An eyewitness account of WACF.

By way of Encyclopedia Titanica, the words of Titanic survivor Mrs. Emil Taussig as reported by the New York Times on April 22nd 1912:

“Only twenty women were near the boat, and these were put in. My daughter Ruth was among the first, but I said that I wouldn’t go if my husband did not accompany me. There was room for fourteen more after the last woman had found her place, and they all pleaded to let the men take the empty seats.

“But the Captain said that he would not allow it. I was frantic. There was that boat, ready to be lowered into the water and only half full. Then the order came to lower. The men were pleading for permission to step in, and one came forward to take a place next to his wife. I heard a shot and I am sure it was he that went down.

“Then the boat swung out from the deck. I was still with my husband, and Ruth had already disappeared below the deck. I gave a great cry—I remember perfectly calling out the name of my daughter—and two men tore me from my husband’s side, lifted me, one by the head and one by the feet, and dropped me over the side of the deck into the lowering boat. I struck on the back of my head, but I had furs on, and that fact probably saved me from greater injury.

“The terrible thing was that we had so much room left for the poor men who were snatched away…

According to the biographical page for Mr. Taussig on Encyclopedia Titanica, he did not survive.

Mr Taussig escorted his wife and daughter to a lifeboat (number 8) before standing back. He was lost in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.


Posted in Chivalry, Courtly Love | 64 Comments

Lancelot and the gruesome demand for the Full Titanic Experience.

Five years ago this January the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground at 11:45 PM with 4,252 souls on board.  The engine compartments were quickly flooded, and the ship eventually capsized and sank.  Miraculously, all but 32 of the souls on board were rescued.  That so many were rescued is astounding given that the ship capsized at night, before the required lifeboat drill had been conducted, and with water temperatures estimated in the mid to upper 50s.  It is even more miraculous given the astoundingly bad decisions the captain made after running aground, including*:

  1. Delaying reporting the collision to the Coast Guard, and concealing the nature of the problem from the Coast Guard when contacted nearly 30 minutes after running aground.
  2. Delaying the order to muster to the lifeboat stations until nearly 45 minutes after the collision, and delaying the abandon ship order until nearly an hour and ten minutes after the collision.

Almost immediately after the shipwreck there were a series of articles complaining that something was missing in the Costa Concordia shipwreck.  That something was the romantic gesture made by men on the Titanic 100 years earlier.  Unlike on the Titanic, men on the Costa Concordia evacuated the ship along with women and children.  This, along with what appear to be three endlessly repeated anecdotal accounts (out of over 4,000 survivors) that some individual men were less than courteous when entering the lifeboats, lead to complaints that the men who survived the shipwreck were collectively a group of brutes and cowards, who had deprived us all of a grand romantic gesture.  As National Review Editor Rich Lowry complained in the opening of Dude, where’s my lifeboat?

When they make the movie about the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that grounded off the coast of Tuscany, there won’t be romantic tales about its captain.

Lowry’s article was a complaint about the lack of romance accompanying the Concordia disaster.  While on the Titanic men dressed up in preparation for their deaths and the band romantically played on, on Concordia men focused on getting their loved ones to safety.  As Lowry laments in closing, what the Concordia lacked was a romantic “grace note” as the ship went down:

The Titanic went down, they say, to the strains of the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as the band courageously played on. It lent a final grace note to the tragedy. Today, we don’t do grace notes. We’ve gone from “Women and children, first,” to “Dude, where’s my lifeboat?” As the women of the Costa Concordia can testify, that’s a long way down.

That grace note that Lowry pines for however would have come at the cost of a much larger loss of life for men, women and children.  Lowry doesn’t come out and say that more deaths would have made Concordia more satisfying to his chivalrous sensibilities, but I see no other way to interpret his gruesome demand for more romance and flair on a shipwreck where it is clear that the vast majority of the men on board handled themselves admirably.  There is simply no way that the average man could have handled himself otherwise and have 99.25% of the lives saved.

What Lowry and many others specifically lamented was the lack of a “Women and Children First” (WACF) evacuation policy.  This is the romantic gesture that made Titanic, with its loss of 1,513 lives, the gold standard of feel-good shipwrecks.  For those who might think I’m being unfair to Lowry and others like him, I should point out that there are no serious arguments that the romantic policy enacted on the Titanic would have saved lives on Concordia.  If the goal is to save lives, the best policy is to carry excess lifeboat capacity and load passengers on the lifeboats as they arrive at the muster stations.  This is the policy that was (belatedly) followed on Concordia, and this is what left Lowry and others feeling so cheated.

In fact, the romantic gesture Lowry and others crave would have created chaos on the dark, sinking Costa Concordia and have cost many lives.  Of course, as far as romantic gestures go more deaths, especially the deaths of more men, would be more satisfying to the spectators.  Yet this gruesome desire to emotionally feast on the deaths of hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of men would come at great cost not just to the men who died, but to the women and children on board as well.  WACF may make sense in some very extreme exceptions, but as a rule it greatly hampers evacuation in a time of danger, stress, and confusion.  The reason is that in times of danger women and children quite understandably:

  1.  Want to ensure the survival of all of their loved ones, including men.
  2.  Don’t want to separate from the men who are protecting them.

WACF greatly slows the process of evacuation, as women tend to refuse to be separated from their men.  In the prototype for WACF, the sinking of the HMS Birkenhead, the women had to be forcibly picked up and dropped into the lifeboats, as the Daily Mail notes:

When the ship foundered, the soldiers’ commander told his men to ‘stand fast!’ and allow women and children to make use of the few lifeboats on the vessel.

Some women did not want to go on their own — they had to be torn away from their husbands, carried over to the bulwark and dropped over the ship’s side. Most of the soldiers and sailors aboard drowned or were eaten by sharks, but all the women and children survived, and the  chivalric ethos became known as the Birkenhead Drill…

The same thing greatly hampered the evacuation on the Titanic, resulting in not all of the lifeboats being launched, and the ones which were launched being sparsely filled.  Chuck Anesi explains.

All 14 lifeboats, the two emergency boats, and two of the Engelhardt boats were launched. These had a capacity of 1,084 passengers. Obviously, many boats were not loaded to full capacity. There were many reasons for this; at first, many women and children were simply unwilling to be lowered 65 feet from the boat deck to the water. Some of the men put in boats were put there simply to show it was safe, and allay the fears of other passengers.

This chaos not only lead to the needless deaths of over five hundred men, but the deaths of 52 children and over 100 women.

…there was enough lifeboat capacity for ALL women and children (534 persons total), AND 550 men as well. (Total capacity of the boats launched was 1,084.) This explains why, especially as the situation became more urgent, more men were put in the boats. Indeed, if the boat crews had loaded one man for each woman or child loaded, they could have expected to save all women and children, plus as many men.

For an example of the anguish and chaos this policy caused, see the example offered in Titanic Wikia of the final life boat to be launched,  Collapsible D:

Collapsible lifeboat D was the ninth and last boat to be lowered from the port side. Second Officer Lightoller had managed to fit the collapsible boat into the now-empty davits of boat 1. He tried to find women to fill it with, but had trouble in finding any. Finally, he said, he managed to fill the boat with 15-20 people…

The Sun on April 23rd, 1912 gave the account of Mrs Hoyt, one of the women who was on board that final life boat.  Like on the Birkenhead, she had to be physically thrown into the lifeboat because she did not want to leave her husband:

Mrs. Hoyt gave a concise account of the tragedy to her father. She did not leave her husband’s side until the last boat was being lowered and then she was torn from him and thrown into a boat.

Fortunately for Mrs. Hoyt (and her husband), Mr. Hoyt made it on board the lifeboat by diving into the icy water and swimming toward the boat:

Frederick Hoyt, who had escorted his wife to the craft and then calculated where the boat would row and thought that if he jumped and swam in that direction, they would pick him up.

The article on Collapsible D notes that there was plenty of extra room on the boat when it was picked up by a responding ship:

There were probably about 20 or 22 (not quite half-filled) in it when he had been picked up.

The foolishness that caused Mrs Hoyt to have to be physically thrown into the lifeboat, and her husband to have to swim to join her on the half empty boat can be traced back to Lancelot and the concept of courtly love.  From the Daily Mail:

Mark Girouad, a great social and architectural historian, in his book on Chivalry In Victorian And Edwardian England, says the ‘chivalric’ treatment of women was part and parcel of the Victorians’ cult of the ‘gentleman’ and the ‘amateur’.

The great heroes of the Edwardian and pre-World War I days, such as Captain Scott, were passionate amateurs, and saw themselves as knights errant, women as damsels in distress.

The sacrifice made by over 1,000 men aboard the Titanic over 100 years ago, was profoundly noble.  The same is true for the hundreds of soldiers and sailers who perished on board the HMS Birkenhead.  But the ghoulish demands by shipwreck spectators for other men to sacrifice themselves is despicable, and something we have yet to come to terms with.  The wicked worship of romantic love and adultery that began in the 12th century has not only devastated our families, but it also poses a very real risk to the safety of men, women, and children in cases of disaster.

*Captain Francesco Schettino’s lawyers claimed that he heroically decided to delay the launch of the lifeboats because he knew the sinking ship would drift back towards land and he wanted to avoid having lifeboats drift away in the night.  However, his decision at the same time to tell the Coast Guard that the rapidly sinking ship merely had an electrical problem makes this argument difficult to take seriously.

Posted in Chivalry, Costa Concordia, Courtly Love, National Review, Traditional Conservatives | 112 Comments

Turning on moderation later today.

I’ve been swamped all week and will be even more so over the next few days. I’ll be turning on moderation in a few hours, and probably won’t turn it back off until early next week.

In the meantime, if you crave high quality Christian Manosphere discussion, there are lively discussions over at:

  1. American Dad: June Cleaver might be unmarriagable right now. Scott published the post this morning and as of 3:30 Central Time it already has 67 comments.
  2. Cane Caldo: Where We Used to Live Isn’t  Cane posted this yesterday and it currently has 11 comments.

I would also recommend Still Amusing over at Vox Day’s Alpha Game.  Hilarious!

Feel free to add any other blogs/posts you think readers would enjoy before I turn moderation on, including plugs for your own blog.

Posted in Linkage | 13 Comments

Is Gen. 29 a modern love story?

Note:  This began as a discussion in the comments section of Riding to Lancelot’s rescue, but it seems worthy of making into a quick post.

Commenter Kevin asks:

I agree that the obsession with romantic love is absurd. But I continue to be confused by the connection between our bizarre expectations and courtly love. Is Dalrock arguing that there was no concept of love or romance prior to courtly love? Or that courtly love was the beginning of the perversion?

Genesis 29 seems to be a love story. The concept of love and romance both licit and illicit is ancient.

There has always existed an emotional aspect of sexual desire/passion. What is novel is our focus on separating the emotional from the physical and declaring the emotional aspect pure, purifying, and holy. As C.S. Lewis explains, we struggle to even imagine how this was viewed prior to the transformation of courtly love. Gen. 29 is a great example of this (NIV version):

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.

As Kevin points out, in our minds this is a modern love story, a romance. How could it possibly be anything else? We simply can’t imagine otherwise.

But take a look at the original Hebrew and how our translations cover it. I’m not trying to create the “correct” biblical interpretation*, but pointing out the different frame of mind of the Hebrew words vs the massive baggage we have in English about romantic love. Here is an example of how the passage would read choosing just three different English words:

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob liked Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his sexual desire for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to go into her.

Cane Caldo pointed out that Jacob’s “love” for Rachel is not the sentimental, purifying true love of modern love tales:

1. Jacob loved Rachel because she was beautiful. He wasn’t “captivated by her inner beauty”. He didn’t “love her for who she was”. He wanted her to be his, and to have sex with her. Compare this to Dalrock’s post “Like a rutting buck”.

Indeed. So much so that Jacob didn’t realize he had spent the night having sex with the wrong sister until the next morning!

21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.

22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.

24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

Moreover, as Cane also points out, we are never told that Rachel had any romantic or sexual feelings toward Jacob;  Jacob never “wins her heart”. Contrast this with 1 Sam 18 where we learn that Michal was in love with David:

 20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.”

Jacob offers to work for Rachel’s father for seven years, and her father replies that he may as well give her to Jacob instead of some other man:

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.”

And yet, as Lewis explains, the legacy of the courtly love revolution means that we can’t read stories like Gen 29 in any other way than as a “love story”.

This is not to say that Jacob had no emotional feelings for Rachel.  If he didn’t have strong emotional feelings for her before the wedding he certainly had them by the time of her death.  But the story of their “courtship” is anything but romantic, and the description of Jacob wanting to marry her so he could have sex with her is about as straightforward as it could be.  There is also not even an inkling of the idea that romantic love is pure or sanctifying in this story.  But the legacy of courtly love hovers over us like a supermassive black hole, warping everything relating to sex and marriage with a nearly irresistible force in our minds.  We just don’t notice it because from our perspective it has always been there.

*Just as everyone with access to an acetylene torch is tempted to fancy themselves a welder, everyone with access to Strongs is tempted to see themselves as a scholar of Hebrew.  For the record, I am neither a welder nor a scholar of Hebrew.  My point is not to offer the correct interpretation/translation of the passage, but to give a sense of the immense baggage the words have in English.

Posted in Chivalry, Courtly Love, Marriage, Romantic Love | 136 Comments

Ovid Game tip: Don’t visit her on her birthday.

In The Allegory of Love C.S. Lewis explains that because the concept of courtly love has fully transformed our view of sexual passion, we misread prior works as if they had the same theme.  He uses the example of Ovid’s Art of Love, which he describes as an ironic poem on the art of seduction:

Ovid sat down to compose for the amusement of a society which well understood him an ironically didactic poem on the art of seduction. The very design of his Art of Love presupposes an audience to whom love is one of the minor peccadilloes of life, and the joke consists in treating it seriously—in writing a treatise, with rules and examples en rège for the nice conduct of illicit loves. It is funny, as the ritual solemnity of old gentlemen over their wine is funny. Food, drink, and sex are the oldest jokes in the world; and one familiar form of the joke is to be very serious about them.

He offers the following example from the poem:

Go early ere th’ appointed hour to meet
The fair, and long await her in the street.
Through shouldering crowds on all her errands run,
Though graver business wait the while undone.
If she commands your presence on her way
Home from the ball to lackey her, obey!
Or if from rural scenes she bids you, ‘Come’,
Drive if you can, if not, then walk, to Rome,
And let nor Dog-star heats nor drifted load
Of whitening snows deter you from the road.
Cowards, fly hence! Our general, Love, disdains
Your lukewarm service in his long campaigns.8

Lewis explains that this is a joke, mocking the foolish way men pedastalize women and set out to satisfy their every whim (truly a fool’s errand).  Since we have adopted the foolish view of courtly love, we can’t imagine Ovid’s mocking as anything other than sincere:

No one who has caught the spirit of the author will misunderstand this. The conduct which Ovid recommends is felt to be shameful and absurd, and that is precisely why he recommends it—partly as a comic confession of the depths to which this ridiculous appetite may bring a man, and partly as a lesson in the art of fooling to the top of her bent the last baggage who has caught your fancy. The whole passage should be taken in conjunction with his other piece of advice—‘Don’t visit her on her birthday: it costs too much.’9 But it will also be noticed—and this is a pretty instance of the vast change which occurred during the Middle Ages—that the very same conduct which Ovid ironically recommends could be recommended seriously by the courtly tradition. To leap up on errands, to go through heat or cold, at the bidding of one’s lady, or even of any lady, would seem but honourable and natural to a gentleman of the thirteenth or even of the seventeenth century…

Posted in C.S. Lewis, Chivalry, Courtly Love, Game, Romantic Love | 56 Comments