Titanic Interest - For Women Only


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sharon rutman

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Ladies, I'm dying of curiosity-why are women interested in the Titanic disaster? It's truly a male dominated field! So let's hear it--how did you get interested in the Titanic in the first place and why are you still interested in the wreck? What do women get out of Titanic's story? LADIES ONLY, PLEASE!!!!
 

Inger Sheil

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Oh, for...

I've always been interested in the oceans as natural environment and for the human stories associated with it. Folklore, human and natural history, culture...it has fascinated me from the time I first toddled through rockpools and watched the dim lights of cargo ships through the darkness of a night when a southery buster was raging up the coast. On and off, I've lived by the sea all my life.

My first interest was in the Andrea Doria - my elderly grandmother, with whom I shared a bedroom as a toddler up to about 4 years old, nurtured my love of documentaries, and have the TV tuned to them in the evenings when we lay in our beds, watching enthralled. It was an easy segue from mantas and sharks to shipwrecks, and the tragic liner story fascinated me. From there, it was a simple step to the Titanic.

Both my parents encouraged me in all my interests, including that of history. My mother with practical gifts of books and encouragement, my father with his journalists' knack of telling a story and his own passion for history. I also had teachers - again, of both genders - who encouraged all my interests, be it court politics in the reign of Henry VIII, American Civil War politics, or shipwrecks. Friends, too, were interested - the first fellow Titanic enthusiast I knew was a Japanese-American friend at the United National International School when we were seven or eight.

Gender was never an issue for me in those early years - it never occured to me to think of any historical episode to be the domain of male scholars, and I was never made to feel that it was. And even now, even among elderly male scholars and members of the merchant marine or RN, RNR or RAN, it is extremely rare to find any hostility. I've often collaborated with women in my research - not through seeking them out specifically, but because our interests and research areas coincided. There has been no shortage of women to work with!

I "get out" of it what I imagine many others, male and female, "get out" of it. A story rich in human interest, a technical puzzle that arouses intellectual interest, and a useful portal to explore how men and women interacted with their enviroment in the maritime profession - an environment that is endlessly fascinating. It was an interesting series of events that took place during a particularly fascinating transitional period in politics, art and culture.

A good story is a good story - one doesn't have to be a particular gender to appreciate the drama of human behaviour enacted against an interesting background in an extreme situation. I don't have to be a bloke to be fascinated by the interactions of Scott's polar party, struggling back from the South Pole on the verge of defeat. I don't have to be a woman to appreciate Annette Kellerman's heroic stance against the social restrictions (enforced by men and women), placed on her desire to swim unrestricted by cumbersome attire, or the extraordinary survival story of Emily Lacey, last survivor picked up from Quetta wreck in 1890 after 36 hours swimming in tropical seas. Nor do I have to be one gender or the other to wish to research, interpret and relate these stories.
 
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sharon rutman

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Michael--I understand all of that, but just for once it would be nice to get a different perspective of the Titanic from a female view point for a change. It's fun to experiment with alternative ideas for a change!

Look at how far we've come--in 1912 women didn't even vote and now there's a real chance that a woman might actually be nominated for President. It isn't far fetched that she could even win it all!
 

Jim Kalafus

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>I don't have to be a woman to appreciate Annette Kellerman's heroic stance

Her "lost" 1916 movie, A Daughter of the Gods, with its unheard of million dollar budget, has surfaced, giving one a chance to see just how....unrestricted...Miss Kellerman's garb was. Quite a find!
 

Inger Sheil

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Why don't you kick off then, Sharon, and tell us about your own unique female perspective on the disaster? Speaking for myself, I find a range of views among men and women on every issue under discussion, but not a noticeable demarkation on interpretations along gender lines.
 

Inger Sheil

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!!! More information, please, Jim! I hadn't heard this - am off googling frantically, and firing off notes to colleagues to see if they knew about it.

I have an Annette Kellerman[n] bathing suit from the line she launched in the 1920s (it might be going on display soon) - it's not as brief as what she wore in that famous 1916 movie scene, though!

Off to resume googling...Annette's one of my favourite figures from that era, both for her personal courage and for her physical prowess. Now, she knew all about the joys of the ocean and swimming in the surf!
 
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A Daughter Of The Gods...... Unrestricted you say O still my beating heart.
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All I can say is kudos to Ms. Kellerman.
 
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Tracy Smith

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I don't do anything "as a woman" -- but I do lots of stuff as an individual. I don't have a "female" point of view, only my own point of view that represents no one but myself. The fact that I'm female is entirely incidental.

My interest in Titanic stems from a wider interest in history in general.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>a different perspective of the Titanic from a female view point

Respectfully....

Why must you phrase this so that it is singular? The sisterhood may be powerful, but it is not of one mind. How about female perspectiveS and view pointS?
 

Jim Kalafus

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>!!! More information, please, Jim! I hadn't heard this

Okay...well...one of the "lost films" websites has a "Found Films" column I sometimes browse, in the hope that Rita Jolivet's two Lusitania movies have resurfaced. Beyond that a print (or partial print) turned up, I know nothign else. Silent film collectors are an obsessive lot, and I tend to suspect that unless it turned up in an archive it is now the crown jewel of someone's personal film library and destined enver to be seen again since, after all, if anyone else sees it, it will lose its specialness. I'll see what I can turn up.
 

Inger Sheil

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Horrified at the thought of it vanishing, Jim - I hope that the discoverer is feeling benevolent. I wonder if it's the footage from Russia that it was thought would prove to be another print of Neptune's Daughter, but which - last I could find - the researcher involved was still working to access and identify. Anything you find out would be much appreciated by our curators.

Tracy, good to see you - it's been a while!
 
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I'm afraid the events that sparked my interest are not particularly uplifting, though it's possible that some reckless male on this forum might be tempted to mutter "Humph. Typical woman!"

I bought my father ANTR one Christmas. He never read it (the fate of several of my gift efforts to him) so I did. Apart from being very interested in a general way, my imagination was particularly captured by Lord's list of the comestibles that went to the bottom - especially eggs. I forget how many it was now, 30,000 or something fantastic. It seemed an awful lot, and I went to sleep obsessing slightly over whether or not Lord had taken account of the fact that they must have eaten at least half of them by Sunday night. That sent me looking for a source of the manifest, and I learned a lot of other interesting and puzzling things. The interest then went dormant, until Cameron's film came out, to which I took my sons and (unwisely) my old father, who was even worse in the movies than me, and nobody in their right minds want to go to the movies with me. There was a continuity girl somewhere in the family, and we've inherited the beady eye for detail. Surrounded by weeping teenage girls, my father kept up a stream of observations like "He's been in those clothes at least 5 days and nights by now - no first class bird would go near him!"

Then some Events Management students decided to organise a Titanic-themed charity ball and their tutor, alarmed at their ambition, dragged me in to see them to discuss marketing the event. I managed to persuade them that reconstructing the Grand Staircase in the college gym would not be easy, and that it would be much better to stage the 3rd class party, and they could all pretend to be Rose and still get dressed up to the nines while the blokes could come in tatters - a solution which pleased everyone. In the course of trying to find images / information to use for the party I discovered ET, on which I wasted many fascinated hours at work, in the name of work - very satisfactory. I've also used it to make classes on risk management / procedures more interesting (for me at any rate) and in statistical analysis.

So, rather prosaic reasons underlying an interest, I'm afraid, Sharon.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Eggs? Come of it, Mon. You know as well as I do that your first post here was occasioned by a fascination to know how much booze was on board. I'll go to the movies with you, by the way. But as you know, I haven't been in my right mind for a very long time.
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sharon rutman

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Hey, nothing wrong with that Monica-- the main thing is that the Titanic piqued your interest and it's remained with you ever since. That's all that really matters.
 
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sharon rutman

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Ok Inger if you insist--I first saw the Titanic sail into view on that very first episode of Time Tunnel "Rendezvous with Yesterday". Yes I did think that James Darren who played Dr Tony Newman was just dreamy (I was 10 at the time) and the look on his face when he saw the Titanic life ring was absolutely priceless. Even knowing nothing about the Titanic, you knew something bad was going to happen and it sent shivers up and down my spine. Anyhow, subsequently came Titanic 53 and A Night To Remember and the rest as they say is history.

My my there sure is alot of hostility to all of this! Oh well, why am I not surprised by any of this. Either make a post or don't make a post Inger--I'm not twisting your arm.
 

Inger Sheil

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Nah - it would take more strength than you have to twist my arm in any sense, Sharon ;^) I do detest gender segregation, though - and I gather that many of us, male and female, dont' see things in terms of simplistic gender demarcations.

I saw that Time Tunnel episode as a rerun sometime in the 80s...it didn't make as much of an impression as the way in which a later episode insisted on giving Abraham Lincoln a deep, heroic, manly timbre to his voice as he refused to avert his solemn destiny. Nothing like the voice of the real Abe, which was pitched high enough to carry well in open air speaking to a large audience.

One childhood memory that did haunt me for years was the first viewing of ANTR. I saw it on TV Singapore, and vividly remembered Lightoller taking the small child out of the water, finding he was dead, and gently laying him back down. Seeing it later, with no such scene, I thought I had constructed the whole thing - I was vastly relieved years later when I found that the scene did exist in some cuts.

Bob, I, too, was profoundly grieved by all that booze gone to waste.

Moni, I think I might suggest your compromise during the next social club Christmas party planning meeting. Although we did have success along those lines for "Cuban Nights" - many of the women came as 1930s - 50s nightclub habitues, whereas the blokes tended to tie a hankerchief around their necks and don a straw hat. All were content.
 
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sharon rutman

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Three cheers for Inger, the head of the Titanic Mean Girls Club. You must be so proud.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Funny thing about the singular "female perspective" concept. Such a classic 1970s worldview. Does anyone think, for a moment, if our favorite "Mean Girl;" you (Sharon) and this:


(Use cut and paste. This is incredible. You won't be disappointed)

were seated separate from one another and asked the same question, anything even remotely similar in terms of perspective would emerge? (Thanks Jason Schleisman for that clip, BTW)

>Three cheers for Inger

I lead them. After all, a college grad who has done excellent research work, and who can (and does) answer questions both complex and simple, is someone worthy of applauding, don't you think?

So, what IS the female perspective? How can women address your point when it is not clear what your point IS? From Monica, Tracy and Inger's postings, it would seem to be "Judge me on my merits." From your posting it would be "Anyone who disagrees with me is either mean or sexist. You're picking on me. WAHHHHH!"
 
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If I recall correctly, Inger - and Bob clearly does, which is a bit worrying - my chief concern in my first post here was that there did not seem to have been enough booze on board. At least, not for us
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Somewhere I'd read that they put aboard at Southampton enough alcoholic drink for both the outward and return journeys, and I decided that if that were true, I wouldn't have wanted to do the return leg as it'd have been a fairly dry experience, which might be OK in everyday life once in a while, but not on board the finest ship in the world.

Your cocktail prowess might have been rather curtailed too, except perhaps egg nog variations.

Lighten up, Sharon. You've started an interesting thread even if it doesn't go quite the way you'd anticipated. And it's quite in order for a feminist (or even a modern woman with no particular feminist axe to grind, save her belief in her natural equality) to decry gender distinctions, if you think about it.
 
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