Particularly given that lifeboats were launched much below capacity. If there were problems getting women and children, it should be open to everyone.
I don't know if this has been brought up before, but how many men here would stand back and adhere to that rule?
Personally (even though I've never been put in the situation that I would have to make such a decision), I think I would.
Even today, if on a stricken cruise liner, I'd stand my ground until everything humanly possible to rescue the women and children had been done.
Naturally, I wouldn't do the old Thomas Andrews and stand in the interior - I'm too pretty to die - but what about you other blokes?
To my knowledge, the "women and children first" rule was first used in 1852 when the British troopship, HMAS Birkenhead, sank after hitting submerged rocks near Gansbaai, South Africa. The ship was equipped with no more than 8 lifeboat, nowhere near enough for the 600 people on board. Three lifeboats left carrying the women and children. Just before the ship sank, the Captain gave those who could swim permission to jump overboard and try to save themselves but he begged them not to rush the lifeboats. Only 3 men jumped overboard. The rest stayed at their posts and subsequently drowned. From then on, the order has been issued: "Women and children first".