There is some meaty and controversial stuff in Lloyd’s List Australia about whether the old and noble sentiment of “women and children first” retains any credibility in today’s climate of fearsome feminism and institutionalism selfishness. Sydney lawyer Derek Luxford of Hicksons (who I hope stays well clear of the rail on the Manly ferry) suggests that the nobility enshrined in the “Birkenhead Drill”, or the better known tragedy 100 years ago might be outdated.

Should some terrifying female CEO be given preference for a place in the lifeboat than a blacksmith with six children? And when we abandon an aircraft, nobody considers such niceties.

It is a good topic for a dinner party, bringing out all sorts of prejudices, but as somebody who always opens doors for ladies, regardless of any filthy looks, and walks on their weather side on the pavement, the very notion that women and children should not be allocated the first seats in the lifeboats smacks of an age of true barbarism.

Women might be cleverer than men, and in many households have replaced their menfolk as the main breadwinner, but they remain, regardless of all the power walking and exercises in which they engage, generally the weaker sex.

As such, in any emergency incident, when there is a breakdown in discipline and panic rages, the weakest will be trampled underfoot. If we are to remain one step removed from animals (many of which themselves will die to protect their young), we have to protect the weakest, rather than those with the greatest “economic” value. It is behaviour prescribed by all the great religions of the world. It is decent and polite.

And let’s face it, if the women and children go first, the lifeboat hooks will get a good testing!.

Author: Michael Grey                      Source: