, this logic brings up a few questions: what about single fathers? I think it is clear that in that case, an exception should be made so that his children are not orphaned as this is the primary reason to put the nurturing mother with the child in the first place.

What about single women with no children? Should they receive priority? What about the elderly?

I guess it really has to boil down to this: would you watch a woman, a child, an old widow... drown before you as you paddled to safety? And how would you manage that decision throughout your life?

As for me... women and children first.