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NCFM Chicago Chapter President Tim Goldich, The Titanic – the preface to his new gender equality book

November 2, 2021
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This is the preface to my upcoming book, Equal Partners: The History of Gender Equality (due to be published in 2022).

The Titanic

The RMS Titanic was said to be “unsinkable.”

A little over a century ago, the then largest ship ever built set off on its maiden voyage, struck an iceberg, and promptly sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic. Over 1,500 passengers perished in water so cold those drown­ing could be heard screaming as if stabbed with knives of ice.

This iconic event has been scrutinized from many angles. It’s been presented as a parable revealing Man’s hubris and a cautionary tale against overconfidence. It is the story of Man’s mightiest technology dwarfed by the awesome power of nature and a demonstration of chivalry at its finest. Finally, in James Cameron’s phenomenally successful film version, it is a tale of arrogant, over-empowered men and the women who chafe under male dominion.

All are worthy interpretations. But I preface this book with the story of the Titanic in order to reveal the events that unfolded on that cold 15 April 1912 night from a very different angle—the angle that’s missing.

Looked at from this missing angle, the men shoveling coal in the bowels of the ship are revealed as representative of men, all through history, occupying the very bottom rung of humanity. Meanwhile other men, including some of the world’s wealthiest, knowingly made their lives forfeit for the sake of personal honor and the protection of women. Though some of these men were extremely prominent, even world famous, the lives of any and all women were granted higher priority. From this angle, the Standard Model of gender reality, in which men have the power and women are the victims, is turned upside down and an alternate view, a rejected view of gender reality is revealed.

How would it be if these two views of gender reality were merged into one Balanced view?

Benjamin Guggenheim was one of the wealthiest men on earth. His mistress, French singer Leóntine Aubart and her maid, Emma Sägesser, were given seats in lifeboat #9. Seeking to calm the women, he said to Emma Sägesser:

“We will soon see each other again! It’s just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again.” He knew he was dissembling. With [Victor] Giglio in tow, he returned to his First Class accommodations having made the decision to die in style. He and his valet changed into their finest evening wear, then repaired to a room off the grand staircase to enjoy brandy and a final cigar. “We’ve dressed up in our best and are pre-pared to go down like gentleman,” he said to a Titanic steward who survived, and he gave him this message: “Tell my wife, if it should happen that my secretary and I both go down, tell her I played the game out straight to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim is a coward.”[1]

He died in style all right, but what exactly is this “game” Guggenheim is playing to the end? Why is it that the game ends in his death? And what of the even wealthier John Astor?

  1. J. Astorwas the richest man in the world. He could easily have bought the Titanicten times over—yet, in little more than a half hour, he would be powerless to secure a place in a measly little lifeboat.[2]

Of John Astor it is written, “he had behaved properly. . . . Astor did ask if he might join his wife and maid since Madeleine was in ‘a delicate condition.’ [Second Officer Charles] Lightoller reminded him that the protocol remained women and children first, and Astor stepped back.”[3] Astor “stepped back;” but that’s his life we’re talking about! In that moment, within that context, Astor had indeed been rendered powerless. Was his experience of powerlessness any less real for being a male form of powerlessness?

We’re told that, where gender is concerned, history is the story of powerful men and powerless women. Within the mainstream media, and especially within academia, that pretty much sums it up. History is “his-story,” the story of Patriarchy: men ruled and women were oppressed to the point of being rendered “property and chattel.” According to this Standard Model, gender reality is, and always was, comprised of MalePower and FemaleVictimization. “Officially,” at any rate, it seems all agree.

But there’s a problem. If we’re at all objective about it, if we allow in all the facts and truths of the matter, then this summation of gender reality is simply untenable. Fact: “The overall survival rate for men was 20%.  For women, it was 74% . . . third class women were 41% more likely to survive than first class men.”[4] If we’re to be intellectually honest, I believe we must admit that in at least some ways, the Standard Model (what I will call “The Story”) doesn’t jibe with all the facts.

Benjamin Guggenheim and John Astor IV were indeed among the most powerful men on earth. Yet, their lives were valued less than the lives of their female employees. The plain fact of the matter is Astor perished; Astor’s maid survived.

Here are the facts stated a bit differently: “the richest men had a lower survival rate (34%) than the poorest women (46%).”[5] There is nothing ambiguous or uncertain in these facts, derived as they are from the passenger manifest compared against the list of passenger survivors, both well documented. But what do these facts mean? What truths would these facts reveal if we were open to receiving them?

If women have some force of influence powerful enough to supersede even in matters of life and death, does this hint at something deeper? In assuming that women have no power, are we being willfully blind? Any number of historical events dem­onstrate that, under certain circumstances, women can radiate something that men will bow to even at the risk or the cost of their own lives. How might this power show up elsewhere, in other forms and in other contexts? And why will we shrink in shame for even asking these questions?

Focusing now on the lower decks, we encounter facts and truths even more contradictory to the Standard Model of gender reality. Now we clearly see men occupying the bottom rung. Some were known collectively as the “Black Gang;” blackened as they were by the toxic coal dust covering them head to toe. These men worked long days shoveling coal into boiler furnaces. In the event of a mistake or a malfunction or a crisis, these men were set up to be the first ones injured, maimed, or sacrificed.

“With the possible exception of the lot of a galley slave, it would be difficult to conceive of a task more demanding and demeaning, more backbreaking and more soul-breaking, than feeding the furnaces of a coal-fired boiler on a steamship” (emphasis in original).[6] We know men to have the power, but that sure doesn’t look like MalePower. We know women to be the victims, but that is not FemaleVictimization. Might our collective understanding of gender reality be a little one-sided?

First-class passenger Charlotte Collyer describes her en-counter with a member of the Black Gang:

All the fingers of one hand had been cut off. Blood was running from the stumps and blood was spattered over his face and over his clothes. The red marks showed very clearly against the coal dust with which he was covered. I went over and spoke to him. I asked him if there was any danger. ‘Danger?’ he screamed at the top of his voice. ‘I should just say so! It’s hell down below. This boat will sink like a stone in ten minutes.’ . . . I hung on to my husband’s arm and although he was very brave, and not trembling, I saw that his face was as white as paper. . . . I saw First Officer Murdoch place guards by the gangways to prevent others like the wounded stoker from coming on the deck.

How many unhappy men were shut off in that way from their chance of safety I do not know, but Mr Murdock was probably right. He was a masterful man, astoundingly brave and cool. . . . He kept order to the last, and died at his post. They say he shot himself. . . . Then above the clamour of the people asking questions of each other, there came the terrible cry, ‘Lower the boats! Women and children first.’ Someone was shouting these last few words over and over again. ‘Women and children first! Women and children first.’”[7]

How many unhappy men? two-hundred-forty-eight in the Black Gang alone.[8] Other men remained at their posts in the generator room to ensure that the lights and telegraph kept working till the end. Others kept making music till the end. Lots of men died “manning” their post.

Doubtless Charlotte’s husband and First Officer William Murdock were both extremely impressive in their bravery. They certainly did keep their pain and fear invisible. But is the Male-Power interpretation of such stoicism the only interpreta­tion? Was Murdock still powerful even after he’d shot himself? And, yes, Charlotte Collyer received the cries of “Women and children first” as “terrible,” but how might those same cries have been received by her male equivalent?

Elsewhere: “They shouted goodbye to us, and—what do you think Mr Case did then? He just calmly lighted a cigarette and waved us goodbye with his hand. Mr Roebling stood there too—I can see him now. I am sure that he knew that the ship would go to the bottom. But both just stood there.”[9] These men may have understood their fate in terms of “courage” and “honor” and “gallantry”—clearly, they impressed the ladies—yet the plain fact of the matter is, with the ship sinking fast, those “powerful” men stood by passively while women from every rung in society took seats in the lifeboats.

What is this vast gender “dance” playing out here? Could Woman and Man be equal partners in it? How does it work? From whence does it derive? Could it be that in the gender system men got respect and admiration out of the deal, but women got the larger part of the love and empathy?

The “men in charge” carried guns and were prepared to use them. Surely people with guns have power? But, these men with guns were only prepared to use those guns against other men—men with the temerity to believe their lives equal in value to the lives of women—men who were, therefore, subject to summary execution for “cowardice.” Considering that the guns were only there to shoot men/protect women, is that really MalePower we’re looking at?

Edward Smith, the captain of the Titanic himself, said: “I’ll shoot the first man who jumps into a boat.” [10] In addition to the fear of being shot dead, men were also constrained by the rules of chivalry, which include a deep social conditioning (and in­stinctual impulse?) to protect and prioritize the lives of women.

Even boys could be denied a place in the lifeboats. One “ten-year-old boy climbed over a rail and jumped in boat number fourteen. An officer dragged him screaming to his feet.

“Please, mister. I won’t take up much room. Ple-e-ease! Let me stay!” His voice was high and squeaky.

The officer thrust a gun in the boy’s face, saying, “This boat is for women and children only. You’re old enough to be a man!”

“No-ooo! No! NO!”

“I give you just ten seconds to get back onto that ship before I blow your brains out!”

The boy left.

At about 1:40 the first gunshots were heard. “Get away from here! Get away from here!” an officer warned. “If any man tries to get in that boat I’ll shoot him like a dog.”[11]

And yet, two little boys young enough to be granted space on a lifeboat recall: “We ended up next to the daughter of an Ameri­can banker who managed to save her dog—no one objected.”[12]

At the heart of all this lies an ocean of sentimentality as vast as the ocean the Titanic sank in. And I’m not discounting the value of human sentiment. Perhaps on the Titanic events unfolded as they should. Perhaps men behaved properly in accepting death, and, in allowing their lives to be prioritized, perhaps the women behaved as they should. All that may be, yet we’re still left with facts and truths that will not reconcile with the Standard Model, the feminist version, the James Cameron version, of gender reality.

While truths of MalePower/FemaleVictimization, ManBad and WomanGood flow copiously throughout his film, note that none of the truths I’ve spotlighted are anywhere to be found within Cameron’s telling of the story. If such contrarian truths had been presented, it’s doubtful Titanic would have become one of the highest grossing films of all time. So why do I focus in on those very elements shunned by the popular version of the story? I do so because they reveal a realm of gender truth that is obscured, denied, and rationalized away—the gender truths that are missing.

Referring to the female privilege/male heroic self-sacrifice so self-evident, “Although this analysis is incandescently obvi­ous,” writes Chuck Anesi “it never seems to show up in mass media treatments of the Titanic disaster. Why is that?”

[C]heck out John Updike’s article “It Was Sad,” The New Yorker, 10/14/96, p. 94. Mr. Updike rambles on for several pages in a futile attempt to debug what he calls the “myth” of male heroism in the Titanic disaster. Since he has no factual basis for his beliefs, the effect is amazingly bad. Or check out the new movie Titanic, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio as one of those heroic third class passengers who were, as we know from the casualty figures, less heroic than the bourgeois passengers in second class.[13]

Despite plain facts, amply supported by eyewitness ac-counts, some extraordinary rhetorical gymnastics have been devoted to reframing away from any interpretation of events that would include FemalePower and/or MaleVictim­ization. ManGood, in the form of male bravery and self-sacrifice, is also downplayed along with WomanBad in the form of women in half-empty lifeboats protesting efforts to go back and rescue drowning men.[14]

Clearly, such facts and truths are every bit as factual and truthful as are the more familiar feminist facts and truths. So why do they “never seem to show up in mass media treatments of the Titanic?”[1] [15] The subtle, sentimental, instinctual reasons (along with some purely practical reasons) why the truths of FemalePower/MaleVictimization (FP/MV) are so rejected—not just in this context, but in all contexts—will occupy us through-out the book. But the short answer is this: the truths of FP/MV simply do not feel good. They feel bad—awkward, contrary, uncomfortable, unsettling, unacceptable.

How rejected are these truths? In the realms of gender conflict and complaint, gender activism and advocacy, gender defining, gender issues, gender studies, gender politics, gender anything, there is feminism on the one hand and on the other hand there is . . .  nothing. Could this feminist ideological dictatorship be further evidence of FemalePower? In all matters of gender, feminism alone dictates what is true and what is not true. But can we trust feminine-ism (in league with chivalry) to be gender-neutral and present us with a complete, balanced, unbiased view of gender reality?

The feminist literature is vast; the sum total could fill a library. The authors of that literature comb the world’s archives—the books, the journals, the letters—all surviving documents. They go in search of gender facts and truths of a particular kind and filter out the other kind. Over the last half century they’ve gathered and compiled those facts and truths in accord with the Male-Power/FemaleVictimization (MP/FV) paradigm (pre-feminist scholars did much the same thing except that their MP/FV rhetoric was driven by male chauvinism and chivalry). Their findings, presented within intricate theoretical frameworks, are eagerly published, often becoming required reading within aca­demia in general and Women’s Studies in particular.

Within academia (and everywhere else), gender reality as “patriarchy”—a stand-alone male force that rules our world, a male gender system designed to advantage and serve men at the expense of women, wherein women are the oppressed and men the oppressors—is taught as fact, not feminist theory. They may not explicitly teach that men are bad and women are good, but it is implicit (if women are truly the victims then men, the ones with the power, must be the victimizers). And, to “prove” it, they draw upon a plethora of those select facts and truths dug up by an army of feminist scholars—scholars matriculated in any of thousands of Women’s Studies (renamed “Gender Studies”) classrooms in universities across the western world.

This book’s ambition is to show that feminism’s men-have-the-power/women-are-the-victims gender paradigm is half of gender reality presented—and demanded to be received—as if it were gender reality in its entirety.

Despite its one-sidedness, if we are nevertheless content with this version of gender reality, then why would I take it upon myself to contradict it? I do so because I believe that gender politics has achieved profound influence throughout every facet of our lives and our world, and that a one-sided gender politics is not only false, it is poisonous.

I see the age-old Battle escalating into something like a War of the Sexes. I see escalating heterophobia, inter-sex rage, rancor, and resentment. I see the female-initiated divorce rate, the percentage of adults who are single, the percentage of children born to single mothers, and fatherlessness all risen to unprecedented levels. I also see a concurrent rise in every social pathology that concerns us most. Growing levels of female unhappiness and rage together with growing levels of male imprisonment and homelessness, academic failure and sui­cide, I see many down­ward sloping cultural trends and I see the one-sided, and therefore false, MalePower/FemaleVictimization paradigm festering deep at the core of it all.

If humanity is ever to evolve a constructive, fair-minded, Balanced gender politics, based upon a balanced view of gender reality, then we must be open to all gender facts and truths, not just those that confirm cherished illusions. For the sake of quelling false vengeance motives, in the name of fair­ness and forgiveness, healthy negotiation, calling it even and starting anew, this book is dedicated to revealing the other half of gender reality, down at the other end of the Balance beam—the gender truths that are missing.

In defiantly raising truths of FemalePower and truths of MaleVictimization out of obscurity, in entering those forbidden truths into the larger gender equation, in coming to recognize those truths on the other end of the Balance beam, we end up revealing something that many may find rather astonishing . . .

All of history is the history of gender equality

  • Tim Goldich

Author of – Loving Men, Respecting Women: The Future of Gender Politics

 

 

[1]  The 2016 film, Sully, though meticulous in depicting every minutia of airline Capt. Chesley Sullenberger’s amazing emergency landing on the Hudson river, nevertheless omits the part in which someone yelled “women and children first.” The film doesn’t show it, but despite slowing evacuation, women were indeed squeezed through the narrow airplane hallway so they could exit the sinking plane before the men did. “It’s actually quite admirable that many passengers put the needs and welfare of others above their own,” comments airline pilot Marty Khoury. No, they put the welfare of women above the welfare of men. Why is this “incandescently obvious” gender truth so often evaded both on film and in print?

 

[1]     Time Life’s Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook The World One Century Later (Time Life, paperback,  2012) p.110

[2]     Pellegrino, Charles R., Her Name Titanic: The Untold Story of the Sinking and Finding of the Unsinkable Ship (Avon Books, 1988, 1990) p.71

[3]     Time Life’s Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook The World One Century Later (Time Life, paperback,  2012) p.104

[4]     Anesi, Chuck http://www.anesi.com/titanic.htm, 1997, retrieved 08/07/16

[5]     Baumeister, Roy F., Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish By Exploiting Men (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2010) p.162

[6]     Butler, Allen Daniel, The Age of Cunard: A Transatlantic History 1839-2003 (Culver City, CA: ProStar Publications, 2004) p.163,

[7]     Tibballs, Geoff (editor), The Mammoth Book of the Titanic: Contemporary Accounts from Survivors and the World’s Press (New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002) pp 73-74. Original source: Semi-Monthly Magazine, May 1912.

[8]     Time Life’s Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook The World One Century Later (Time Life, paperback,  2012) p.44

[9]     Tibballs, Geoff (editor), The Mammoth Book of the Titanic: Contemporary Accounts from Survivors and the World’s Press (New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002) pp 78-79.

[10]   Ibid. p.67

[11]   Pellegrino, Charles R., Her Name Titanic: The Untold Story of the Sinking and Finding of the Unsinkable Ship (Avon Books, 1988, 1990) p.108

[12]   Time Life’s Titanic: The Tragedy That Shook The World One Century Later (Time Life, paperback,  2012) p.120

[13]   Anesi, Chuck http://www.anesi.com/titanic.htm, 1997, retrieved 08/07/16

[14]   Baumeister, Roy F., Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish By Exploiting Men (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2010) p.163.

It is said that the men on the deck turned their backs so as not to watch the women rowing away. Whether the women looked back at their doomed sons, husbands, and fathers is not known, but it is known that most of them refused to circle back after the ship had gone down, even though they might have been able to pull a few freezing men out of the water.

[15]   Khoury, Marty, http://www.flight.org/us-airways-flight-1549-woman-and-children-first, “US Airways Flight 1549 – Woman and Children First”, January 25th, 2000.

national coalition for men

NCFM Chicago Chapter President Tim Goldich, The Titanic – the preface to his new gender equality book

2 Responses to NCFM Chicago Chapter President Tim Goldich, The Titanic – the preface to his new gender equality book

  1. Jay on November 22, 2021 at 10:47 AM

    No different than Hilary Clinton claiming that the real “victims” of war are the women.

  2. Stanley Gaver on November 10, 2021 at 5:56 AM

    WOW! Another great contribution to Men’s Rights by Mr. Goldich! I’m going to buy the book right now.

    WELL DONE!

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