The. Struggle. Is. Real
Seriously, it’s not always easy being a female firefighter. Between the stigmas, the stigmas and ooooohh the stigmas… it’s hard living up to the hype all the time.
People have so many opinions about females that dare to work in the industry. From giving them a god complex where they can do no wrong, to shitting on them about everything they do because they have a different sex organ than 90% of firefighters.
But the everyday stuff? sometimes that feels like the worsttttt. It’s the tiny comments and the looks that just wear you down day after day. These are the everyday struggles that female firefighters deal with.
Obstacles Female Firefighters face every day
-it’s one or the other
This is one of those things that you get no matter where you live, if your at the station or out in town.
People want to make comments about your family life and your passion for the fire service.
And they want to assume that because you choose to be a firefighter that you’ve put the fire service above your loved ones.
It’s like your being blamed for choosing a career and a family and a dangerous career at that. It’s the standard perception that women should be at home, and that they can’t care for the family if they work. Even if your single… people assume you should leave the fire service when you get married, have kids, or even foster or adopt.
This is a common problem for all females… but especially for those in the first responder field.
And let’s just get this out there- it hurts to leave your family for however long you work. This is for males and females. BUT then people want to really rub salt in the wound.
So unless you want to PAY MY BILLS (because some of us have to work) it’s not really the place for others to have an opinion about where I work.
-This doesnt fit… ever
We know that less than 10% of firefighters in the US are female. It’s obvious by the ‘token’ female used in marketing campaigns and the way fireman is still widely used.
But the ramifications of this mean that very little is made FOR the female in mind. Protective gear like turnouts and bunkers are made with a male stature in mind. Gloves for hands that are larger. Boots for feet that are wider.
Gear that👏 just 👏doesnt 👏fit 👏
Maybe they hoped that us ladies would see it as another barrier for joining the ranks- instead of really looking past the BS and realizing that poor gear will hurt and kill women.
Why is it that people not only want to be weird about women working in the industry but then they want to purposefully set them up for failure with faulty equipment… HELLO?!
Maybe the worst part is that they are starting to market gear for women that doesn’t actually fit…
No- just no
So you’re wearing a firefighter related shirt and you get this
It’s so nice that you support firefighters! Is your husband/boyfriend/dad/brother a firefighter?
it’s 2019 susan, and I’m the firefighter. I don’t think you’ll mind what my gender is when I show up at your house to save you at 2 am in the snow.
Because it’s already ridiculous that there aren’t a lot of shirts that truly gender-neutral for female firefighters to wear, but now there’s the assumption that if you’re wearing the shirt, it’s to support someone else that you know.
Bad days? ACK! must be your period.
Really? Are we in middle school? And do you know that this can be really uncomfortable for some women? Everyone else can complain about gas pain and indigestion. But mention something with the word ‘Uterus’ in the sentence and it becomes so sort of weird double standard where it’s not supposed to hurt but it also gets blamed for everything.
Let’s also do an anatomy lesson. You can say ‘ is it your period’ EVERY DAY BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT.
Yes, it’s cool to talk about it because it’s just a bodily function, but let’s be mature and not make weird comments about it ever again. k, thanks.
No girl talk allowed
This one is probably one of those things that really is the worst… I mean the absolute worst.
On one hand, some people like to blame your anatomy for everything (yes, these people are that immature) but on the other hand they chastise you for bringing it up.
If you want to make a room full of firefighters uncomfortable, just start talking about sex, menstruation, or ‘hormones’. At best one or two might talk to you, but generally, you get some weird looks. It’s a ‘no girls talk allowed’ type place.
And FORGET even bringing up pregnancy and the job. That’s like the most taboo thing ever. People freak out about this like you are some brainless person that wants to purposefully put your child and your entire crew in harms way.
Because they ‘can’t focus since they have to watch out for your baby because your the irresponsible one going to a call when your 6 weeks pregnant and could get everyone killed’
When that’s not the case at all.
Or you make it through pregnancy and now you are a nursing mom and you get shit on- why is that? If we’re being medical professionals that know that breastmilk is the best option for baby, why isn’t it respected that you are providing food for your baby?
It can get to the point where ‘girl’ talk isn’t allowed because it always ends in weird jokes or someone being rude. But is that really the enviroment that someone wants to work in? nah…
Let’s wrap it up
SO here’s the thing- I’m not a female firefighter BUT I do have a daughter that I want to support 100% when it comes to her choice of career (and with her firefighter barbie in tow I might have my hands full with a family of first responders- Blue Bloods won’t have nothing on me!)
What I have done is talked to 100 women over this last year that work in the industry- and the women are both breaking glass ceilings and suffering in silence.
Do you want to share your story (maybe anonymously?) send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment below about a struggle you’ve faced. Maybe you can let me know how I can help YOUR family bridge the gap between civilian life and family life.
Let’s leave the fire service a better place- both now and for the women that will be here in the future.
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Header Image by HilaryClark