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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Women, Children and Elderlies

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A man is supposed to be brave and bear it all. He is supposed to be able to hold longer and suffer lesser. He is also supposed to be dispensible.

In any tragedy or accident where all people cannot be saved, general wisdom is to save women, children, old people and disabled first. Men get absolute last priority. So if you are stuck in hijacked plane or sinking ship, you are doomed if you are male between 18-50 years. One can understand about children; they are fragile and innocent. No adult in their right mind can let children suffer in front of him. Rest, I am not too sure.

Even leaving that aside, problem is that most of the time nature of such events is such that being man is no help against fighting that misfortune. If it were not so, then one can easily side with conventional wisdom. What additional things men on Titanic could have done that women and elderlies couldn’t? One may presume that they can hold marginally longer in the water (that itself is an assumption) but in vast expanse of ocean, how much advantageous that would have been? Ditto for fighting with armed terrorists or running out of burning buildings. I am not sure if being man gets as much advantage as it’s assumed to be.

Of course, this is all arm chair, matter of fact, logical thinking. I can see men, including myself, I hope, sacrificing just because they see it their duty to do their best so as to minimize harm to others. It is related to concept of manliness, a concept so undermined, or forced to be undermined, everywhere else, by everybody else, when it doesn’t suit. We’ve compartmentalized role of people in our mind. One side is traditional role, other side is more advanced progressive social role.

Delegating men to last when rescuing can be explained, perhaps. Delegating them to last when mentioning causalities I cannot fathom. So many people died including so many women and children. Even a dead man is not worth the respect others get. Somehow his death is not so much pain as that of woman or child. Would one suffer less because a man in the family died as against a woman, ceteris paribus? Yet, burden of manliness lasts up to the grave.
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