The ma­cho fire­man im­age is still a hot topic

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - COLUMNIST -

When it comes to ma­cho jobs, there are some that im­me­di­ately stand out. Sadly, although not en­tirely sur­pris­ingly, be­ing a jour­nal­ist wouldn’t be in­cluded on the list.

But most of us would look at fire­men as a pretty tough bunch.

Let’s face it, if you’re go­ing to res­cue peo­ple from burn­ing build­ings, and put your life on the line to save strangers, then it’s no sur­prise that the job is con­sid­ered to be heav­ily laden with the ould machismo.

But this has to stop! We can’t have peo­ple think­ing fire­men — sorry, firefighters — are big and tough and strong.

No, ap­par­ently we want the mod­ern fire crews to be an open and tol­er­ant pace, wel­com­ing to young women.

Lon­don Fire Com­mis­sioner Dany Cot­ton is sick of the way fire­men are por­trayed and she has been quick to con­demn Love Is­land for a ‘sexy fire man chal­lenge’ (pic­tured above).

Ac­cord­ing to her: “When pop­u­lar shows like Love Is­land roll out ev­ery of­fen­sive cliché pos­si­ble for their so called ‘fire­man chal­lenge’, it re­in­forces the mis­con­cep­tion that all firefighters are mus­cle­bound men. No won­der so many young women are put off by that.”

Frankly, I would have thought the prospect of meet­ing so many ‘mus­cle­bound men’ would have been an at­trac­tion for young women, but Cot­ton has gone on the of­fen­sive against the of­fen­sive, as it were.

But here’s the thing — when you’re stuck in a burn­ing build­ing, or you’re try­ing to res­cue some­one who is stuck in a burn­ing build­ing, you don’t have time to fret over what is ap­par­ently of­fen­sive or not. Firecrews just go in and do their job, for lit­tle money and even less thanks.

If you’re a young woman and are put off from be­com­ing a fire­fighter be­cause of a few mus­cle­bound hunks on a stupid, va­pid and ob­nox­ious dat­ing show, then maybe you were never cut out for the job in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate that bloody pro­gramme as much as any­one else with a brain, and the show re­ally does rep­re­sent the worst as­pects and most mo­ronic, in­fan­tile el­e­ments of mod­ern cul­ture.

But surely tak­ing it to task over whether young women will feel ex­cluded from the tra­di­tional boys’ club that are fire houses is a bit of a stretch.

Frankly, watch­ing Love Is­land should be an im­me­di­ate red card for any­one who wants to go into any sort of grown-up job, but there are some gigs where en­forced gen­der equal­ity sim­ply won’t work.

Ob­vi­ously, there are some women who would be bet­ter suited to the fire ser­vice than some men. No­body’s deny­ing that.

But I rather doubt they’d be the kind of women to be put off their cho­sen ca­reer by the im­age of fire­men as hunks.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.