Lifeboat Feminism in Practical Application

Posted on February 2, 2012 by

This article by Rich Lowry over at NRO heaps shame upon the men of the Costa Concordia who allegedly jostled women and children on the way to the lifeboats. While I can relate to the author’s assertion that we as a society have lost something valuable when the strong push aside the weak, for indeed we have, it is but the natural and predictable consequence of decades of equalitarian social engineering that we find ourselves in this situation today.  We have declared men and women absolutely equal and fungible. Mr Lowry laments the lack of chivalry amongst the men; I assert it is merely what happens when men, having witnessed the liberation of women from their duty to act like ladies, decide that it is quite silly to die like men of auld for unrelated women and children:

[An] 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.

I have argued several times over at my blog that this is the logical end of equalitarianism and sec-humanism. When women are declared the equals of men, their inherent biological vulnerability is papered over, and they are seen as just another male. Better smelling and better looking, but the same worth as men. And no more worthy of preferential treatment in the mad dash for the exits than the next guy. On the Costa Concordia, it was every human for him/herself. One would think women, the sex for whose benefit feminism tirelessly toils, would be overjoyed at this indicator of equal consideration. At long last, they have arrived! But they are not. Funny how feminist equalitarianism goes out the window when in mortal danger. Seems the two gals quoted above really don’t want to die like men, despite living as an equal to one.

It was also interesting to contrast the tenor of Mr. Lowry’s slightly anachronistic article and that of the vast majority of the comments. While they do not explicitly connect the dots wrt the lady-gentleman dynamic that is part and parcel to chivalry, the comments tended to pin the tail of responsibility for this present state of affairs on the feminist donkey. Thus, as far as the readership to NRO is concerned, there is at least a vague awareness that if chivalry is dead, it wasn’t men that killed it but feminism. And that it is quite presumptuous to demand preferential selection for a lifeboat when you demand equal-or-even-preferential treatment in all other facets of life as well.

Something else, too: Chivalry doesn’t mean preferential treatment for women, although it is frequently cast as such in contemporary culture. Neither is it necessarily manners, although that is a component of it. At its heart, chivalry was/is a code of conduct that sought to shape the behavior of warriors (who also enjoyed a superior social position) so that the strong protected the weak who could/would be harmed by the otherwise untrammelled violence of the powerful.

Viewed in this manner, in a way it is not unreasonable to appeal to chivalry when recommending the behavior of the physically strong (men) vis-à-vis the physically weak (women and young children). However, as political and social violence is force just the same as is physical violence, given the socially inferior position of men in modern post-Christian society when compared to women, the principles of chivalry would require that women (the strong) yield to men (the weak).

Let that bake your noodle for a moment…feminism, by socially advantaging women in all aspects of life, and technology, by neutering the historical inherent advantage of brawn, has flipped the script such that we ought instead be saying “men and children first”. As counter-intuitive as it is, when protection of the vulnerable from the violence wrought by the powerful is the focus of chivalry, then shielding the weak and relatively powerless becomes the logically consistent act. That is, if logic and reason were the basis upon which we grounded our acts.

I’ll close this post with a poem, supposedly written in 1912, submitted by a commenter to Mr. Lowry’s article:

“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.

Indeed. I do wonder how much more time cultural lifeboat feminism has left. For it doesn’t seem sustainable to demand manhood from men while not making a symmetrical demand for womanhood from women. And for far too long, womanhood has been an empty vessel, something for which girls do not strive toward but they simply arrive at. If we are to have manhood once again–something I think our society won’t long survive without–it seems to me that we as a society will need to start demanding something more of womanhood as well. For manhood is the complement to womanhood, and if womanhood is an empty suit skirt, then the human organism isn’t wholly complete. Without its complement, it withers and dies.

Boats and Votes
Lifeboat Feminism