If you were alive in late 1997 and early 1998, the odds that you saw the epic blockbuster film Titanic are pretty high.
The movie was everywhere! It was hard to escape. As a very enthusiastic supporter of all things Leonardo DiCaprio (and as a then 12-year-old girl), I saw the movie a whopping 27 times in theaters.
The movie caused a lot of hoopla and stirred emotions for a ton of reasons, but there has been one enduring debate that absolutely everyone loves to fight about: Could Jack have fit on the clock with Rose?
If you are unfamiliar with the scene, here’s basically how it goes: The ship is heading toward the bottom of the Atlantic, and our heroes, Jack and Rose, are flailing in the freezing waters of the ocean.
They find a piece of the infamous wooden clock floating nearby (many refer to it as a piece of a door), and Rose climbs on top. It looks like Jack won’t fit, so he continues to bob up and down in the water, clutching Rose’s hands. By the time a lifeboat comes back for any survivors, Rose has realized Jack is dead and has released his body to the murky depths below.
But … there are many, many people who have raged in the decades that have followed. They’ve insisted that Jack could have lived, too, if only Rose had scooted over. The question was even asked of Céline Dion as recently as last year.
But now writer and activist Charlotte Clymer has offered up a new addition to the odyssey: It’s Jack’s own fault that he died, and Rose is the hero of the whole story.
Since everyone has been spending a lot of time at home lately, people are interacting with one another online and having robust debates. Charlotte noticed that “Rose Dawson” was trending on Twitter one night and realized her moment had come. She opened up Facebook and began a post:
“Titanic is trending, which means Rose Dawson is being slandered. So, it’s time to present my case again on why Rose Dawson is not at fault for Jack’s death, that he is solely to blame, and remind folks that she, in fact, saved his life.”
“Remember when he’s jailed by the Master-of-Arms and abandoned, handcuffed to that huge pipe? Rose knows something’s up, but instead of getting into the lifeboat with her mother and Molly Brown, she declines a seat to go find Jack.
“Cal grabs her by the arms and threatens her. She spits in his face and runs away. She then finds Mr. Ismay*, who is condescending and tells her she needs to get back into the lifeboat. And she’s all “[expletive] that” and makes him give her directions to the Master-of-Arms’ office.”
*Author note on video clip: Mr. Andrews is the one who gave Rose directions, but carry on!
“She tries to go down the lift and is told condescendingly by the male attendant that it’s not working. She’s all “[expletive] that” and makes the guy take her down. She’s in freezing cold water, in heels no less, wading through the myriad of passageways and manages to find Jack.
“Jack asks her to go get help when the keys don’t work. It’s dark, chaotic, freezing-[expletive] cold. So, she comes across a crew member, who grabs her by the arm, refuses to listen and mansplains about how she needs to go into a lifeboat.”
“She punches him and has the ingenuity to find the axe, which she uses to go downstairs and free Jack from certain death with a clutch swing on her first try to break the cuffs.
“So, she had to deal with 4 patronizing men, 2 of them physically abusive, and still found a solution to save Jack when no one else would. If that weren’t enough, she gives up her seat in the lifeboat A SECOND TIME when she realizes Jack is probably going to die without her.”
“They plunge into the sea. Jack tries to be a hero. He could have swum elsewhere but no. He chooses to stick around with this tiny-[expletive] debris. Jack even punches some guy who tries to get onto the debris, so even HE clearly doubted it could handle two people. Yet, he still stayed.”
“Jack, being a male conditioned to think of women as the weaker sex and in need of saving, decided to stick around and gamble on his life despite KNOWING what icy water does, as he elaborately explains to Rose earlier in the film, even though she was clearly safe(r) by that point.”
“In summary: Rose is in NO way responsible for Jack’s death. If anything, she’s the hero of the [expletive] story for overcoming violent misogyny to save his life and risking her own multiple times to do so. Her conduct was selfless and brave. So, what killed him? It’s pretty clear…”
“Toxic masculinity killed young Jack Dawson. If he had more self-respect and more respect for Rose, he would have searched for other debris, trusting Rose to take care of herself on that [expletive] door. Jack is to blame for Jack’s death + negating a fantastic rescue operation by Rose.”
“So, what have we learned gentlemen? Treat the women in your life as equal partners and remember that self-care is just as important as caring for others. Your macho [expletive] puts everyone in danger and leads to an icy death in the cruel waters of the Atlantic.”