kmgilles: (Default)
so my roommate has become kind of obsessed with firefighters since she started watching chicago fire. i watched the pilot with her, and it seemed okay - slash and canon gay, ladies, characters of colour, the firehall set seemed like it has atmospheric endurance etc - but it didn't do it for me enough that i've kept watching when i have limited time and energy. but - she is super jealous of me right now, because three real life firefighters visited my gender studies class today. i'm not really sure why the two men were there (i'm only sure that roommate is legitimately angry that i didn't surreptitiously photograph them through my hair for her), but the woman who spoke was really cool and interesting.

i don't think i was able to get all the statistics correctly recorded - in which jurisdiction how many or what percentage were women firefighters, how firefighters many died on particular calls etc. - but her presentation was broad and informative in a lot of other ways. it feels weird to know that she and her crew could tell when firefighters were dying while watching news coverage of 9/11 - because they could hear their PASS alarms were going off. until today i wasn't even sure whether those were fictional or not, so it's sobering to not only know they are not a plot device, but to have it illustrated in such a painful context.

i really enjoyed her answers to my questions, and to the questions a lot of my classmates asked (it's really nice having ALL my classes this semester have good people who seem to care about being there). she talked about how they dealt with nitty gritty stuff - like separate bathrooms, changing rooms and bunks when the station had previously been all male - and the blunders that would be made in solving them - like taking away the private washrooms of the highest ranking members of the hall.

it was really good to hear her talk about coaching other women on alternative ways to do certain tasks and bodily movements. it's one thing to say women need to be allowed to do something different from men, but it seems qualitatively - maybe even quantitatively - something else to talk about how women should do the same thing but do it differently. it's sad to learn there's no standardized way of informing female recruits about these things, that it's a matter of luck whether someone is there to show them these other ropes, but not really surprising. it was also nice to hear her say that the 'fireman's carry' is a terrible idea, because it raises the victim into the smoke.

as much as firefighting in general seems to be an underrepresented profession in media - i can think of only three US tv shows, one of which is chicago fire, and one film - it really seems like women in firefighting (since they clearly exist! and since it clearly produces interesting experiences and circumstances) is even more underrepresented in the media. from what i saw not a single firefighter on chicago fire was a woman, only the EMTs. i never watched third watch, and while it does look like some of the firefighters were women, it was an ensemble show where the characters were not all firefighters. i think i tried to watch rescue me and it seemed gross and misogynistic, so without further research i'm not even going to consider that it might have been able to manage decent representation.

just think how great a tv show about women firefighters would be - it could start with one or two joining a hall, all the shenanigans with bathrooms and being hazed extra hard by the more senior members, but then it could settle into a case-of-the-week style procedural, with an ongoing plot line about her family and how she finds she has more time for them than a lot of her friends in more 'traditional' jobs. there could even be semi-regular interactions between her and junior recruits, just to make sure the show passes the bechdel test extra hard every week. maybe the other new woman in the hall is younger, single, and she can have a romance plot with one of the other firefighters. it would be empowering for female audiences to see women doing the same physical things as men, but doing them differently.

fine me:

November 2013

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