Yesterday on AOL’s Politics Daily, Ria Misra wrote a piece on a study comparing the sinkings of the Titanic and the Lusitania, now nearly a century ago which, well, I can’t get out of my head. Perhaps because it relates to a matter I address in my dissertation, the civilizing of men.
According to a “study published in the journal Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences”
On the Titanic, children were about 15 percent more likely to survive and women approximately 50 percent more likely to survive than men on the ship. Young men were more likely to die on the Titanic, but on the Lusitania, young men were almost 8 percent more likely to survive than other passengers. Researchers attribute the difference to the extra time — just 2 hours 22 minutes — in which they say that social norms (“women and children first”) made it more likely that they were given seats on lifeboats.
The Titanic sank slowly, over a period of 2 hours 40 minutes, while the Lusitania slipped beneath the waters in a matter of just 18 minutes. And that difference in time had a huge impact on who survived — a discrepancy researchers attribute to passengers on the Lusitania acting instinctively in self-preservation, and on the Titanic, passengers first helping other passengers.
Our first instinct as men is self-preservation, but when we have time to think, as did the passengers on the Titanic, we consider others.
We men do have noble instincts; they just need developing nurturing.