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Firefighters are Macho Men…and Women

Thu, 06/30/2011 - 10:59am
Mary Sakacs

By Mary Sakacs

 

A recent article published at the University of Gothenburg, takes a closer look at the profession of a fireman. Between the stereotypes that society has stigmatized to the profession and the actual role of a firefighter, there were many questions that I pondered when learning about a firefighter’s point of view on his day to day experiences.

Anyone who takes on the role of a firefighter automatically is attached to the common stereotypes. However, what many don’t take the time to think about is the camaraderie between the group of men that is formed when they aren’t out playing hero.

Society has created a drastic image of a firefighter with big muscles and a knack for overcoming danger almost like a modern day hero (minus the cape). Firefighters themselves have addressed these types of figures and while they agree that these assumptions can be quite impractical and exaggerated, many believe that they can assure the public they are in good hands. This, I would say, is the most important message that firefighters should send out to members of society.

The article later begins to address the problems females who choose the profession face and I wondered if female firefighters allow people to feel just as secure as male ones do. While women must take and pass the same tests and requirements to become a firefighter as men, some may still not feel as safe with a woman protecting them. I’m curious. If the ratio of female firefighters in your city was higher than those of male firefighters, would that make you feel less safe if you were in need of saving, especially if you are a male?

Firefighters spend an ample amount of time together when they are not out saving lives. This creates a brotherhood. But while this is a positive aspect of the job, it does create a problem for women fielding the firehouse. Author Mathias Ericson who has interviewed firemen from multiple stations reported that most agreed that keeping females out of the firehouse is the way they believe the profession should be and that the company of women on board prevents the men from becoming so close.

This creates conflict for women. Although women deserve to be given the same equal opportunities as men, here is an example of an area where women are not welcome and their gender works against them. It may seem outrageous for women to be excluded from this or any line of work we must also consider that breaking a close friendship of men in a job that is challenging and dangerous, could be quite harmful. The job of a firefighter is not to be taken lightly and team members need to have each others backs at all times when people’s lives are on the line

Equal opportunity is very important in our society today but there is still conflict present when it comes to gender. Here is just one example that demonstrates how there are still many loopholes when it comes to gender equality and I wonder if one day that will ever fully change or if it will always be a struggle, especially for women.

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