Women and children first ...

(28 Posts)
babybarrister Tue 28-Jan-14 20:29:47

is this really appropriate any more?

specifically in relation to the Syrian government's promise to allow "women and children" to leave Homs ....

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25901363

anothernumberone Tue 28-Jan-14 20:32:49

It is hardly worth having an academic argument given the circumstances tbh.

babybarrister Tue 28-Jan-14 20:48:34

actually I think it is more important than ever to debate this as men are going to be trapped in the city ....

PenguinsDontEatKale Tue 28-Jan-14 20:53:41

On a sinking ship or whatever no, I don't see why women should be before men. Generally speaking, I do think children first, along with a parent. And the elderly and infirm.

NiceTabard Tue 28-Jan-14 20:57:39

The "women and children first" thing isn't relevant to the situation in Homs, TBH, as far as I can see there it is "men never" (what age is their cut off I wonder).

I was utterly shocked when I heard that on the news yesterday. Absolutely deplorable. Really just upsetting and grim and splitting up families and WTF and just wrong wrong wrong. I dread to think what would become of the men left. Seems like some kind of trap, as well.

If you want to talk about "women and children first" in the usual way, I think it needs to be children and other vulnerable people with a carer first, and less physically fit people next and most able people last. I imagine that in the day that phrase was coined, as women were considered to be weak and childlike, that was more or less what was meant.

No, I think it's deeply inhumane. Imagine having to say goodbye to your spouse or child knowing you might not see them again? It's appalling. At least if it were just children or just the sick, one might understand, but imagine being a woman leaving her husband or a husband whose wife goes, in that situation.

anothernumberone Tue 28-Jan-14 21:02:09

I think this thread is whole heartedly inappropriate given what is going on in Homs. Having a distant pleasant chat about feminist issues in the region with that back drop is unpalatable. I am out.

I don't believe for one second that is what anyone is doing.

I know someone who reports from war zones and she is entirely capable of considering these issues - in fact she inspires me to do just that.

NiceTabard Tue 28-Jan-14 21:10:18

Just as wrong for men with no families, young men, all of them.

It's just a trap isn't it. That can be the only thing. They think if they let the women and children out then they can do what they like and there will be less international reaction or something?

babybarrister Tue 28-Jan-14 21:10:54

it is precisely because that it is exactly what is actually happening that it is necessary for people to consider whether men's lives are less worthy of saving as that sadly seems to be the reality...

PenguinsDontEatKale Tue 28-Jan-14 21:36:11

I think that, in terms of the situation is Homs, Assad's only motivation is to limit emotive scenes and statistics about the weakest members of society. I doubt that he or his regime have thought about how the 'women' aspect fits this in anything but the most general terms.

I read an interesting article about 'women and children first' more generally in the context of the Titanic. In fact, it was nothing like the general rule it is often thought to be and seems to have been used only a handful of times in maritime situations, with no basis in maritime law.

Barrister - I don't think it's a question of men's lives being less worth saving. I think it was more the opposite, an expression of viewing women as weak and vulnerable and men more able to 'survive alone'. I also understand that, again in it's original maritime setting, it was often because men were expected to help try to save the ship, or expected to be more likely to be able to swim, cling to driftwood, etc. So the rule was an expression of male strength rather than lower value on a male life.

babybarrister Tue 28-Jan-14 21:45:00

Ridiculous now though when women just as capable of killing

Women always were.

NiceTabard Tue 28-Jan-14 22:06:29

The other aspect was that gender roles were more set (or seen to be more set) in certain classes and thus mothers and children were not to be separated, as it was assumed that the mother was the primary caregiver. Also Bf I guess.

What does any of this have to do with Syria though??????? I don't understand.

Mitchy1nge Tue 28-Jan-14 22:54:55

I thought the 'women and children first' thing was at least partly because women used to wear such stupid clothes they were more likely to die or be harmed in some way, not as able to run or swim or whatever, actually isn't this still the case in most disasters today?

vaudevelle Wed 29-Jan-14 01:14:36

Aside from the situation in Homs, it makes sense: you have to evacuate the children first and there has to be a group to look after them. Gender is by far the easiest divider in an emergency (what other options are there? Dividing by Tory/labour?) and women aren't generally as strong as men (with some exceptions of course) when it comes to moving rubble/dragging-debris.
It's sad that this set-up , however infrequently used, favours one gender over another but such is life.

MomsStiffler Wed 29-Jan-14 08:32:36

I can just see the outrage when it's discovered that x amount of war criminals are living in the UK as "refugees".

Unfortunately in places like Syria most of the fighting is carried out by men, "Women & Children" is the fairest way to make sure you're evacuating non combatants.

Plus, due to the culture again, women wouldn't be used in organised rescues, rubble clearance etc.

On the other hand, there's a worry that by removing the women & children we're making it easier for a massacre of the remaining men a la Srebrenica

Not a decision I'd want to make either way TBH

meditrina Wed 29-Jan-14 08:44:30

They want to get the children out. I think that's a visceral response, and one I share. The children need adults responsible for them to travel with them if adults are allowed out. Selecting women rather than men reduces (though does not eliminate) the possibility of the accompanying adult being an active fighter for one group or another who might seek to further the conflict (including by terrorist means) whilst overseas.

It's a cynical move by the government, to be sure. But yes, there is also the practical issue of not wanting to evacuate children on their own.

Women may be just as capable of fighting and yet, as in most wars, it is overwhelmingly men doing the fighting. It doesn't mean every single woman is just an innocent victim but as a collective they are more likely to be more noncombatant in nature.

You also have to consider the incredibly high levels of sexual violence against women in civil wars, including Syria. Rape is not just something that happens, it is an intentional strategy used to terrorise and undermine the adversary. So women are targets in more way than one.

Penguins the Titanic example is interesting. I actually read a book about it once that talked about it in relation to the suffragette movement at the time and the difficulties it caused them. Apparently someone wrote a song that went something like 'Votes for women was the cry, underneath the summer sky....' and then 'Boats for women was the cry, when the brave were made to die...' (apologies for paraphrase, was a long time ago!)

So I think it is an interesting discussion to have but I think talking about it in the context of war is a slightly different discussion.

Unfortunately in places like Syria most of the fighting is carried out by men, "Women & Children" is the fairest way to make sure you're evacuating non combatants.

I agree.

Does anyone remember the thread on women and children first in a disaster situation on MN? Ages ago.

People were desperate to be seen as pc and said that they were stronger swimmers than their husbands and their should be a ranking based on disability/sex/abilities what parents the children had etc.

And I remember thinking, basically everyone would die. It would be a massive muddle and everyone would die.

I'm a better stronger swimmer than DH, but I have also been pregnant or just post postpartum for about a 1/3rd of our relationship.

I have also (like the woman in most hetero relationships) been the primary caregiver for our children... It's not fair, to the sahd on board who also happens to be a weak swimmer. But really change the world first before you start changing the rankings on to the boats.

Does anyone ever notice that when it comes to sexism 90% is probably biased against women but it's that tiny 10 percent people worry about?

Men paying too much for car insurance/ missing their chance on to a hypothetical lifeboat etc. It's like the tiny tiny percentage of fals rape claims and why they get talked about more than actual rapes.

MothratheMighty Wed 29-Jan-14 11:35:04

Vulnerable first.

Daykin Wed 29-Jan-14 11:39:02

They said on the news that it was because of the extremely high levels of sexual violence against women and girls.

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