Thursday, May 2, 2013

Women in the Fire Service

This is a topic that comes up over and over and over and over.  Hydrant Girl just addressed it in her latest post.  We discuss nearly monthly on the fire wife boards. It is clearly a big issue in the fire world and is eating at the heart and soul of some of the wives.

It drives me insane.  And it is such a short journey, I should save the gas and walk.  This discussion is one of my pet peeves.

Perhaps it is because I did not marry a firefighter, but an elementary teacher.  That, my friends, is a different world.  Mind you, they don't do over nights together, but some of those ladies (and I use that term lightly) don't quite understand boundaries.  Claws come out and it is not always a pretty picture.  I think I was scarred the first time a judged a science fair.  Coming from a secondary setting, which leans more towards a male demographic, this was my first snarky encounter with teachers.  And it did not really get better from there.

But in the fire department, the women fight a big enough battle every day to prove they are just as strong as their male counterparts. In some cases, they have to worry about the male reactions to their presence.  There is enough on their plate without volunteering to bring drama into their world.

So when I read women on the boards calling the female ffs "hose hoes" and "badge bunnies" it makes my stomach turn.  When it goes to name calling and the slut word gets tossed around, I usually end up saying something that gets me in trouble.  I don't understand.  The world frowns enough upon strong women, we (as women) don't need to add to it.  We (as women) need to build each other up, rather than viewing each other as competition.  The world does enough to break us down - look at the media - why make it worse?  Instead we need to build each other up, our confidence and our souls.  My husband works with two females on a regular basis, and it has never crossed my mind to worry.

As I have discussed this with other firewives, I have discovered that one thing that a lot of women overlook and/or don't want to discuss, if your husband becomes involved with a female co-worker, your husband CHOOSE to get involved with her.  It takes two to tango.  There is always a choice.  And that my friends, means there is something more serious that needs to be addressed within your marriage.  Not a judgement, just an observation.  Your FF has to be strong enough to tell her to knock it off if she comes on to him.  We as women do it all the time.  I got hit on at the grocery store, really odd.  But I had no issues telling him I did not sail down that river of divorce that he did and have a nice day.  Awkward, yes.  I'll never see him again, yes.  But women don't like being shot down.  If your FF is clear with his boundaries, she'll back off.

I'm not saying that there are not women who don't respect the boundaries of a co-worker's marriage, because clearly there are.  But, for the most part they are there for the same reason that your FF is - love of the fire world and serving the people who need them most.  

Now, the volunteer world, I can't speak for that at all.  I have heard stories about girls hanging out at the firehouse just because, throwing themselves at the FFs.  But I have no actual experience.  My hubby said the firehouse where he grew up, no one hung out there.  But, there was no POC.  Where my husband is now stationed, good luck with that.  You get there and the tones go off - every time.   So I can't really wrap my head around this.
My pearls of wisdom for the day, trust your firefighter.  Have an honest to goodness heart to heart chat with him if you cannot reconcile your fears, jealousy or apprehension within yourself.  Remember the vows that you took - forsaking all others.  You come first.  He comes first.  Trust your FF.  That is the biggest compliment you could give him.

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