"I need feminism because… I’m tired of being one of 3 women at my Fire Department!"
I’m tired of third wave feminism being so obsessed with equality in every single aspect of life… that they are compromising the safety of others. Did you know that the Australian Fire Department has relaxed its fire service strength and fitness tests just for women because most of them could not even complete the bare minimum required for acceptance? That’s right. Women wanted jobs in the fire department, but because they couldn’t pass the required strength tests they threw a temper tantrum and as a result the government relaxed the entry conditions.
My dad is a deputy fire chief, and he would have some choice words for the first two responses. He has more than 35 years of experience. He first started in an entry-level position and rose through the ranks, with about eight years outside of a fire department when he was working as a senior investigator and policy analyst at the Office of the Fire Marshall. He also makes a huge effort to hire women, which unfortunately meets with a lot of resistance within the department—by the same people who are also extremely against hiring people of colour or people who aren’t heterosexual. It’s funny how easily bigotry fits into rhetoric of “safety,” isn’t it?
Firstly, women firefighters have to pass the same physical exam as men. A lot men of don’t pass it. A lot of women don’t pass it. But any woman becoming a firefighter has necessarily fulfilled the safety requirements her fitness entails. A lot of women pass the test. Unfortunately, not a lot of women actually apply, because of shitty idiotic attitudes like this. And yes, women often do better on the tests than men. It isn’t the case at all that all men do better than all women who apply. Fuck you for suggesting that.
Secondly, guess what, dipshit. There’s a lot more than goes into putting out fires and rescuing people than brute strength. That’s why there’s a lot of education as well as psychological exams that go into hiring firefighters. And it might stagger you to realize that when you’re talking about entering burning buildings and other hazardous environments, having only a bunch of people with the exact same build and physique is a huge safety risk. You know why the (equally strong, equally smart) women on my dad’s force are such an asset to the team? Because they tend to fit places that men can’t—like through a schoolbus window last month that was inaccessible to almost every firefighter present. My dad says the most effective partners have complementary builds. This often means pairing a woman with a man, as it did in this case. This particular pair often works like this: the man helps move the woman to a place he can’t fit (sometimes literally throwing her through a window). If there hadn’t been a woman, the casualties would have been much higher. And that’s just one example. It’s never a disadvantage to have people of different shapes and sizes, all fully trained and all meeting the same physical requirements of the job, who can contribute differently.
Thirdly, I’m assuming these idiots regard muscled young white men carrying women and children over each shoulder as the Platonic form of firefighter. But it may astonish you to know that in a fire, smoke kills first. You fucking asphyxiate. That’s one reason firefighters never carry people over their shoulder (the other being that it’s extremely dangerous to deadlift a limp body when you’re wearing 80 pounds of equipment—try doing that and you’re more than likely adding to the amount of victims who need to be rescued). If you hold people up to the ceiling, they fucking asphyxiate. Obviously. So you watch too much TV if you think that’s basically the job. How do firefighters evacuate victims from burning buildings? They drag them along the floor. This is so they don’t suffocate the victim, they lead the way first to safety, and they can fully fucking see and manoeuvre through the hazardous environment. I am not strong. I am not in good shape. I could never be a firefighter without some serious physical training (unlike a ton of other women I know, and like a lot of men). Guess what. Even I can drag my 200-pound, tall, male firefighter father across the floor.
You’re not looking out for people’s safety. You’re upholding misogyny and assuming you know what you’re talking about. We do need feminism in firefighting, because it’s a fucking cesspool of white supremacist patriarchal homophobic cisphobic anti-immigrant privilege good old boys’ club bullshit. It’s based on nothing but prejudice, and emergency services should fairly represent the population they’re paid handsomely to defend. Thankfully, people are slowly steering away from this. There are more and more women becoming firefighters, and last month, a woman joined a neighbouring department to my dad’s as a deputy chief. She passed the tests. She has experience and a sterling record. She also has a Master in Gender Studies, and she’s not very big.