Monday, 16 April 2012

How an iceberg dealt a blow to male chauvinism

Sub-zero temperatures + water = icebergs
Last  weekend was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It's a melodrama about man versus nature. The sea is an invincible force and no where do we see this more clearly illustrated than in the story of the Ttitanic.

Titanic was built by the White Star Line who wanted a luxury sea vessel to traverse the Atlantic. It set sail on 10th April 1912 from Southampton on its way to New York. There were 2,223 people on aboard that included first class and second class passengers together with crew members. Of those numbers 1,500 were to lose their lives.

Titianic was the work of men of arrogance. I say that quite catergorically since women in that day were not educated to the ranks of engineers and architects. Women were confined  to waiting on their menfolk as wives, daughters, sisters and even mistresses. A woman's job was to cook, clean and care for the children.
It takes a woman to do..what a man forgets to!
It would be a few more years before suffrage was granted so a woman's place was firmly behind a man's.....except when it came to accessing lifeboats.

The women and children were piled into lifeboats and they were the amongst the largest number to survive the tragedy.

 I guess it never felt so good to be a woman and sex was a determinant of who would escape from the sea monster that struck an iceberg.
Had women been on the design and engineering team there's no guarantee that history would be  any different but the blame for this mighty mistake falls squarely on men's shoulders....why were there not enough life boats?

The two leading men in this drama were Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line and Thomas Andrews, the designer of the ship. As legend goes, Mr Ismay challenged Mr Andrews to increase the speed of the Ttitanic to demonstrate the prowess of its engines. Neither of them had anticipated any obstacles in the vast ocean and, when the iceberg was spotted, it was too late to alter course and the speed they were travelling at did not allow them to slow down.

Titanic v North Atlantic Ocean
The edge of the iceberg ripped through the boiler rooms and lower deck at 11.40pm on 14th April and the ship sank 2 hours and 40 minutes later. Only 700 survivors were picked by the rescue ship, The Carpathia.

At the time of building, Mr Andrews did not see the necessity of having enough life boat capacity for the entire  crew and passengers.Or perhaps he did mention it to the White Star Line but they felt that their money was better invested in elegant furnishings for the first class cabins.

Titanic was built by optimists and egotists. It was hailed as the unsinkable.... until the unthinkable happened. Nature is no respecter of braggarts and the icy waters of the North Atlantic are governed by the secret laws of nature. Icebergs don't drop out of the sky and you would have thought sea-faring men would have known that sub-zero temperatures and water produce icebergs?!!
It was a man's world!

Male pride in the magnificence of the Titanic affected good judgement. They did not believe that anything could stand in the way of this perfect creation. Titanic is, however, not a tale of woe as there is  much for us to learn about heroism, pathos, the  beauty, ugliness and frailty of human nature.

When you are so certain of something in your life, as the design team of the Titanic were, be sure that nature will show you the error of your ways.

Ttianic was a giant of ship and it's a giant of a story. It's about men's giant sized egos that eventually were the death of them!



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