Tag Archives: UK

Our results provide new insights about human behavior in life-and-death situations. By investigating a new and much larger sample of maritime disasters than has previously been done, we show that women have a substantially lower survival rate than men. That women fare worse than men has been documented also for natural disasters (Frankenberg et al., 2011; Ikeda, 1995; MacDonald, 2005; Neumayer and Plümper, 2007; Oxfam International, 2005). We also find that crew members have a higher survival rate than passengers and that only 7 out of 16 captains went down with their ship. Children appear to have the lowest survival rate. Moreover, we shed light on some common perceptions of how situational and cultural conditions affect the survival of women. Most notably, we find that it seems as if it is the policy of the captain, rather than the moral sentiments of men, that determines if women are given preferential treatment in shipwrecks. This suggests an important role for leaders in disasters. Preferences of leaders seem to have affected survival patterns also in the evacuations of civilians during the Balkan Wars (Carpenter, 2003). Moreover, we find that the gender gap in survival rates has decreased since WWI. This supports previous findings that higher status of women in society improves their relative survival rates in disasters (Neumayer and Plümper, 2007). We also show that women fare worse, rather than better, in maritime disasters involving British ships. This contrasts with the notion of British men being more gallant than men of other nationalities. Finally, in contrast to previous studies, we find no association between duration of the disaster and the influence of social norms. Based on our analysis, it becomes evident that the sinking of the Titanic was exceptional in many ways and that what happened on the Titanic seems to have spurred misconceptions about human behavior in disasters.

–Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson, “Every man for himself: Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters,” p. 8 (bolding mine)

I would be really interested to see some analysis on how these findings complement Cynthia Enloe’s notion of ‘womenandchildren’, who are often perceived as inherent victims in conflict and disaster situations.

Also, there are definitely some connections here to other work that details how leadership and norms set by group leaders (e.g. captains) are more powerful in determining group behaviours than moral sentiments of group members. Slightly tangential, but I’m specifically thinking of Elizabeth Wood’s chapter, “Rape during War Is Not Inevitable: Variation in Wartime Sexual Violence“, which I keep meaning to post about because it is really brilliant analysis. Basically, Wood also argues that internal dynamics in armed groups are linked to immense variation in the use and absence of sexual violence in various conflicts.

Another post on Wood’s work later, but for now, the take away is that captain policy was way more important than (British) chivalry in determining if women survived a shipwreck.

And also, maybe British men may not be more gallant than men from other countries. Sorry, blokes.


Dear British friends,

Friday night was crazy. We are talking dancing-nurses-bouncing-sick-kids-for-the-NHS-reenactment-of-the-industrial-revolution-fireworks-like-an-atomic-bomb-the-Queen-parachuting-with-James-Bond crazy.

I couldn’t dream up something so weird. Seriously. Crazy.

Danny gave us some strong stuff and it was real good. For 27 million quid, it should have been but wow. Just wow. I don’t even know how we got home, but I’m pretty sure a cauldron and David Beckham were involved at some point.

I had a lot of fun and I know you did too.

But listen. You said something I can’t forget. Even as my hangover subsided, your words didn’t. They persisted, subtitling everything as I went about my weekend in London, this city I love so dearly.

You said you loved your country. You said you loved the United Kingdom. 

I know what you’re going to try to tell me. “I was saying lots of crazy stuff, Mon. It’s just what you say in the moment.”

I’m not buying it. This is not like that. I remember you at the Diamond Jubilee. This was different. This meant something–to you.

You fell in love with your country.

And I get it, albeit as an outsider. You’ve never had to convince me the incredibleness of your tiny island, which despite your colonizing history (x2 for me), has still managed to occupy my heart with affection and inspiration. So much so I have redirected my life to spend the last four years here, for all the reasons Danny showcased and more.

Granted, ex-pats tend to associate love for the country we live in with the happiness of our current lives. And I do love my life here. Such fickleness underlines why my feelings, as American living in London, are not the same as British patriotism. In fact, my displays of obvious sentimentality towards the UK are probably quintessentially American behaviour. I know because you’ve told me, bluntly, despite my efforts there is no “Britain fuck yeah” and never will be.

And honestly, there doesn’t have to be.  It’s just that, before Friday, there seemed to be no representation of British national love you were remotely comfortable with whatsoever. In fact, you were staunchly uncomfortable with all representations put forth so far. You’re not that into the monarchy. You’re definitely over the empire. And you’re not the BNP.  So what’s left? A whole lot of “everyone but England”. A whole lot of awkward err-ing and ahh-ing. A whole lot of identity baggage for 20-somethings.

Until Friday’s opening ceremonies.  Danny put together more than a killer show. He put together a visionary narrative of what it means to be British now, and maybe, for the future. And that is something really special. I imagine it akin to my first Obama moment in 2004, hearing him deliver the keynote address at the Democratic Convention as the Senator of Illinois. I remember listening, attention rapt, thinking, this is my country and I want to part of this. It gave me hope for change before it was plastered as a  2008 campaign slogan because I so desperately needed to see an alternative version of my country to feel like I was still part of it.

I know. You can already taste the cynicism in your mouth. But before you say anything, that same mouth told me you loved the United Kingdom.

So give in and get that Britain’s number. Because you can’t look me in the eye and tell me any other convincing vision of and for Britishness, with shine and self-deprecation, in the last five years grabbed you like the opening ceremonies did.

Friday night was awesome. But from one friend to another, don’t leave things there because I’ve never seen you like this before. And that’s important.

Yours (dependent on my visa status),

An American living in the United Kingdom

As part of the UK’s forthcoming Presidency of the G8 in 2012, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced a UK initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict.

I know this is the type of policy update folks would expect me to be ecstatic over. But I have to admit I’m sitting on the fence about this one.

Foreign Secretary speech

Namely because, after scrutinising the press release from the Foreign Commonwealth Office beyond the headline, I just don’t see much on how this initiative aims to focus on prevention. And it drives me crazy when programmes (good or not) do not accurately describe what they’re doing and why.

In the press release, the closest line of logic I can find linked to ‘prevention’ is

And we want to see a significant increase in the number of successful prosecutions so that we erode and eventually demolish the culture of impunity.

So maybe the connection to prevention is:

demolishing the culture of impunity towards wartime sexual violence –> less rape in ongoing and future conflicts

That seems really nice. I am all about breaking down impunity. Just given the complicated structural factors and causes of wartime rape, it seems like a very distant outcome. Especially when considering that the majority of the work proposed for the initiative is aimed at gathering evidence and testimony to support investigations, capacity building for national authorities on legal frameworks and campaigning on the need for stronger international response on sexual violence during war.

Again, those are all fantastic things for to incorporate as part of the UK’s lead on the G8. It’s just painfully obvious to me that responding to sexual violence after the fact is not the same as preventing it in the first place.  I’d be a bajillion times happier with the headline:

Foreign Secretary announces UK initiative on preventing convicting sexual violence in conflict

Let’s not get sloppy with our language just because it sounds nicer to ‘prevent’ rape during war. Rounding up to a future impact dilutes the fact that increasing conviction and prosecution rates are major victories in themselves.