Men’s Rightser: Men win the “we care a lot” olympics because of the Titanic, 9/11

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This graphic is the top (unstickied) post on the Men’s Rights subreddit at the moment. Like that Warren Farrell quote I wrote about last week, it’s yet another example of a familiar claim made by misogynistic Men’s Righsers — that men are world’s true heroes, sacrificing themselves for the good of women too lazy or cowardly or whatever to stand up for themselves.

At first glance, the graphic seems to have a certain logic to it: Far more men than women did die on the titanic; that’s a fact. All of the firefighters who died on 9/11 were men; that is also, as far as I can tell, a fact.

Does this justify the graphic maker’s conclusion that “men simply are caring people.” Well, no. You can’t actually draw conclusions about all 3.5 billion men and boys on planet earth from two examples.

But there’s a lot more wrong with the graphic-maker’s argument than that, as a closer look at these two examples can show.

Let’s start with the 9/11 firefighters, because it’s a bit more straightforward. First, I want to point out a little bit of hanky panky the graphic maker is playing with the numbers. Yes, it is true that all of the firefighters who died in and around the towers that day were male. But they weren’t the only first responders to die; if you also include police officers, you will find at least one woman’s name in the list.

That said, yes, virtually all of the first responders who died were men, including every single firefighter who died. And they died heroes, there’s no question about that.

But this isn’t because there were hundreds of female firefighters standing back eating bon bons and letting the men do the dirty and dangerous work for them. Firefighting is a heavily male-dominated profession, and like a lot of male-dominated professions it has not exactly been welcoming to women, who have faced discrimination and harassment (sexual and otherwise) when they’ve tried to enter the “boys club.”

But there’s an even bigger elephant in the room: while virtually all of the first-responders who died on 9/11 were men, all of the terrorists who hijacked the planes that day were also men.

So if you’re going to use this incident to claim that “men simply are caring people,” wouldn’t you also have to conclude that “men simply are terrorists?”

Or perhaps you might want to reconsider using an incident like this to draw conclusions about an entire gender.

When MRAs — taking their cue from Warren Farrell — complain about men being forced or pressured into the “protecter role,” most of the time they are protecting women from the actions of other men.

Yep, men are more likely to run into burning buildings to save women than women are to save men. But men are far more likely to murder their intimate partners  (or their exes) than women are.

Even the Titanic, perhaps the MRAs  favorite example of “male disposability,” is in fact yet another case in which some men sacrificed themselves to save women from the actions of other men.

First of all, let me point out another little bit of trickery that the graphic-maker is playing with the numbers here. While it is true that a much higher percentage of women on board the Titanic survived than men, looking at the raw numbers is misleading, because there were also several times as many men as women on the ship in the first place. And that class made an enormous difference in terms of survival as well, though their were certainly many upper-class men who went down with the ship. (Like, for example, my great-grandfather Jacques Futrelle, the mystery writer.)

And it’s also worth pointing out that the “women and children first” policy that seems to have been followed, to a degree, on the Titanic wasn’t actually typical, as I’ve pointed out before; indeed, one study of  15,000 victims of major maritime disasters found that more women and children died than men.

But the plain fact is that chivalry didn’t kill the men on the Titanic. This was a preventable disaster, one that was, quite literally, man-made.

The White Star Line chose to equip their ship with an inadequate number of lifeboats. The captain of the ship chose to plow ahead in conditions of virtually no visibility through a section of the North Atlantic that he knew from reports that day was filled with icebergs.

And of course the captain, and the decision makers at the White Star line were all men.

So if you want men as a group to get credit for kindness because some men willingly gave up their seats on the lifeboats for women, it would seem only fair to have to give all men blame for the recklessness and hubris of the ship captain and those White Star line executives who decided that the ship didn’t really need lifeboats enough for everyone on board.

Human beings, whatever their gender, are fascinating and varied creatures, who respond differently to challenges in different settings. There are countless examples of men — and women — rising to the challenges that history has put before them and finding reserves of heroism that they didn’t even know they had. And there are countless examples of men — and women — acting in craven and awful and evil ways.

No gender has a monopoly on kindness or cruelty.

Also, fuck the captain of the Titanic. What an asshole.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon,, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on January 27, 2014, in antifeminism, hundreds of upvotes, hypocrisy, misogyny, MRA, narcissism, patriarchy, reddit, the fucking titanic and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 206 Comments.

  1. GNL doesn’t ever seem to read the posts, like many trolls here.

    Seeing as he’s a “gender-neutral” lackwit, that’s hardly surprising. Reading comprehension is against mascutrolls’ religion.

  2. Uhm, EX-CUUUSE me, but, some of those people in danger were MEN.

    That’s pretty misandry, Mr. MRA.

    It’s like he considers men’s struggles to be insignificant!

  3. OT:
    In which MRAs actually advocate forced abortion through physical abuse or coercing the woman into taking an abortion pill:

    r/MensRights – full of moderate egalitarians.

  4. Oh Ally, that was just, I can’t even.

  5. Kitten – I’m reminded of a line from Blackadder 3, in which the Prince Regent describes himself as “thick as a whale omelet”.


    I’ve only seen snippets from the various series, but I swear Blackadder had some of Hugh Laurie’s finest moments, never mind Mr Grumpyass House. :D

    Diana – do you use Firefox? If you do, go to their add-ons and search for Text Formatting Toolbar. Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll have buttons for doing italics, strikethrough, links and so on. Makes it much easier to avoid the blockquote monster. :D

    If you don’t have Firefox, there are instructions in the comments part of the Welcome Package – did you get one? – Argenti put ’em there to show people how to type the code.

  6. I’ll go with ignoring BrainInNeutralLackwit, for sure. He’s thicker than said whale omelette and twice as dull.

  7. Sam-I-Was?:

    Sorry if I’m just repeating something another commenter made in another thread, but have you looked at the Wounded Warrior Project? It’s a really great program, which helps warriors not only overcome their physical injuries, but to overcome any mental injuries, raise public awareness, help the warriors get jobs that they can not only complete, but excel and shine in.

    And as a US Airman, from a family of folks in the US Armed Forces, I want to say that your desire to continue your uncle’s work is inspiring, and I deeply appreciate it. I’m thankfully still in good health, so I don’t directly benefit from your giving, but I know that there are lots of other warriors who do need assistance, not just in physical aspects, but in all aspects of life.

    I wish I could personally thank him for his service. Though I could understand if that’s not what he wants to hear right now. I’m not sure how he feels about his situation, so it’s not really my place to say anything.

    But, I want to thank you again, for being the kind of awesome that gets me a bit emotional. So, Wounded Warrior Project is my first bet on where to donate. I don’t know of any international deals, but I’ll try to ask around for you. Ok, rambling over.

  8. Diana – do you use Firefox? If you do, go to their add-ons and search for Text Formatting Toolbar. Once you’ve downloaded it, you’ll have buttons for doing italics, strikethrough, links and so on. Makes it much easier to avoid the blockquote monster. :D

    If you don’t have Firefox, there are instructions in the comments part of the Welcome Package – did you get one? – Argenti put ‘em there to show people how to type the code.

    Thanks a lot. :D I’m on Chrome, but I found the Welcome Package, just googled it. Again thanks a lot for the tips. :)

  9. Diana Adams, wasn’t the movie zero dark thirty base on that cia women?

    Yeah, but just on one of them, supposedly the one who put the most effort on it, there were many more people involved as CIA analysts and most of them were women, they had the most knowledge on Al Qaeda even before the attacks.

  10. The main flaw with those stats given is with the Titanic disaster it lists all casualties passengers and crew, while only listing the firefighters who died on 9/11.

    Fair stats would be to either to:

    A) only list the dead crew of the Titanic, which I’m guessing were mainly male, given the era of the tragedy. Then this is less about sexism and more about work place safety. Incidentally, with no disrespect intended towards the many acts of bravery that night the Titanic went down, during the sinking itself most people believed the ship wouldn’t actually sink or that they would be rescued, had they known they would certainly die, some might have been less unselfish. When the Lusitania went down it was everyone for themselves, and many women and children died.

    B) give the figures of ALL the people killed on 9/11 divided into male and female and then spout off about who cares more on the basis of being killed by terrorists.

    Incidentally I’ve been trying to find out what the female/male casualty stats are for 9/11, and so far I haven’t found any. Stats list victims by nationality, religion, where they were, what they did, how they died, who they worked for, but funnily enough no one lists what kind of genitals they were sporting that day. It’s almost as if the gender of the dead isn’t considered relevant by the gross majority of right thinking people?

  11. Given: That more men than women die in wars, emergency services, and other dangerous jobs.

    Feminist solution: Let’s fix things so that nobody has to die.

    MRA solution: Let’s fix things so that more women die.

  12. Buttercup Q. Skullpants

    I don’t know what’s more pathetic: the fact that MRAs have to create flashcards to remind themselves that decent human emotions like empathy exist, OR the fact that they STILL fail at it.

    Any time a tragic incident happens to a woman, r/mensrights falls all over itself gleefully mocking her and making sport of her pain. If a woman has an opinion they disagree with, they dox, harrass, and bully her, and call for violence. Yeah, that’s real caring.

    Then there’s the underlying issue of incompetency. They can’t even master basic social skills, so where do they get off latching on to 9/11 responders? It’s easy for a keyboard potato to brag about superhero feats as if they themselves had accomplished them, but I wouldn’t trust an MRA to rescue an overdone bagel from a toaster.

  13. Gotta love the “GOTCHYA” in these men’s arguments. If feminists disagree, then it’s like feminists are saying that men aren’t caring when most really are. If feminists agree, then all the male assholes get to catch a ride on the coattails of heroes, and male privilege (ie. male=good, male=hero) is preserved.

    I feel kinda bad for all the guys that are so depressed and have so little individual self-worth that being male, being the “good” gender, is all that they have. Maybe if gender roles weren’t so fucked up that men feel that they can’t go to therapy or ask for help things would be better.

  14. *men felt they could go to therapy or ask for help, things would be better.

    Editing fail. ><

  15. r/MensRights – full of moderate egalitarians.

    Greatest Human Rights Movement in the History of Fucking EVAR. >_<

  16. Sam-I-Was — Pecunium requested I add Wounded Warriors to my (still not posted cuz I’m an idiot) Borg list of places to get help, so I know that’d be on his list too. I’ll drop him an email and see if he has any other ideas.

  17. Regarding the titanic — even once it was clear the ship was sinking some men did help the crew ensure women and children got into the lifeboats. Of course, it was other men they had to keep from storming the boats, so not exactly a ringing endorsement of men as oh so caring, but at the same time, they weren’t all unaware that what they were doing would cost them their lives.

    Of course, what a lot of them miss is that first, there were a lot more men on board in the first place and second, it was an era when women’s only “duty” was raising her kids — saving the kids but not their mother’s wouldn’t have been viewed well (or do these doofuses think grown men should’ve had equal chances as small children? Wouldn’t surprise me if they can’t grasp that protecting children is pretty much a required thing for any mammal species to survive as a whole)

  18. Not to mention that some of them lowered the lifeboats before they were full, in a state of panic at the prospect being swarmed by those low-class steerage rats. Chivalry? Caring as a sex? Sorry, dudes, you’re just as scatterbrained and selfish as teh wimminz…

  19. Here is an article about heroes after Hurricane Katrina. These heroes are a woman and her daughters. It shows that you don’t have to rush into falling buildings to save lives to be a hero.

  20. REally someone has the audacity to say something nice about men as a gender, and you twist it into something ugly.

    Right. That’s why the OP is all about men being good, and ignore saying things about how evil women are.

    You can cavil that it’s only bashing “feminists”, but then you have to explain why the category shift. If it’s only some women, why praise all men? If it’s only praising the “good men” then where is the harm in saying other men are evil?

    No matter how one slices it this is either misandrist, misogynist, or both. In any case it’s facile and stupid; a pair of traits you ought to be better at recognising.

  21. “MRA solution: Let’s fix things so that more women die.”

    Making more women die is the MRA solution for everything.

  22. Buttercup Q. Skullpants:

    I definitely misread that as “It’s easy for a keyboard potato to brag about superhero feasts”. Now I have a picture in my head of some MRA trying to claim that since he regularly has lunch with Batman, who is a MAN, that all men are amazing people. Nevermind that Batman is usually protecting Gotham/the world from other MEN…

    I also have no idea why any respectable supe would be eating with these slimeballs… Yes, I am quite aware my nerd is showing. And that comic culture has its own misogynistic problems.

  23. “You have to let him down gently” is another version of that. It’s told to women and girls so often and then if we do end up pressured into a dangerous situation we’re asked why we didn’t just cut the guys balls off and dive out a window to escape the second we felt our boundaries threatened.

    Leatap SO TRUE!

    You have to let them down gently cause of ego . But you have to scream NO!!!!!!!!!!!And run so as not to blur the lines when you are making out that you really mean no .

  24. Oh lord, guys. This morning, I broke up a violent partner-beating in my apartment complex. (Warnings for violence, cops, and some blood.) It was two army vets, and from what I could tell, it was the woman who beat the shit out of the guy. I broke it up and got the cops and landlord involved, but Jesus, what a way to wake up. I feel like I did the best I could but Jesus. Poor guy. If AIT or pecunium can give me some advice on how I might be able to help in such things in the future (both vets are suffering from PTSD), I’d really appreciate it; I’ll probably be seeing this guy around a fair bit, him leaving direct below me and all.

    In happier news, I’m going to be opening up a writeathon this weekend, with the rather appropriate topic of the shadow. I encourage you guys to come and get involved; I think a good art project is just what I need to get my mind off that poor guy. (Because oh, I’m keeping an ear and an eye on him.)

    RE: Kiwi Girl

    Poison doesn’t leave much of a mess,

    Er, I’ve actually heard that’s completely untrue. But for obvious reasons, I really don’t want to go into detail.

    RE: dallasapple

    So hey CARING men ..STOP flying PLANES into buildings KILLING MEN women and CHILDREN to ENSURE you will get 17 VIRGINS after you die and we will ALL be better off.

    Um. The 9/11 attacks were done for more complicated pyschological reasons than that, and I find this crap pretty creepy and reminiscient of the whole racist, “A-rabs gonna explode us all!” bullshit.

  25. @vaiyt: Right? The Manosphere seems to be doubling down on this thing of “You know what? Not enough women DIE! More women should die! In totally avoidable circumstances! For equality!”

    I dunno, I just can’t see it catching on as the next big social justice initiative.

  26. vaiyt | January 28, 2014 at 12:48 pm
    “MRA solution: Let’s fix things so that more women die.”

    Making more women die is the MRA solution for everything.

    That’s not entirely true. Sometimes they just want to make women to suffer more, instead.

  27. LBT: That’s rough. I’ve had to call the cops on a couple neighbours for loud screaming matches before, but fortunately never violence. Glad you were able to help out.

  28. I definitely misread that as “It’s easy for a keyboard potato to brag about superhero feasts”.

    It had me thinking of a potato bragging “Well, I’m not going to be turned into fries at Macca’s! I’m going into a Provencal potato bake Batman’s cooking this evening for Robin’s birthday!”

  29. Buttercup Q. Skullpants

    If a potato had superpowers, would anybody notice?

  30. How messy poison is depends on what you use — f’ex rat poison is horrible to the point that using it on rats seems like torture.

  31. If a potato had superpowers, would anybody notice?

    Possibly …

  32. Feminists have long emphasized equal outcomes. So no matter how much you reduce deaths from a particular cause, if men remain 90% of such deaths, MRAs have a counter to the feminist pushed gender score card.

  33. Sam, what sort of changes would you like to see?

  34. I’d like to see and end of catering to self serving gender ideologues.

  35. “the end”

  36. Feminists have long emphasized equal outcomes. So no matter how much you reduce deaths from a particular cause, if men remain 90% of such deaths, MRAs have a counter to the feminist pushed gender score card.

    Which feminists? Which gender score card are you referring to? How is that poster anything but a gender score card?

  37. How vague and unhelpful. Do you want to see education about discrimination for workers in dangerous positions and their management, who foster the chilly, forbidding work environments that discourage women from taking on these dangerous positions? Or were you looking to somehow force women to take jobs as firefighters and etc.? A workplace, women-only draft system for responders? Or just start shooting women every time a man dies as a result of courageous actions?

    I also notice that you don’t feel any need to respond to David’s point about men overwhelmingly causing the danger. I don’t know how the gender ratio of those who die in these events can be relevant if the gender ratio of who causes them is not. Bottom line, it’s a very flimsy way of declaring yourselves superior to women and it falls apart the moment someone pokes at it.

  38. Feminists have long emphasized equal outcomes. So no matter how much you reduce deaths from a particular cause, if men remain 90% of such deaths, MRAs have a counter to the feminist pushed gender score card.

    “Equal outcomes” to WHAT? This is the most absurd piece of generalization (and projection) I’ve seen in a long time. And also the most absurd piece of willful obtuseness when it comes to EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, which is not the same thing. Equal opportunity does NOT mean equal outcome. It means that everyone gets a fair shot regardless of color, gender, etc., to make with whatever they will, without anyone barring them on unfair grounds. Meanwhile, you’re saying that women should be denied a fair shot, same as ever, because Noble Heroic Men Died Killing the Mastodon For You, Bitches.

    And there’s no “feminist pushed gender score card”, either. That’s another bullshit projection from the MRBM.

  39. I’d like to see and end of catering to self serving gender ideologues.

    Start with yourself, then. Because you most certainly are one.

    “the end”

  40. I’m really getting tired of these trolls. It’s just the same old “feminism is [insert straw feminist stereotype] therefore MRAs are justified in x”.

  41. I’d like to see and end of catering to self serving gender ideologues.

    Excellent. You can start with ending the MRA “movement” and let us know when you’re done.

  42. Ninja’d by Bina. Damn that was quick. *looks around, startled*

  43. Feminists have long emphasized equal outcomes. So no matter how much you reduce deaths from a particular cause, if men remain 90% of such deaths, MRAs have a counter to the feminist pushed gender score card.

    La di da de dah, and how about the fact that the MRM still wants to keep women out of the risky professions?

    You can look it up. We’ll wait.

    Disingenuous shit-weasel.

  44. Usually “gender score card” is a metaphor, but the post shows a literal gender score card.

  45. It’s just frustrating. They occasionally happen upon something that’s actually undesirable (both the deaths of male first responders and men during the Titanic disaster) and is part of a trend (which the Titanic was not) but in order to make any sort of meaningful change they would need to understand why these things happen. This would require speaking to the people who are affected and getting their perspectives, as well as analyzing the situation from all angles.

    But fixing things isn’t what the MRM is about; they are just interested in justifying misogyny. If they see something they don’t like, rather than try to learn why it is the way it is in order to make it better they simply declare “it’s because women are bad and deserve to be hated!” and consider their work done.

  46. Yeah, it’s just stalling feminism and hating women, just look at how they respond to any anti rape campaign.

  47. “I’d like to see and end of catering to self serving gender ideologues.”

    … -_-;

    Here, Sam. Let me help. Here’s a bunch of links for workplace safety and labor laws in the US, as well as examples of discrimination (in spite of prohibitive laws) which keep women out of many traditionally male dominated jobs (interestingly, it also serves to keep men out of many female dominated jobs… misandry anyone?)

    Now, what kinds of changes would you like to see?

  48. Mike from Pioneer Valley, MA

    Isn’t the deeper story of the firefighter fatalities on 9/11 a longstanding issue of turf wars between the NYPD and the NYFD? The story goes that there was an immediate clash at the site on 9/11 between the firefighters and the cops over who had jurisdiction. The police had helicopters, which allowed them to see from virtually eye level that the towers were in danger of imminent collapse. The firefighters, on the ground, reportedly refused to heed intelligence from the NYPD (or even monitor their radio frequencies, some say), and protecting their franchise as much as trying to help, stayed in the building longer than they should have. Result: a resonant number of dead that obscures issues that signify hard-headedness, not heroism.

  49. Fox news. Fox news.

  50. Oh god, not Wendy McElroy. An anarcho-capitalist “equity feminist” who is almost as pretentious as Camille Paglia and just as intellectually dishonest as Christina Hoff Sommers.

    Anyway, her argument is based on a straw man because the feminist concern about equal representation stems from the notion that misogyny (internalized and externalized) discourages and/or prohibits women from being equally represented in certain positions. “Women just have their own preferences” is a useless argument that fails to take into account any systemic disadvantages that women face.

  51. Huh, Sam went to the Good school of dropping links that don’t quite support whatever he’s on about.

  52. Sam is just boring now.

  53. Don’t you feel Sam’s concern for men who die in catastrophes just leaping off the screen?

    Yup, I am also bored with this one. Enjoy posting links no one will click into the void.

  54. Clearly Sam has no answer for my links. I think this means I win.

  55. From Sam G. Good’s article:

    But it was ‘Phillip’ who lost out not only in applications for secretarial jobs – traditionally stereotyped as ‘female’ – but also for jobs in accountancy and computer programming.

    This is evidence of patriarchy, actually, but I know you don’t give a shit about understanding power relations so there is really no reason to argue with you.

  56. “Ally S, and yet because men obviously aren’t allowed to cry that’s why there are tons of male politicians and other figures crying and being emotional in public and they are praised for it. ”

    Name one. The only male politician I remember crying is Boehner and he got mocked for it. A lot.

  57. ” Because of male privilege, a man is actually capable of justifying his crying by coding it as masculine. They can avoid calling it “crying”, “weeping”, etc. and instead use a pro-masculine euphemism such as “manly tears.” ”

    That really only works in a handful of circumstances, mainly when it’s a few tears shed, and the guy doesn’t break eye contact with anyone. Tvtropes has info on the many circumstances this doesn’t work.

    “Very true. You’ve only got to go back a few centuries in European history (aka the only type I know much about) to find crying and other expressions of emotion entirely acceptable in men.”

    That doesn’t mean it’s just as acceptable today.

  58. Ok maybe they can break eye contact but it can’t be used to justify crying from pain, or fear, or uncontrollable sobbing.

    Wish this site had an edit button.

  59. Here, have a video of Bush getting choked up (skip to just before the 2 min mark) —

  60. Thanks for doing this. I am tired of seeing the Titanic trotted out constantly. It’s like these guys know nothing about the Titanic at all.

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